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.
Nancy Knowlton, Ph.D., Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
Julian Caley, Ph.D., Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville MC, Queensland, Australia
Russell E. Brainard, Ph.D., Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Why Focus on Coral Reefs?”
Coral reefs are the most diverse and biologically complex marine ecosystems in the world. They provide crucial economic and environmental resources to millions of people including: shoreline protection, aesthetic beauty and recreational opportunities, commercial and subsistence food sources, pharmaceuticals and medicines, and numerous jobs and other sources of revenue.
Coral reef ecosystems are deteriorating at alarming rates due to anthropogenic and environmental stressors, such as:
- Unsustainable resource exploitation and management
- Point and non-point source pollution
- Habitat destruction
- Invasive species
- Global warming and ocean acidification
These changes to coral reef ecosystems highlight a need for scientists to share past and present research results, as well as develop innovative new ways to monitor and protect global reef biodiversity.
The goals of CReefs are to expand tropical taxonomic knowledge and increase the exchange of coral reef ecosystem data dispersed throughout the globe. The taxonomic and molecular efforts of the project are focused on understudied groups such as sponges, octocorals, mollusks, polychaetes, crustaceans, echinoderms, tunicates, seagrasses, and red, brown, and green algae, as well as technological advancement and sampling strategies relative to these foci.
- Fill Data Gaps
- Develop New Methodologies
- Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS)
- DNA-based technologies
This project has united scientists internationally in the effort to investigate and better understand answers to the following questions:
- Improve Access to Coral Reef Data Worldwide
- Contribute to regional (ie PBIN) and global (ie OBIS) databases
- Contribute to Genbank and the Barcode of Life Initiative
- Serve Managers, Scientists and the Public
- The Science
- Syntheses 2010 and beyond
- Outreach and Education
1. What are the patterns of species diversity for understudied reef-associated groups, such as invertebrate and algal communities across gradients of human disturbance?
2. What kinds of species are obligately associated with healthy coral reefs and how widely are they distributed?
3. What are the prospects for maintenance of species diversity on reefs suffering various levels of human impacts?
4. How much and what kinds of taxonomic and ecological information are required to manage reefs effectively?