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Greenstein a co-author on reef report

August 21, 2014

Ben Greenstein, professor of geology at Cornell College and associate dean of the college, is one of the primary co-authors of Part I of “Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012,” a report released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.

A photo by Ben Greenstein of students doing research in the Bahamas.

A photo by Ben Greenstein of students doing research in the Bahamas.

The report, a three-year joint effort of the International Coral Reef Initiative’s (ICRI) Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), found that most Caribbean coral reefs will disappear in 20 years if we don’t restore the population of fish that eat seaweed, as Caribbean reefs are gradually getting smothered by algae.

Greenstein has done extensive research on tropical coral reefs, including in Western Australia and the Caribbean.

The report suggests that factors including hurricane frequency, coastal pollution, and overfishing all play a role in the decline of reefs. It goes on to say:

Smart decisions can make an enormous difference for the well being of coral reefs and the people and enterprises that depend upon them. No place is close to perfect and everywhere is threatened, but the higher coral cover and comparative resilience to extreme heating events or frequent hurricanes on most reefs in Bermuda, Bonaire, Curaçao, the Venezuelan parks, the Flower Garden Banks, and the Jardines de la Reina in Cuba provide clear examples of what could begin to be achieved by strong and effective environmental regulation (albeit that the regulations greatly differ among these different sites).

Part I ends with recommendations to adopt more robust conservation strategies, standardize monitoring, foster communication, and implement stronger regulations.

A complete summary of both parts of the report is available on the International Coral Reef Initiative site.

For more information, please contact Cornell's Director of Media Relations

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