Coral Reef Biogeography, Ecology and Conservation under Climate Change and Human Disturbance

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Marine Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2024 | Viewed by 1593

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, DC, USA
Interests: hard coral taxonomy; coral identification; local coral identification guides; teaching coral ID; diversity; surveying and monitoring coral species; coral species biogeography; coral reef monitoring; coral reef ecology; coral reef fisheries; coral reef conservation; marine protected areas; extinction

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Hard corals are the primary constructors of tropical coral reefs. Hard corals and coral reefs are impacted by a wide variety of human threats, including climate change, which is predicted to nearly extirpate them in the coming decades. Coral reefs are the most diverse shallow-water marine ecosystem and provide huge ecosystem services to humans. Corals actually have relatively low diversity compared with some other groups of organisms on coral reefs. The Indo-Pacific is the world’s largest biogeographic zone, in which the majority of coral species can be found. In spite of many decades of work on coral species and a few decades of work on coral biogeography, there is still much we do not know about coral diversity and biogeography. It appears that coral diversity is considerably higher than that currently recognized, and DNA sequencing can hopefully provide an independent guide as to what groups of individuals comprise a species, but most DNA results have conflicted with morphological characteristics. Species names are needed for communication and are virtually all based on skeleton morphology. Species identification and species names are necessary for ecological fieldwork, monitoring, communication, management and conservation. Some reef habitats are not as well documented in terms of their biogeographic patterns, such as reef flats and the mesophotic zones. We are in a time of rapid progress in most of these aspects, but there is much left to discover. Other groups of organisms on coral reefs, such as fish, molluscs, crustaceans, echinoderms, and sponges, have similar biogeographic patterns, and there are interesting opportunities to compare results between groups of organisms. In addition, the biogeography of these organisms has many interactions with other aspects of ecology, conservation, and the impacts of humans, and we invite contributions that explore these topics as well. We present this Special Issue, aiming to make progress on these and related issues for reef-building corals and other coral reef organisms.

Dr. Douglas Fenner
Guest Editor

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  • Scleractinia
  • Millepora
  • Heliopora
  • Tubipora
  • diversity
  • taxonomy
  • identification
  • biogeography
  • monitoring coral reef species
  • coral reef ecology
  • threats to coral reef species
  • coral reef extinction
  • reef fish
  • echinoderms
  • molluscs
  • crustacea
  • sponges

Published Papers (1 paper)

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12 pages, 10046 KiB  
A Ten-Year Record Shows Warming Inside the Belize Barrier Reef Lagoon
by Phillip S. Lobel and Lisa Kerr Lobel
Diversity 2024, 16(1), 57; - 16 Jan 2024
Viewed by 995
The Belize Barrier Reef system (BBR) in the western Caribbean’s Gulf of Honduras contains a large region of lagoon coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitat. As the largest lagoon habitat within the Caribbean, this region experiences differing oceanographic and temperature conditions as compared [...] Read more.
The Belize Barrier Reef system (BBR) in the western Caribbean’s Gulf of Honduras contains a large region of lagoon coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitat. As the largest lagoon habitat within the Caribbean, this region experiences differing oceanographic and temperature conditions as compared to deeper offshore areas. The occurrence of several endemic species within the Gulf of Honduras area and inside the Belize lagoon supports the hypothesis that this area is a unique biogeographic region. Consequently, the ecological effects of temperature increase due to global climate change may have a long-term adverse impact on this region’s unique marine species. This study reports an in situ temperature record over a ten-year period (2004–2014) collected from a coral reef offshore of Wee Wee Cay within the South Water Cay Marine Reserve of Belize. There was a steady increase in temperature during the decade. Full article
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