Refereed Article One-Third of Reef-Building Corals Face Elevated Extinction Risk from Climate Change and Local Impacts
Citation: Richards, ZT. 2008. One-Third of Reef-Building Corals Face Elevated Extinction Risk from Climate Change and Local Impacts. Science. 321. (5888): 560-563.Abstract:
AUTHORS (in original order):
Kent E. Carpenter, Muhammad Abrar, Greta Aeby, Richard B. Aronson, Stuart Banks, Andrew Bruckner, Angel Chiriboga, Jorge Cortés, J. Charles Delbeek, Lyndon DeVantier, Graham J. Edgar, Alasdair J. Edwards, Douglas Fenner, Héctor M. Guzmán, Bert W. Hoeksema, Gregor Hodgson, Ofri Johan, Wilfredo Y. Licuanan, Suzanne R. Livingstone, Edward R. Lovell, Jennifer A. Moore, David O. Obura, Domingo Ochavillo, Beth A. Polidoro, William F. Precht, Miledel C. Quibilan, Clarissa Reboton, Zoe T. Richards, Alex D. Rogers, Jonnell Sanciangco, Anne Sheppard, Charles Sheppard, Jennifer Smith, Simon Stuart, Emre Turak, John E. N. Veron, Carden Wallace, Ernesto Weil, and Elizabeth Wood
The conservation status of 845 zooxanthellate reef-building coral species was assessed by using International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List Criteria. Of the 704 species that could be assigned conservation status, 32.8% are in categories with elevated risk of extinction. Declines in abundance are associated with bleaching and diseases driven by elevated sea surface temperatures, with extinction risk further exacerbated by local-scale anthropogenic disturbances. The proportion of corals threatened with extinction has increased dramatically in recent decades and exceeds that of most terrestrial groups. The Caribbean has the largest proportion of corals in high extinction risk categories, whereas the Coral Triangle (western Pacific) has the highest proportion of species in all categories of elevated extinction risk. Our results emphasize the widespread plight of coral reefs and the urgent need to enact conservation measures.