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  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: June 2012

18 - Coral reef coda: what can we hope for?

Summary

THE RECENT PAST TO THE PRESENT: THREE PHASES OF CORAL REEF RESEARCH

Before heading into the future, a brief look at where we have come from and where we are now provides some perspective. Investigations of coral reefs began in earnest with the publication of Darwin's monograph The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs in 1842 (see Dobbs, 2005, for a history of the resulting controversy). However, their modern study, facilitated by the use of scuba, dates back only a little over half a century. Tom Goreau's pioneering work on Jamaican coral reefs (Goreau, 1959), the French research programme in Madagascar (reviewed by Thomassin, 1971), and the establishment by Joe Connell of the first permanent reef quadrats on the flats of Heron Island (summarized in Connell et al., 1997) represent important early research efforts of this period. The first International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) was held in Mandapam, India, in 1969 and has been followed by nine since. The Bulletin of Marine Science started a coral reef section in 1978, and in 1982 the first issue of Coral Reefs was published.

Over this interval, the rate of production of coral reef studies has increased several fold; annual totals from BIOSIS searches of articles with the words ‘coral’ and ‘reef’ average under 75 for the 1970s, nearly 130 for the 1980s, nearly 220 for the 1990s, and over 320 since 2000, a rate of increase that exceeds that of articles retrieved with the search word ‘marine’ (Fig. 18.1).

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