Yet the diversity, frequency and scale of human impacts on coral reefs are increasing to the extent that reefs are threatened globally: an estimated 30% of coral reefs are already severely damaged, and close to 60% may be lost by 2030.
Hughes and colleagues have investigated the interaction between local overfishing and the ability of coral reefs to absorb impacts due to coral bleaching, a major impact of climate change. By experimentally excluding herbivorous fishes, they show that herbivory prevents an ecosystem shift from a coral-dominated system to an alternative assemblage dominated by fleshy seaweeds.
International integration of management strategies that support reef resilience need to be vigorously implemented, and complemented by strong policy decisions to reduce the rate of global warming.
About Terry Hughes
Terry Hughes is Australia´s most prominent coral reef biologist, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
Hughes´s work on coral reefs has informed governments, international environmental organizations, the tourist industry and the community on how to care for and maintain tropical marine environments.
Hughes is currently working on an investigation of the biogeography of reef-building corals throughout the Pacific Ocean, and the impacts of climate change on coral reefs. As part of this ongoing work, he has led research teams to Japan, Samoa, French Polynesia, The Solomon Islands, PNG, and Indonesia in the past 3 years.
His most recent paper, a review of human impacts and management of coral reefs, will be the cover article in the August 15th issue of Science later this week.
Place: Linné Hall, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Lilla Frescativägen 4, Stockholm