To conclude, we have identified how biodiversity, from genes to regions, may alfect ecosystem function in coral reefs. At a single reef, diversity in the life-history characteristics of reef biota, both within and among species, provides the basis for occupancy and survival in the broad range of environments that the reef provides. The diversity of a reefs zones is essential to the maintenance and accretion of the overall structure itself, and of its protein resources. Each zone's characteristic abiotic substrates and communities provide it with particular capabilities of processing inputs and producing outputs of framework, sediments and organic matter.
At a regional scale, part of the enormous genetic and species diversity of coral reef biota allows framework-building communities to occupy turbid nearshore environments as well as the transparent oceanic waters of the popularly-conceived "typical" coral reef. A second region scale element of biodiversity is the topology of the hydrodynamic inter-connectivities which carry reproductive outputs among reefs. Diversity in the dispersing capabilities of coral-reef species allows region-scale topologies to be matched by species capable of exploiting them. The siting of marine protected areas as effective replenishment refuges for a region's coral-reef resources needs to be guided not only by the status of the protected and exploited populations, but also by their connections with other reefs.
The broad scope of this chapter has led us to make many generalities, based on selective use of the literature, and often to develop ideas beyond the available data. We hope that this approach stimulates reef scientists to refine our good ideas and to refute our bad ones.
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