Rafael Magris is lead author on a new study just out in the journal Diversity reporting on a risk assessment of the coral reefs in Brazil. The study mapped out the geographic patterns of exposure of reefs to a range of stressors: fishing, land-based pollution, mining, shipping movements, coastal development, aquaculture, and global warming. By accounting for variable responses of reefs to each stressor, the study then estimated the risk to cumulative impacts. The study found that at least 16% of Brazilian reefs are facing a very high risk of experiencing cumulative impacts. The study also provides specific management recommendations for reefs (e.g. protection, monitoring, restoration, and threat mitigation) according to their susceptibility to different combinations of impacts from local and global stressors. This distinction is necessary because, while managers can address the root causes of local stressors, they can only mitigate the impacts of global stressors through local management.
Degraded coral reefs in Brazil. A mix of local and global stressors threaten reefs, leading to a phase shift to algal-dominated reefs (left) and severe bleaching (right). Photographic credit: Pedro H.C. Pereira.