[Coral-List] Source for "coral occupy <1% of the seafloor but house more than 25% of species"

Benjamin Cowburn benjamindcowburn at googlemail.com
Mon Dec 14 14:30:31 UTC 2020

Hi Hanny et al.,
I have just always assumed this 25% of biodiversity claim is bogus. As you
are discovering, finding the original reference is challenging and even
when you get there it doesn't seem quite right. Also as other people have
pointed out in this thread, modern information and tools have updated the
distribution of coral reefs and understanding of biodiversity.
What I think is a more interesting question is -* what do we do with this
fact now?*
*Pure Scientist Opinion: *Knowing the actual number of species on reefs is
important and a further analysis should be done to reassess this fact.
*Practical Opinion:* This fact has been recycled and regurgitated by
numerous authors, journalists and governments. Casting doubt around its
validity may damage the reputation of coral reef science and make decision
makers less inclined to listen to us. More-over I don't imagine the public
is interested in the real number, and just getting the message 'many
species in a small area' is sufficient, whichever way this is communicated.

Out of curiosity, why are you on this quest?

On Sat, 12 Dec 2020 at 17:53, Hanny Rivera via Coral-List <
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

> Hi all!
> A while back, I had written asking for help tracking down the source for
> this statement. Thank you to all who responded and helped! There were a
> number of folks who also asked me to let them know what I found. Sorry for
> the long delay! A recent twitter post reminded me I hadn't followed up.
> Anyways: The original reference (at least the most original that I could
> find) is McAllister 1991. I had to do a lot of digging to find the actual
> paper, though I finally came across it here:
> https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/ptid=uc1.31822009136755&view=1up&seq=22
> As you might see, it's not entirely clear where the numbers come from
> though.
> Dan Barshis
> had pointed me to Smith 1978 (https://www.nature.com/articles/273225a0) as
> a more viable source for the area estimation (though it's a bit outdated)
> and
> Fisher et al 2015 (
> https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982214016236) as a
> reference for species richness on reefs.
> A more recent area estimate is Spalding et al. 2001 (
> https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X17300635) which
> was pointed out to me by Dennis Allemand
> Dennis Allemand also has several other references for species #s that live
> on reefs in his paper (
> https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352485518305978?via%3Dihub
> )
> on page 2.
> Thanks again all! Hope this is helpful for folks going forward.
> Best, Hanny
> --
> Hanny E. Rivera, Ph.D.
> Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer
> Boston University, Biology Department
> Davies Marine Population Genomics Lab
> https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannyrivera
> http://sites.bu.edu/davieslab/members/
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