Wednesday, August 08, 2007

'Going faster than rainforests'

Some media reports of a paper by John Bruno and Elizabeth Selig of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have not been clear about their estimate of the rate of coral loss, quoting either 1 or 2% per year. Bruno and Selig found that:
Estimated yearly coral cover loss based on annually pooled survey data [on 2,667 Indo-Pacific coral reefs between 1968 and 2004] was approximately 1% over the last twenty years and 2% between 1997 and 2003 (or 3,168 square kilometres per year). The annual loss based on repeated measures regression analysis of a subset of reefs that were monitored for multiple years from 1997 to 2004 was 0.72 %.
They conclude that coral cover declined decades earlier than previously assumed, even on some of the Pacific's most intensely managed reefs. "These results", they note in the kind of language that characterises dispassionate scientific papers, "have significant implications for policy makers and resource managers as they search for successful models to reverse coral loss".

-- Regional Decline of Coral Cover in the Indo-Pacific: Timing, Extent, and Subregional Comparisons. News reports here, here, here etc.

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