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.

Managing Herbivores for their Impacts on Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems: A summary Report for Managers and Practitioners

Caribbean reefs have suffered unprecedented declines over the last several decades due to a variety of factors. Some of the most rapid and dramatic changes occurred following the region-wide die-off of the sea urchin, Diadema antillarum, in the mid-1980s, which resulted in the proliferation of algae on many reefs, especially those with few herbivorous fishes. Thirty years later, Diadema remain rare in most locations, algae are abundant on many reefs, and there is concern that fisheries targeting herbivorous fishes, especially parrotfishes, are compromising the function of many reef ecosystems. In some locations, such as the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Bahamas, robust populations of herbivorous fishes have been associated with elevated coral recruitment and positive reef trajectories. Yet other reefs, such as those in the Florida Keys, show no signs of recovery despite abundant herbivore populations. The emerging picture suggests that impacts of herbivores on coral recovery are likely to be highly context-dependent, and that management actions targeting herbivores will vary in their ability to facilitate coral persistence and recovery.  This report, which summarizes information from a larger scientific review (Adam et al. 2015), is intended to serve as a guide on how to manage herbivore populations to facilitate healthy, resilient coral reefs.

Recovery Plan for Elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and Staghorn (A. cervicornis) Corals

The purpose of this recovery plan is to identify a strategy for rebuilding and assuring the long-term viability of elkhorn coral and staghorn coral populations in the wild. The goal, objectives, and criteria represent our expectation of what is needed to increase the abundance and to protect the genetic diversity of elkhorn and staghorn coral populations throughout their geographical ranges and ultimately to remove these two coral species from the list of endangered and threatened species. Recovery criteria can be viewed as targets, or values, by which progress toward achievement of recovery objectives can be measured.

In this report, the Population-based Recovery Criteria (criteria 1-3) represent what recovered species would look like. The Threat-based Recovery Criteria (criteria 4-10) represent the conditions needed to abate the impacts of threats identified as contributing to the species’ threatened status and allow them to sustain a recovered status.

Representativeness of Marine Protected Areas of the United States

This analysis of representativeness in 1,628 MPAs is based upon the presence/absence of major habitat types, key natural resources and ecologically important areas and processes. This report assesses two aspects of representativeness in MPAs in United States waters : (i) the presence of MPAs in the 19 marine ecoregions of U.S. waters; and, (ii) the presence and representativeness in those MPAs of major habitat types (e.g., corals, seagrass, rocky intertidal, submarine canyons), key natural resources (e.g., invertebrates, fish, marine mammals, birds), and ecologically important areas and processes (e.g., fish spawning, bird nesting and upwelling areas and feeding grounds).

Characterization of deep-coral and sponge communities in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary: Rittenburg Bank, Cochrane Bank, and the Farallon Escarpment

Benthic surveys were conducted in the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) aboard R/V Fulmar, October 3-11, 2012 using the large observation-class remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Beagle. The purpose of the surveys was to groundtruth mapping data collected in 2011, and to characterize the seafloor biota, particularly corals and sponges, in order to support Essential Fish Habitat designations under Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) and other conservation and management goals under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA).

Fish and benthic communities of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary: Science to support sanctuary management

This report is the culmination of three years of fish and seafloor (benthic) invertebrate community observations on the East and West Flower Garden Banks. It provides baseline information on key biological communities, and can be utilized to address resource management priorities in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS).

Design and Parameterization of a Coral Reef Ecosystem Model for Guam

Management on an ecosystem scale has proven to be a useful strategy to conserve, manage, and restore marine systems. Implementing ecosystem-based management requires an understanding of the complex and often synergistic dynamics of coral reefs, including the role of humans in the ecosystem. The Atlantis modeling framework integrates physical, chemical, ecological, and anthropogenic processes in a three dimensional, spatially explicit domain and can serve as a useful decision-support tool for ecosystem-based coral reef management. The Atlantis ecosystem model has successfully been applied to investigate ecosystem-based fisheries management scenario evaluations and ecological questions in Australia and North America. In this report we describe the construction of the Guam Atlantis Coral Reef Ecosystem Model. Atlantis incorporates various submodels that each have their own set of parameters and variables. Here we describe the details of each model component and present the parameterizations of the spatial and ecological submodels. The ultimate goal of the fully developed model is to provide a tool to evaluate management strategy scenarios against a backdrop of climate and ocean change.

Marine Protected Areas of the US Virgin Islands: Ecological Performance Report

This report is the first time that an assessment of ecological performance has been conducted for MPAs in the USVI. A decade of underwater surveys was analyzed to detect trends on coral reefs inside MPAs and for a similar range of habitats outside of MPAs. The information, data synthesis, interpretation and recommendations are intended to help focus management actions and goal setting, inform outreach products and adjust expectations regarding ecological performance for MPAs in the region. The data presented here provide important baselines required for tracking MPA performance through future monitoring efforts.

Interrelationships between corals and fisheries

This book is the result of NOAA CRCP's sponsored workshop held by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in Tampa, Florida, 20-22 May 2013, where world authorities came together to discuss the current and emerging threats as well as challenges and opportunities for managing corals and associated fisheries.

Marine Outreach and Education US Virgin Islands Style (MOES-VI): Strategizing for Improved Outreach, Education and Communication Pertaining to USVI Marine and Fisheries Management and Conservation

This report provides a description of existing marine outreach and education programs and implementation gaps in the US Virgin Islands (USVI) as well as a series of action recommendations to improve communication efforts.

Stormwater management in Pacific and Caribbean Islands: A practitioner's guide to implementing LID

This guide is intended for designers, engineers, agencies, and others in the Pacific and Caribbean islands who are familiar with stormwater concepts and interested in alternatives to ponding basins and detention ponds for managing stormwater.