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Science-Based Strategies for Sustaining Coral Ecosystems

September 19, 2009

Coral ecosystems and their natural capital are at risk. Greenhouse gas emissions, overfishing, and harmful land-use practices are damaging our coral reefs. Overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that the threats are serious, and if they are left unchecked, the ecological and social consequences will be significant and widespread. Although the primary stressors to coral ecosystems are known, science-based strategies are needed to more accurately explain natural processes and forecast human-induced change. Collaborations among managers and scientists and enhanced mapping, monitoring, research, and modeling can lead to effective mitigation plans. U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their partners assess coral ecosystem history, ecology, vulnerability, and resiliency and provide study results to decisionmakers who may devise policies to sustain coral resources and the essential goods and services they provide.