Below is a sampling of publications generated by NOAA's coral ecosystem activities in 2010. To access a complete list of NOAA coral ecosystem related publications, use the CoRIS Geoportal
(http://coris.noaa.gov/geoportal/) search tool.
Coral reefs throughout the world are subjected to a number of anthropogenic stressors. Some of the most pervasive of these are a result of climate change. Increasing sea surface temperature of the world's oceans is resulting in unprecedented, mass coral bleaching events wherein coral polyps expel their symbiotic zooxanthellae. Research also suggests these disturbances make coral reefs more susceptible to disease. Occurrences of mass bleaching and disease outbreaks prompted the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to create Coral Reef Watch, a program that monitors many of the indicators of these events using satellites. Coral Reef Watch provides coral reef managers with near-realtime alerts of bleaching conditions as they develop.
Colonies of the scleractinian coral Acropora palmata, listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act in 2006, have been monitored in Hawksnest Bay, within Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, from 2004 through 2010 by scientists with the US Geological Survey, National Park Service, and the University of the Virgin Islands. The focus has been on documenting the prevalence of disease, including white band, white pox (also called patchy necrosis and white patches), and unidentified diseases. In an effort to learn more about the pathologies that might be involved with the diseases that were observed, samples were collected from apparently healthy and diseased colonies in July 2009 for analysis.
In 2010, NOAA completed a Strategic Plan for Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems: Research, Management, and International Cooperation. The Strategic Plan identifies goals, objectives, and approaches to guide NOAA’s research, management, and international cooperation activities on deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems for fiscal years 2010 through 2019. This plan integrates research and conservation needs and is intended to be a flexible, evolving document that allows NOAA and its partners to address new management challenges and priorities as appropriate. The primary goal of this Strategic Plan is to improve the understanding, conservation, and management of deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems. (NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 11)
Reef fish populations are conspicuous and essential components of coral reef ecosystems in the south Florida region. Recent precipitous declines in these populations are believed to be due to severe habitat degradation as well as significant increases in recreational and commercial fishing. The monitoring methodologies described in this document are necessary for understanding how natural and manmade stressors are changing reef fish populations and communities. These stressors will continue to increase, and understanding the responses of populations and communities will be critical for their sustainable management. This document provides the background behind and descriptions of the protocols developed for a collaborative, multi-agency effort to monitor reef fish populations in the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas. Agencies involved include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA Fisheries), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM-RSMAS), and the National Park Service (NPS). This collaborative effort is the culmination of nearly three decades of independent Florida Keys monitoring programs aimed at fish populations in the region.
In April 2010, the CRCP released a Report to Congress highlighting Program activities from 2007 to 2009. This document is the third of the biennial progress reports on implementation of the National Coral Reef Action Strategy that are required by the CRCA.
The report highlights NOAA CRCP accomplishments from 2007 to 2009; the Program's annual budget for each year was $25.9 million in 2007, $27 million in 2008 and $29.4 million in 2009. During the period covered by this report, the CRCP operated pursuant to thirteen program goals organized under two themes: Understanding Coral Reef Ecosystems and Reducing the Adverse Impacts of Human Activities, and the report presents activities undertaken for each of these goals, including mapping, assessment, monitoring, partnerships, socioeconomic research and restoration, among other, as well as summaries of reports produced during the time period covered. This document also covers the reorganization process of the program from 13 goals to three goals and associated objectives.
This manual is intended to serve as a basic but evolving platform to involve many partners in collecting comparable data sets focused on Atlantic Acropora spp. from a variety of locations throughout the Caribbean. This data will be utilized in the ongoing efforts and responsibilities of NOAA-Fisheries to assess species' status and promote recovery under the auspices of the US Endangered Species Act.
The International Workshop on Red Coral Science, Management, and Trade: Lessons from the Mediterranean was convened September 23-26, 2009 in Naples, Italy. Hosted by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment and NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, the workshop provided an opportunity to discuss the best available science on the natural history of Mediterranean red coral (Corallium rubrum L.) as well as how it is managed throughout the region and utilized around the world. Attendees included scientists, managers, representatives of the coral fishery, manufacturing industries, policy makers, and environmental organizations from Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. The workshop involved presentations on the biology, taxonomy, and status of populations, fisheries, existing management approaches, trade and other and threats, uses of Corallium, and major markets.
In 2010, NOAA released the second biennial Report to Congress and the public on the Implementation of the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program 2008-2009. The report, prepared in consultation with the Regional Fishery Management Councils, summarizes activities initiated with fiscal year 2009 Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program funding. It also presents a brief synopsis of additional conservation actions that have taken place since the first Report to Congress was submitted in 2008.
In 2003, NOAA and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) joined forces with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Palau Government to produce a heat stress model for use in protected areas network (PAN) planning for Palau’s coral reef ecosystems and to identify factors that might confer resilience to climate change. The work described in this Technical Report represents an important new tool for Marine Protected Area (MPA) design. Physical variables to build resilience against climate change and, in particular, coral bleaching are incorporated into MPA design. This project demonstrated that a simplistic physical model can be used to improve MPA planning to incorporate resilience against future coral bleaching events.