The Ecological Society of Australia’s annual conference in Sydney has been told research shows marine reserves are failing to protect coral reefs from climate change.
Associate Professor John Bruno from the University of North Carolina has compared more than 8,000 reefs in the Indian, Caribbean and the Pacific.
He says while marine reserves in those areas are effective in protecting coral from local factors such as over-fishing and pollution, they have not slowed the effects of global warming.
“Our results suggest that they are not mitigating those threats,” he said.
“So they appear to mitigate some stresses, probably more local scale stresses, but they don’t seem to be working against regional scale stresses like coral disease and coral bleaching.”