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Remoteness does not enhance coral reef resilience
Global Change Biology  (IF10.863),  Pub Date : 2021-10-19, DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15904
Justin H. Baumann, Lily Z. Zhao, Adrian C. Stier, John F. Bruno

Remote coral reefs are thought to be more resilient to climate change due to their isolation from local stressors like fishing and pollution. We tested this hypothesis by measuring the relationship between local human influence and coral community resilience. Surprisingly, we found no relationship between human influence and resistance to disturbance and some evidence that areas with greater human development may recover from disturbance faster than their more isolated counterparts. Our results suggest remote coral reefs are imperiled by climate change, like so many other geographically isolated ecosystems, and are unlikely to serve as effective biodiversity arks. Only drastic and rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will ensure coral survival. Our results also indicate that some reefs close to large human populations were relatively resilient. Focusing research and conservation resources on these more accessible locations has the potential to provide new insights and maximize conservation outcomes.