Biogeography, climate change and evolution of corals reefs

Hughes, T.P. (2006) Biogeography, climate change and evolution of corals reefs. In: Proceedings of the Tenth International Coral Reef Symposium. p. 1. From: Tenth International Coral Reef Symposium, 28 June - 02 July 2004, Okinawa, Japan.

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Confronting the coral reef crises requires a major scaling-up of management efforts based on an improved understanding of the key ecological processes that underlie reef resilience. Managing for improved resilience, focusing on the role of human activity in shaping ecosystems, provides a basis for coping with climate change and uncertainty. Here I identify striking biogeographic differences in the species richness and composition of functional groups, which highlights the vulnerability of Caribbean reef ecosystems to phase-shifts from coral-dominance to less desirable states. Low diversity reefs, such as in the Caribbean Basin, the Eastern Pacific, and many high-latitude or remote locations in the Indo-Pacific have low functional redundancy, where functional groups may be represented by a single species. In these systems, minor changes in biodiversity can have a major impact on ecosystem processes. Although hotspots (areas of exceptional species richness) are one of the most frequently identified targets for the protection of marine ecosystems, “cool spots” (areas of low species richness) are arguably more vulnerable. Dispersal of larvae is a critical issue for understanding the response of coral reefs to climate change, yet current knowledge of this issue is minimal. The scale of reef decline indicates that even where local conditions for coral settlement get better (e.g. due to reduced overfishing of herbivores, improved water-quality, or a partial recovery of Diadema antillarum), it can no longer be assumed that recruitment will simply resume exactly as before. New studies show that the isolation and impoverished genetic diversity of oceanic reefs renders them particularly vulnerable. These findings have profound implications for restoration of degraded reefs, management of reefs and fisheries, and the focus on biodiversity hotspots as priorities for conservation.

Item ID: 4654
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
Keywords: climate change; coral reefs; biogegraphy; coral recruitment; diversity; hotspot; phase-shifts; conservation
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2009 01:05
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 51%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 49%
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