[Coral-List] Coral Restoration

John McManus jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Thu Apr 17 12:46:46 EDT 2014

Hi Peter,

Thank you for bringing up this problem of giving up on coral reefs in the
midst of multiple stessors. Major funding agencies are often evaluating
whether or not to continue funding coral reef management and
management-related research. Here are some things to consider.

1. The huge limestone structures that are the actual coral reefs (atolls,
barrier reefs, large fringing reefs, knoll reefs, ribbon reefs, etc.) are
going to be with us for thousands of years. After all, many survived tens of
thousands of years of exposure to rain and acidic tropical soils while
sea-level was much lower prior to the end of the last ice age. Many atolls
are actually large mountains of limestone.  Most of those currently within
the upper 30 m depth will still support abundant life for many hundreds of

 2. We really don't know which reefs, if any, that currently protect
coastlines from waves will continue to do so effectively and for how long.
This is because that particular ecosystem service is highly dependent on the
upper few meters of limestone. The complex biological, socioeconomic,
geological and hydrodynamic issues with that are far from being effectively
worked out-- partly due to the fact that most funding systems cannot seem to
fund the truly interdisciplinary research one would need to put that
information together (e.g. ecologists, physiologists, reef geologists,
geochemists, hydrodynamicists, social scientists, computer scientists, etc.
all working together on selected sites).  

3.  Excellent recent studies by Anthony, Kleypas, and others have confirmed
that the calcium carbonate deposition balance on reefs is tightly related to
living coral vs. algal dominance. Seawater flowing over dense algal beds
tends to be more acidic than that flowing over coral or calcareous sand.
Additionally, there is a need to protect whatever calcifying species survive
best in the future. Thus, protecting the wave erosion buffering effect is
now more clearly related to classical participatory integrated coastal
management than ever before. 

4. There has been substantial progress in understanding broadly which
general groups of corals, forams, calcareous algae, etc. are likely to be
impacted most under which climate change scenarios. We are still a long way
away from being able to relate those habitat changes to the availability of
fish. Additionally, while a few studies have indicated that fish populations
may be directly impacted through warming and acidification (especially
larvae), knowledge in that area is also extremely sparse. 

5. Rocky reefs in areas devoid of corals, such as in temperate areas, often
support large assemblages of fish and diverse, three-dimensionally complex
seaweed communities.  Thus, regardless of what happens to the corals, it is
reasonable to assume that those reef limestone structures are going to
remain at least as important as sources of livelihoods and food from
fisheries and tourism hundreds of years from now as they are today.  

We clearly need to step up coastal management efforts in coral reef areas.
Funding agencies need to put more emphasis on reef management and supportive
science than before -- not less. 



John W. McManus, PhD
Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries
Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149
jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu      http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/

"If you lose a diamond ring in the bedroom, don't look for it in the living
room just because the light there is better".

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Peter Raines
Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2014 4:05 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Coral Restoration

I congratulate Sarah, Peter and countless other friends and colleagues who
each and all are doing their valued bit to help understand, promote and
protect coral reefs.

I recently attended a one-day workshop in London on Logical Frameworks.
Many will know that these are the arch-stone and requisite for many funders.
The context was LIFE+ funding from the European union, of which there are
many hundreds of $millions on offer.

The far-right column of most 'logframes' is entitled 'Assumptions'. These
are usually assumptions outside of the control of the project/programme but
nonetheless need to be factored. Some of these assumptions are termed
'Killer Assumptions' - i.e. assumptions so severe that they will kill the
project stone-dead in its tracks and thus either require a fundamental
project/programme re-think or most likely, just give up, go home and not

So, I asked of the workshop convener during a coffee-break this: "Assuming
the predicted global trends are correct re. ocean acidification and the
like, then these surely are the 'Killer Assumptions' that should be
paramount and overarchingly declared in any Logframe. Should I pack my bags
up and go home now?"  He politely smiled, nodded but of course could not

So, the killer-question I ask myself is: "Should I give up any and all hope
for coral reefs and just throw in the towel?" My glass always being
half-full, my answer is a resounding "NO!".

I say good luck to Sarah, Peter and everyone in their mission, drive and
energy to help protect and restore coral reefs. What we need is a coalition
of the willing to kill assumptions!

All the best,


Peter Raines MBE
Coral Restoration Foundation International


Email: rainespeter at gmail.com
Mobile: +44 (0)7597 664987
Skype: peter.raines
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