Warming spurs U.S. to consider ESA protection for 82 coral species

7 thoughts on “Warming spurs U.S. to consider ESA protection for 82 coral species”

  1. Marc, assuming you are not joking, no, neither I nor this study has been “audited” in the denialosphere-McIntyre-witchunt sense.

    The main result (coral cover is declining globally) is generally confirmed, or more accurately concordant, with dozens of other similar papers of individual reefs or regions and some similar synthetic analysis, e.g,;

    Hughes T.P. (1994) Catastrophes, phase shifts, and large-scale degradation of a Caribbean coral reef. Science, 265, 1547-1551

    Bellwood D.R., Hughes T.P., Folke C. & Nystrom M. (2004) Confronting the coral reef crisis. 429, 833-833

    Gardner T.A., Cote I.M., Gill J.A., Grant A. & Watkinson A.R. (2003) Long-term region-wide declines in Caribbean corals. Science, 301, 958-960

    Pandolfi J.M., Bradbury R.H., Sala E., Hughes T.P., Bjorndal K.A., Cooke R.G., McArdle D., McClenachan L., Newman M.J.H., Paredes G., Warner R.R. & Jackson J.B.C. (2003) Global trajectories of the long-term decline of coral reef ecosystems. Science, 301, 955-958

    Also see any of the GCRMN Status of Coral Reefs of the World reports; http://www.gcrmn.org/

    That corals are being lost is pretty obvious even to a non-scientist. And I hope you noted from my post, that I am a pretty skeptical person. I think there are quite a lot of exaggerated claims about reef health (declines) out there and have said so in peer-reviewed publications, e.g., Bruno et al. 2009 (you can download the PDF from my home page, http://www.brunolab.net but it is a large file, also see Schutte et al 2010 when in comes out in a few weeks). Iv’e also co-authored papers describing surprisingly rapid reef recovery similar to Jez’s recent PLoS One paper. THAT SAID, we still have a problem and the prospects of 3-5C warming and 700+ppm of CO2 (leading to extreme acidification) are startling. And overfishing is still extreme on many reefs. SO, I know this is contradictory, but I am sort of a short-term moderate optimist but a long-pessimist on all this. But these are my mixed emotions and not facts.

    Back to my audit. Scientists don’t usually audit each others work. Our findings are verified (to a degree) in the peer-review process. Although that rarely includes actually sharing the data so that the reviewers can reanalyze it. The way we refute each others published but faulty work is to publish a new paper or write a letter to the editor.

    I can’t reveal the identity of the reviewers because peer review is usually anonymous. (I know don’t who the reviewers are). But I would publish (online-here) the reviews. I have been thinking of doing this for some time. I think it would be a pretty neat thing to be able to read reviews made by a papers journal reviewers. The journal PLoS One is actually starting to do this. It would make everything more transparent. I think it would also startle AGW deniers to see how fraking tough scientists are on one another under the veil of anonymity; we can be total bastards! I have often wanted to share reviews online just out of outrage and frustration with some of the crap you get back and also to shame journals and editors into enforcing a higher standard for reviewers and editors.

    Ill get the reviews together, but in the meantime, I’d be curious what others think about the ethics of releasing/publishing journal reviews. I don’t think it is an ethical violation, but am I missing something?

    Also, any other comments/questions Marc?



  2. I appreciate your starting to dissect this petition, which makes some rather astonishing assertions, at least for the Indo-Pacific.

    Do you have any idea how the list of Indo-Pacific corals were chosen?



  3. James, I don’t know for certain. And I am trying to get the report that the petition is based on (anybody know where that is?). But from what the report says and from talking with colleagues, I think it was based on Carpenter et al 2008, which used the IUCN red list procedures, which are described in the link here: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Corals_as_endangered_species

    But I am pretty sure the criteria only has to be met within US waters, so a decline there, but not throughout the whole range would result in listing.

    Please let us know if you discover anything else.


    Carpenter, K. E., M. Abrar, G. Aeby, R. B. Aronson, S. Banks, A. Bruckner, A. Chiriboga, J. Cortes, J. C. Delbeek, L. DeVantier, G. J. Edgar, A. J. Edwards, D. Fenner, H. M. Guzman, B. W. Hoeksema, G. Hodgson, O. Johan, W. Y. Licuanan, S. R. Livingstone, E. R. Lovell, J. A. Moore, D. O. Obura, D. Ochavillo, B. A. Polidoro, W. F. Precht, M. C. Quibilan, C. Reboton, Z. T. Richards, A. D. Rogers, J. Sanciangco, A. Sheppard, C. Sheppard, J. Smith, S. Stuart, E. Turak, J. E. N. Veron, C. Wallace, E. Weil, and E. Wood. 2008. One-third of reef-building corals face elevated extinction risk from climate change and local impacts. Science 321:560-563.


  4. Thanks, John. We are following this at CORAL Magazine.

    Here’s a story about this on our site, including some comments from Marshall Meyers, head of the Pet Industry Joint Council (PIJAC) in Washington.

    He’s looking for coral biologists to help respond to this petition to be sure that any decision by the US government is “science-based”.



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