Report

Long-Term Region-Wide Declines in Caribbean Corals

Science  15 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5635, pp. 958-960
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086050

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Abstract

We report a massive region-wide decline of corals across the entire Caribbean basin, with the average hard coral cover on reefs being reduced by 80%, from about 50% to 10% cover, in three decades. Our meta-analysis shows that patterns of change in coral cover are variable across time periods but largely consistent across subregions, suggesting that local causes have operated with some degree of synchrony on a region-wide scale. Although the rate of coral loss has slowed in the past decade compared to the 1980s, significant declines are persisting. The ability of Caribbean coral reefs to cope with future local and global environmental change may be irretrievably compromised.

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