Prioritizing key resilience indicators to support coral reef management in a changing climate

McClanahan, Tim R., Donner, Simon D., Maynard, Jeffrey A., MacNeil, M. Aaron, Graham, Nicholas A.J., Maina, Joseph, Baker, Andrew C., Alemu, Jahson B., Beger, Maria, Campbell, Stuart J., Darling, Emily S., Eakin, C. Mark, Heron, Scott F., Jupiter, Stacy D., Lundquist, Carolyn J., McLeod, Elizabeth, Mumby, Peter J., Paddack, Michelle J., Selig, Elizabeth R., and van Woesik, Robert (2012) Prioritizing key resilience indicators to support coral reef management in a changing climate. PLoS ONE, 7 (8). pp. 1-7.

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Abstract

Managing coral reefs for resilience to climate change is a popular concept but has been difficult to implement because the empirical scientific evidence has either not been evaluated or is sometimes unsupportive of theory, which leads to uncertainty when considering methods and identifying priority reefs. We asked experts and reviewed the scientific literature for guidance on the multiple physical and biological factors that affect the ability of coral reefs to resist and recover from climate disturbance. Eleven key factors to inform decisions based on scaling scientific evidence and the achievability of quantifying the factors were identified. Factors important to resistance and recovery, which are important components of resilience, were not strongly related, and should be assessed independently. The abundance of resistant (heat-tolerant) coral species and past temperature variability were perceived to provide the greatest resistance to climate change, while coral recruitment rates, and macroalgae abundance were most influential in the recovery process. Based on the 11 key factors, we tested an evidence-based framework for climate change resilience in an Indonesian marine protected area. The results suggest our evidence-weighted framework improved upon existing un-weighted methods in terms of characterizing resilience and distinguishing priority sites. The evaluation supports the concept that, despite high ecological complexity, relatively few strong variables can be important in influencing ecosystem dynamics. This is the first rigorous assessment of factors promoting coral reef resilience based on their perceived importance, empirical evidence, and feasibility of measurement. There were few differences between scientists' perceptions of factor importance and the scientific evidence found in journal publications but more before and after impact studies will be required to fully test the validity of all the factors. The methods here will increase the feasibility and defensibility of including key resilience metrics in evaluations of coral reefs, as well as reduce costs. Adaptation, marine protected areas, priority setting, resistance, recovery.

Item ID: 23301
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Additional Information:

© 2012 McClanahan et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ISSN: 1932-6203
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2012 02:48
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0405 Oceanography > 040503 Physical Oceanography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961102 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 2
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