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Pleistocene Perspectives on Coral Reef Community Structure

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icb/32.6.719 719-731 First published online: 1 December 1992


Composition and zonation of coral reef communities are unstable on the scale of human lifetimes, but stable on average over thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. Traditional small-scale ecological studies can miss community patterns which are obscured by the noise of short-term change. Tests for stability require monitoring of populations over many generations—millenia for long-lived corals and forest trees. The only recourse is the fossil record.

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