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Many coral reefs have been degraded over the past two to three decades through a combination of human and natural disturbances. In Jamaica, the effects of overfishing, hurricane damage, and disease have combined to destroy most corals, whose abundance has declined from more than 50 percent in the late 1970s to less than 5 percent today. A dramatic phase(More)
The diversity, frequency, and scale of human impacts on coral reefs are increasing to the extent that reefs are threatened globally. Projected increases in carbon dioxide and temperature over the next 50 years exceed the conditions under which coral reefs have flourished over the past half-million years. However, reefs will change rather than disappear(More)
lthough Earth has undergone many periods of significant environmental change, the planet's environment has been unusually stable for the past 10,000 years 1–3. This period of stability — known to geologists as the Holocene — has seen human civilizations arise, develop and thrive. Such stability may now be under threat. Since the Industrial Revolution, a new(More)
The world's coral reefs are in decline, with many exhibiting a phase shift from coral to macroalgal dominance . This change is often associated with habitat loss and overharvesting of herbivorous fishes, particularly parrotfishes and surgeonfishes . The challenge is to reverse this decline and enhance the resilience of coral-reef ecosystems . We(More)
Phase-shifts from one persistent assemblage of species to another have become increasingly commonplace on coral reefs and in many other ecosystems due to escalating human impacts. Coral reef science, monitoring and global assessments have focused mainly on producing detailed descriptions of reef decline, and continue to pay insufficient attention to the(More)
Distributions of numerical abundance and resource use among species are fundamental aspects of community structure. Here we characterize these patterns for tropical reef fishes and corals across a 10,000-kilometer biodiversity gradient. Numerical abundance and resource-use distributions have similar shapes, but they emerge at markedly different scales.(More)
Regime shifts from one ecological state to another are often portrayed as sudden, dramatic, and difficult to reverse. Yet many regime shifts unfold slowly and imperceptibly after a tipping point has been exceeded, especially at regional and global scales. These long, smooth transitions between equilibrium states are easy to miss, ignore, or deny,(More)
Coral reefs worldwide are under threat from various anthropogenic factors, including overfishing and pollution. A new study by Mumby et al. highlights the trophic relationships between humans, carnivorous and herbivorous fishes, and the potential role of no-take areas in maintaining vulnerable coral reef ecosystems. No-take areas, where fishing is(More)
Social and ecological vulnerability to disasters and outcomes of any particular extreme event are influenced by buildup or erosion of resilience both before and after disasters occur. Resilient social-ecological systems incorporate diverse mechanisms for living with, and learning from, change and unexpected shocks. Disaster management requires multilevel(More)
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) provides a globally significant demonstration of the effectiveness of large-scale networks of marine reserves in contributing to integrated, adaptive management. Comprehensive review of available evidence shows major, rapid benefits of no-take areas for targeted fish and sharks, in both reef and nonreef habitats, with potential(More)