Andrew C. Baker, Peter W. Glynn, Bernhard Riegl

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science

Published date December 10, 2008

Climate change and coral reef bleaching: An ecological assessment of long-term impacts, recovery trends and future outlook

  • States that, since the early 1980s, episodes of coral reef bleaching and mortality, due primarily to climate-induced ocean warming, have occurred almost annually in one or more of the world's tropical or subtropical seas
  • Reviews the short- and long-term ecological impacts of coral bleaching on reef ecosystems using an extended dataset (25+ years), and quantitatively synthesizes recovery data worldwide
  • Finds that there has been a significant overall recovery of coral cover in the Indian Ocean, where many reefs were devastated by a single large bleaching event in 1998
  • Finds that in contrast, coral cover on western Atlantic reefs has generally continued to decline in response to multiple smaller bleaching events and a diverse set of chronic secondary stressors
  • Finds that the majority of survivors and new recruits on regenerating and recovering coral reefs have originated from broadcast spawning corals with a potential for asexual growth, relatively long distance dispersal, successful settlement, rapid growth and a capacity for framework construction