Global Gradients of Coral Exposure to Environmental Stresses and Implications for Local Management

In this study, researchers aimed to identify global spatial gradients of thermal and eutrophication stressors, and the key factors that reduce these stressors, to develop a broad-scale metric of environmental exposure for coral reefs. Main considerations of this research included assessing which stressors corals are most exposed to in their respective locations and how these stresses interact with reinforcing and reducing variables. Researchers used combinations of stressors and used them to evaluate 12 oceanic provinces. Results of this study indicated that corals in all 12 provinces were highly exposed to radiation and reinforcing stress, with spatial variability within regions. Results also showed that sedimentation and eutrophication are common in all regions but differ in intensity and co-occurrence with radiation and reducing stressors. Despite radiation stress being dominant, most reef locations are expected to be less severely affected if sedimentation and eutrophication are managed. Effective local management requires moving reefs that are moderately exposed to climate related stress towards low reinforcing conditions through improved water quality. 

Author: Maina, J., T.R. McClanahan, V. Venus, M. Ateweberhan, J. Madin
Year: 2011
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PLoS ONE 6(8): e23064. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023064

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