Last updated on 11/26/2001.

 

Research Priorities for Caribbean Coral Reefs

 

Results From an International Workshop Held in Miami

October 3 - 5, 2001

 

 

Executive Summary

 

Background

The coral reefs of the Caribbean and Western Atlantic are vital to the economies of regional nations, and to the maintenance of livelihoods of millions of reef-dependent people. They represent the highest known biodiversity in these seas, and supply a substantial portion of the fisheries harvest of the region. Over the last two decades, coral reef disease and degradation has become rampant. Most alarmingly, many of these reefs have increasingly lost their resilience following damage from disruptions such as hurricanes. Pollution, overfishing, and other stresses seem to increasingly favor the growth of seaweed over that of corals following disturbances. These and other key processes are poorly understood, and this paucity of knowledge seriously hampers management action to conserve and properly manage coral reefs.

 

Coral reefs are highly complex ecosystems, often heavily influenced by even more complex socioeconomic and political systems. Policy and decision-making, such as on the deployment of marine protected areas, the regulation of coastal development and the implementation of fishery regulations, usually cover scales of hundreds to thousands of kilometers for time periods of 4 to 10 years. They generally involve the integration of a wide range of interlinked considerations based on limited biophysical and socioeconomic information balanced against strong political forces. Science in support of these decisions is often conducted on much smaller scales of time and space, and is often highly specialized, with results difficult to rationalize against those of other disciplines. Much of what science does have to offer does not reach the decision process, and that which does is often not specifically applicable to the decision being made. This weakens the role of science in decision-making, reduces the availability of funding for science, thus perpetuating the inadequate scientific basis for coral reef management.�����

 

It is crucial that this cycle be broken. In this era of rapid advances in science and technology, current efforts to understand coral reef ecosystems and their management are lagging far behind what is possible. Today�s investments in the research necessary to keep these ecosystems would, if they were corporations, be considered irrationally small.

 

If we are to improve the situation, then we must develop a more organized assault on the unknown. We must develop biophysical-socioeconomic studies at scales of time and space that are relevant to management and sufficient to account for natural processes. We must support these projects with studies of coral disease, improvements in remote sensing analyses and other key efforts within-disciplines. In all cases, we must involve the best scientists to maximal capacity in cross-institutional teams, while at the same time building up the scientific capacities of regional nations. In the absence of large pools of available funds, some larger projects can be supported through collaboration based onsmaller resources obtained by individual scientists. As results become increasingly useful to policy makers and managers, then perhaps more reasonable and reliable funding support will become available. This workshop represents a key step in this process.

 

The Workshop

On October 3-5, 2001, sixty-five experts from 11 countries met in Miami, Florida, to identify priority areas for research in support of the management of coral reefs. The participants were individually chosen so as to represent a broad range of scientific and management fields, a variety of institutions, and a reasonable coverage of the region. Following a morning of general presentations, five key experts gave summary presentations on the four main topics of the workshop:

 

1.      Scientific Needs for Integrated Coastal Management-- Janet Gibson

2.      Coral Reef Mapping and Remote Sensing � Peter Mumby

3.      Coral Reef Health and Connectivity � Eric Jordan Dahlgren

4.      Bleaching and Diseases of Coral Reef Organisms � Peter Glynn and Ernesto Weil

 

This was followed by a full day of parallel breakout sessions in the above groups. The following morning, rapporteurs Alessandra Vanzella Khouri, Serge Andr�fouet, Robbie Smith and Shawn McLaughlin respectively presented plenary summaries of discussions from the four working groups for inputs from the group as a whole. A summary of the workshop was presented by co-chair Jorge Cort�s. Subsequently, workshop chair John McManus compiled the notes from the meeting. These were made available for comment by the group and the general public via email and the Internet.

 

The priorities are intended to facilitate providing regional scientific support for the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), The International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), the Global Coral Reef Action Network (GCRMN), the International Coral Reef Information Network (ICRIN), ReefBase, the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA), the Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Program (CARICOMP), the Caribbean Reefs at Risk Project, the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef Project, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and its member agencies, and other international, national, state and local efforts to improve coral reef management. They address and support actions identified in connection with Agenda 21, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Caribbean Environment Programme , and the ICRI Framework for Action.

 

The workshop was organized by the National Center for Caribbean Coral Reef Research (NCORE) of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Miami. It was co-hosted by the Prince Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation and the International SeaKeepers Society. Core sponsorship was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and supplemented via the above partnerships.

