Insights from extreme coral reefs in a changing world

Coral reefs are one of the most biodiverse and economically important ecosystems in the world, but they are rapidly degrading due to the effects of global climate change and local anthropogenic stressors. Reef scientists are increasingly studying coral reefs that occur in marginal and extreme environments to understand how organisms respond to, and cope with, environmental stress, and to gain insight into how reef organisms may acclimate or adapt to future environmental change. To date, there have been more than 860 publications describing the biology and/or abiotic conditions of marginal and extreme reef environments, most of which were published within the past decade. These include systems characterized by unusually high, low, and/or variable temperatures (intertidal, lagoonal, high-latitude areas, and shallow seas), turbid or urban environments, acidified habitats, and mesophotic depth, and focus on reefs geographically spread throughout most of the tropics. The papers in this special issue of Coral Reefs, entitled Coral Reefs in a Changing World: Insights from Extremes, build on the growing body of literature on these unique and important ecosystems, providing a deeper understanding of the patterns and processes governing life in marginal reef systems, and the implications that these insights may have for the future of tropical coral reefs in our rapidly changing world.

Burt J. A., Camp E. F., Enochs I. C., Johansen J. L., Morgan K. M., Riegl B. & Hoey A. S., in press. Insights from extreme coral reefs in a changing world. Coral Reefs. Article (subscription required).

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