Featured Archive - 2017 Publications

Below is a sampling of publications generated by NOAA's coral ecosystem activities in 2017. To access a complete list of NOAA coral ecosystem related publications, use the CoRIS Geoportal
( search tool.

Coral Reef Resilience to Climate Change in Guam in 2016

Coral reef resilience is the capacity of a reef to resist or recover from degradation and maintain provision of ecosystem goods and services. Resilience assessments involve measuring or assessing resilience indicators (e.g., coral disease, coral recruitment and herbivorous fish biomass) and producing an aggregate score that expresses resilience potential for all sites as relative to the site with the highest (assessed) resilience potential. Across the shallow reef sites of Guam, higher resilience potential correlated most strongly with high coral cover and high coral recruitment and low resilience potential sites were negatively correlated with these same two indicators. Across the deep reef sites of Guam, higher resilience potential correlated most strongly with high coral recruitment, low macroalgae, high herbivore biomass and high coral cover.

A Guide to Assessing Coral Reef Resilience for Decision Support

Our ability to assess relative resilience of coral reefs has advanced dramatically in recent years, and we are now at a point where a feasible and useful process can be recommended for use in environmental planning and management. This Guide presents a 10-step process for completing a resilience assessment, putting into managers' hands the means to assess, map and monitor coral reef resilience, and the means to identify and prioritize actions that support resilience in the face of climate change. The guidance presented here represents the culmination of over a decade of experience and builds on ideas first presented by West and Salm (2003), Obura and Grimsditch (2009), and McClanahan and coauthors (2012).

Coral Bleaching Futures - Downscaled projections of bleaching conditions for the world's coral reefs, implications of climate policy and management responses

Increasingly frequent severe coral bleaching is among the greatest threats to coral reefs posed by climate change. Global climate models (GCMs) project great spatial variation in the timing of annual severe bleaching (ASB) conditions; a point at which reefs are certain to change and recovery will be limited. Previous model-resolution projections (approximately 1x1°) are too coarse to inform reef management planning (recognized, for example, in SAMOA Pathways, paragraph 44b). To meet the need for higher-resolution projections, this report presents statistically downscaled projections (4-km resolution) of the timing of ASB for all the world's coral reefs using the newest generation of IPCC climate models (CMIP5). Results are reported by country and territory, grouped in bioregions based on the 10 UNEP Regional Seas programmes with coral reefs (also including countries or territories in or near the Regional Sea area but not participating in the Regional Sea).

Coral Reef Resilience to Climate Change in the Florida Reef Tract

Climate Change and a range of human activities threaten the natural resilience of coral reef ecosystems. Reef resilience is the ability to resist and recover from disturbances while retaining essentially the same function and structure. Managers can support the natural resilience of reefs by reducing their sensitivity to climate-related disturbances, such as coral bleaching, by reducing stress on reefs caused by human activities. The challenge for natural resource managers in Florida, as with everywhere else reefs occur, lies in deciding which actions to implement and where, to best support resilience. Understanding spatial variation in resilience to Climate Change in the Florida Reef Tract was the goal of this project, with the aim being to produce information that can inform management decisions. This project is a collaboration co-funded by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and The Nature Conservancy's Florida office. This study addresses this priority from Florida's Climate Change Action Plan - Determine and map areas of high and low resilience to Climate Change in order to prioritize management efforts.

Interdisciplinary Baseline Ecosystem Assessment Surveys to Inform Ecosystem-Based Management Planning in Timor-Leste

This project describes activities performed by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 2012 to 2016, through a partnership agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Timor-Leste Mission, to support the Government of Timor-Leste—particularly the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF). Based on consultative discussions between USAID, MAF, and NOAA, these activities provide essential baseline fisheries and marine resource information to inform ecosystem-based management of the nearshore waters of Timor-Leste. These efforts were funded primarily by the USAID Timor-Leste Mission, with significant in-kind contributions and support from NOAA, as part of the 5-year partnership between NOAA and USAID.

Effect of Anthropogenic Pollutants on ESA Coral Health

This report outlines the results of a study in which three different genotypes of the Endangered Species Act listed Caribbean coral Acropora cervicornis (staghorn coral) were exposed to copper (II) chloride, a common marine toxicant. Results indicate differential responses in photosynthetic activity and wound healing among the three genotypes tested.

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component Summary Findings for Puerto Rico, 2015

This report outlines human dimensions information relevant to coral reef resources in Puerto Rico. In 2014, the Puerto Rican government designated nine socioeconomic regions: Aguadilla, Arecibo, Bayamon, Caguas, Carolina, Humacao, Mayaguez, Ponce, and San Juan. The survey results contained within this document are representative of each of the regions. The findings were derived from a combination of data gathered through household surveys conducted from December 2014 to February 2015, and additional secondary sources of socioeconomic information for the region.

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-PIFSC-61 - Acoustic Characterization of Mesophotic Coral Reef Ecosystems of West Hawaii

The results of this effort indicate that acoustic data can be used to provide detailed substrate and biological cover maps that include mesophotic coral ecosystems. Here the authors employ a combination of principal component analyses and unsupervised classification techniques to derive six substrate and five biological cover classes from multi-beam acoustic data, which are validated by optical seafloor imagery to create a complete benthic habitat map for the West Hawaii Habitat Focus Area (WHHFA).

Capacity Shortfalls Hinder the Performance of Marine Protected Areas Globally

A heightened awareness of human impacts on marine biodiversity has been the impetus for the largest expansion of marine protected areas (MPAs) ever.

SEFSC Coral Reef Program: FY 2015 Project Accomplishments Report

This annual accomplishments report provides information on the activities and accomplishments of SEFSC projects funded by the CRCP in FY15.

Warming Trends and Bleaching Stress of the World's Coral Reefs 1985-2012

This paper seeks to address this perceived gap in knowledge by analyzing satellite temperature data from 1985-2012 in order to assess and provide ways to understand thermal history trends and patterns for reefs worldwide.

Climate-Smart Design for Ecosystem Management: A Test Application for Coral Reefs

This document contains guidelines developed by the Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning project of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force for improving coral reef management through a climate-smart approach. The work presented in this paper is an examination of this approach, how it can be applied to coral reefs, and feedback from stakeholders on how useful they found this approach to be.

New Tool to Assist With Assessing Coral Reef Impacts and Mitigation

Project applicants, proponents, permittees working in marine areas that support coral reefs and coral reef and coastal resource managers and regulators now have a new tool to assist them in understanding and avoiding and minimizing impacts to coral reefs and identifying potential options to compensate for unavoidable coral reef impacts. The Handbook on Coral Reef Impacts: Avoidance, Minimization, Compensatory Mitigation and Restoration is a product of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Coral Injury and Mitigation Working Group.

Adaptation Design Tool: Corals & Climate Adaptation Planning

The Adaptation Design Tool of the Corals & Climate Adaptation Planning (CCAP) project was created to help coral reef managers incorporate climate-smart design into their programs and projects at any stage of planning and implementation. The Adaptation Design Tool can be used to incorporate climate change adaptation into management plans using existing planned actions as a starting point, and also to guide development of additional climate-smart strategies as needed.