Coral reefs, which are important ecosystems that contribute to global marine biodiversity, are becoming increasingly threatened by climate change, overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and increased frequencies of bleaching events. In order to understand how much coral cover area has been lost to these activities, we need to establish historical baselines of coral cover. However, there are few quantitative assessments that address the coral reef cover prior to the industrial revolution, thus making it a challenge to estimate coral reef cover baselines.
In this new study published in the journal PeerJ, CORU researcher Tyler Eddy, together with principal investigator William Cheung and collaborator John Bruno in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, utilize expert and ocean-user opinion surveys to estimate the baseline of global coral reef cover. The overall mean estimated baseline coral cover was around 59% globally, with regional variations. The results of this research may be used to provide realistic and meaningful targets for habitat restoration.