 

Summary of Results

The results of the workshop reinforce the conclusions of the more general review of environmental science and engineering of the National Science Foundation (NSF), published in February, 2000*.Specifically, both this workshop and the NSF review call for:

  1. More reasonable and predictable funding and resources.
  2. Highly integrated cross-institutional, interdisciplinary socioeconomic-biophysical research.
  3. Focused research within key disciplines.
  4. Long-term research.
  5. Environmental education.
  6. Research on the methods and models used in environmental assessments, funding prioritization, and studies of the effectiveness of actions to address environmental issues.
  7. Improving infrastructure for environmental observations, data handling, and networking.
  8. Improvements in supportive technologies.

 

Thus, the priorities described below are consistent with those of the NSF study, and identify specific areas in which the latter recommendations can be addressed most effectively for coral reefs.

 

*NSF 2000. Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century: The Role of the National Science Foundation. National Science Board (NSB 00-22). http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsb0022.

 

 

Recommendations by Topic

 

In the sections that follow, the order of presentation does not reflect levels of importance.

 

 

Scientific Needs for Integrated Coastal Management and Fisheries

 

  1. There is a need for a better understanding of the relationships between human activities and the processes involved in reef ecosystem function.

 

Recommendations:

Focus studies on how the ecosystem responds to natural and anthropogenic influences given a variety of impacts occurring at various frequencies. Conduct biophysical � socioeconomic research on the recovery and restoration of reefs under conditions of pollution and extractive uses. Further develop forensic and retrospective analysis of reef disturbances. Determine the direct and indirect impacts of tourism on reefs. Include the human dimension in long-term ecological research and baseline studies. Investigate the effectiveness of various performance criteria for coral reef management systems. Analyze the effectiveness of NGOs vs. government institutions in various roles within integrated coastal zone management. Expand research efforts into the quality of life of reef dependent people, and use this to develop more effective means to assess the potential impacts of management interventions on the reefs and associated human communities.

 

 

  1. There is insufficient biophysical and socioeconomic knowledge for effective reef fisheries management.

 

Recommendations:

Conduct research on stock structure and population connectivity, and on the effectiveness and design of marine protected areas (MPAs) in relationship to fisheries. Support experimental and manipulative research for fisheries management using multidisciplinary (socioeconomic and biophysical) teams of researchers. Improve and implement methods to determine yield capacities of coral reefs. Elucidate the relationships between quality of life and fishing. Develop analytical and management approaches that will help to guide fisheries policy to improve economic and gender equity and favor fishery access by low-income coastal dwellers. Investigate options to reduce fishing pressure through alternative livelihood programs and access limitations. Determine factors that influence compliance with fishery regulations, such as participation in decision-making, and develop strategies to improve compliance. Conduct research on the effectiveness of improving fisheries management via various types of marketing and advocacy campaigns, and through certification and eco-labeling.

 

 

  1. The implementation of improved policies is inhibited by inadequacies in our capacity to conduct economic valuations and to assess damages.

 

Recommendations:

Develop alternative techniques for valuation and damage assessment applicable to local and regional scales, to include cost-benefit approaches, values for non-market uses, consumptive vs. non-consumptive uses and the use of proxy values for short-term analytical requirements. Integrate damage assessment with interdisciplinary predictive spatial coral reef modeling to ensure that the full socioeconomic and biophysical costs of the damage over time are accounted for.

 

 

  1. There is a lack of user-friendly, accurate and appropriate methods and models to facilitate integrated coastal management.

 

Recommendations:

Develop queriable and user-friendly decision-support systems, according to scale, including relevant layers of information on ecological, socioeconomic, legal and policy issues, incorporating a participatory approach for planning and information gathering at the lowest scale of governance. Combine these systems with predictive interdisciplinary spatial models developed in conjunction with fieldwork for mapping, parameterization, calibration and validation. Conduct training in the use of these systems. Support regional and national scale analyses of coral reef status, including the upcoming Caribbean Reefs at Risk Anaylsis, and ensure that the results of such studies and the data on which they are based are widely and freely available.

 

 

  1. A lack of direct communication and awareness at all levels often results in well-established scientific principles not being effectively implemented.

