An international cooperative effort to increase tropical taxonomic expertise, conduct a taxonomically diversified global census of coral reef ecosystems, and improve access to and unify coral reef ecosystem information scattered throughout the globe.
Coral reefs are the most diverse and biologically complex marine ecosystems in the world. They provide crucial economic and environmental resources to millions of people including: shoreline protection, aesthetic beauty and recreational opportunities, commercial and subsistence food sources, pharmaceuticals and medicines, and numerous jobs and other sources of revenue.
Coral reef ecosystems are deteriorating at alarming rates due to anthropogenic and environmental stressors, such as:
– Unsustainable resource exploitation and management
– Point and non-point source pollution
– Habitat destruction
– Invasive species
– Global warming and other sources of coral bleaching
These changes to coral reef ecosystems highlight a need for scientists to share past and present research results, as well as develop innovative new ways to monitor and protect global reef biodiversity.
The goals of CReefs are to expand tropical taxonomic knowledge and increase the exchange of coral reef ecosystem data dispersed throughout the globe. Taxonomic efforts will focus on such understudied groups as sponges, octocorals, mollusks, polychaetes, crustaceans, echinoderms, tunicates, seagrasses, and red, brown, and green algae, as well as technological advancement and sampling strategies relative to these foci. Microbial diversity will be assayed in collaboration with the CoML Microbes efforts and substantial contributions will be made to the bar-code initiative.