Ecology

Collecting Coral

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Science  12 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5971, pp. 1303
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5971.1303-a
CREDIT: WILLIAM CROSSE/CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL

The global decline in reef-building corals and the many threats to coral reefs are well documented, but proven practical solutions that prevent coral loss and increase reef resilience are lacking. Marine protected areas are a potential tool to enable local and regional managers to conserve corals. Selig and Bruno have now confirmed that marine protected areas can delay the loss of coral cover from tropical reef systems relative to unprotected areas undergoing reductions in coral cover. Differences were observed among regions in the effectiveness of marine protected areas, probably due to the differences in the locations of establishment as well as regional enforcement, but, on the whole, the protected areas tended to show a reduced decline in coral. Marine protected areas needed time to stabilize and become effective—most did not prevent coral loss until they were at least 5 to 15 years old. Thus, long-term benefits can be obtained by the establishment of protected areas.

PLoS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0009278 (2010).

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