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World's reef fishes tussling with human overpopulation
Date:4/5/2011

ng food into biomass and lack competitors precluding their ecological replacement by other species.

"It's been usual to expect that diverse ecosystems could lose a few species without it mattering very much because the high redundancy of species should allow to replace any species that is lost," said Peter F. Sale, assistant director of the Institute for Water, Environment and Health of the United Nations University, who was not involved in the study. "The results of this study now suggest that we do not have such insurance and that reef ecosystems are at greater risk from human pressures than we previously thought."

The study documented that the deleterious effect of humanity on reef fish systems can be widespread, as some 75% of the world's coral reefs are near human settlements and could worsen, as 82% of countries with coral reefs are expected to double their human populations within the next 50 to 100 years.

"Human overpopulation is a very sensitive topic across endeavors from science to religion and politics," Mora says. "Unfortunately, we find again and again that our global population cannot be sustainably supported without the deterioration of the world's natural resources and the resulting backlash on human welfare. Thus, identifying socially and politically acceptable solutions to curb human population growth is at the core of finding ultimate solutions for the protection of biodiversity and the prevention of unnecessary hardship."

"We found that dense human populations were associated with heavy overfishing, land use, and coastal development," says coauthor David Booth at the University of Technology, Sydney. "This highlights the challenge behind the management required to adequately protect coral reefs and the need to focus on alternative economic and policy tools that address the root drivers of reef degradation."

"This is a critical situation," says coauthor Sebastian Ferse from the Leibniz Center of Tropic
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Contact: Camilo Mora
cmora@dal.ca
57-313-776-2282
Dalhousie University
Source:Eurekalert

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