Caribbean Coral Reef Essay

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Introduction and Problem overview
According to Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012, a report by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, The International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the United Nations Environment Program, Caribbean coral reefs have been declining at an alarming rate. Specimen populations found in Caribbean coral reefs have been stable for at least 125 thousand years, until the 1980s (Jackson 2001). In this essay, I will focus on the responses and measures taken to combat coral reef degradation. A large focus will be on the loss of grazer species, primarily the parrotfish, as well as global warming. Since the 1970s, coral reef populations have declined by more than 50% (IUCN 2014). The principal cause of this decline was due to the mass mortality of the sea
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2013, 912). Coral reefs are especially important to tourism, as they are able to support local businesses and economies (Cesar et al. 2003). Including fisheries, they annually generate over US$ 3 billion on which over 43 million people depend (IUCN 2014).

Grazer species
Grazer species are especially important in coral reefs. Their principal tasks include the modification of primary production to fish-based trophic pathways, the mediation of competition between corals and microalgae, and the provision of an appropriate settlement base for new corals (Hughes 1994). Thus, coral reefs without grazer species often end up covered by algae. Due to the degradation of coral reefs, populations of reef fish that perform key ecological functions such as grazer species decline, which then initiates a positive feedback and causes more coral reef degradation (Pratchett et al. 2014). The two dominant herbivorous grazer species in the Caribbean were the urchin Diadema antillarum and the parrotfish Scaridae. However, in 1983 the urchin was faced with mass disease-induced mortality. Ever since, the parrotfish has become the

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