Bright Spots Among the World’s Coral Reefs

This study suggests that we can learn a significant amount about coral reef decline by identifying outliers. These outliers include areas where ecosystems performed better than expected, bright spots, and areas where ecosystems performed worse than expected in the presence of local environmental and socioeconomic pressures, dark spots. Data was compiled from more than 2500 reefs worldwide and a Bayesian hierarchical model was developed to determine the relationship between fish biomass of standing stocks related to 18 different environmental and socioeconomic drivers. 15 bright spots and 35 dark spots were identified. Bright spots were characterized by strong sociocultural institutions, high levels of local engagement in management, high dependence on marine resources, and beneficial environmental conditions. Dark spots saw high levels of fish capture, innovative storage technology, and a recent history of environmental shock. These findings suggest that bright spots can be used to broaden the discussion on coral reef conservation, help target areas other than those that are remote and pristine, and help to renew the focus of management on the socioeconomic drivers that impact reef condition. Dark spots will help identify strategies to avoid in coral reef management, while bright spots may be a key in reef resilience in the future as they will help create a long term sustainability plan for reefs impacted by layers of stress.

Author: Cinner, J.E., C. Huchery, M.A. MacNeil, N.A.J. Graham, T.R. McClanahan, J. Maina, E. Maire, J.N. Kittinger, C.C. Hicks, C. Mora, E.H. Allison, S.D. Agata, A. Hoey, D.A. Feary, L. Crowder, I.D. Williams, M. Kulbicki, L. Vigliola, L. Wantiez, G. Edgar, R.D. Stuart-Smith, S.A. Sandin, A.L. Green, M.J. Hardt, M. Beger, A. Friedlander, S.J. Campbell, K.E. Holmes, S.K. Wilson, E. Brokovich, A.J. Brooks, J.J. Cruz-Motta, D.J. Booth, P. Chabanet, C. Gough, M. Tupper, S.C.A. Ferse, U.R. Sumaila, and D. Mouillot
Year: 2016
View Abstract
Email for the full article:

Nature 535: 416-419. doi:10.1038/nature18607

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Operationalising Resilience for Adaptive Coral Reef Management Under Global Environmental Change

In a world where coral reefs face continual and mounting pressures, there is a need for adaptive resilience based management (ARBM) of these systems to help managers hone in on supporting resilience. Focusing on reef resilience allows a unique opportunity to develop a more integrated and dynamic approach when dealing with the synergistic impact of global and local stressors. It is suggested that ARBM may be enhanced through the integration of key principles such as ecosystem vulnerability, ecological resilience, and disturbance regimes. As stressors continue to mount, management plans will have to consider alternatives which can simultaneously help coral reefs deal with stressors and enhance their resilience. This publication utilizes stability landscape resilience models to demonstrate how the presence of different stressors alters the resilience of coral reefs and may lead them to shift to an alternative state of dominance. The three broad elements acting as a decision support framework for ARBM are the management system, the environmental and anthropogenic drivers/activities leading to stress on the ecosystem, and the link between the social and ecological systems. The four different action pathways that coincide with this framework include management of drivers or activities leading to stress, managing stressors directly, supporting ecosystem resilience, or supporting social resilience. It is suggested that in order to get a clear picture of reef resilience, indicators including structural complexity, coral disease prevalence, substrate quality, and distribution of key functional groups, be used instead of the traditional coral cover and fish abundance. Understanding how pulse and press stressors affect indicators such as these will help immensely in ARBM which provides a pathway to help understand how resilience concepts can be incorporated with conservation and decision making. ARBM ultimately bridges the gap between theory and practice and will help prioritize what areas management efforts should target.

Author: Anthony, K.R.N., P.A. Marshall, A. Abdulla, R. Beeden. C. Bergh, R. Black, C.M. Eaking, E.T. Game, M. Gooch, N.A.J. Graham, A. Green, S.F. Heron, R. van Hooidonk, C. Knowland, S. Mangubhai, N. Marshall, J.A. Maynard, P. McGinnity, E. McLeod, P.J. Mumby, M. Nyström, D. Obura, J. Oliver, H.P. Possingham, R.L. Pressey, G.P. Rowlands, J. Tamelander, D. Wachenfeld, and S. Wear
Year: 2015
View Full Article

Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12700

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Restoration and Reef Resilience: Your Input is Needed

Coral Restoration photo for survey

Photo © Kemit-Amon Lewis

We are happy to announce that new coral restoration information and resources are coming soon to the Reef Resilience online toolkit and we’d like to hear from you! Please take this short survey and let us know what you need to be more effective in your work on coral restoration.

