Revisiting the Cassandra syndrome; the changing climate of coral reef research

Maynard, J.A., Baird, A.H., and Pratchett, M.S. (2008) Revisiting the Cassandra syndrome; the changing climate of coral reef research. Coral Reefs, 27. pp. 745-749.

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Climate change will be with us for decades, even with significant reductions in emissions. Therefore, predictions made with respect to climate change impacts on coral reefs need to be highly defensible to ensure credibility over the timeframes this issue demands. If not, a Cassandra syndrome could be created whereby future more well-supported predictions of the fate of reefs are neither heard nor acted upon. Herein, popularising predictions based on essentially untested assumptions regarding reefs and their capacity to cope with future climate change is questioned. Some of these assumptions include that: all corals live close to their thermal limits, corals cannot adapt/acclimatize to rapid rates of change, physiological trade-offs resulting from ocean acidifcation will lead to reduced fecundity, and that climate-induced coral loss leads to widespread fisheries collapse. We argue that, while there is a place for popularising worst-case scenarios, the coral reef crisis has been effectively communicated and, though this communication should be sustained, efforts should now focus on addressing critical knowledge gaps.

Item ID: 4878
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: adaptation; climate change; coral reefs; fisheries collapse
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2009 23:47
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960304 Climate Variability (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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