Abstract: Coral reefs are critically important natural assets that support the food security and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people in maritime tropical countries, yet they are increasingly threatened by overfishing, coastal pollution, climate change, and by other escalating anthropogenic impacts. But are one-third of the world’s corals, but relatively few fishes, really threatened by global extinction? We found no relationship between the geographic range size of circa-500 species of reef-building corals and fishes and their abundances along the Pacific biodiversity gradient (from Indonesia to French Polynesia). Depauperate regions have fewer rare and fewer common species. Contrary to the concept of double jeopardy, endemics are often locally abundant. We conclude that Red List threat assessments for coral reef species exaggerate the true risk of global extinction.
Biography: In the past five years, Terry’s research has increasingly evolved in a new direction, moving from an ecological focus to a broader evaluation of the linkages between coral reef ecosystems and people. This new program focuses on solutions for managing resilience and for coping with change and uncertainty in complex social-ecological systems. The ARC Centre is developing further research capacity in this area by strategic recruitment of social scientists, creating a unique multi-disciplinary team of the highest calibre. His recent work has focussed on market drivers of ecological change, missing institutions, identifying safe planetary boundaries for human development, avoiding social traps, and transformative governance of the sea in Australia, Chile, China, the Galapagos Islands, Gulf of Maine and the Coral Triangle. Terry’s future research will focus on the linkages between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the welfare of human societies. The objective is to improve the governance and management of natural systems and enhance their capacity to sustain human and natural capital. The overarching goal is to integrate the science of coral reef resilience with decision-making and management.