Human Influences On Eastern Tropical Pacific Coral Communities and Coral Reefs

  • Jorge CortésEmail author
  • Héctor Reyes-Bonilla
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 8)


Coral reefs world-wide have been impacted by direct and indirect human activity and natural disturbances. This has led to the degradation and disappearance of many reef structures. On a basin-wide scale, the natural impact of El Niño warming has been the main cause of reef decline in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP). At local scales, human activity has also taken its toll although only limited observations are available on specific impacts to ETP coral reefs. The main direct causes of damage are the extraction of corals and other reef organisms, nonregulated tourist activity, ship groundings, anchor damage, and eutrophication. The main indirect sources of damage to coral reefs are coastal alteration, sedimentation, pollution (including eutrophication), oil pollution, agrochemicals, other pollutants, and plankton blooms. Climate change can impact coral reefs directly (sea warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, increased storm activity, and possibly stronger and more frequent El Niño events), and indirectly (coastal erosion, increased fresh water runoff and elevated nutrients). Even though human impacts on ETP reefs are low compared to other regions, significant damage has been documented. Since ETP coral reefs are relatively small and few in number, a redoubled effort is necessary for their protection.


Coastal alteration Sedimentation Pollution Plankton blooms Tourism 



We thank Peter W. Glynn, Derek Manzello and Ian C. Enochs for the opportunity to contribute this chapter on human impacts to the ETP book, and Bernhard Riegl for his critical review. JC thanks Enrique Barraza for his insights and relevant publications for El Salvador. We are also grateful for the detailed reviews of James Hendee, Peter W. Glynn and an anonymous reviewer. Finally, Ben Grassian greatly improved the quality of the figures.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR)Universidad de Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica
  2. 2.Escuela de BiologíaUniversidad de Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica
  3. 3.Universidad Autónoma de Baja California SurDepartamento Académico de Biología MarinaLa PazMexico

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