[Coral-List] Mix of pressures on the Great Barrier Reef

Brodie, Jon jon.brodie at jcu.edu.au
Thu May 4 20:43:49 EDT 2017

Reading the ongoing discussion on what was the "main" cause of coral loss in the Caribbean I'd like to add my bit about coral loss on the GBR. We think we understand this OK and I suggest there were many local causes of loss even before climate change (bleaching and more severe storms) took over. These included crown of thorns starfish (with a nutrient enrichment and/or overfishing ultimate cause), light limitation inshore due to increased sediment discharge and macroalgal proliferation associated with nutrient enrichment causing loss of coral diversity. These were in active in reducing coral cover and diversity from the 1960s while climate change has largely been a major cause of coral loss from the 1990s. This has been well written up over the years. However it is now (as of today!) clear that climate change is now really knocking the coral of the GBR over via bleaching and frequent major storms (Cat. 4/5 cyclones) and it may be the case that now managing local impacts is "too little too late".

I suggest this is no so different to the Caribbean (less CoTS) with multiple causes at different locations and at different times.

Jon Brodie
Professorial Research Fellow
Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University
Ph. +61 (0) 407127030

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