UGA experts available to speak on Endangered Species Act addition of threatened coral

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia has experts available to speak on the Aug. 27 decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to list 20 species of coral as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“As a conservationist, I applaud the use of the Endangered Species Act to protect vulnerable species. Our data on Caribbean coral loss contributed to the push to list many of these species,” said James W. Porter, Meigs Professor Ecology in the UGA Odum School of Ecology. “As a researcher, however, I worry that listing of these species will, slowly but surely, make them off-limits for research. Protections for limited sampling must be a part of any species protection plan.”

The contact information for Porter and other UGA experts is listed below.

James W. Porter
Meigs Professor of Ecology, Odum School of Ecology
706-542-3410 (office), 706-207-5177 (cell), jporter@uga.edu

Porter is available to speak about coral reef ecology, coral conservation and diseases of coral. His current research projects include a study of white pox disease-caused by a pathogen from inadequately treated human sewage-in the threatened Elkhorn coral of the Caribbean. The study is funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program. He also participates in an NSF-sponsored research coordination network focused on marine infectious disease. Porter has published numerous scientific papers in journals including Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Ecology and has been monitoring coral reefs in the Florida Keys for more than 30 years.

Laurie Fowler
Associate Dean for Administrative and External Affairs, Odum School of Ecology
Director of Policy, River Basin Center
706-542-3318 (office), 706-202-9949 (cell), lfowler@uga.edu

Fowler, an environmental attorney, is available to speak about the Endangered Species Act and the legal and policy implications of listing species as threatened. She focuses on federal, state and local environmental protection laws and policies, with a particular interest in programs that integrate the latest scientific research with development of management policies to protect water quality and biodiversity. She has an adjunct appointment at the School of Law.

Erin Lipp
Professor, Department of Environmental Health Science, College of Public Health
706-583-8138, elipp@uga.edu

Lipp is available to speak about coral disease and human impacts on coral reef ecosystems. She specializes in environmental microbiology, researching issues related to public health, ecology, marine science, climate science and molecular biology. She is participating in the NSF-NIH-funded study of white pox disease in Caribbean Elkhorn coral, investigating changes in the disease and its pathogen over time and the intersection of sanitation issues with ecosystem health.

Brian Hopkinson
Assistant Professor, Department of Marine Sciences, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
706-542-7880, bmhopkin@uga.edu

Hopkinson is available to speak about climate change and ocean acidification effects on reefs. His research focuses on how corals and other organisms acquire and process inorganic carbon and how they respond to rising levels of carbon dioxide in seawater, also known as ocean acidification.