Katie Cramer katie.cramer at gmail.com
Mon Oct 4 20:45:13 UTC 2021

Hello Vassil,

Hope you are doing well. We’d like to take the opportunity to respond to
your recent Coral-List post voicing concerns that our studies of long-term
change in Caribbean coral communities excluded your surveys from Cuba and

(1) Although we acknowledge that we likely did not obtain every single
survey conducted in the Caribbean, we made every effort to make this
dataset complete. The contemporary studies were drawn from a comprehensive
database that includes over 35,000 surveys from 34 countries, compiled
after contacting hundreds of people and including 143 published papers and
reports. We then merged this with another sizable database that compiled
palaeoecological and historical data and data from early scientific
expeditions. When combined, these two data sources provide an extensive
accounting of Caribbean reef dynamics over 125k years from ~7000 surveys
and 30 countries.

(2) We aren’t certain which references you are referring to, but it is
possible that your surveys were excluded because they didn't meet the
specific criteria for our studies (presence/absence information for at
least one coral species, known year of observation, known original source
of data, known location, known water depth or reef zone, and depth < 20m).
For example, your valuable contribution “Investigations on mesophotic coral
ecosystems in Cuba (1970–1973) and Mexico (1983–1984)” was not included
because it was outside our focal depth range.

(3) We are surprised by your statement that the sources we excluded from
Cuba contain more sites than does the entire dataset we compiled for the
1970s. Our community composition study includes over 200 sites from 19
countries for that time bin and our *Acropora *study includes 500 sites
from 25 countries for that time bin.

(4) We were not able to include *A. prolifera* in the *Acropora* study
because it was not consistently identified as a distinct species throughout
the extended timeseries we considered.

Please feel free to reach out to me via email if you would like to continue
this conversation.

Best wishes,

Katie Cramer (on behalf of all co-authors)

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Vassil Zlatarski via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Date: Tue, Sep 28, 2021 at 9:27 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Fwd: FIELD OF GIANTS
To: Coral-List Subscribers <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>

Hi colleagues,

Nowadays, the means for communications and the access to publications are
much better in comparison with what was available for the researchers
before us.  At the same time there is a growing lack of usage of existing
literature.  It is not a problem any more to obtain access to classic works
published a long time ago, because they are reachable through the Internet.
 There is no excuse to fail using existing printed or e-books.

Recent publication dedicated to the transformation of Caribbean coral
communities since humans (Cramer et al., 2021)  applied 14 common coral
taxonomic groups. They permit the usage of the data of all existing
publications, no matter of their taxonomic approach. Unfortunately, the
paper ignored more than a dozen publications from the period 1980-2020,
which offer results of coral investigations and data on collections of Cuba
and Yucatan, Mexico.  (I would be glad to provide the references and PDFs
access.)  The effect of data neglect is considerable. For example, for the
time bin 1970-1979 the number of reef sites studied and sampled only in
Cuba is larger than the total number of studied sites cited in the paper
for the entire Caribbean.  A work dedicated to the widespread loss of
Caribbean acroporid corals (Cramer et al., 2020) missed the data from Cuba
(collected 1970-1973 and 2001) and from Yucatan, Mexico (collected
1983-1984).  It completely omitted the existence and the role in the
communities of *Acropora prolifera*, taxon originally considered by the
researchers as a separate species, later described with question mark, and
last two decades accepted as a hybrid of *A. palmata* and *A. cervicornis*.
opportunistic nature for potential survival of this scleractinian hybrid
was proved by the fact that, since 1972, *A. prolifera* inhabits the
reticulate coral reef system Gran Banco de Buena Esperanza with only one of
its parents’ species, *A. cervicornis*, and was evidenced by its
fertility. Interestingly,
during this century visit in Cuban waters the hybrid was observed more
frequently, even in lagoonal areas, where its fragments formed the basis of
build-ups. The omission of *A. prolifera* resulted not only in incomplete
Caribbean acroporid picture but also conceptually limited the attempted

Looking back, these oversights of data go to Jackson et al. (2014), and
that publication doesn’t show Publisher restriction on the used sources.

Hope this note could be helpful in a constructive way.



Cramer, K. L., Donovan, M. K., Jackson, J. B. C., Greenstein, B. J.,
Korpanty, C. A., Cook, G. M. & Pandolfi, J. M.  (2021). The transformation
of Caribbean coral communities since humans. Ecology and Evolution, 00,

Cramer, K. L., Jackson, J. B. C., Donovan, M. K., Greenstein, B. J.,
Korpanty, C. A., Cook, G. M., & Pandolfi, J. M. (2020).  Widespread loss of
Caribbean acroporid corals was underway before coral bleaching and disease
outbreaks. *Sci. Adv. **6*, eaax9395.

Jackson, J. B. C., Donovan, M.K., Cramer, K. L., Lam, V. V. (editors).
(2014). Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012. Global Coral
Reef Monitoring Network, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.


*Katie Cramer*

*Assistant Research Professor *

*Arizona State University | Center for Biodiversity Outcomes*

*Ocean Science Fellow*

*Conservation International | Center for Oceans & Moore Center for Science*

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