[Coral-List] what agency should list corals

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Fri Apr 12 22:30:30 EDT 2013

     So are you saying that corals might be like bamboo, and all the corals
on a reef might just naturally all die every once in a while, and that's
why corals have died in the Caribbean and other places??  Since corals have
died off in the geological record, maybe that's what's happening.  Corals
are programmed to die every once in a while?  All the different species of
corals on the reefs are biologically programmed to die at the same time?
Different species of bamboo reproduce and die on different cycles of 2 to
120 years, you told us.  Hmmm, in some places all the corals reproduce at
once on one night, like the Great Barrier Reef.  Maybe they all die after
that?  But they reproduce on one night every year, and I know of no report
they die right after that.  Did the Caribbean corals all reproduce just
before they all started to die?  Hmmm, there are some corals that get very
large and very old, hundreds of years.  The North Queensland Museum has a
core from one where about 700 years were counted.  Didn't seem to spawn and
die, probably spawned every year, and the coral is still alive as far as I
know.  Frankly, I've never heard of anything that would fit your hypothesis
with corals, and I've heard a lot of evidence that indicates they don't do
that, plus a bit of logic- do we really think that on a reef in Indonesia
where there are 400 or more species of coral, every once in a while they
all just spontaneously reproduce and die?
     Indeed natural cycles are interesting, but that doesn't mean corals
are like bamboo.  Maybe they are more like strawberries, reproducing both
sexually with flowers and asexually by runners.  There is even a thing
called the "coral-strawberry model" discussed by Williams (1975).  If you
are interested in cycles in ecosystems, books on ecology often have quite a
bit of information on that, some aspects of some ecosystems do cycle, like
lemmings and predators that eat them.  But more relevant, mass die-offs of
corals usually have a cause.  Rather obvious in the Indian Ocean in 1998,
when water temperatures skyrocketed and in many reef areas most of the
corals turned white and died.  Obvious on some Caribbean reefs when
Acropora got white band disease and died.  Indeed the causes are much more
obvious for some die offs than for others.  A long list of causes for the
decline of coral reefs is well known, "Reefs at Risk" lists causes they
think are the most important, and the report (open access) on the corals
proposed for endangered status reviews a long list of them in considerable
detail.  I don't remember spontaneous mass mortality, whether after
spawning or not, as one of the things listed.
      Cheers,  Doug

Williams GC (1975) Sex and evolution. Princeton University Press,
Princeton, NJ

Reefs at Risk Revisited   www.wri.org/publication/reefs-at-risk-revisited

Status Report on 82 Corals: go to
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2012/11/82corals.html   find status report
on right, click on it to download

Cheers,  Doug

On Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 7:35 AM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>wrote:

> Looks like the subject of "what agency should list corals" will not go
> away. Probably the best answer is: no agency should list corals. Listing
> them surely will not change Co2 levels in the oceans in time to make a
> difference.
> As for worries about population there is some good news in Science 2.0,
> 5 April 2013
> <
> http://thegwpf.us4.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=c920274f2a364603849bbb505&id=654e4e28f2&e=804bb8caa5
> >.
> It says global population is dropping and will continue until around
> 2090. As for the waste water situation in the Florida Keys which was my
> research baby for more than 10 years, I remind people that everything
> that happened to Keys reefs (centered mainly around 1983) also happened
> to reefs synchronously around small isolated islands in the Bahamas and
> Caribbean at the same time (and don't forget that was when Diadema died
> throughout the Caribbean). It is a real stretch to blame sewage in those
> cases. Remember there are species of bamboos that die off synchronously
> worldwide about every 40 years ( some longer) and the cause is not
> climatic. Here is a quote from an article in Annals of Botany. 82:
> 779-785, 1998. "Bamboos are woody perennials some species of which show
> the peculiar habit of dying after flowering just once, in long life
> cycles of 2 to 120 years (McClure, 1966). Should they be listed?
> Fortunately there there are historic records of their death (and
> resulting Panda demise) that stretch back hundreds of years. We don't
> have long historic observations for corals but do have geologic evidence
> of their demise in the past. Are not natural cycles interesting? Gene
> Reference:
> McClure FA. 1966. The bamboos, a fresh perspective. Cambridge,
> Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. No
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