[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reef Scientists

Alevizon, William Stephen alevizonws at cofc.edu
Tue Apr 7 23:06:22 EDT 2015

The article headlined "Study finds coral reef growth thrives in warmer waters" is more than a bit misleading, as it is applicable (according to the referred study)  ONLY to an atypical (cooler water) group of reefs.  After digging up the actual publication upon which the magazine story was based - and a later related paper by one of the same authors, I found this:

(summary quote from the referred paper)
“Warming SSTs are resulting in (i) increased calcification rates reported here in the southeast Indian Ocean, where marginal reefs have taken advantage of warmer conditions, and (ii) recent declines reported elsewhere for more typical reef environments where thermal optima for calcification have been exceeded or resulted in setbacks in growth as a result of thermally induced bleaching. Whether the former is sustainable as oceans continue to warm is another question.” -  Cooper, T. F., O’Leary, R. A., & Lough, J. M. (2012). Growth of Western Australian corals in the Anthropocene. Science, 335(6068), 593-596.

(And then, from another article a year later: )
“Outermost bands of corals were under-estimated in De’ath et al. (2009), and we have identified the cause of this problem as incomplete formation of some of the outermost bands. Correcting for this problem reduces our previous estimate of the decline in calcification… The adjusted decline of 11.4% (0.76% yr−1 ) remains high and suggests a bleak future for corals of the GBR due to climate change.” - De'ath, G., Fabricius, K., & Lough, J. (2013). Yes—Coral calcification rates have decreased in the last twenty-five years!. Marine Geology, 346, 400-402.

Too bad - as I was just about to sell my bike and buy a gigantor Tundra-Expedition Mega-SUV to help reefs thrive!

William S. Alevizon

Research Associate

Dept. of Biology

College of Charleston

58 Coming St.

Charleston,  S.C. 29424


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