Census of Coral Reefs

Project Description
An international cooperative effort to increase tropical taxonomic expertise, conduct a taxonomically diversified global census of coral reef ecosystems, and improve access to and unify coral reef ecosystem information scattered throughout the globe.

Coral reefs are considered to be the most biologically diverse of all marine ecosystems. While individual reef systems likely host tens of thousands of species, most of this diversity remains undocumented. Significant declines in key indicators of reef ecosystem health suggest a degradation of coral reefs globally in response to the combined effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors. The vulnerability of coral reef ecosystems is anticipated to increase significantly in response to climate change induced coral bleaching and disease, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, and changing storm tracks. There is a clear danger that much reef biodiversity could be lost before it is even documented, and researchers will be left with a limited and poor understanding of undisturbed reef communities on which to base future management decisions. Under these rapidly changing conditions, a key goal for reef resource managers and policy makers over the next several decades will be the development of tools to increase the resilience of global communities through effective conservation of coral reef biodiversity. In order to develop reasonable approaches to improve the resilience of coral reef biodiversity, and to effectively use the ecosystem approach to management, it is first necessary to understand existing biodiversity and changes over time.

Summary provided by http://www.creefs.org/