 

Recommendations:

Implement a multifaceted effort to incorporate current knowledge into policy-making. This can include translating, effectively packaging and positioning guidelines at key policy and decision-making levels, developing interpersonal linkages between scientists and policy makers, making effective use of the media and of a variety of public forums, and developing information stores linked to dissemination networks. Conduct research on the effectiveness of education campaigns, and on determining the best means to apply existing knowledge to effective management. Strengthen institutional capacity for management and science throughout the region. Involve economists, lawyers, behavioral scientists, policy-makers and managers in meetings on environmental matters. Educate and involve local economists and lawyers in environmental investigations. Conduct behavioral research on ways to improve enforcement and self-management at the local community scale.

 

 

  1. There is insufficient knowledge on human carrying capacity and its relationship to sustainable development and land-use.

 

Recommendations:

Conduct socioeconomic-biophysical research on the determination of human carrying capacity in a variety of coastal situations at local and regional scales. Develop simple techniques to conduct these determinations using �footprint� analyses aimed at determining impacts per individual and institution, and employing graphical analysis and presentation.

 

Remote Sensing and Mapping

 

  1. Coral reef management and science is hindered by the fact that most coral reef communities have never been adequately mapped, and in many cases, their locations are not known.

 

Recommendations:

Develop a meta-database of existing maps and related data for the coral reefs and coastal watersheds of the Caribbean, and initiate an organized effort to map the rest to satellite levels of resolution and depths of penetration. Organize efforts to map reefs below 10 meters via modern ship-borne acoustic methods. Identify areas where management or scientific objectives require more detailed investigation, and conduct detailed mapping using combinations of airborne laser depth-finding (LIDAR) and hyperspectral (finely divided light bands) data. Make all products readily available over the Internet, with fully disclosed data on accuracy, history and format. Actively involve recreational divers and monitoring programs in ground-truthing remotely sensed data. Building on geographic information systems, combine high-resolution depth data with maps of ecological communities, with hydrographic, ecological and socioeconomic models, and with expert systems to assist coral reef managers in decision-making.

 

 

  1. Remote sensing of coral reefs and other underwater ecosystems lags behind that of terrestrial areas, because of limitations of radiation penetration through seawater, and because of the low-priority historically given underwater ecosystem studies in the deployment of satellite sensors.

 

Recommendations:

Design and deploy more high-resolution satellite sensors with finely divided bands in the visible (water-penetrating) light range. Find ways to lower the cost and improve the accessibility of airborne LIDAR and hyperspectral coverage in coral reef areas. Continue to improve the capacity of ship-borne acoustic mapping methods to determine ecosystem types and features. Improve the methods available for processing underwater images and for combining data from multiple sources into map products useful to scientists and managers.

 

 

  1. The potential for remote sensing to assist in coral reef and coastal management could be better realized by including watershed, oceanic and atmospheric remote sensing with reef-specific analyses.

 

Recommendations:

Increase the availability of and develop better integration methods for the use of satellite and airborne sensor data to delineate characteristics of watersheds, classify human use patterns, determine average and extreme wave exposure, determine high-resolution sea surface temperature and water mass movements, quantify sunlight exposure and otherwise improve the basis for understanding changes on coral reefs. Improve coastal classifications using remotely sensed data to facilitate the conduct of analyses such as those of the Reefs at Risk Program, in which the real and potential exposure of reefs to degradation processes is inferred from a broad range of data (such as land use, water quality, geomorphology, etc.) and calibrated using reef-specific information. Higher resolution remotely sensed oceanographic data could greatly improve estimations of the impacts of coral bleaching events and assist greatly in studies of recruitment and connectivity among reefs. Educational materials should be produced to explain how a broad range of remotely sensed data could be used for management, employing case studies. The UNESCO Bilko for Windows Program and other analytical, educational and training systems could be utilized for this.

 

 

  1. There is yet unrealized potential for the use of remote sensing in support of the management of biodiversity and fisheries in coral reefs and associated environments.

 

Recommendations:

Improve both our capacity to interpret remotely sensed data to identify and quantify ecological communities and our understanding of the species compositions of those communities under varying environmental conditions. Improve our capacity to identify these environmental conditions from sensor data. Use this knowledge to predict biodiversity patterns. Assess and improve the accuracy of these predictions via field studies. Explore and validate the use of remotely sensed data in identifying habitat attributes (such as fragility, vulnerability, etc.) for biodiversity planning and conservation prioritization. Conduct research into the use of remote sensing for producing ecological habitat maps in support of fisheries management, to assist in stock assessment, the delineation of critical habitats and the application of area-based management interventions such as marine protected areas.

 

 

  1. Remote sensing products of growing importance in studies of environmental changes over time are threatened with loss, damage or underutilization because of improper storage, inadequate record-keeping, costly or difficult accessibility, and by a lack of facilities and trained personnel across the region.

