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Worldwide map identifies important coral reefs exposed to stress
Date:8/11/2011

ion, and doldrums weather patterns with little wind) and few stress-reducing factors (temperature variability and tidal amplitude). The group also includes corals in coastal waters of the Middle East and Western Australia (both regions have high scores for reinforcing stress factors such as sedimentation and phytoplankton).

The second cluster including the Caribbean, Great Barrier Reef, Central Pacific, Polynesia, and the Western Indian Oceancontained regions with moderate to high rates of exposure as well as high rates of reducing factors, such as large tides and temperature variability.

Overall, stress factors such as surface temperature, ultra-violet radiation, and doldrums were the most significant factors, ones that ecosystem management has no control over. What is controllable is the mitigation of human impacts that reinforce radiation stress and where managers decide to locate their protected areas.

"When radiation stress and high fishing are combined, the reefs have little chance of surviving climate change disturbances because they both work against the survival of corals that are the foundation of the coral reef ecosystem," said Dr. Tim McClanahan, WCS Senior Conservationist and head of the society's coral reef research and conservation program.

The authors recommend that the study results be used to formulate management strategies that would include activities such as fishing restrictions, the management of watersheds through improved agricultural practices, and reforestation of coastal watersheds that play a role in healthy coral systems.

"The study provides marine park and ecosystem managers with a plan for spatially managing the effectiveness of conservation and sustainability," said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Marine Program. "The information will help formulate more effective strategies to protect corals from climate change and lead to improved management of re
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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