The authors of this paper outline the grim state and future of coral reef ecosystems, and the consequential domino effects to follow for other systems associated with reefs. Mass bleaching and mortality are identified as the current crisis to corals, and based on the current rate of increase in global CO2 emissions (now exceeding 3% per year), most reefs world-wide are committed to an irreversible decline. Three issues of importance to the future of coral reefs are highlighted: (1) the role of multiple stressors and synergies; including sea level rise, storm impacts, fisheries impacts, water quality, and biotic responses, (2) the nature of resilience, and (3) the importance of domino effects. While the outlook for reefs in the fact of today’s rapid global warming is exceptionally serious, the authors provide remedial options for management interventions that will increase reef resilience, including: a) reduce the harvest of herbivorous fish to sustainable levels, b) protect sharks and other top predators, c) manage all aspects of water quality, and d) diminish direct anthropogenic impacts and stressors.

Author: Veron, J.E.N., O. Hoegh-Guldberg, T.M. Lenton, J.M. Lough, D.O. Obura, P. Pearce-Kelly, C.R.C. Sheppard, M. Spalding, M.G. Stafford-Smith, and A.D. Rogers
Year: 2009
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Marine Pollution Bulletin 58: 1428-1436. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.09.009

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