 

Recommendations:

Develop an efficient, global system for finding and ordering or downloading all unclassified coastal and marine remote sensing products, including all extant aerial photography from government-sponsored surveys in the past. Link this to ReefBase, the Global Coral Reef Database. Support this dissemination with specific product development teams, such as an ocean color data dissemination team. Translate relevant training materials, such as the UNESCO Handbook on Remote Sensing of Tropical Coastal Zones into all major Caribbean languages. Improve the availability of image analysis facilities, equipment and software among regional nations. Sponsor the development of remote sensing analysis facilities and computer-based training courses. Conduct training programs and sponsor advanced education in remote sensing applications to improve capacity throughout the region.

 

 

Connectivity Among Reefs

 

  1. We do not fully understand the processes affecting the recruitment and retention of propagules, larvae and pelagic juveniles of coral reef organisms.

 

Recommendation:

Conduct studies of the life stages and population dynamics of coral reef species, and determine their relationship to physical oceanographic features and the geomorphology of coral reefs. Determine the processes affecting the survival of newly settled organisms. Investigate the population genetics of key species at multiple scales and estimate minimal viable populations sizes. Assess the biogeographic, within-habitat and depth distributions of coral reef species in support of understanding inter-reef dependencies.

 

 

  1. Our knowledge of the nature of and relationships between local and large scale oceanographic processes is limited.

 

Recommendation:

Develop predictive models of regional oceanographic processes, along with estimated probabilities of certainty, at a variety of time and space scales, incorporating atmospheric processes. Validate and parameterize these models from greatly enhanced programs of data collection, including the use of ships of opportunity such as in the Sea Keepers Program, in which private and commercial vessels are outfitted with oceanographic instrumentation. A major emphasis should be placed on modeling the effects of climate change on these processes, on determining the implications for recruitment and retention of disease vectors, propagules and larvae, and the related impacts on the viabilities of fisheries and coral reef health in the future.

 

 

  1. Many large-scale phenomena potentially play key roles in the ecology of regional coral reefs, but these roles are poorly known.

 

Recommendation:

Investigate large-scale phenomena including river plumes, upwellings and atmospheric dust inputs that affect the region to determine their influences on coral reef health.

 

 

  1. Conservation of coral reef resources cannot be ensured without the coordination of efforts across the region based on knowledge of recruitment and connectivity processes, and of the interdependence among various types of ecosystems.

 

Recommendation:

Formulate a Caribbean-wide plan for ocean and coastal zone management, supported through international agreement, to guide and encourage the development of more effective management strategies and policies at national and local scales.��

 

 

Reef Health and its Assessment

 

 

  1. The relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem function in coral reefs, including the resistance to and resilience from disturbances, are unclear.

 

Recommendations:

Implement comparative investigations of coral reefs and their adjacent environments aimed at determining how calcification, nutrient cycling, resistance, resilience and other ecosystem functions vary under a range of environmental conditions, and how this variation relates to patterns of biodiversity. Long-term, large-scale studies should be a high priority, so as to account for variation in time and space. Research should include a focus on determining minimal sets of species and populations that must be maintained before substantial changes in ecosystem function occur. Studies should include further research on the means and cost-effectiveness of restoration techniques. Support research on factors important to ecological resistance and resilience, such as studies of key species� growth rates, timing of reproduction, fecundity, survival, settlement behavior interspecies interactions, and dependence on non-reef ecosystems. Use coral coring and paleoecological approaches to reinforce studies of ecological resistance and resilience over past decades, centuries and millennia.

 

 

  1. Many patterns of migration, essential to the implementation of management interventions such as marine protected areas (MPAs), are poorly known.

 

Recommendations:

Conduct research into the migration patterns of fish and mobile invertebrates associated with coral reefs. Determine the relationships between migration patterns and ontogenic shifts, such as changes in feeding habits, fecundity and gender. Integrate this research into studies on the potential and empirically measured effectiveness of various MPA designs and geographic deployments.

 

 

  1. There are a variety of�strong interactions� on coral reefs that require particular research focus in support of improved management. Some of these interactions, such as those between atmospheric CO2 and reef calcification, may change substantially over the next century, possibly resulting in wide-spread changes in reef viability.

