[Coral-List] Request for comment on recent report on coral loss and population density for Guardian article

Bruno, John jbruno at unc.edu
Thu Jul 28 11:15:06 EDT 2016

Hi Johny, The major difference between the excellent Cinner et al paper and ours (Bruno and Valdivia) is that Cinner et al was about spatial patterns in fish populations while we asked how coral and macroalgal cover are related to human population density, i.e., totally different response variables. (Note some of the media wrongly reported that the Cinner et al study was about coral health and resilience). There are dozens of papers that have shown fish biomass and community structure are spatially related to human population density (for obvious reasons).  So despite our results for corals and macroalgae, I don’t doubt that finding for fishes.

The papers were also framed differently. There are certainly high coral cover reefs - i.e., bright spots, and we obviously could have focused on that aspect. Although I doubt most coral bright spots are bright because of local management, I do agree that, as Tim McClanahan has said, we should throw all our conservation dollars at them to keep them that way as long as possible.


John Francis Bruno
Professor, Dept of Biology
UNC Chapel Hill

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