Collectively, nearly 4.5 million occurrence records from 867,000 distinct locations have been georeferenced following best practices  by leveraging geographic resources and expertise at each institution. Since 2003, at least 175 undergraduates and 282 higher level researchers from 161 institutions in 40 countries have been trained directly through project activities, including 14 international georeferencing workshops. Acknowledgments We'd like to thank National Biological Information Infrastructure for support of the VertNet project and the VertNet Steering Committee for leadership and guidance. Besides the authors listed in the authorship list, the Steering Committee includes Hank Bart, John Bates, Gladys Cotter, James Hanken, Craig Moritz, Nancy Simmons, and Linda Trueb.
Background. A number of factors have recently caused mass coral mortality events in all of the world's tropical oceans. However, little is known about the timing, rate or spatial variability of the loss of reef-building corals, especially in the Indo-Pacific, which contains 75% of the world's coral reefs. Methodology/Principle Findings. We compiled and analyzed a coral cover database of 6001 quantitative surveys of 2667 Indo-Pacific coral reefs performed between 1968 and 2004. Surveys conducted during 2003 indicated that coral cover averaged only 22.1% (95% CI: 20.7, 23.4) and just 7 of 390 reefs surveyed that year had coral cover > 60%. Estimated yearly coral cover loss based on annually pooled survey data was approximately 1% over the last twenty years and 2% between 1997 and 2003 (or 3,168 km(2) per year). The annual loss based on repeated measures regression analysis of a subset of reefs that were monitored for multiple years from 1997 to 2004 was 0.72% (n = 476 reefs, 95% CI: 0.36, 1.08). Conclusions/Significance. The rate and extent of coral loss in the Indo-Pacific are greater than expected. Coral cover was also surprisingly uniform among subregions and declined decades earlier than previously assumed, even on some of the Pacific's most intensely managed reefs. These results have significant implications for policy makers and resource managers as they search for successful models to reverse coral loss.