Threats to Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are imperiled around the world because of the compounding effects of multiple stressors such as over-fishing, pollution, climate change, and change in coastal land use. The decline of reefs is particularly evident in the Caribbean where coral cover has decreased by 80% in recent decades and may drop further as reefs fail to rebound following continued coral bleaching, overfishing, disease outbreaks, and other disturbances. The causes of coral reef decline are many and frequently act synergis-tically to drive coral reefs to alternate states such as seaweed-dominated reefs or sea urchin barrens (Figure 9). We review the major threats to coral reefs and the role that marine reserves can play in stemming the tide of coral reef decline.

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