Coral Reefs of the Gulf pp 163-170

Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 3) | Cite as

Extreme Physical Factors and the Structure of Gulf Fish and Reef Communities

  • David A. Feary
  • John A. Burt
  • Georgenes H. Cavalcante
  • Andrew G. Bauman
Chapter

Abstract

Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, making up <0.5% of the marine environment by area but containing nearly a third of all marine species, most of which are endemic to reefs (Moberg and Folke 1999). Despite their economic and ecological importance, coral reefs are being increasingly degraded by both human and natural stressors. Over-exploitation, destructive fishing methods, eutrophication and sedimentation resulting from land-use changes, among other factors, has resulted in the loss of over 19% of the world’s coral reef area in the past several decades (Wilkinson 2008). However, climate change, mainly driven by increases in atmospheric CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels, represents the greatest threat to the future of coral reefs (Harley et al. 2006; Wilkinson 2008). Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased from ∼280 ppm around 1700 AD to >380 ppm today (Brohan et al. 2006), a rate of increase over 100 times faster than experienced in the past 650,000 year (Siegenthaler et al. 2005), and potentially beyond the capacity of reef fauna to adapt and recover (Przeslawski et al. 2008).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Feary
    • 1
  • John A. Burt
    • 2
  • Georgenes H. Cavalcante
    • 3
  • Andrew G. Bauman
    • 4
  1. 1.School of the EnvironmentUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of BiologyNew York University-Abu DhabiAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  3. 3.Coastal Zone and Waterways Management Section, Environment DepartmentDubai MunicipalityDubaiUnited Arab Emirates
  4. 4.School of Marine and Tropical Biology, ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownvilleAustralia

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