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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 (http://www.coris.noaa.gov/search/) search tool.

Rapid coral decay is associated with marine heatwave mortality events on reefs

Due to climate change, coral reefs are now being subjected to extreme marine heatwave (MHW) conditions. Leggat et al. show that large-scale mortality due to MHWs and microbial colonization leads to a previously undescribed rapid dissolution of the coral skeleton. Highlights of this publication are:

  • Marine heatwaves lead to rapid coral mortality and microbial biofilm formation.
  • Microbial metabolic activity results in rapid dissolution of the coral skeleton.
  • Dissolution reduces skeletal hardness and density and increases porosity.

The Octocoral Fishery in the Southeastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico

Based on interviews with collectors, a synthesis of trip ticket results, and population abundance estimates, the long-term stability of the octocoral fishery is not likely to change significantly. The social dynamics of the aquarium industry to seek colorful, rare, and exotic marine species for home aquaria places octocorals at the lower end of the list of desired species. For multiple sampling periods, over a decadal period (1999-2009) in the Florida Keys, where most octocoral collection occurs, abundance estimates presented for 15 species illustrate that population sizes are large (tens of millions to hundreds of millions of colonies, per species) and abundance is stable or increasing.

Coastal Turbidity on the Southeast Florida Shelf - Monitoring Turbid Water Sources and Fates by Satellite

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program funded a study from 2013 to 2015 to determine the feasibility of monitoring turbidity plumes in reef waters for three U.S. jurisdictions, one of which was the Southeast Florida Shelf and northern Florida reef tract. This report presents the results of that study. It shows that with care, satellite ocean color can be used to remotely monitor sources and instances of coastal ocean turbidity.

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component: Summary Findings for USVI, 2017

This report outlines human dimensions information relevant to coral reef resources in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). The findings here are derived from a combination of data gathered through household surveys conducted from February to April 2017, and additional secondary sources of socioeconomic information for the region. Survey results show that USVI residents participate in beach recreation and swimming most frequently. Additionally, 40% of residents indicated that they participate in fishing or gathering of marine resources. Perceptions concerning marine resource condition tend to vary amongst USVI residents, they generally support a range of potential marine management policies and regulations, and are moderately familiar with the various threats facing coral reefs. Further, 92% of residents agree that coral reefs are important to their culture.

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component: Summary Findings for CNMI, 2016

This report outlines human dimensions information relevant to coral reef resources in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The findings here are derived from a combination of data gathered through household surveys conducted from August 2016 to April 2017, and additional secondary sources of socioeconomic information for the region. Survey results show that CNMI residents participate in beach recreation and swimming most frequently. Additionally, 38% of residents indicated that they participate in fishing or gathering of marine resources. Perceptions concerning marine resource condition tend to vary amongst CNMI residents, they generally support a range of potential marine management policies and regulations, and are moderately familiar with the various threats facing coral reefs.

Assessing the Resilience of Leeward Maui Reefs to Help Design a Resilient Managed Area Network

The project team assessed the relative resilience of reef sites at two depths along areas of West and South-West Maui ("leeward Maui") in March of 2018. The surveys were conducted as a collaborative effort with the Hawai'i Department of Aquatic Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and community organizations. This report presents findings from meeting the following project objectives: 1) assess benthic cover comparisons among sites and depths, 2) complete resilience assessment including relative resilience and rankings for two depths, 3) conduct analyses that determine the primary drivers of differences in resilience between sites, and 4) develop a framework for using the resilience analysis outputs to identify and prioritize potential management actions to support the resilience of coral reefs in Maui.

Coral Reef Conservation Program Strategic Plan: Our Vision for Thriving, Diverse and Resilient Coral Reef Ecosystems

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.

Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program 2018 Report to Congress

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.

US Coral Reef Monitoring Data Summary 2018

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.

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Socioeconomic Monitoring Component: Summary Findings for Guam, 2016

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.

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.