WCS 3-Sentence Science

What do Functioning Coral Reefs Look Like?

September 6, 2019

CREDIT: EMILY DARLING

Each year, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists publish more than 300 peer-reviewed studies and papers. “WCS 3-Sentence Science” is a regular tip-sheet — in bite sized helpings — of some of this published work.

Here we present work by WCS’s Emily Darling on determining a measure of coral reef functionality.

  1. Reversing the global decline of coral reefs is a primary management objective for conservationists, but doing so depends on understanding what keeps reefs “functioning.”
  2. Researchers propose a practical definition of coral reef functioning, centered on eight complementary ecological processes: calcium carbonate production and bioerosion, primary production and herbivory, secondary production and predation, and nutrient uptake and release.
  3. Connecting research on species niches, functional diversity of communities, and rates of the eight key processes can provide a quantitative understanding of reef functioning and its dependence on coral reef communities that will contribute urgently needed guidance for the management of these important ecosystems.

Study and Journal: “Coral reef ecosystem functioning: Eight core processes and the role of biodiversity” from Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
WCS Co-Author(s): Emily Darling, WCS Conservation Scientist

For more information, contact: Stephen Sautner, 718–220–3682, ssautner@wcs.org.

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