Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012

Edited by: Jeremy JacksonMary DonovanKatie Cramer, and Vivian Lam

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Abstract

This it the 9th status report since the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) was founded in 1995 was the data arm of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to document the ecological condition or corral reefs, strengthen monitoring efforts, and link existing organizations and people working on reefs worldwide. The US Government provided the initial funding to help set up a global network of coral reef workers and has continued to provide core support. Since then, the series of reports have aimed to present the current status of coral reefs of the world or particular regions, the major threats to reefs and their consequences, and any initiative undertaken under the auspices of ICRI or other bodies to arrest or reverse the decline of coral reefs.

IUCN assumed responsibility for hosting the global coordination of the GCRMN in 2010 under the scientific direction of Jeremy Jackson with the following objectives:

1. Document quantitatively the global status and trends for corals, macroalgae, sea urchins, and fishes based on available data from individual scientists as well as the peer reviewed scientific literature, monitoring programs, and report.

2. Bring together regional experts in a series of workshops to involve them in data compilation, analysis, and synthesis.

3. Integrate coral reef status and trends with independent environmental, management, and socioeconomic data to better understand the primary factors responsible for coral reef decline, the possible synergies among factors that may further magnify their impacts, and how these stresses may be more effectively alleviated.

Work with GCRMN partners to establish simple and practical standardized protocols for future monitoring and assessment.

Disseminate information and results to help guide member state policy and actions.

The overarching objective is to understand why some reefs are much healthier than others, to identify what kinds of actions have been particularly beneficial or harmful, and to vigorously communicate results in simple and straightforward terms to foster more effective conservation and management.

This and subsequent reports will focus on separate biogeographic regions in a stepwise fashion and combine all of the results for a global synthesis in the coming years. We began in the wide Caribbean region because the historical data are so extensive and to refine methods of analysis before moving on to other regions. This report documents quantitative trends for Caribbean reef corals, macroalgae, sea urchins, and fishes based on data from 90 reef locations over the past 43 tears. This is the first report to combine all these disparate kinds of data in a single place to explore how the different major components of coral reef ecosystems interact on a broadly regional oceanic scale.

We obtained data from more than 35,000 ecological surveys carried out by 78 principal investigators (PIs) and some 200 colleagues working in 34 countries, states, and territories throughout the wide Caribbean region. We conducted two workshops in Panama and Brisbane, Australia to bring together people who provided the data to assist in data quality control, analysis, and synthesis. The first workshop at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in the Republic of Panama 29 April to 5 May, 2012 included scientists from 18 countries and territories to verify and expand the database and to conduct exploratory analyses of status and trends. Preliminary results based on the Panama workshop were presented to the DC Marine Community and Smithsonian Institution Senate of Scientists in May 2012 and at the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) and annual ICRI meeting in Cairns, Australia in July 2012. The second workshop in Brisbane, Australia in December 2012 brought together eight coral reef scientists for more detailed data analysis and organization of results for this report and subsequent publications. Subsequent presentations to solicit comments while the report was being finalized were made in 2013-2014 at the ICRI General meeting in Belize, the biennial meeting of the Association of Island Marine Laboratories in Jamaica, the Panamerican Coral Reef Congress in Merida, Mexico, the annual meeting of he Western Society of Naturalists, and numerous universities in Costa Rica, the USA and Europe.

The main body of the report is in two sections. Part I provides an overview of overall status and trends and detailed analyses of the multiple factors responsible for the decline of reef corals throughout the entire wider Caribbean region. The editors are grateful to all the people who have so generously provided data and expertise, but we assume responsibility for the many statements, conclusions and recommendations and final wording of the text. Part II provides a more detailed analysis of the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems in the 32 countries, states, and territories for which we have data. The format includes maps indicating all locations sampled, a detailed table of data sources and sites surveyed, timelines of ecologically important evens, and relevant references. Each of these reports was compiled in consultation with local experts and all those who provided data and advice are listed as authors of each country report.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Status and trends of Caribbean coral reefs: 1970-2012
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Southeast Ecological Science Center
Description 304 p.
Other Geospatial Caribbean
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