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.

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).

Sythesis 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.

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

This study uses reef visual census (RVC) fish count data from three years to provide a regional baseline fishery-independent assessment of reef fish species composition and relative abundance in southeast Florida. Preliminary comparisons of reef fish population parameters to long-term data sets from the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas are made in this report. Using the southeast Florida RVC data with the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas data sets allows natural resource managers and researchers to evaluate reef fish status and trends along the entire Florida reef tract for the first time.

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.