Index needed for coral health

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Scientists have suggested the introduction of a new index to assess the health of coral reef communities.

Three biologists from the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University in Israel have recently published a paper in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, which says that new methods are needed to assess the health of coral reefs. At the moment there are several competing techniques for reef health assessment, but none is considered completely reliable.

The team has proposed a new system which uses a ratio between recruitment and mortality rates in branching corals, such as Acropora, which they have termed "DI" or the Deterioration Index.

The method has been successfully applied to 16 coral reef communities in the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, and is said to have revealed significant differences that other indices (based on mortality, abundance and species richness) overlooked.

For more information read the full paper: Ben-Tzvi, O. Loya, Y. and Abelson, A. (2004) - Deterioration Index (DI): a suggested criterion for assessing the health of coral communities. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2004 May; 48 (9-10): 954-60.