[Coral-List] Guardian Article on Recent Studies by Cinner et al & Bruno & Valdivia

Fernando A. Zapata fernando.zapata at correounivalle.edu.co
Thu Aug 11 13:56:49 EDT 2016

Interestingly, there is a comment in the latest issue of Nature (11 August)
by Maxwell et al., based on an analysis of 8000 plus species, in which they
conclude that "by far the biggest drivers of biodiversity decline are
overexploitation (the harvesting of species from the wild at rates that
cannot be compensated for by reproduction or regrowth) and agriculture (the
production of food, fodder, fibre and fuel crops; livestock farming;
aquaculture; and the cultivation of trees)." I´m not sure how would this
apply to coral reef environments and associated biota, but I would not be
surprised if it wasn´t too different.


Fernando A. Zapata
Departamento de Biología
Universidad del Valle
Apartado Aéreo 25360
Cali, Colombia

Tel. (+57-2) 321-2100 Ext. 3231
Fax. (+57-2) 339-3243

On Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 11:46 AM, Nicole Crane <nicrane at cabrillo.edu> wrote:

> Thanks Avigdor,
> I have to chime in, simplifying to density is just that. One important
> aspect is of course activity not just population density. Few people
> fishing in a destructive (albeit subtly) way is of course going to have a
> very different outcome than a less destructive fishing.  Then of course
> there is the abiotic variables such as currents and exposure... The devil
> is in the details, of course...
> I am going to confess I am in the field and have limited access so have
> not read these links nor the coral list back and forth in detail, so please
> forgive ignorance here....
> Thanks again Avigdor!
> Sent from my iPhone
> > On Aug 10, 2016, at 12:42 AM, Avigdor Abelson <avigdor at tauex.tau.ac.il>
> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Johnny,
> > I am writing in response to your Guardian article (link:
> https://www.theguardian.com/environment/the-coral-
> triangle/2016/aug/02/are-local-efforts-to-save-coral-reefs-bound-to-fail)..
> In addition to this quick response, I have also written a response (to be
> submitted to Scientific Reports) to Bruno and Valdivia (2016; B&V), in
> which I detailed what I see as the scientific weaknesses and gaps of B&V's
> study (e.g. the use of a single questionable proxy, disregard of diverse
> environmental and anthropogenic drivers).  However, the main problem with
> their study is not its shaky scientific basis, but rather its conclusions
> (statements), which could lead to severe consequences for reefs worldwide,
> through the misinterpretation of the statements, or their abuse, by local
> decision-makers and stakeholders.
> > Unfortunately, your Guardian "layman's perspective" article demonstrates
> my fears only too well. I believe that it paves the way for the
> legitimation of B&V's unsafe statements. There is a theory, the 'Overton
> window' (mainly in reference to political sciences), which explains how
> marginal ideas that are in a state of being publically 'unacceptable' or
> 'radical', can become 'acceptable' and even 'sensible', by shifting the
> 'Overton window'. A possible way for this to occur is through their
> comparison with other more radical, or similar ideas.  I am afraid that
> your article has started such a process by comparing the study by B&V with
> the seminal study by Cinner et al.. (2016) and "grading both as right"
> (referring to their main conclusions).
> > As opposed to Cinner et al. (2016), B&V limit their analysis to a single
> proxy of human impact, ignoring a series of anthropogenic and environmental
> drivers. Furthermore, they do not examine any of the potential global-scale
> drivers, and yet assert that their findings: "...also highlight the truly
> global reach of anthropogenic warming and the immediate need for drastic
> and sustained cuts in carbon emissions".  Based solely on their missing
> analysis, they state about their finding that it "...has important
> management implications: fishing bans and reductions in coastal pollution,
> though desirable, might not meaningfully reduce macroalgal abundance or
> restore corals if the ultimate drivers are larger-scale and beyond the
> control of local managers". Such a statement could thereby give local
> stakeholders and decision-makers apparent justification  to pursue their
> injurious activities, which according to B&V are "antagonistic" to the main
> threats - the global drivers ("Our resu
>  lt
> > s also suggest that the effects of local and global stressors are
> antagonistic, rather than synergistic as widely assumed").  Even if their
> study had been based on sound scientific grounds, they should have been
> more cautious with the potentially harmful conclusions and statements.
> > I hope that B&V statements will not affect numerous efforts being
> conducted on local-regional scales in diverse locations worldwide to
> countermeasure those stressors whose adverse effects have been clearly
> proven.  I think that the ball is now in your court, as well as theirs, in
> order to clarify this issue and avoid misunderstanding.
> > Best wishes ~AV
> >
> > References:
> > Bruno, J. F. and Valdivia, A. 2016. Coral reef degradation is not
> correlated with local human population density. Sci. Rep. 6, 29778; doi:
> 10.1038/srep29778
> > Cinner, J.E. et al. 2016. Bright spots among the world's coral reefs.
> Nature  535:416-419, doi:10.1038/nature18607
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces@
> coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of johnny langenheim
> > Sent: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 2:19 PM
> > To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> > Subject: [Coral-List] Guardian Article on Recent Studies by Cinner et al
> & Bruno & Valdivia
> >
> > Hi listers,
> >
> > A little look at these two recent studies from a layperson's perspective
> in The Guardian today.
> >
> > https://www.theguardian.com/environment/the-coral-
> triangle/2016/aug/02/are-local-efforts-to-save-coral-reefs-bound-to-fail
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Johnny
> >
> > --
> > Johnny Langenheim
> > +44(0)7427 312 760  (UK)
> > +62 (0) 8123 657 3757.  (INDONESIA)
> > www.johnnylangenheim.com
> > Skype: Johnny Langenheim
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