Modelling coral reef futures to inform management: can reducing local-scale stressors conserve reefs under climate change?

Gurney, Georgina G., Melbourne-Thomas, Jessica, Geronimo, Rollan C., Aliño, Perry M., and Johnson, Craig R. (2013) Modelling coral reef futures to inform management: can reducing local-scale stressors conserve reefs under climate change? PLoS ONE, 8 (11). e80137. pp. 1-17.

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Abstract

Climate change has emerged as a principal threat to coral reefs, and is expected to exacerbate coral reef degradation caused by more localised stressors. Management of local stressors is widely advocated to bolster coral reef resilience, but the extent to which management of local stressors might affect future trajectories of reef state remains unclear. This is in part because of limited understanding of the cumulative impact of multiple stressors. Models are ideal tools to aid understanding of future reef state under alternative management and climatic scenarios, but to date few have been sufficiently developed to be useful as decision support tools for local management of coral reefs subject to multiple stressors. We used a simulation model of coral reefs to investigate the extent to which the management of local stressors (namely poor water quality and fishing) might influence future reef state under varying climatic scenarios relating to coral bleaching. We parameterised the model for Bolinao, the Philippines, and explored how simulation modelling can be used to provide decision support for local management. We found that management of water quality, and to a lesser extent fishing, can have a significant impact on future reef state, including coral recovery following bleaching-induced mortality. The stressors we examined interacted antagonistically to affect reef state, highlighting the importance of considering the combined impact of multiple stressors rather than considering them individually. Further, by providing explicit guidance for management of Bolinao's reef system, such as which course of management action will most likely to be effective over what time scales and at which sites, we demonstrated the utility of simulation models for supporting management. Aside from providing explicit guidance for management of Bolinao's reef system, our study offers insights which could inform reef management more broadly, as well as general understanding of reef systems.

Item ID: 31779
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2013 Gurney 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.

Projects and Grants: Coral Reef Targeted Research and Capacity Building for Management Program (CRTR-CBMP)
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2014 10:08
FoR Codes: 01 MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES > 0104 Statistics > 010406 Stochastic Analysis and Modelling @ 60%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961303 Protected Conservation Areas in Marine Environments @ 60%
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