[PAST EVENT] Forget Columbus -- Coral reefs since 1980

February 10, 2012
VIMS - Watermen's Hall, McHugh Auditorium
1375 Greate Road
Gloucester Point, VA 23062Map this location
Dr. John Bruno
Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Biology
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

"Forget Columbus -- Coral reefs since 1980"

Reception at 3:00 p.m. in the Watermen's Lobby
Seminar from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in McHugh Auditorium

Dr. Bruno earned his Ph.D. from Brown University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University in disease ecology. He is currently working primarily in Belize, the Bahamas, Cuba and the Galapagos Islands. His research is focused on marine biodiversity, coral reef ecology and conservation, and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. Dr. Bruno is an avid blogger and co-developer of the oceans website {{http://www.theseamonster.net, SeaMonster}}. In his spare time he is developing a blue carbon offsetting company (The BlueCarbon Project) that is restoring mangroves in northern coastal Ecuador.

Jeremy Jackson was right in arguing that coral reefs have been changing for centuries. Humans have been overfishing them even before Columbus came to the new world. Yet the changes over just the last 30 years are arresting. When John Bruno snorkeled the reefs of the Florida Keys as a kid, corals covered the seafloor like wheat in a Kansas field and large predators like hammerhead sharks and barracuda were everywhere. Three decades later, that scene is impossible to find. Coral populations have crashed, fish community biomass is roughly 5% what it should be, and seaweeds, gorgonians and sponges seem to have become more common. Despite the magnitude of these losses, we can barely agree on why many of these changes occurred and what needs to be done to reverse them. Seemingly promising solutions, like the creation of marine reserves, in practice are doing little to mitigate the primary threats to coral reefs, particularly the looming impacts of climate change like ocean warming and acidification.

[[seitz, Rochelle Seitz]] at 804-684-7698