Vol. 321. no. 5888, pp. 560 - 563
One-Third of Reef-Building Corals Face Elevated Extinction Risk from Climate Change and Local Impacts
The conservation status of coral reefs can be monitored by assessing the area covered by coral species over time. Carpenter et al.
, published online 10 July) have estimated that more than a third of the major reef-building coral species are at risk of dying out to the point at which reef viability is lost. The causes of this dismaying decline stem from local insults from physical damage, overfishing, pollution, and sedimentation. These factors, added to the physiological harm done to coral organisms and their symbionts by elevated sea surface temperature rise and water acidification induced by atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation, can mean that a reef loses viability and quickly turns into a mound of rubble.