From Patterns to Processes: The Future of Reef Research
Published:January 01, 2002
This book is mostly devoted to the description of temporal and spatial patterns of Phanerozoic reefs. We deliberately sacrificed detailed descriptions of particular reefs, in order to allow a focusing on large-scale patterns: the “big picture”. Several contributions in this volume observed trends and patters that contradict common paradigms and widely accepted ideas. In this summary paper we first critically discuss major conclusions achieved in this volume and then suggest how we can use the observations and conclusions to predict reef occurrences and attributes. This final section discusses what is needed to bridge the gap between patterns and processes, that is, how we can approach a sufficient understanding of the reef system as a whole.
Figures & Tables
Phanerozoic Reef Patterns
Detecting patterns and processes of ecosystem evolution is among the main challenges of an integrated earth system science in the 21st century. The evolution of reefs reflects changes triggered by evolutionary innovations and variations in global and regional controls at different scales. The prime fossil record of Phanerozoic reefs offers the opportunity to trace these patterns through space and time. Phanerozoic Reef Patterns presents a comprehensive and up-to-date review on the history of reef building in the last 540 million years. A selection of internationally respected reef specialists presents a database on ancient reefs that is hardly available for any other ecosystem. The thoroughly documented patterns are analyzed with respect to global change, whose impact on living reefs is intensely discussed today. Phanerozoic Reef Patterns stands out from recent reviews on reef evolution by its careful qualitative and quantitative approach based on a comprehensive and multifaceted databank, by the strong focus on data, by a complete and unified coverage of the Phanerozoic from the Early Cambrian to the late Neogene, by emphasizing paleogeographic reef distributions presented on 32 newly developed color maps, and by a detailed index that makes the book a valuable research tool.