Even coral reefs are affected by socio-economics

phys.org | 2/21/2019 | Staff
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Marine biologists working to save the world's coral reefs say that they are increasingly being affected by human activities. As a result, the marine biologists now need to include an assessment of the effects of activities, perhaps in distant markets or cities, on the survival of coral reefs.

Writing in a special issue of Functional Ecology, "Coral reef functional ecology in the Anthropocene," and using coral reefs as an example, the scientists call for the inclusion of socio-economic activity into account when predicting future ecosystem responses of coral reefs.

Impacts - Fishing - Run-offs - Sea - Agriculture

Rather than solely considering local human impacts such as fishing, and nutrient run-offs into the sea from agriculture, or sedimentation as a result of coastal development, models will need to include the effect of economic or demographic activity in distant markets, through increases in global CO2 levels, global demands for fish or tourist numbers.

Dr. Gareth Williams of Bangor University's School of Ocean Sciences, lead author of the paper and a Guest Editor of the special edition explains:

Dynamics - Reefs - Today - Anthropocene - Shift

"Predicting what drives the dynamics of coral reefs today in the Anthropocene requires a radical shift in thinking, a new approach to coral reef ecology. This will involve collaborative research between natural and social scientists across scales. We have called this new approach 'social-ecological macroecology.'"

"Measuring only local effects such as fishing is missing the wider picture. In fact, there are complex socioeconomic drivers that ultimately dictate fishing levels on a reef, drivers such as trade, consumer demands, distance to markets and human migration. We need...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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