[Coral-List] Biologists, geologists, and systems thinking tradition in coral reef science
tadziob at gmail.com
Wed Sep 25 16:52:42 EDT 2013
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
From: Kaufman, Leslie S
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:49 PM
To: Coral List
Subject: [Coral-List] Biologists, geologists, and systems thinking tradition
in coral reef science
To echo Alina's email copied below, most of the reef biologists in our
couple of elder generations were trained as "honorary geologists", some of
us even growing up in geology or earth science departments and earning
wonderfully stratigraphic degrees. Not only that, but our geology colleagues
were at least as good honorary biologists as we were at whacking rocks-
because our mentors saw to it that this would be so. We can complain that
this fine tradition has ebbed, and that the ranks of carbonate geologists
may be a bit thin on the ground in some places, but we can also resurrect
and rebuild the interdisciplinary perspective in our own teaching and
mentoring. I (or my pinch hitter, Nathan Stewart) teach a course in the BU
Marine Program called "Coral Reef Dynamics: Shallow Reefs, Deep Time" that
tows this line, not out of nostalgia, but out of common sense and necessity.
All of my cohort do likewise. As living reefs wain, the utility of the
holistic approach will be sel
f-evident. Just as we dream of our shattered society pulling together in
some utopian scenario of sanity and sustainability, so can we dream of the
bits and pieces that make up a vibrant coral reef one day reassembling
themselves into something that looks like the world as we knew it as
students. The up side for the reefs, is we know it can happen because we've
seen it ourselves, or read of it in rare testimonials like the one we've
been celebrating here. Society lacks any so certain a history, and has never
yet built quite such a structure...but we can work at it.
From: "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu<mailto:szmanta at uncw.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] reef geology and today's reefs
To: Michael Risk
<riskmj at univmail.cis.mcmaster.ca<mailto:riskmj at univmail.cis.mcmaster.ca>>
Cc: "Coral List \(coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov\)"
<coral-list at coral..aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>>
<68ECDB295FC42D4C98B223E75A854025DA7332112E at uncwexmb2.dcs.uncw.edu<mailto:68
ECDB295FC42D4C98B223E75A854025DA7332112E at uncwexmb2.dcs.uncw.edu>>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
FYI, about 1/4 of the semester long coral reef ecology course I used to
teach was about the geological history and processes of reef formation
(starting with Pre-Cambrian stromatolites, etc), processes of reef growth
(using Hallock-Muller and Hubbard chapters, and other sources, including the
Adey 1976 paper you have now discredited), and emphasizing the critical role
of sea level change, tectonic activity, bioerosion, etc on reef morphology.
So I do get it.
However, the reefs we saw when we were young would not have looked like they
did then (1960s and 70s) if the rates of mortality we have witnessed since
the 1980s had been in effect the previous 1000 years (or even the 50 years
before the 30 years). No doubt something major has shifted in the factors
that affect coral reef viability since the 1980s, and in my opinion, that is
global warming induced bleaching and consequent disease outbreaks, and coral
mortality from both these sources. Bleaching and disease outbreaks occur far
away from human habitation and sewage outfalls. Sewage, sediments, even
overfishing which is more pervasive than eutrophication, can make things
worse but are not the primary cause of coral mortality. And global warming
is a direct consequence of each and every one of us, too many humans doing
all the varied things we do. Yes meteorites and changes in volcanism have
had major impacts on all marine fauna including corals in the past, but that
obviate that we are today's equivalent to a large meteor impact or
cataclysmic change in Earth tectonics.
(b.t.w. Bob Ginsburg long ago bestowed upon me the title of 'honorary
geologist' because he recognized that I recognized the importance of
geological processes to coral reef ecology).
Further, for anyone who is still reading this far into the message, back
during the 3 Hs meeting in Miami in 1994, I brought up the oxymoron of
sustainable development as a solution to helping coral reefs survive, and
also that it was the issue of human population growth that was the ultimate
factor for reef decline. I got silence and scoffs for my efforts...
Professor of Biology
Boston University Marine Program
Marine Conservation Fellow
Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Ecosystem Science and Economics
lesk at bu.edu<mailto:lesk at bu.edu>
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