Cramer, K.L., Jackson, J.B.C., Angioletti, C.V., Leonard-Pingel, J. and Guilderson, T.P. 2012. Anthropogenic mortality on coral reefs in Caribbean Panama predates coral disease and bleaching. Ecology Letters 15: 561-567.
In introducing their newest study of the subject, Cramer et al. (2012) write that “Caribbean reef corals did not appear to be affected by human activities until the 1980s (Hughes, 1994),” but they say that “since this period, coral cover in the Caribbean has declined by an average of 80% (Gardner et al., 2003) and branching species of Acropora and Porites corals have been replaced by non-branching species of Agaricia and Porites,” citing Aronson et al. (2004, 2005) and Green et al. (2008). They also indicate that “surveys of fossil reefs have revealed that such drastic changes in Caribbean coral communities are unprecedented over the last c. 200,000 years despite large fluctuations in sea level and climate (Pandolfi and Jackson, 2006; Greer et al., 2009), implicating [some non-climatic] anthropogenic disturbance in the recent decline.” Nevertheless, they write that “the appearance and intensification of mass coral disease and bleaching events in the Caribbean and elsewhere have been widely attributed to anthropogenic climate change.” (more…)