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.

Puerto Rico Coral Reef Ecosystem Valuation

This project was sponsored and funded by the U.S. EPA, Office of Research and Development. The EPA developed a decision-support tool to evaluate restoration alternatives in the Restoration Management Plan for the Guanica Bay Watershed in southwest Puerto Rico. Several teams were in charge of different ecosystem services (benefits humans receive from coral reef ecosystems). Ecosystem services for coral reefs included recreation-tourism, food supply (commercial fishing and consumptive motive of recreational fishing), ornamentals (aquarium trade), pharmaceuticals, and property values from storm protection. The EPA decision-support tool was limited to the coral reefs of southwest Puerto Rico but because public scoping determined that recreation-tourism information was needed for the entire island’s coral reef ecosystems this study covers all of Puerto Rico. However, due to costs, this study was limited to visitor use of Puerto Rico’s coral reef ecosystems.

Economic survey results for United States Virgin Islands commercial fisheries

In 2014, an economic survey of commercial fishermen in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) was conducted in tandem with the Marine Outreach and Education - Virgin Islands Style (MOES) fishermen workshops to expand data collection. Fishing is traditionally a profound aspect of life and culture in the USVI. This study discusses 1) fishermen background, 2) fixed costs, including vessels, dive gear, and fish and lobster trap ownership, and 3) variable costs, including fuel, bait, air, food and crew costs for St. Thomas and St. John (STT/STJ) fishermen, St. Croix (STX) fishermen, and USVI fishermen as a whole.

An Analysis of Chemical Contaminants in Sediments and Fish from Cocos Lagoon, Guam

With funding from NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) sampled sediments and fish in Cocos Lagoon, Guam in May 2015, as part of a project with partners from Guam EPA, CRCP, and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, to assess chemical contaminants throughout Cocos Lagoon. Between 1944 and 1963, the US Coast Guard operated a Long Range Navigation (LORAN) station on Cocos Island at the southern end of Cocos Lagoon. Disposal of materials from the LORAN station are suspected of contaminating surrounding waters with polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, and since 2006 there has been a Guam EPA fish consumption advisory for Cocos Lagoon. Results from the analysis of the samples collected indicated that sediments, including those collected from around Cocos Island, contained fairly low levels of chemical contaminants. Fish sampled from around Cocos Island, however, contained higher levels of PCBs and also the pesticide DDT. Some concentrations of PCBs and DDT in the fish from around Cocos Island were above USEPA subsistence and even recreational fisher guidelines, which is of concern to resource managers and the public. NOAA plans to continue work with Guam EPA, the USEPA, and the US Coast Guard in support of the assessment of chemical contaminants in Cocos Lagoon.

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component: Summary Findings for Hawaii, 2015

This report outlines human dimensions information relevant to coral reef resources in the state of Hawai'i. The study findings were derived from a combination of data gathered through household surveys conducted in November of 2014 and additional secondary sources of socioeconomic information for the region. Survey results show that Hawai'i residents participate in swimming and beach recreation most frequently. The study also revealed that the majority of Hawai'i residents support a range of potential marine management policies and regulations, and are for the most part familiar with the various threats faced by coral reefs (such as hurricanes, pollution, and coastal development).

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 Stateses 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.