Cornell College Events
Science Interest Group (SIG) Lecture: Decline of Caribbean Coral Reefs (link)
|Date:||Thursday, January 31st|
Ben Greenstein, professor of geology and associate dean of the college, will give a lecture titled "Historical Context for the Decline of Caribbean Coral Reefs." The decline of shallow water reef coral communities has alarmed the marine scientific community - particularly since the catastrophic El Nino event that occurred in 1998. However, given that modern ecological surveys of coral reefs began at the same time that SCUBA equipment became widely available (approximately 1960), many were conducted long after the reefs had become degraded by human activities. This phenomenon is known as the "shifting baseline syndrome" and has hampered efforts to restore reef coral communities since it can be difficult to know what constitutes a "natural" reef coral community. Moreover, there is little synoptic data available to assess the patterns of reef decline over time and within and between geographic regions. This talk will highlight the importance of the Pleistocene and Holocene fossil record of reefs for mitigating the shifting baseline syndrome, and present analyses of an extensive database, drawn from ecological literature, that elucidates patterns of reef decline in the Caribbean region.