I chair the Coral Disease Working Group of the Global Environmental Fund`s Targeted Research for Coral Reef Sustainability program. Coral reefs are highly endangered by climate warming and anthropogenic stressors. Coral disease in particular has increased, and yet few baselines exist in the developing countries where the world`s coral reefs are located. Our project is developing Centers of Excellence for Coral Reef Management in Mexico, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Australia. Our international team is identifying new coral disease syndromes and their causative agents, developing methods for studying coral resistance to disease, and devising strategies for management of coral disease. We are in year two of a 15-year project.
Coral reefs are highly endangered by climate warming and anthropogenic stressors. Coral disease in particular has increased. There are currently no practices for managing coral disease, and very few tools for the study of coral disease. In some developing countries, capacity building in microbiology, genomics, molecular biology, and ecological survey methods is needed. Coral reefs provide essential human services such as nursery areas for fish, shore protection against storms and tsunamis, and sources of natural products. Populations in many coastal developing and developed countries are affected by the health of coral reefs. Human activity in these areas is projected to increase, bringing with it increased pathogen pollution on coral reefs as a result of aquaculture activities and human sewage output.
My international research and training team has completed a preliminary coral disease assessment at our four Centers of Excellence. We have established coral disease monitoring programs in Mexico, Palau, and Australia. We have provided three graduate fellowships and one postdoctoral fellowship to scientists in Mexico, Palau, Venezuela, and the Philippines. We ran coral disease workshops in Mexico in 2005 and in Tanzania in spring 2006. We will run a third workshop in the Philippines in 2007.
We are in year two of the project; we anticipate significant impacts by year four.