Summary of the Status Review Report of 82 Candidate CoralSpecies Petitioned Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has identified 82 corals species ascandidates to be considered for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act due to a potential risk of extinction. Of the 82 corals, seven are found in Florida and the Greater Caribbean Basin. Of these seven, five topped the list of the 82 corals as most likely to become extinct by the end of the century. After an extensive review of available scientific information, the NMFS, BiologicalReview Team (BRT) determined ocean warming, disease, and ocean acidification to be themost significant threats posing an extinction risk to the coral species.The following are excerpts from the Biological Review Team’s “
Status Review Report of 82 Candidate Coral Species”,
that was presented at the NOAA/NMFS public meetings inFlorida and Hawaii during June 2012. The full text is available online at:http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2012/05/07_coral_documents_page.htmlTHREATS TO CORAL SPECIESHuman PopulationThe common root or driver of most, possibly all, of these threats is the number of humans populating the planet and the level of human consumption of natural resources, both of which are increasing in most areas around the globe. The combination of increasingnumbers of humans and their persistently rising per capita resource demands are directlyresponsible for escalating atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO
) buildup and associatedimpacts, both direct (e.g., ocean warming, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise) andindirect (influential in the increased prevalence of many coral diseases, decreased ability of corals to deposit calcium carbonate skeletons, increased energy for storms, and the potential of increased input and re-suspension of coastal sediments by changing precipitation patterns or sea-level rise).Increased human population and consumption of natural resources are also root causes for increases in fishing (particularly of herbivores) at many locations around the globe, for massive inputs of nutrients (eutrophication), toxic pollutants, and sediments into manycoastal waters, and for the spread of invasive species.Global Climate Change and Large-scale ThreatsCorals have evolved during the last 240 million years under a naturally varying climate.Recent climate changes resulting primarily from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissionslikely are the most abrupt since the corals first evolved. The recent anthropogenic changeshave been referred to as a new geological era, the
(Crutzen, 2002;Zalasiewicz et al., 2008; Zalasiewicz et al., 2010), and the associated biodiversity changeshave been predicted to be the
sixth global mass extinction event
(Thomas et al., 2004a).