Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Marine Hotspots Revisited

Event Name/Location

2006 Ocean Sciences Meeting, Honolulu, HA, February 20-24, 2006

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



There is growing consensus and recognition among scientists that coral reefs are globally threatened and that decades of efforts to protect and manage reefs have largely failed to slow or reverse declines in abundance, diversity, and habitat structure. Attempts to stabilize and reverse loss of biodiversity will require radical changes in assessment and management activities. Many marine conservation efforts employ a variety of "hotspot" paradigms to distinguish areas of exceptional biodiversity that become focal points for conservation and protection. Emerging research suggests that various hotspot concepts and other traditional biogeographic paradigms commonly incorporated in reef conservation and management decisions must be reconsidered. An alternative predictive model based on cladistic biogeography of endocommensal coral reef crustaceans suggests that areas of exceptional diversity may be the result of accumulation into areas rather than dispersal out of supposed centers of origin. Biogeographic patterns in reefs appear more congruent with geotectonic assembly processes that accumulate species into "composite" areas of lineage-based diversity. This alternate model both confirms areas of high diversity and infers where similar situations may occur in other reef systems. This alternate scenario contradicts the reigning paradigms of vicariance and dispersal commonly used in marine conservation efforts. Hypotheses of biogeographic patterns of reef biodiversity defined by phylogenies are testable and provide contrary explanations to hotspot theories of coral reef conservation. It is essential that accurate information on the type and level of diversity in reef organisms be utilized in forward-looking coral reef research conservation efforts.


Identifier OS43J-04.

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