[Coral-List] Evidence that ocean warming has caused most Caribbean coral loss

tomascik at novuscom.net tomascik at novuscom.net
Thu May 4 13:37:15 EDT 2017

Hi everyone,

I have been following this discussion for a while and I hope folks  
will take time to and have a look at:

"Ginsburg, R.N. Compiler. 1994. Proceedings of the Colloquium on  
Global Aspects of Coral Reefs: Health, Hazards and History, 1993.  
RSMAS, University of Miami." ISBN-0-932981-79-8


Quoting Ulf Erlingsson <ceo at lindorm.com>:

> Dear John,
> Dennis is a geologist, you are an ecologist, and I am either a  
> geographer or geologist according to the academic tradition of each  
> country. In this particular case I would strongly advice that  
> everyone put on their "geography hat" and view this from high up  
> above, since we can never solve this in time if we insist on  
> understanding which chemical compound is responsible for which effect.
> We have global input of pollutants, hundreds of thousands of  
> substances, and they mix in the ENTIRE ocean. Stop thinking of  
> pollution as "local," it is not. It gets mixed so anything that does  
> not decompose or permanently leave the ocean WILL end up in every  
> last corder of the world oceans and seas, eventually. If it is toxic  
> enough, it WILL have an impact.
> It is all good and well that ecologists are studying the  
> interactions, it is necessary, but the decisions of what actions to  
> take visavi pollution cannot be based on such research alone. There  
> has to be an "umbrella research" that looks at the geography of  
> pollution, stressors and effects, like a black box, and politics  
> must err on the side of caution in the face of the unknown. Like  
> they do in the European Union. The U.S. is hopelessly behind when it  
> comes to environmental protection.
> Ulf Erlingsson
> Lindorm, Inc.
>> On 2017-05-03, at 17:26 , Bruno, John <jbruno at unc.edu> wrote:
>> Dear Dennis,
>> I respectfully disagree. For ecologists, determining the relative  
>> role of different factors in driving patterns is largely the point  
>> of our field.  It has nothing to do with feeling "our subdiscipline  
>> is the most important?.  Good ecology means testing multiple  
>> hypotheses that explain an observation, retesting those hypothesis  
>> over and over, etc. Its not about ego - this is fundamentally what  
>> "trying to understand the nature of the system" IS.
>> Identifying the causal drivers of population declines is  
>> fundamental to species conservation. This concept goes way back to  
>> Graeme Caughley, and forms the basis of the ?declining population  
>> paradigm? in conservation science. It isn?t necessarily ?all tied  
>> together?. Every plausible factor that could possibly influence a  
>> pattern doesn?t necessarily have a measurable role. Most species  
>> are weak interactors and lots of processes aren?t all that common  
>> or important. In the case of coral decline, there are literally  
>> dozens of possible explanations and since conservation dollars are  
>> finite and we can?t tackle every problem, its critical to identify  
>> the main causes. Doing so is not a ?waste of bandwidth?. Moreover,  
>> it?s common (on the coral-list) to assume the interaction of two  
>> important stressors is synergistic; that?s often true at the  
>> individual-level, but at the community level they are just as  
>> likely to be antagonistic, i.e., they dampen each others effects.  
>> Figuring stuff like this out is important to effectively managing  
>> reefs.
>> (As an aside, my view is that there is certainly evidence of local  
>> impacts, like pollution. The challenge is to figure where that?s  
>> the case (we do VERY little monitoring of water quality on reefs)  
>> and also how to address it (its a tough problem). Just screaming  
>> that all the loss is due to pollution and that nutrient pollution  
>> is widespread in the ocean is not supported by the science. We  
>> should follow the lead of local management in places like the  
>> Florida Keys, Bermuda, etc where they?ve (largely) tackled  
>> nutrients, anchor damage, fishing, etc.)
>> Sincerely,
>> John
>>> On May 3, 2017, at 2:55 PM, Dennis Hubbard  
>>> <Dennis.Hubbard at oberlin.edu <mailto:Dennis.Hubbard at oberlin.edu>>  
>>> wrote:
>>> Hi Elizabeth:
>>> None of this helps answer the question going around of what is the  
>>> "primary" driver of reef decline. If anyone hasn't read it, I  
>>> highly recommend Jeremy Jackson's "Reefs Before Columbus" article  
>>> in Coral Reefs awhile back.... it is sobering, as is John  
>>> Pandolfi's follow-up discussions of how early anthropogenic  
>>> impacts might have kicked in.
>>> So, for me, as a reef scientist, it really doesn't make a great  
>>> deal of sense to argue over what is worse just so we can feel "our  
>>> subdiscipline is the most important". It's all tied in together  
>>> and, while we take up bandwidth with this, we could be spending  
>>> that time trying to understand the nature of the system better.
>>> As a reef GEO-scientist, when I think back to the "good old days,  
>>> I'm thinking early Holocene.
>>> Best,
>>> Dennis
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