Measuring Change and Recovery in Reef Ecosystems
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Assessing environmental impacts and monitoring ecosystem recovery requires an understanding of the underlying spatial and temporal changes that have occurred. There are three main questions to be answered with specific reference to the Indian Ocean and the current status and future of coral reef ecosystems: i) what are the effects of widespread coral mortality going to be in the Indian Ocean, ii) how long will it take for reef ecosystems to recover, and iii) will ‘recovered’ systems have the same structure and functional integrity? Research into these questions must bear in mind that most measurements to be made are points on a long-term trend. Although there may be another disturbance event similar to that of 1998, its occurrence (if it occurs) should not negate the work, but provide further data points which contribute to the understanding and establishment of long-term trends.