Coral Disturbance and Recovery in a Changing World



Much of the historical development of ecological thought has revolved around disturbance and the responses of organisms, species and assemblages. Coral reefs have figured prominently in this intellectual development. Historically, observed coral populations and communities have been understood as displaying the net balance (though rarely reaching an equilibrium) between disruptive forces and those leading to recovery of coral abundance and composition. The fact of drastic coral decline over the past few decades implies a shift in this balance toward greater influence of disturbance and/or lesser effectiveness of recovery. This chapter examines the likelihood that both expanding disturbances (in identity, scale, intensity, and/or frequency) and impaired recovery processes (resulting at least partially from expanding chronic disturbances) are likely contributors to this shift. The contemplation of progressively more radical management interventions to combat expanding disturbance and faltering recovery invokes a need for targeted research to clarify and minimize risks while maximizing benefits of such intervention strategies.


Resilience Chronic Bleaching Disease Storms 



Sincere thanks to C Birkeland and BE Brown for their input and guidance in shaping this contribution. Review and comments by DE Williams fostered improvements in the manuscript and are greatly appreciated. Opinions expressed are my own and do not represent official positions of NOAA nor the Southeast Fisheries Science Center.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southeast Fisheries Science CenterNOAA/NMFSMiamiUSA

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