This chapter summarizes the scientific knowledge of scleractinian corals in the Galapagos Archipelago. A general introduction to coral biology is followed by a brief history of coral research in the islands. Subsequent sections discuss responses of corals to broad-scale impacts, anthropogenic stress on Galapagos corals, and recommendations for management of this important resource. Following an initial period (1835-1960s) of cataloging the species present in the Galapagos Islands, research on coral ecology was initiated by Wellington in the 1970s. Glynn and Wellington more thoroughly examined the surprising abundance and distribution of corals and reef frameworks in the 1980s. Glynn and other workers then documented mass mortalities of corals due to the 1982-1983 ENSO disturbance. Subsequent research focused upon this natural phenomenon and its effect on coral distribution, ecology, and physiology. Most recently, resilience and recovery of coral populations were reported. Compared to most other regions, there is little anthropogenic impact to corals in the Galapagos Islands. However, climate change and ocean acidification have effects, and there is evidence of impacts associated with fisheries and tourism. Recommendations for management decisions conclude this chapter.
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