Using multiple lines of evidence to assess the risk of ecosystem collapse

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Published: 2017-09-27

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0660

Affiliations: 11

Authors: 10

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Research Highlight

Coral reef faces a tenuous future

© Luis Javier Sandoval/Stockbyte/Getty

© Luis Javier Sandoval/Stockbyte/Getty

The world’s second longest coral reef is critically endangered according to a new risk assessment.

Ecosystems worldwide are sensitive to both natural events and human activities. Coral reefs, for example, face a multitude of threats, from rising seas and hurricanes to overfishing and pollution. A team led by researchers from Deakin University assessed the health of the Meso-American Reef, which extends from Mexico to Nicaragua, using criteria from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Ecosystems. Factors included ecosystem size, function and degree of degradation. The team used their ‘Coral Reef Scenario Evaluation Tool’ to reconstruct the reef’s recent history and predict its future using different combinations of threats. The results reveal a high risk of coral bleaching that will be intensified by stronger hurricanes and increased pollution.

Identifying ecosystems whose collapse is imminent is crucial for global conservation efforts.

Supported content

  1. Proc. R. Soc. B 284, 20170660 (2017). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0660
Institutions Share
The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia 0.20
Deakin University, Australia 0.15
University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), Australia 0.13
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), State Government Victoria, Australia 0.10
The University of Sydney (USYD), Australia 0.10
Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC), Australia 0.10
The University of Melbourne (UniMelb), Australia 0.05
Ecology of Coastal Marine Systems (ECOSYM), France 0.05
James Cook University (JCU), Australia 0.05
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), Australia 0.03
Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), Australia 0.03