• Open Access

Global mismatch between research effort and conservation needs of tropical coral reefs

Authors

  • Rebecca Fisher,

    1. Australian Institute of Marine Science, UWA Oceans Institute (M096), 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
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  • Ben T. Radford,

    1. Australian Institute of Marine Science, UWA Oceans Institute (M096), 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
    2. School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia (M004), 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
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  • Nancy Knowlton,

    1. Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, MRC 163, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013, USA
    2. Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0202, USA
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  • Russell E. Brainard,

    1. Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 1601 Kapiolani Boulevard, Suite 1110 Honolulu, Hawaii 96814, USA
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  • Frances B. Michaelis,

    1. Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
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  • M. Julian Caley

    1. Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
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  • The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect views of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

  • Editor
    Paul Armsworth

Correspondence
Dr. Rebecca Fisher, Australian Institute of Marine Science, UWA Oceans Institute (M096), 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia. E-mail: r.fisher@aims.gov.au.

Abstract

Tropical coral reefs are highly diverse and globally threatened. Management to ensure their persistence requires sound biological knowledge in regions where coral reef biodiversity and/or the threats to it are greatest. This paper uses a novel text analysis approach and Google Maps™ to examine the spatial coverage of scientific papers on coral reefs listed in Web of Science®. Results show that research is highly clumped spatially, positively related to per capita gross domestic product, negatively related to coral species richness, and unrelated to threats to coral reefs globally; indicating a serious mismatch between conservation needs and the knowledge required for effective management. Greater research effort alone cannot guarantee better conservation outcomes, but given some regions of the world (e.g., Central Indo-Pacific) remain severely understudied, priority allocation of resources to fill such knowledge gaps should support greater adaptive management capacity through the development of an improved knowledge base for reef managers.

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