Sunday, January 04, 2009

Resilience

A study that found a decline in calcification rates on the Great Barrier Reef (see Getting lumpy on the GBR) has recently received widespread media attention -- widespread, that is, compared to many stories that concern coral reefs.

Another recent story, reported by the BBC as Coral springs back from tsunami [1], would seem, at least for the non-specialist reader on first sight, to point in the opposite direction. But according Tom Goreau:
Indonesia has the highest rate of new coral settlement in the world, so areas that suffer only from physical devastation, and do not have high temperature, mud, or nutrients, do gradually get covered with corals. [It] takes...5-10 years or so in the best spots there, much longer elsewhere. But this is not resilience in the sense of resistance to stress, it is recovery via new recruitment, which is increasingly less frequent. It is like after the 1998 bleaching event in the Indian Ocean, when the [Big International NGOs] started touting reef "recovery" when they really only meant that the dying had stopped. The amount of new recruits in most of those places has been negligible to minor.
Footnote

[1] Indonesia's coral reefs return to life in The Australian.

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