Coral Reefs: A Review of Their Global Importance, Degradation, and Possible Pathways to Recovery

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Richard Spieler

Second Advisor

David Gilliam


Coral reefs have a natural resilience that has allowed them to adapt and cope with various natural disturbances for millions of years. These natural disturbances are now coupled with increasing levels of anthropogenic stress, and many coral reef systems are experiencing serious losses of physical structure and ecological function as a result. With increases in human population and dependence on reef resources, in addition to predicted effects of climate change, restoration efforts are increasingly being viewed as essential to the long-term survival of coral reef ecosystems. There is still much to be learned about the specific mechanisms of disturbance and recovery on coral reefs, and how restoration strategies can in turn be refined to accelerate the recovery process and effectively deal with large-scale long-term impacts.

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