As ranked by Tim McClanahan, Wildlife Conservation Society
The following are in no particular order:
- Sale PF (1991) The ecology of fishes on coral reefs. Academic Press, San Diego
This book by Sale has probably sold the most copies in the field. It has gone through two editions or more and is in paperback, which is all very unusual for our discipline.
- Birkeland C (1997) Life and Death of Coral Reefs. Chapman & Hall, New York
This book by Birkeland is probably the second-most read by the field.
We have done three books on coral reefs:
- McClanahan TR, Cinner JE (2012) Adapting to a Changing Environment: Confronting the consequences of climate change. Oxford University Press, New York
- McClanahan TR, Branch GM (eds) (2008) Food Webs and the Dynamics of Marine Reefs. Oxford University Press, New York
- McClanahan TR, Sheppard CR, Obura D (eds) (2000) Coral Reefs of the Indian Ocean: Their Ecology and Conservation. Oxford University Press, New York
I assume the 2012 book will have the broadest appeal and it is getting good reviews.
Then this is for a more conservation-oriented angle:
- Cote IM, Reynolds JD (eds) (2006) Coral Reef Conservation. Cambridge University Press
These are a bit more specialized but would be useful for those interested in the sub-disciplines:
- Polunin NVC, Robert CM (eds) (1996) Reef Fisheries. Chapman & Hall, London
- Rosenberg E, Loya Y (eds) (2004) Coral Health and Disease. Springer-Verlag, New York
The following is a good source book for basic coral reef information:
- Spalding MD, Ravilious C, Green EP (2001) World Atlas of Coral Reefs. University of California Press, London, England
I consider the following to be some of the most important peer-reviewed papers on coral reefs:
- McClanahan TR, Graham NAJ, MacNeil MA, Muthiga NA, Cinner JE, Bruggemann JH, Wilson SK (2011) Critical thresholds and tangible targets for ecosystem-based management of coral reef fisheries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108:17230-17233
- Maina J, McClanahan TR, Venus V, Ateweberhan M, Madin J (2011) Global gradients of coral exposure to environmental stresses and implications for local management. PLoS ONE 6:e23064
- Paddack MJ, Reynolds JD, Aguilar C, Appeldoorn RS, Beets J, Burkett EW, Chittaro PM, Clarke K, Esteves R, Fonseca AC (2009) Recent region-wide declines in Caribbean reef fish abundance. Current Biology 19:590-595
- Bruno JF, Selig ER (2007) Regional decline of coral cover in the Indo-Pacific: Timing, extent, and subregional comparisons. PLoS ONE 2:e711.doi:710.1371/journal.pone.0000711
- Gardner TA, Cote IM, Gill JA, Grant A, Watkinson AR (2003) Long-term region-wide declines in Caribbean corals. Science 301:958-960
Note: Tim McClanahan is a Kenya-based coral biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. He has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and written or edited dozens of other publications.