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Science: Caribbean reef development was independent of coral diversity over 28 million years

March 24, 2008

Science: Caribbean reef development was independent of coral diversity over 28 million years

Despite wide variation in the species diversity of tropical coral reefs in different parts of the world, rates of coral growth and development are broadly similar

Despite wide variation in the species diversity of tropical coral reefs in different parts of the world, rates of coral growth and development are broadly similar. To test whether this disconnection has a long-term basis, Kenneth G. Johnson, he Natural History Museum, London, Jeremy B.C. Jackson from Scripps and STRI, and Ann F. Budd, from the University of Iowa present an analysis of coral diversity and reef building during the past 30 million years in the Caribbean in the March 14 issue of Science (319:1521-1523).

The chief finding, made possible by more than two decades of fossil data collection, is that reef-coral diversity and the extent of reef development have independent responses to long-term environmental change. The data include two episodes of accelerated extinction and reorganization of reef ecosystems, which may help to explain the relation between current anthropogenic environmental change and the observed worldwide demise of coral reef ecosystems.




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