A new study released today by Bruno & Selig in PLoS Biology shows some very interesting trends in coral decline in the Indo-Pacific. In a nutshell:

  • Average coral cover is lower than expected (22.1%, 2003).
  • Coral cover is surprisingly uniform across regions.
  • Coral cover on the GBR (often considered one of the best managed reefs in the world) is no higher than other regions (e.g. Phillipines).
  • Although there is a lack of historical baselines, regional coral cover is at least 20% below historical records.
  • Indo-pacific coral cover declined from 42.5% in the early 1980′s to 22.1% in 2003.
  • This equates to an average rate of decline of 1% per year (approximately 1500km2 per year).
  • Between 1995 – 2003 coral cover declined by 14% (3168km2 per year).
  • In 2003, only 4% of surveyed reefs had high coral cover (>50%), and only 2% of reefs had very high cover (>60%).
  • Regional scale decline of the Great Barrier Reef occured several decades earlier than often assumed (<1970).
  • Coral decline in some sub-regions of the Indo-Pacific began during the 1960′s – 1970′s.
  • Localised anthropogenic impacts have caused coral losses (e.g. sedimentation, destructive fishing practices).

Based upon 6001 surveys of 2667 reefs in the Indo-Pacific, the report makes for sobering reading. I have decided to add a “sub-section” to Climate Shifts entitled “Science Review” to encourage a weekly debate upon key scientific issues such as this – head over to Science Review to read more about the study and comment / debate the major findings.

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3 Responses to Indo-Pacific Coral Decline

  1. [...] engage to slow the deterioration of coral reefs in the region given the recent reports from the scientific literature that the rate of loss of coral reefs has increased and is now 2% lost per year? Also, given that a [...]

  2. MarcH says:

    What happened to science review?

  3. OveHG says:

    Hi Marc – not sure what you mean.

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