[Coral-List] 82 Corals Status Review under the US Endangered Species Act

vassil zlatarski vzlatarski at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 6 07:34:30 EDT 2012

Dear Coral Friends,

I am grateful that my preoccupation about the Petition to list 83 species of coral as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act was posted here (Coral-List Archives, April 6, 2010).  At that time was clear that the goal required more efficient usage of all existing scientific knowledge and professional experience.  

Following the procedure, Dr. Terry Hughes (Center of Independent Experts Reports) presented constructive and very detailed Status Review Report
Strangely, it did not bring much of revision for the "revised" version.  Also, this fact is playing now discouraging effect for future participation in the preparation of the document.  Why to file written opinions if an official  review did not help much?  

The Status Review Report by the Biological Review Team (BRT) considered only the species before selected by the Center for Biological Diversity.  The
 selection process and the entire coral community were not object of the review.  However, it is worthy of note the following statement of BRT: "The lack of adequate information on complex coral ecology and interactions between threats made the assessment of extinction risk for each of the 82 nominal coral species extremely challenging and uncertain".  

In addition, last two years brought new scientific knowledge which was not considered.  Not to mention, the continuing ignorance of paleobiological and geological experience.  

Finally, it was realized that the picture is not complete for such responsible action.  The scheduled public listening sessions and science workshops are unusual for the rulemaking process and de facto recognize the necessity of something to be done.  Coral-List can help a lot with a broad collegial discussion in search for right way.  These species live in the waters of many countries.  The everyday discussions in this forum demonstrate how much the specialists care for the corals and reefs.  A friendly and respectful atmosphere introduced by the employees responsible for this document should stimulate collecting existing data and wisdom.  However, the experience with such document for Caribbean Acropora, 
showed that organizers acted somehow more defensively concerning the procedure than the corals.  Of 
course, everything has to follow the rulemaking process, but it is also imperious to use the
existing knowledge.  The time urges re-evaluation and harmonization of coral species and reef ecosystem conservation approaches and also to take care of coral hybrids.  The action needs more of the existing science.

The listening sessions and science workshops are coming soon, but they can be attended personally only by limited number of specialists.  A very interactive Webinar will be appropriate.

Last but not least, the case of 82 coral species will be an example and lesson for the other coral nations.



Vassil Zlatarski
Independent Scientist
D.Sc. (Biology), Ph.D. (Geology)

131 Fales Rd., Bristol, RI 02809, USA;  tel.: +1-401-254-5121

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