 

Recommendation:

Conduct studies on calcification and coral colony growth vs. climate change, coral bleaching vs. seawater temperature, sedimentation vs. eutrophication, algal abundance vs. herbivory and nutrification, and storm frequency vs. extreme events such as El Ni�o. Strengthen research on atmospheric and seawater chemistry as it relates to coral reefs. Use coral coring and the fossil record in support of these studies. Focus research on determining the impacts on reef ecosystems of variations in bioerosion, diseases, fishing pressure and physical impacts by humans. Use this knowledge to develop more realistic ecological models to improve our knowledge of reef processes and to support better long-term reef management.

 

 

  1. The assessment and monitoring of coral reefs and the evaluation of management interventions are often ineffective because of the variable levels of research capacity across the region, inadequate funding, and a paucity of meaningful, efficient and well-understood standard indicators and indices of coral reef health.

 

Recommendations:

Develop and standardize multiple independent indicators and indices for the assessment of reef health. Develop new stress indicators and validate these via long-term research. In cases for which point-in-time indicators are insufficient, protocols should be developed calling for robust time series of measurements to capture trends. Improve database development, implementation and communication in support of reef assessment and monitoring. Improve the capacity of countries throughout the region to assess and monitor reefs via improved infrastructure and training. Develop mechanisms for long-term, predictable funding of coral reef monitoring and of evaluations of management impacts.

 

 

  1. Many of the species associated with coral reefs in the Caribbean are unknown in terms of taxonomy, systematics and phylogeny, and misidentifications are common due to the unfamiliarity by many field scientists with current knowledge in these areas.

 

Recommendations:

Strengthen research on the taxonomy, systematics and phylogeny of coastal and coral reef species throughout Caribbean nations. Sponsor the education of a new generation of scientists in these fields. Improve existing museum reference collections and develop new museums strategically across the region. Enhance education on these fields in universities and training courses, and develop tutorials for use on CD-ROM and via the Internet. Further develop computer-aided and molecular-based species identification procedures, and support research centers and museums to provide identifications as a basic service.��

 

 

  1. Many ecosystems involving reef-building corals are small or located in deep waters or the northern subtropics, and so have been little studied. Yet, they may be crucial to the maintenance of populations of reef species and of ecosystem function on a large scale, or have particular ecological or socioeconomic importance because of uniqueness and rarity in an area.

 

Recommendation:

Conduct biophysical-socioeconomic research on these �marginal� coralline ecosystems and determine their significance to population maintenance and ecosystem functioning across the region. Investigate how the sensitivities of these systems to local, regional and global disturbances and stresses differ from those of non-marginal reef systems. Identify any management needs that differ from those of better-known coral reef systems.

 

 

  1. There is an increasing danger of species invading coral reefs from outside of their natural ranges, causing substantial changes in biodiversity and ecosystem health, and threatening resources vital to coastal populations.

 

Recommendation:

Initiate an organized research effort to determine the present and future levels of threats from invasive species, and potential impacts on reef-dependent people. Identify the means to limit the possibility of such invasions. Determine low-impact ways to remove invasive species as they appear.

 

 

  1. It has long been recognized that many aspects of coral reef science cannot be properly investigated without highly interdisciplinary, large-scale and long-term research, and yet funding for this work is exceedingly difficult to find.

 

Recommendations:

Scientists and managers should form teams to develop well-engineered operational plans for integrated research efforts. These should include clear strategies for incorporating results into policy and management implementation, and estimations of the economic benefits that will likely result. Funding agencies and governments should increasingly set aside funds for organized long-term research as a means of improving overall cost-effectiveness. Groups of researchers should form agreements to use their usual sources to support collaborative research on specific reef systems.

 

 

Bleaching of Corals and Other Reef Species

 

24.  The recent widespread bleaching of corals and other species has been clearly linked to sea water warming during El Ni�o related conditions, yet it is currently not possible to reliably predict the impacts, estimate the extent of damage or project the time to recovery after such events.

 

Recommendations:

Strengthen research efforts to use satellite maps of sea-surface temperature, stationary buoy systems and vessel-mounted oceanographic equipment, including the Sea Keepers� sensor deployment on vessels of opportunity, to provide early warning about bleaching events. Using a hierarchical research approach involving comparisons between broad area sea surface temperature estimates, fine scale remotely sensed temperatures, and field observations, determine the relationships between environmental characteristics, NOAA�s �hot spots� and the incidence (per species) of bleaching. Use this as a basis for future estimations of the extent of bleaching based on the broad-scale NOAA satellite data. Improve these estimations through research on the physiological mechanisms involved in bleaching and potentially influencing factors such as the presence of disease, stress or recent perturbation. Improve channels to disseminate this information to managers, policy makers and the public.

