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USGS oceanographer featured in a comic about corals and marine protected areas

USGS researcher Lauren Toth was recently featured in an informative cartoon about the stressors imposed on corals even within marine protected areas. The cartoon, published by Knowable Magazine and illustrated by JoAnna Wendel, is based on an article published by Toth and colleagues in the journal Annual Reviews.

The cartoon discusses the numerous threats that corals are faced with, particularly warming seas, and the effects these will have on the ecology and biodiversity of reef ecosystems. Lauren is quoted on the decline of coral coverage worldwide – a whopping 50% drop! The article explains that establishing marine protected areas might not be enough to allow corals to survive into the future. It suggests additional global-scale actions may need be taken to help prevent further loss.

Bruno and colleagues published a paper (2019) in Annual Reviews titled, “Climate Change, Coral Loss, and the Curious Case of the Parrotfish Paradigm: Why Don’t Marine Protected Areas Improve Reef Resilience?” The study investigated whether corals recover from disturbance events faster in marine protected areas versus unprotected areas. They looked at corals from around the world and found no difference in resiliency. Areas inside and outside protected areas showed declines in important reef-building corals. The authors concluded that the largest risk to all reefs worldwide was rising temperatures.

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