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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
A heightened awareness of human impacts on marine biodiversity has been the impetus for the largest expansion of marine protected areas (ever). Possibly because of this recent, rapid expansion, however, it is still unknown whether many MPAs are being managed properly, and how the management of these MPAs is currently influencing their outcomes. In this paper the authors argue that continued global expansion of MPAs without investment in human and financial capacity is likely to lead to sub-optimal conservation outcomes.