Because your response is important to us, we are giving away 5 copies of the new National Geographic book ‘Pristine Seas: Journey to the Ocean’s Last Wild Places’ by Enric Sala to participants. You will be prompted to enter into this raffle at the end of the survey.

Thank you for participating in our survey! Take the survey.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Toward a Social Science Research Agenda for Large Marine Protected Areas

Large marine protected areas (LMPAs) are an emerging trend and are critical to achieving the Conservation on Biological Diversity’s target to protect 10% of the ocean by 2025. This paper addresses management concerns over LMPAs and calls for a distinct research agenda that examines both biological and social, or ‘human dimensions’, processes and outcomes. The study conducted interviews with LMPA managers, advocates, scientists, and donors along with participant observations at the 2014 World Parks Conference and a literature review.

Gruby et al.’s proposed LMPA social science research agenda consists of four related themes: scoping of human dimensions, governance, politics, and social and economic outcomes. More attention must be given to these four themes at all stages of the LMPA management process. Considering factors such as stakeholder engagement, policy interactions, and equitable distribution of benefits can help to mitigate conflict and increase LMPA effectiveness.

Author: Gruby, R.L., N.J. Gray, L.M. Campbell, and L. Acton
Year: 2015
View Full Article

Conservation Letters May/June 9(3): 153-163. doi: 10.1111/conl.12194

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

WE ARE 10!!!

Can you believe it? A decade ago, TNC – with the support of partners AROUND THE WORLD– launched the Reef Resilience Network, creating what would grow to become a global network of resource managers sharing ideas, experiences, and expertise to effectively manage our coral reefs and reef fisheries. Curious to see what ten years can do for managers and reefs? Take a look below and here!


Special thanks to NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and International Union for Conservation of Nature, whose committed support to the Network has helped managers innovate, accelerate, and leverage solutions for improved global coral reef health and restoration of reef fisheries.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

It’s not loo late for coral reefs

In a new article published today in the world’s leading academic journal, Science, Mark Spalding, Senior Marine Scientist for The Nature Conservancy looks at the broad issues surrounding the current situation of coral reefs and highlights points of hope.

“There is growing concern around coral reefs,” said Spalding. “For decades they have had to survive a growing array of human threats and now climate change has added to this. It’s the new threat on the block and it’s a deep worry, but it is too early to proclaim the end of reefs.”

Many corals are showing some degree of adaptive capacity to both warming and to acidification, more than some scientists were expecting. Spalding notes that such adaptive capacity, alongside the natural resilience of reefs can enable them to recover even from quite severe perturbations. For example, most reefs in the British Indian Ocean Territory and the Seychelles, which lost virturally all their coral in 1998 due to warm-water induced coral “bleaching”, showed good recovery within a decade. Read more.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

We’re excited to announce a new coral reef fisheries module!

Coral reef fishery managers have spoken up, and we heard you! TNC’s Global Fisheries and Reef Resilience have teamed up to bring you the latest coral reef fisheries science and management strategies.

The new Coral Reef Fisheries Module was created through generous funding from partners including WildAid and covers key topics including coral reef fisheries stock assessment methods, tools for managing fisheries, and surveillance and enforcement systems.

You will also find coral reef fisheries case studies describing management challenges and actions taken and helpful summaries on the importance of reef fisheries and what you can do to boost their resilience. Now DIVE IN to explore!

If you are interested in adding a section to the new reef fisheries module, or have comments, questions, or suggestions about Reef Resilience, visit or reach out to the Reef Resilience Team.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Evaluating The Relative Conservation Value Of Fully And Partially Protected Marine Areas

Marine protected areas (MPAs) offer various states of protection and are often viewed as a conflict between conservation and fishing. This study synthesized research that compared partially protected areas (PPAs), no-take reserves (NTRs) and open access areas (Open), to assess the potential benefits of different levels of protections of fish populations. Response to protection was examined in relation to MPA parameters and the exploitation status of fish. 40 relevant studies were included in the meta-analysis. The results suggested that PPAs significantly enhance density and biomass of fish relative to Open areas. NTRs yielded significantly higher biomass of fish within their boundaries relative to PPAs. The authors conclude that MPAs with partial protection confer advantages, such as enhanced density and biomass of fish, compared to areas with no restrictions. The strongest responses occurred for areas with total exclusion. MPAs with a combination of protection levels are a valuable spatial management tool especially in regions where stopping all activities is not politically and socio-economically viable.

Author: Sciberras, M., S.R. Jenkins, R. Mant, M.J. Kaiser, S.J. Hawkins, and A.S. Pullin
Year: 2015
View Full Article

Fish and Fisheries 16: 58-77. doi: 10.1111/faf.12044

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone