World Atlas of Coral Reefs

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9780520232556: World Atlas of Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world, host to an extraordinary variety of marine plants and animals. They are also one of the world's most fragile and endangered ecosystems. The growth of mass tourism, combined with the boom in popularity of scuba diving, has brought these spectacular ecosystems to public attention across the planet.

Coral reefs provide essential fish habitat, support endangered and threatened species, and harbor protected marine mammals and turtles. They are a significant source of food, provide income and employment through tourism and marine recreation, and offer countless other benefits to humans, including supplying compounds for pharmaceuticals. Yet coral reefs around the world are rapidly being degraded by a number of human activities, such as overfishing, coastal development, and the introduction of sewage, fertilizer, and sediment.

World Atlas of Coral Reefs provides the first detailed and definitive account of the current state of our planet's coral reefs. With its wealth of authoritative and up-to-date information, the finest maps available, and detailed descriptive texts and images by leading experts, this full-color volume will be a critical resource for anyone interested in these vital environments.

World Atlas of Coral Reefs contains eighty-four full-page newly researched and drawn color maps, together with more than two hundred color photos illustrating reefs, reef animals, and images taken from space by NASA astronauts during the 2000 and 2001 space shuttle flights. The authors provide a wealth of information on the geography, biodiversity, and human uses of coral reefs, as well as details about the threats to their existence.

Prepared at the UNEP–World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, England--the United Nations office responsible for providing authoritative information on the condition of global biodiversity--the Atlas will be a critical tool for scientists, students, policymakers, and planners at local, national, and international levels alike.

Publication of the World Atlas of Coral Reefs is supported by international institutions including the United Nations Environment Programme; The Marine Aquarium Council, The International Coral Reef Initiative; ICLARM--The World Fish Center; the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and the Aventis Foundation.

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About the Author:

Mark D. Spalding is Senior Programme Officer of UNEP-WCMC's Marine and Coastal Programme. Corinna Ravilious is a geographic information systems technical officer at UNEP-WCMC, and Edmund P. Green is head of UNEP-WCMC's Marine and Coastal Programme.

From Booklist:

This unique atlas, written by a team of experts with support from a variety of organizations, summarizes our present knowledge of the geographic distribution and conservation status of coral reefs. It should be of interest to anyone seeking definitive information on one of the most beautiful, biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet.

The outstanding color maps, based on coral reef mapping from the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, depict major natural features as well as human factors, such as settlements and dive centers. Two hundred color photographs illustrate reefs and reef organisms. Eighty-five photographs of coral reefs taken by NASA astronauts from space provide another perspective.

The atlas is divided into four parts. Part 1 contains general information on coral reefs, such as their diversity and biology and threats to their existence. Also found here is information on reef mapping techniques. Sidebars highlight such topics as the aquarium trade, coral diseases, and astronaut photography of reefs. The other three parts of the volume are arranged geographically and provide a world tour of reefs in "three broad realms": the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. These parts are divided into chapters (e.g., "Northern Caribbean," "Middle Eastern Seas") accompanied by regional maps. The chapters are subdivided into smaller sections ("Florida and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico," "Northern Red Sea: Egypt, Israel, Jordan"), each with an overview, a map, and data tables. Maps here are more detailed than the regional maps and show the location of rivers, forests, mangroves (important because of their close association with reefs), protected areas, and major population centers, as well as the distribution of coral reefs. One type of data table lists protected areas with coral reefs, along with their designation (e.g., national park, World Heritage site), abbreviation, IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) management category, size in square kilometers, and year of designation. The other provides statistical data on human population, reef status and threats, and biodiversity of reef areas. Each chapter ends with a bibliography of scholarly publications and a list of map sources.

Though the text is not overly technical, the atlas requires some work on the part of the reader. The map keys are listed just once, and additional help in interpreting the maps and data tables is buried in the "Technical Notes" section at the end of the volume. There is no glossary to define terms like hermatypic. These factors along with the specialized nature of the topic and the scholarly treatment may limit use. However, with its beautiful photographs, excellent maps, and authoritative text, World Atlas of Coral Reefs is highly recommended for academic and large public libraries. Because it is so reasonably priced, high-school libraries may also want to consider it. RBB
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