Featured Coral Publications

Below is a sampling of publications generated by NOAA's coral ecosystem activities. Visit the Featured Archive to see a past list of highlighted publications. To access a complete list of NOAA coral ecosystem related publications, use the CoRIS Geoportal ( search tool.

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component. Summary Findings for South Florida, 2014

This report outlines human dimensions information relevant to coral reef resources in South Florida. The South Florida region is defined as the five counties adjacent to the Florida Coral Reef Tract: Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. The findings here are derived from a combination of data gathered through household surveys conducted from January to July of 2014, and additional secondary sources of socioeconomic information for the region.

Reef Manager's Guide to Fostering Community Stewardship

Many people involved in coral reef management know and use the Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching, the definitive manual for managers confronting one of the most dramatic impacts of climate change.

Building on the success of this publication, as part of an international consortium NOAA has just released the next installment in the Reef Manager's Guide family: A Reef Manager's Guide to Fostering Community Stewardship.

New Tools Adopted for United States Coral Reef Task Force Watershed Partnership Initiative: Programmatic Checklist and Priority Ecosystem Indicators

The Watershed Partnership Initiative (WPI) of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) selected three watersheds (Guanica, Puerto Rico; West Maui, Hawaii; and Faga’alu, American Samoa) as priority sites where local and federal agency resources are addressing land-based sources of pollution in watersheds located upstream of priority coral reef areas.  Specific language to evaluate the programmatic, ecological and social/community engagement success of the partnerships was included in Resolution 28.1 which codified the WPI. Specifically, the resolution states that in support of the WPI, the USCRTF will, “Evaluate the success of this partnership to ensure that the resources contributed are being applied effectively and are having the intended impact on watershed management, water quality issues impacting coral reef ecosystems, and building an informed and engaged community.”  In response, the Watershed Working Group of the USCRTF sought to develop tools for managers of the WPI sites to assist them with tracking progress of implementing their watershed management plans and documenting the efficacy of the management interventions taken to reduce land-based sources of pollution originating from the priority watersheds. Two new tools are now.

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component. Summary Findings for American Samoa, 2014

This technical memorandum presents the findings from the initial 2014 American Samoa NCRMP (National Coral Reef Monitoring Program) socioeconomic data collection. The report presents preliminary social indicators and provides examples of how they can be analyzed over the long term. It should be noted that this report presents information that, in many instances, is being collected for the first time. In all instances, the information represents baseline socioeconomic data for the NCRMP. Some of the variables presented in this report identify gaps in information, and we provide suggestions on how these can be addressed in the future. The main objective is to lay the groundwork for combining and comparing socioeconomic variables with a goal of developing meaningful indicators that can be used to examine trends in human dimensions of coral reef resources and better understand human influences on effective coral reef conservation.

Baseline Assessment of Faga'alu Watershed: A Ridge to Reef Assessment in Support of Sediment Reduction Activities and Future Evaluation of their Success

The primary purpose of this document is to provide local and federal partners with baseline information, survey methods, and recommended actions to support continued monitoring efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of management actions taken at the Samoa Maritime quarry in Faga'alu, American Samoa to reduce land-based sources of pollution inputs, specifically excess sedimentation, to the coral reefs in Faga'alu Bay. This document summarizes work completed between 2012 and 2014 to gather baseline data and information before management interventions such as drainage systems, alternative ground cover, and retention ponds were installed at the quarry. To quantify effectiveness of these interventions, additional long-term monitoring of sediment loads in Faga'alu Stream and coral community structure will be needed for comparison with the baselines presented here.

Regulated and Protected Species in U.S. Caribbean Waters: Invertebrates, Fish, Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals(Version 2)

This guide is meant to serve as a quick reference for all those working in law enforcement, conservation, and management of marine resources in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It provides general descriptions of species that are either managed due to their importance in our local fisheries, or protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. The guide briefly summarizes pertinent Federal, Territorial, or Commonwealth regulations for each species, or group of animals where appropriate, and provides photos of the animals. The first version of this guide was published in 2009. This second version includes recent changes in Federal, Territorial, or Commonwealth regulations. In English and Spanish.

Characterizing Participation in Non-Commercial Fishing and other Shore-based Recreational Activities on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

This study characterizes the community of shore-based, non-commercial fishers on the island of St. Croix, USVI in terms of their fishing patterns over space and time and to the extent possible, their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. The results and lessons learned from this study can inform future survey efforts of non-commercial fishers in the USVI.

Shallow-Water Benthic Habitats of Northeast Puerto Rico and Culebra Island

This report describes the development and assessment of shallow-water (<35 m) benthic habitat maps for Northeast Puerto Rico and Culebra Island. The objective of this effort, conducted by NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) in partnership with the Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA), was to provide spatially-explicit information describing the benthic habitat types and live coral cover present in and around the Northeast Reserves, a region selected by local managers as a priority area. The habitat map, generated using a combination of semi-automated classification and visual interpretation techniques, represent the first digital maps that describe nearly 100% of the seafloor in the area. The effort also marks the first time a high resolution satellite mosaic representing the seafloor has been provided for the full extent of this location, as well as a multi-resolution depth model combining all available hydrographic data in the region.

Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management (SocMon/SEM-Pasificka). Strategic Plan: 2015-2019

This (first ever) strategic plan was developed to identify and prioritize the way forward for advancing a global and regional understanding of human interactions with and dependence on coastal resources. The strategic plan reflects the input from coordinators from the regional nodes, key stakeholders and partners interested in improving the integration of human dimensions monitoring into wider coastal ecosystem monitoring efforts. The plan presents a vision for short, medium and long term expectations for the Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative (SocMon).

A Synthesis of Issues Affecting the Management of Coral Reefs and Recommendations for Long-Term Capacity Building in U.S. Jurisdictions

This document was prepared as a brief synthesis of common issues identified across the seven jurisdictions documents and includes potential short and long-term strategies to build adaptive capacity at the scale of the network of jurisdictions. While this synthesis document was commissioned by and prepared for the Coral Reef Conservation Program, they cannot be expected to be the sole lead in a capacity building program to improve coral reef management. The intended audience for this document is therefore the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, the All Islands Committee, as well as all state and local government agencies and the non-governmental and academic communities involved in coral reef management who contribute capacity to address these persistent issues.

Guidance for an Epidemiological Strategy and Establishing a Disease Surveillance Network for Caribbean Acropora palmata

Acropora palmata was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in May 2006 (71 FR 26852). In 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed the reclassification of A. palmata (77 FR 73219) as endangered, but determined in 2014, that they would remain listed as threatened under the ESA (79 FR 53852). This coral is present only in the Caribbean where its existence is threatened by infectious pathogens, pollution, and human activities. There is a critical need to conserve remaining stocks of corals, but the status of this species is unknown in many regions in the Caribbean because the capacity to assess their condition and monitor reefs is lacking. This is particularly challenging in many Caribbean locations (e.g., small island countries). With limited financial and personnel resources, these managers lack access to a coordinated network of collaborators. The goal of this workshop was to provide methods that can assist coral reef managers, particularly those with limited resources, to assess and manage the health of their respective coral populations with a focus on A. palmata as a sentinel species.

Evaluation of Marine Outreach and Education USVI Style Initiative: Improving Fishing Community Awareness and Compliance

This report shares findings from the evaluation of the 2015 Marine Outreach and Education U.S. Virgin Islands Style Initiative's (MOES-VI) Improving Fishing Community Awareness and Compliance Project (IFCACP) commercial fisher registration workshops held in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), during the second week of July, and in St. Thomas, USVI, during the third week of July. Blue Earth Consultants, with guidance from the IFCACP's steering committee, assessed the effectiveness of the new fisher registration process and training module. The following report aims to help inform Department of Planning and Natural Resources, NOAA Fisheries and NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program as they make adjustments and refinements to their MOES-VI IFCACP program and workshops. The report describes the development and implementation of the evaluation methodology and tool, the results of the evaluations completed by fishers, Blue Earth staff observations during the workshops, recommendations for changes or improvements to the fisher registration and workshop processes as well as insights on fishers' perspectives on fisheries management and enforcement effectiveness in the USVI.

A Strategy for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico: Resilience Through Ecosystem Restoration

This document identifies general priorities and actions where NOAA seeks to use its collective mandates, science, management and policy expertise to collaborate with our state, federal, academic, industry and NGO partners (regional and national) to help restore the Gulf ecosystem and economy and extend our commitment to a Gulf-wide, ecosystem-scale approach to recovery and restoration.

Assessing relative resilience potential of coral reefs to inform management in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Coral reef managers face the challenge of reducing vulnerability to the effects of climate change by reducing other sources of stress to support the resilience of reef systems. Resilience-based management (RBM) has been developed to overcome the challenges of reducing vulnerability in this era of rapid change. RBM of coral reefs can include assessing spatial variation in resilience potential and then targeting and tailoring appropriate actions, which is the focus of the project reported on here. In CNMI, undertaking resilience-based management became a priority following a bleaching event in 2000, which caused 60-70% coral mortality in some locations, and a less severe bleaching event in 2005 that coincided with an outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish. This project report: provides further background both to this project and ecological resilience assessments in reef areas, describes our methods for assessing the various resilience indicators and anthropogenic stressors, shares highlights of our results and progress towards each of the objectives, identifies next steps, and has an appendix with tables and map graphics that expand upon the content within the main report. This report includes Site Summaries; 1-page overviews for each of the 84 sites we surveyed of the field data, resilience assessment results and the results of the queries that identify targets for various types of management actions.