 

 

25.  Recent bleaching episodes indicate that corals can suffer mass mortalities as ambient seawater temperatures rise only one or two degrees above normal. Given that global climate change will result in such temperature increases being common, there is a potential threat to coral reef viability of substantial magnitude.

 

Recommendations:

Conduct research to model the future of the coral reefs under climate change, supplemented by enhanced research into bleaching, seawater chemistry, air-sea exchange and the natural mechanisms that might reduce coral reef damage, including adaptation of corals and/or their symbiotic �zooxanthellae� algae, and substitution by various species of corals and/or zooxanthellae. Improve the capacity to predict the long-term impacts of bleaching, in conjunction with various stresses and perturbations, and determine the conditions under which recovery is slowed or halted by shifts to macroalgal dominance. Use this knowledge to improve reef management so as to minimize the long-term effects of bleaching.

 

 

Diseases of Coral Reef Organisms

 

  1. Although the coral reefs of the Caribbean are suffering from a recent, rapid proliferation of a variety of diseases affecting corals and associated species, we have little information on most of these diseases because of poor taxonomy of diseases and the organisms they infect, the lack of research coordination, standards and reliable funding to analyze the diseases.

 

Recommendations:

Enhance efforts on the systematics, taxonomy, characteristics and genetic composition of reef related diseases and the species they infect. Develop standards for analytical terminology and protocols. Utilize Koch�s postulates for determining causative agents and subject findings to peer review. Improve regional diagnostic capacity through improved facilities, training and higher-level education. Integrate recent advances in biotechnology into studies of reef-related diseases. Conduct research on patterns of susceptibility to disease and underlying physiological mechanisms. Identify disease vectors, natural reservoirs and extra-regional sources. Determine if diseases have been imported in via the introduction of exotic species, or transported via aquaculture, ballast water, the aquarium trade, dust storms from Africa or elsewhere, or via other means. Identify the risks and potential means by which diseases may be exported to coral reef areas outside of the Caribbean. Develop preventative measures for both import and export of these diseases.

 

 

  1. There is a paucity of information on the spatial distributions and time variability of reef-associated diseases, and their relationships to oceanographic dispersal processes.

 

Recommendations:

Implement studies of the biogeographic distribution and historical abundances of these diseases. Determine incidence, prevalence, host range, virulence and mortality rates by disease and host species. Integrate research on disease with that of reef connectivity, recruitment and physical oceanographic modeling.

 

 

  1. The relationships between susceptibility to disease and environmental factors, stresses and disturbances are poorly known, and this hinders the efforts to minimize disease impacts through management intervention.

 

Recommendations:

Conduct research on the relationships between disease and environmental factors such as temperature, pH, water quality, UV light and irradiance. Determine the roles of pesticides, herbicides and combustion products that may contribute to disease through metabolic dysfunction. Identify critical thresholds for these factors and pollutants in their effects on disease susceptibility. Investigate the effects of stresses and disturbances acting in various combinations of type, frequency and intensity on disease susceptibility. Determine if bleaching of corals or other zooxanthellate species increases this susceptibility. Investigate the possibility that diver activities, anchors and other mechanical disturbances enhance susceptibility to disease.

 

 

  1. We need to know more about the relationships between diseases and the infected organisms, their populations and the ecological communities of which they are a part.

 

Recommendations:

Expand studies of growth, reproduction and other organisms-level processes with and without various types and levels of infection, and determine their relationship to disease susceptibility. Conduct immunology studies, including the responses of the genomes and proteins during infection (genomics and proteomics). Maintain supportive bioinformatics data analysis and storage systems, and associated networks. Determine the relationships of the diseases to reef microbiota. Determine the effects of the diseases on population dynamics (including fitness and changes in life stages), on community structure and on functional aspects of the ecosystems, such as resistance to and resilience from perturbation, given various types and levels of environmental stress. Explore the fossil record and coral cores to extend the basis for these studies into past decades and centuries.

 

 

 

Suggested citation:

 

McManus, J.W. (Compiler) 2001, Priorities for Caribbean Coral Reef Research. Results From an International Workshop Held in Miami, September 5-7, 2001. Draft, November 23, 2001. ncoremiami.org. Date of access: xx-xx-xxxx.

 

 

Appendix: Workshop Participants

 

http://ncoremiami.org/NCORE_Workshop_Contact_Info.html