[Coral-List] diver distance et al

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Sat Aug 10 11:00:20 EDT 2013

I'm responding to Doug's recent missive (the one on "natural" versus
 "human" impacts) using an earlier post to reduce the bandwidth needed for
the reply. Doug makes a lot of excellent points on the diversity of
stresses facing coral reefs today. I think it will be useful to remember
that what we are seeing is probably a response to all of these and that to
argue that our personal favorites are the only ones deserving of our
attention is counterproductive. Climate change exacerbates all the others
and may trump them to the extent that local solutions will fail until
global issues are abated. At the other extreme, it has been argued that
dealing with local top-down and bottom-up stresses may increase resilience
and mitigate issues related to things like bleaching, disease, etc.

As a scientist, I am very comfortable admitting that I don't know where the
truth lay on this spectrum. And I am equally uncomfortable about attempts
to advocate for particular solutions based on well-placed biases. As a
geologist, I admit that my view is longer in scope and may be less
appropriated than opinions of folks with their noses in the reefs measuring
things. Nevertheless, I do get very nervous when it is suggested that
"natural" effects do not have negative effects while "human" ones should be
the center of our focus. In this regard, I off two observations. First,
this approach argues that the five major extinctions were, by definition,
"OK" while recent declines must not be so. I am always brought back to
Wendell Berry's quote in "Home Economics":     Before we can know what we
are doing, we need to know what nature would be doing if we were doing
nothing". As sore as our geological arms get waving at these issues, I
would suggest that the fossil record is the only game in town....  and our
invitation to the grown ups' table.

There are two millennial-scale gaps in the Acropora record (and no I'm not
suggesting extinctions) at ca 3,000 and 6,000 years ago. I am not sure what
is at the root of these events (I have some strong suspicions but will wait
until I have the data completed before speaking), but am confident that
they are real. I do not suggest that these are analogous to recent events
or that they are cyclical.... only that there are things that make me
question my own omnipotence regarding recent reef decline and, therefore,
the appropriate mitigation. So, in the meantime, I keep coming back to "if
it has good collateral effects", bring it on. I'm perfectly willing  to
admit down the road that, "gee, reef decline wasn't caused by my favorite
factor - but now we have cleaner air and water..... Don't I feel stupid!"


On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, Douglas Fenner wrote:

> Take a look in Veron (1993) A biogeographic database of hermatypic corals:
> species of the central Indo-Pacific, genera of the world.  Australian Inst
> Mar Sci Monogr Ser X: 433 pp.  It has 3 tables of where individual coral
> species had been found.  The first presents which species had been found in
> which areas of the east coast of Australia including southern New Guinea to
> South Australia, the second covers the west coast of Australia, and the
> third covers Japan and the Philippines.  For the GBR, it is divided into
> the Coral Sea, Torres Strait, Northern GBR, Central GBR, Pompey and Swain
> Reefs, and Capricorn and Bunker reefs.  It is of course a bit dated by now,
> but is the best available for locations within the GBR at this point, I
> believe.  It does not include species discovered or recognized since 1993,
> of course.  Veron is working on a new database that will be on the web I
> believe, which he calls "Coral Geographic."  I assume it will have detailed
> geographic info on corals from all over the world.  I believe he is close
> to having it finished and being able to release it.
>      Cheers,  Doug
> On Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 1:48 PM, Scott Atkinson <scabecks at gmail.com<javascript:;>>
> wrote:
> > Does anyone know of any available coral species presence/absence or
> > abundance datasets across the GBR? Species of particular interest are
> > *Hydnophora
> > exesa, **Seriatopora hystrix, **Acropora formosa, *and *Porites lutea;
> > *however,
> > any level of classification would be welcomed.
> >
> > Many thanks for any help!
> > Scott Atkinson
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Dennis Hubbard
Chair, Dept of Geology-Oberlin College Oberlin OH 44074
(440) 775-8346

* "When you get on the wrong train.... every stop is the wrong stop"*
 Benjamin Stein: "*Ludes, A Ballad of the Drug and the Dream*"

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