[Coral-List] reliable coral reef statistics

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Mon Sep 16 17:30:55 EDT 2013

One other thing to consider in all of this relates to a discussion we all
had at the RSMAS "Coral Reef Love IN" run by Bob Ginsburg back when reefs
were just "declining". One of the exercises was to have everyone present
data on reefs that they started working on 20-30 years earlier (now 40-50
years). The admitted blind spot in this approach was that, when everyone
thought back, not a single one of us had chose the crummiest, nastiest
reefs we could find. As a result, our "typical" reefs were initially chosen
because they were the "biggest", "best", "most populated", "most diverse"
or some other descriptor that might suggest that they had little chance of
improving and that chances were better than even that they might decline in
subsequent years.

None of this is to say that the evidence of decline is not compelling.
However, the "shifting baseline" may work a bit in the opposite direction
than is typically discussed. I guess my point here is that data or
recollections from those of us who are fortunate to have taken 60+%
abundance for granted are not perfect either.


On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM, John McManus <jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu>wrote:

> This is a good summary, and I hope everyone will read through it.
> I just posted the following comment there:
> "Great article, especially regarding the 'thinning' of coral cover point.
> Just a correction: the Reefs at Risk reports were indeed peer reviewed, and
> extensively so. Recognizing the fact that existing, publicly available time
> series on coral reefs have been extremely patchy and strongly biased
> towards
> reefs that are convenient, popular and inexpensive to access, they used
> modern GIS modelling procedures to extrapolate existing information on reef
> threats. A much better approach would be to have monitoring sites
> distributed in an unbiased manner around the world, as described by Jeremy
> Jackson in his ICRS plenary last year. Several of us spent many years
> trying
> to organize such an effort, but it has been impossible so far to find a
> funding approach to support this. Good luck to the new effort, which will
> hopefully spread outside the Caribbean. In the meantime, these
> meta-analyses
> are a very helpful complement to the GIS-based analyses, and further
> integration of these two approaches will improve the analyses.
> Note that the early version of ReefBase was aimed specifically at
> meta-analyses. However, at the time, most scientists considered field data
> to be "capital", for personal or institutional use only, even when funded
> by
> tax dollars. Now, with the advent of ocean monitoring programs and a
> crack-down by NSF concerning its data release policies, hopefully that will
> change and more substantial field data will become widely available. "
> --
> John
> John W. McManus, PhD.
> Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries
> Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
> Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
> University of Miami. Phone: 305-421-4814
> Website: http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/people/faculty-index/?p=john-mcmanus
> NCORE Website: http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/
> "If I cannot build it, I do not understand it." -- Richard Feynman, Nobel
> Laureate
> ..
> -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of John Bruno
> Sent: Saturday, September 14, 2013 10:01 AM
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Cc: Isabelle Cote; Thomas Goreau; Aronson Richard B.
> Subject: [Coral-List] reliable coral reef statistics
> Dear Steve,
> I wrote this piece in response to your query about data on coral depletion.
> I summarized papers on coral cover loss and included links to all the
> source
> paper PDFs. Other changes (e.g., fish, algae, reef complexity) and
> predictions of future state will be in another post:)
> "What we know about coral loss"  http://theseamonster.net/?p=15140
> Comments and criticisms welcome. But please post directly on the blog to
> keep the conversation in one place.
> John F Bruno, PhD
> Professor
> Department of Biology
> UNC Chapel Hill
> www.johnfbruno.com (http://www.johnfbruno.com)
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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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