Marine researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups have created a map of the world's corals and their exposure to stress factors, including high temperatures, ultra-violet radiation, weather systems, sedimentation, as well as stress-reducing factors such as temperature variability and tidal dynamics.
The study, say the authors, will help to conserve some of the world's most important coral reefs by identifying reef systems where biodiversity is high and stress is low, ecosystems where management has the best chance of success.
The paper appears online in journal PLoS One. The authors include: Joseph M. Maina of WCS and a doctoral student at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia; Timothy R. McClanahan of WCS; Valentijn Venus of Netherlands Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation; Mebrahtu Ateweberhan of the University of Warwick; and Joshua Madin of Macquarie University.
"Coral reefs around the globe are under pressure from a variety of factors such as higher temperatures, sedimentation, and human-related activities such as fishing and coastal development," said Joseph M. Maina, WCS conservationist and lead author on the study. "The key to effectively identifying where conservation efforts are most likely to succeed is finding reefs where high biodiversity and low stress intersect."
Using a wide array of publicly available data sets from satellites and a branch of mathematics known as fuzzy logic, which can handle incomplete data on coral physiology and coral-environment interactions, the researchers grouped the world's tropical coral reef systems into clusters based on the sum of their stress exposure grades and the factors that reinforce and reduce these stresses.
The first cluster of coral regionsSoutheast Asia, Micronesia, the Eastern Pacific, and the central Indian Oceanis characterized by high radiation stress (sea surface temperature, ultra-violet radiat
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Wildlife Conservation Society