Our research in Tonga will fill major gaps in understanding.  These reef communities have been poorly studied, with exception of a few locations near more populated islands.  Coral reefs in Tonga are reported to have been impacted by multiple threats, including large scale disturbances such as tropical cyclones, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, sea-level fluctuations associated with El Niño events, and a bleaching event in 2000.  Reefs near populated areas have also been confronted by major anthropogenic threats since the 1980s, including overexploitation of natural resources, destructive fishing practices, siltation and runoff resulting from rapid urbanization and human population growth.

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