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Corals added to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for first time
Date:9/12/2007

hing two of the biggest threats to marine life are the likely causes in these cases.

Scientists blame climate change for more frequent and increasingly severe El Nio events that have caused dramatic rises in water temperatures and reduced nutrient availability around the Galapagos Islands in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, off South America. The warmer water harms corals and algae, both of which constitute the structural foundation of unique and diverse marine ecosystems.

Corals build reefs that are habitat for fish and other marine life, and also are a major attraction for divers in the Galapagos, where tourism makes a significant contribution to the local and national economy.

The recovery of algae species following strong El Ni o events is harmed by over-fishing of the natural predators of sea urchins, which feed on the algae. Mushrooming urchin populations scour rocks clean of algae, depleting a major food source for other species such as the Galapagos marine iguana.

Marine ecosystems are vulnerable to threats at all scales globally through climate change, regionally from El Nio events, and locally when over-fishing removes key ecosystem building blocks, said Jane Smart, head of the IUCN Species Program. We need more effective solutions to manage marine resources in a more sustainable way in light of these increasing threats.??

Other coral and algae species lacked sufficient information to determine their IUCN Red List status, so they received the designation of Data Deficient. Researchers believe many of these species are likely to be listed as threatened with extinction when more detailed information becomes available.

The GMSA is the first strategic global review of the conservation status of marine species, including every marine vertebrate species and selected invertebrates and plants. Funded predominantly by CI, the five-year GMSA initiative is engaging experts from around the world to compile a
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Contact: Lisa Bailey
lbailey@conservation.org
703-341-2602
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert

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