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 (http://www.coris.noaa.gov/search/) search tool.
The new NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Strategic Plan will guide the agency's future coral reef research and conservation efforts. It outlines refined strategies to increase resilience to climate change, improve fisheries' sustainability and reduce land-based sources of pollution, while adding a new focus of work - restore viable coral populations. Addressing the top three recognized threats to coral reefs and supporting coral reef restoration are now the four "pillars" of the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.
This report describes the 2016 and 2017 research activities partially or fully funded by the Program to meet NOAA's mandate to identify, study, and monitor deep-sea coral areas. The report is supplemented with details of these activities: https://deepseacoraldata.noaa.gov/. The report also briefy describes progress during this period in MSA and other NOAA management actions that contribute to protecting deep-sea coral areas.
This U.S.-wide data summary report is the first developed since the formal implementation of the NCRMP in 2013. The primary audience for this data summary report and the publically available summary data is the scientific and management community. Greater than 95% of the data presented in this report was collected between 2015 and 2017. All summary-level data presented within the report are available via the NOAA Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS), and raw data are available through the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The methods used to collect the data presented within this report can be found within reports made available with this report on the NOAA CoRIS webpage.
This technical memorandum presents the findings from the initial Guam NCRMP socioeconomic data collection. The report presents preliminary social indicators and provides examples of how indicators can be used to analyze changes over time in a long term setting. The main objective is to lay the groundwork for combining and comparing socioeconomic variables with a goal of developing meaningful indicators that can be used to examine trends in human dimensions of coral reef resources and better understand human influences on effective coral reef conservation. It should be noted that this report presents information that, in many instances, is being collected for the first time. In all instances, the information represents baseline socioeconomic data for the NCRMP. Some of the variables presented in this report identify gaps in information, and the authors provide suggestions on how these gaps can be addressed in the future.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).