Conservation planning for coral reefs accounting for climate warming disturbances

Magris, Rafael A., Heron, Scott F., and Pressey, Robert L. (2015) Conservation planning for coral reefs accounting for climate warming disturbances. PLoS ONE, 10 (11). e0140828. pp. 1-26.

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Incorporating warming disturbances into the design of marine protected areas (MPAs) is fundamental to developing appropriate conservation actions that confer coral reef resilience. We propose an MPA design approach that includes spatially- and temporally-varying sea-surface temperature (SST) data, integrating both observed (1985–2009) and projected (2010–2099) time-series. We derived indices of acute (time under reduced ecosystem function following short-term events) and chronic thermal stress (rate of warming) and combined them to delineate thermal-stress regimes. Coral reefs located on the Brazilian coast were used as a case study because they are considered a conservation priority in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. We show that all coral reef areas in Brazil have experienced and are projected to continue to experience chronic warming, while acute events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. We formulated quantitative conservation objectives for regimes of thermal stress. Based on these objectives, we then evaluated if/how they are achieved in existing Brazilian MPAs and identified priority areas where additional protection would reinforce resilience. Our results show that, although the current system of MPAs incorporates locations within some of our thermal-stress regimes, historical and future thermal refugia along the central coast are completely unprotected. Our approach is applicable to other marine ecosystems and adds to previous marine planning for climate change in two ways: (i) by demonstrating how to spatially configure MPAs that meet conservation objectives for warming disturbance using spatially- and temporally-explicit data; and (ii) by strategically allocating different forms of spatial management (MPA types) intended to mitigate warming impacts and also enhance future resistance to climate warming.

Item ID: 43823
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), NOAA Coral Reef Conservation, Brazilian Ministry of Environment, CNPq, Brazil
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2016 03:06
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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