Location

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Start Date

1-5-2014 9:00 AM

End Date

1-5-2014 10:00 AM

Project Type

Poster- Restricted to Campus Access

Description

For many years, ecologists viewed the ocean as a kind of wilderness, as yet untouched by humans. In reality, coral reefs are subject to a variety of anthropogenic pressures, including damage from ecotourism, overfishing, destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling, eutrophication from agricultural runoff, and acidification. Ample evidence for human impacts on coral reef systems can be found both through field observation and paleontological proxies. Beyond creating a unique habitat with high biodiversity, coral reefs provide many ecosystem services. These large reef structures protect the coastline by slowing and breaking large waves during storms, reducing the damage to sensitive coastal ecosystems such as marshes and estuaries. Coral reefs are also a valuable food source for humans; island communities have been living off of reef fish as a major source of food and protein for years. Additionally, reef fishing is a popular livelihood of members of these island communities, who often export their catch. Lastly, coral reefs are a major tourist destination and the growing industry built around them has created a further source of income for the surrounding tropical communities. The continuing loss of biodiversity on coral reefs both reduces their utility as an economic resource to feed a growing human population and damages their prospects for recovery. Anthropogenic activities, and the pressures they impose, have the potential to devastate this beautiful feature of our blue planet.

Faculty Sponsor

Russ Cole

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. Environmental Studies Program

CLAS Field of Study

Interdisciplinary Studies

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

142

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May 1st, 9:00 AM May 1st, 10:00 AM

Case Study: Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

For many years, ecologists viewed the ocean as a kind of wilderness, as yet untouched by humans. In reality, coral reefs are subject to a variety of anthropogenic pressures, including damage from ecotourism, overfishing, destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling, eutrophication from agricultural runoff, and acidification. Ample evidence for human impacts on coral reef systems can be found both through field observation and paleontological proxies. Beyond creating a unique habitat with high biodiversity, coral reefs provide many ecosystem services. These large reef structures protect the coastline by slowing and breaking large waves during storms, reducing the damage to sensitive coastal ecosystems such as marshes and estuaries. Coral reefs are also a valuable food source for humans; island communities have been living off of reef fish as a major source of food and protein for years. Additionally, reef fishing is a popular livelihood of members of these island communities, who often export their catch. Lastly, coral reefs are a major tourist destination and the growing industry built around them has created a further source of income for the surrounding tropical communities. The continuing loss of biodiversity on coral reefs both reduces their utility as an economic resource to feed a growing human population and damages their prospects for recovery. Anthropogenic activities, and the pressures they impose, have the potential to devastate this beautiful feature of our blue planet.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2014/program/367