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.

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.

Southeast Florida Coral Reef Fishery-Independent Baseline Assessment: 2012-2014 Summary Report

Reef fishes are important biologic, ecologic, and economic resources of the marine ecosystem which must be managed for sustainability. Until recently, there was no long-term monitoring program in place to assess the condition of reef fish resources of the northern Florida Reef Tract (FRT) (northern Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin counties). An assessment/monitoring plan for the northern portion of the Florida reef tract was designed through a joint cooperative effort by scientists at the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) and Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (NSUOC). This report is a synoptic compilation of a three-year data collection from all partner agencies, and includes data from the 232, 324, and 308 sites or Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) sampled in 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively. The majority of the field work was accomplished through funding provided to NSUOC by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), with supplementary funding provided by FDEP-CRCP. Significant amounts of data were also collected by multiple Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) partner agencies that were able to dedicate their time and resources to the project. Field sampling for each year began in May and ran through October.

Summary Report: The Economic Value of U.S. Coral Reefs

This report presents brief, non-technical summaries of coral reef valuation studies for each of the seven US coral reef jurisdictions the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program funded from 2001 to 2011. While all the studies were economic valuation studies, they each may have used slightly different approaches. Notwithstanding the application of slightly different methodological approaches which produce different ranges of values, the results and findings in each study support and confirm that coral reefs provide significant benefits to society. Understanding the value of coral reefs therefore provides information that can be used to improve the allocation of resources to ensure conservation.

The Total Economic Value of U.S. Coral Reefs: A Review of the Literature

This literature review and meta-analysis summarized the valuation studies that were conducted from 2001 to 2011 for all seven U.S. coral reef jurisdictions. The estimated total economic value of coral reef services for the US as a whole is just over US$ 3.4 billion per year. This value is considered to be a partial estimate due to (1) the limited geographical coverage of some state/ territory level TEV estimates, and (2) the limited set of services that are valued for some states and territories.

The State of Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems of the United States: 2015

Since NOAA published the 2007 State of Deep Coral Ecosystems report, many deep-sea coral research and management efforts have taken place. This 2015 publication presents these exciting advances. Like the 2007 report, we have regional chapters describing the distribution and ecology of the deep-sea coral ecosystems, but we also include sponges in the scope. These are interspersed with spotlight chapters that explore a number of cross-cutting topics in deep-sea coral and sponge research. The prepublication edition of some chapters is now released below. Please come back later as more chapters are added in the coming months.

Climatology Development for NOAA Coral Reef Watch's 5-km Product Suite

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch (CRW) program has used a 50-km resolution "Heritage" analysis of satellite sea surface temperature (SST) observations to monitor coral reef thermal stress for more than 15 years. The most frequently requested upgrade by coral reef managers and scientists has been for increased spatial resolution. The recent operational production of a satellite-based, global SST analysis at 5-km resolution has provided the basis for high-resolution monitoring of thermal conditions not only in oceanic waters, but also with increased coverage at and near coral reef locations. Evaluating thermal stress on coral reefs requires knowledge of historical baseline temperature (climatology) at the same spatial resolution to identify and assess anomalous temperatures. This report documents the development of a 5-km SST climatology for use with the 5-km SST analysis.

Enhancing Socioeconomic Monitoring to Support Conservation of Coral Reef and Near Shore Resources in Thailand

The intent of this project was to strengthen the local capacity of communities in socioeconomic assessment and monitoring to improve coral reef management and the livelihoods and well-being of coastal communities in Thailand. The approach was to adapt socioeconomic assessment tools (SocMon SEA and SEM-Pasifika) with local stakeholders to be relevant to communities.

Namdrik Atoll. Coral-Reef Resources Monitoring Assessment

Scientifically-sound, marine resource assessments form the backbone for resource management discussions and decisions. Similar to many atolls, it is not understood if fishery resources and coral-reef ecosystem conditions have been stable on Namdrik because no quantitative studies exist to describe their dynamics through time. Within this document, we provide a deeper look into the results of a recent marine resource assessment resulting in a more detailed assessment of individual reefs around Namdrik, and describe the status of marine resources at the eight survey locations visited.The Micronesia Challenge (MC) is a long-term commitment by NOAA social scientists working with regional Pacific governments in the Pacific to "effectively conserve at least 30% of nearshore marine resources and 20% of terrestrial resources by the year 2020." To track and assess the progress of the MC's conservation initiatives, each MC jurisdiction is tasked with monitoring and connecting its social, economic, and biological indicators.

Micronesia Challenge: Socio-economic Pilot Study, Palau

In September 2013, the Palau International Coral Reef Center in collaboration with the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre carried out the Micronesia Challenge (MC) Socioeconomic Pilot Study in Ngardmau State, a village located in the northeastern part of Babeldaob Island. The purpose of this pilot study was to test key MC and Palau socio-economic indicators that were decided upon during the 1st MC Socioeconomic measures meeting in August 2012 as well as goals from the Ngardmau Ongedechuul System of Conservation Areas management plan specific to the community where the study was conducted.

Transport Pathways of Marine Larvae Around the Mariana Archipelago

The overall goal of the assessment was to evaluate ocean currents as a mechanism of transport and to compare connectivity among larvae with different life-history characteristics using computer simulations. Cumulative connectivity over a recent 9 year span was investigated for the entire region. Island roles as larval sources and destinations, as well as self-seeding versus larval import, were evaluated for each of the Marianas. For Guam and Saipan, the two most populous islands, the seasonal and inter-annual variation in larval supply was examined.

An Assessment of Nutrients, Sedimentation, and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) in the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER)

The purpose of this project is to assess land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) and their effects, and to characterize the biological community within the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER) in St. Thomas, USVI. The results of nearly two years of monthly monitoring for nutrients, sedimentation, and total suspended solids (TSS) at six sites in the STEER are summarized.

Watershed Scale Planning to Reduce Land-Based Sources of Pollution (LBSP) for the Protection of Coral Reefs in Southeast Florida: An Overview and Data Gap Assessment

This project provides an assessment framework for evaluating the impacts of land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) on the coral reef ecosystem in southeast coastal waters of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Rapid population growth and intense increases in land development in this region over the past 50-100 years have put the coral reef ecosystem and supporting estuarine habitats under significant stress. Pollutants from these land-based human activities include nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus), sediments, pathogens pharmaceutical and personal care products, and other LBSPs. These pollutants are discharged to the southeast Florida coastal ecosystem in large part in stormwater runoff (both urban and agricultural) and wastewater effluent and the management of stormwater and wastewater in southeast Florida affects the pollutants loads and ecosystem impacts. The purpose of this document is to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) partners in tackling the problems associated with LBSP by identifying sources of pollution, data availability and gaps, and sources of information from past planning and management activities in southeastern Florida. This report creates a watershed-based framework for understanding and assessing the pollutant sources and loads, and uses nine coastal inlets in the region as the basis for defining the contributing watersheds. This report will provide a roadmap for future LBSP-related data collection and pollution reduction efforts in southeast Florida.