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Thread: Coral reef damage

  1. #1 Coral reef damage 
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    How are environmental scientists able to measure and monitor negative changes to global coral reefs?
    These changes may result from factors such as global warming, pollution, tourism, overfishing (etc.)
    What methods and equipment to they tend to use?

    Thanks


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  3. #2  
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    First : it is often impossible to know whether damage to coral reefs is from one cause versus another. If you observe coral dying (it goes slimy) then is it due to pollution, warming, a tsunami, starfish infestation, or a virus? Often impossible to know.

    Coral death includes being overgrown with slime, or going white (coral bleaching). Normal healthy processes include coral dying, but new coral grows to cover the dead masses.

    Observing the health of other organisms is an important tool. If there is a major change in fish or invertebrate populations, or the types of organisms encrusting the reef, that may signal a damaging change. Ecologists spend a lot of time counting specific organisms in the population they are studying.

    Of course, the non biological factors need monitoring also, and instruments are often put in place to measure such things as temperature, wave action, sediment deposition etc. Sometimes a physical change occurs a little before a biological change, which makes it much easier to explain the change in ecology.

    However, it is always good to remember just how damn complicated reef ecology is. Changes have numerous possible causes, and ecologists have been proven wrong many times.


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  4. #3 Re: Coral reef damage 
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    Quote Originally Posted by wojang
    How are environmental scientists able to measure and monitor negative changes to global coral reefs?
    These changes may result from factors such as global warming, pollution, tourism, overfishing (etc.)
    What methods and equipment to they tend to use?

    Thanks
    Comparative analysis between reefs in different areas. Protected reefs will not be overfished, but will be subject to global changes such as GW.
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