July 17, 2018
Broadcast live from the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium in Cairns, Australia, experts from around the globe share lessons learned from years working on coral restoration. From offshore coral nurseries, to restoration mitigation techniques, to climate change adaptation, this presentation session seeks to foster knowledge sharing and exchange between managers and practitioners across the globe.
Abstract: Plastic waste can promote microbial colonization by pathogens implicated in outbreaks of disease in the ocean. We assessed the influence of plastic waste on disease risk in 124,000 reef-building corals from 159 reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. The likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89% when corals are in contact with plastic. Structurally complex corals are eight times more likely to be affected by plastic, suggesting that microhabitats for reef-associated organisms and valuable fisheries will be disproportionately affected. Plastic levels on coral reefs correspond to estimates of terrestrial mismanaged plastic waste entering the ocean. We estimate that 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific and project this number to increase 40% by 2025. Plastic waste management is critical for reducing diseases that threaten ecosystem health and human livelihoods.
Author: Lamb, J. B., B.L. Willis, E.A. Fiorenza, C.S. Couch, R. Howard, D.N. Rader, D. Harvell
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January 16 – February 8, 2018
Looking to influence behavior or raise awareness about an issue to advance your conservation efforts? A new Strategic Communication Mentored Online Course can help you communicate effectively to reach your conservation goal! This three-week mentored training, which is only a 6-8 hour time commitment, features hands-on exercises, interactive webinars and quizzes, and guidance from mentors and other managers. We’ve demystified strategic communication and simplified the planning process so you can work on your own project as you learn. This course is free and open to anyone, but is geared toward coral reef managers and practitioners. The course content can be found in the communication module.
- December 18 – January 16: Course registration is open. Registration closes January 17
- January 16: Course orientation and introductory webinar (45 minutes)
- January 17 – January 24: Complete three self-paced lessons and worksheets on the communication planning process: establish your goal & objectives, assess the context for your efforts, and identify your target audience(s) (~2.5 hours)
- January 25: Webinar 2 – Review concepts and discussion (45 minutes)
- January 26 – February 7: Complete four self-paced lessons and worksheets on the communication planning process: make your message matter, identify messengers and tactics, measure your impact, and create a summary of your plan (~3.5 hours)
- February 8: Webinar 3 – Review concepts, discussion, and course conclusion (30 minutes)
This symposium was live streamed as part of the Coral Restoration Consortium webinar series in conjunction with The Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and “The Future Ocean” cluster in Kiel. Speakers shared information on new approaches for the conservation of coral reefs such as assisted colonization and assisted evolution and synthetic biology. View the presentation recordings below.
Welcome and introduction – Marlene Wall, Geomar, Germany
Session 1: Shifting paradigms in conservation: social, public and scientific landscape of conservation genetics
Objective: The aim of session 1 is to (i) discuss new approaches for the conservation of natural environments, such as assisted colonization, assisted evolution and synthetic biology and (ii) introduce the current legal, public and scientific framework of novel methods in conservation.
- A history of assisted colonization: IUCN Guidelines and the growing need to consider risky conservation translocation – Phil Seddon, University of Ottago, New Zealand
- The role of Synthetic Biology in conserving the new nature – Kent H. Redford, Archipelago Consulting, USA
- Coral reef restoration in a changing environment – Dirk Petersen, SECORE, Germany
Session 2: Assisted evolution in corals: Opportunities, applications, challenges, and limitations
Objective: The aim is to introduce how assisted evolution might change our way of restoring natural marine environments. What new tools are available that can improve the selection of environmental stress resistance and be implemented in conservation? What are the promises and perils of such approaches?
- Coral conservation genetics in a changing climate – Iliana Baums, Pennsylvania State University, USA
- How assisted evolution and synthetic biology can help address the coral reef crisis – Madeleine van Oppen, University of Melbourne/AIMS, Australia
- Assisting coral reef survival in the face of climate change – James Guest, Newcastle University, UK
- Discussion – Thorsten Reusch & Marlene Wall
In Japan, degradation of the nation’s southwestern coral reefs has been identified as a pressing environmental problem, and corals have been transformed into valuable commodities for conservation. This research analyzes the emergence of “restoration corals”—corals produced for ecological restoration—in Okinawa. Individuals briefly own these corals before they relinquish them to the coral reef, and the corals resume their lives as indistinguishable pieces of the sea. Following Kopytoff (1986), I examine the production, exchange, consumption, and de-commodification of this conservation commodity. I find that the social life of coralline commodities is not unilinear, nor is its outcome certain. As they plant their coral fragments, purchasers link them to existing religious and cultural practices and recreate corals as sites for altruism, memorialization, and divine communication. Restoration corals, in the hands of local amateur ecologists, become a way to simultaneously democratize knowledge of the sea and contest prevalent techno-scientific conservation approaches.
Author: Claus, A.C.
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Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 11(2): 157-174. doi:10.1558/jsrnc.18804
Coral Bleaching Futures – Downscaled Projections of Bleaching Conditions for the World’s Coral Reefs, Implications of Climate Policy and Management Responses
Increasingly frequent severe coral bleaching is among the greatest threats to coral reefs posed by climate change. Global climate models (GCMs) project great spatial variation in the timing of annual severe bleaching (ASB) conditions; a point at which reefs are certain to change and recovery will be limited. Previous model-resolution projections (approximately 1×1°) are too coarse to inform reef management planning (recognized, for example, in SAMOA Pathways, paragraph 44b). To meet the need for higher-resolution projections, this report presents statistically downscaled projections (4-km resolution) of the timing of ASB for all the world’s coral reefs using the newest generation of IPCC climate models (CMIP5). Results are reported by country and territory, grouped in bioregions based on the 10 UNEP Regional Seas programmes with coral reefs (also including countries or territories in or near the Regional Sea area but not participating in the Regional Sea).
Among the goals of the Paris Agreement adopted at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) in 2015 is to hold temperature “well below” 2°C while also pursuing efforts to stay below 1.5°C. This legally binding agreement entered into force November 4, 2016. This report evaluates the implications of the Paris Agreement for coral reef futures. Projections of ASB timing are compared between business as usual scenario (RCP8.5) and RCP4.5, which could represent emissions concentrations mid-century. This report makes the projections data and main findings publicly accessible to inform management and policy planning as well as to support education and outreach. The data are currently being used to inform conservation planning in the U.S., including Florida and Hawaii, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Australia, and Malaysia.
Author: United Nations Environment Program
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Nairobi, Kenya. ISBN: 978-92-807-3649-6
Maintaining and restoring resilience is now a major focus of most coral reef managers around the world. A focus on resilience gives us options – and hope – in the face of new and often daunting challenges. Underpinning this is the fact that local actions can positively influence the future of coral reefs, despite powerful external forces like climate change.
As examples, coral recovery from disturbances in Bermuda and the Bahamas has been greater in recent decades than in other parts of the Caribbean. Differences in recovery rates in the Caribbean have been partially attributed to establishing and enforcing fishing regulations, especially on key herbivores such as parrotfish (Jackson et al. 2014).
Overall though, the application of resilience theory to management planning and the day-to-day business of coral reef management has been challenging. One of the key stumbling blocks has been the lack of a robust and easily implementable method for assessing coral reef resilience in a way that can inform marine spatial planning and help to prioritize the implementation of management strategies.
Our ability to assess relative resilience of coral reefs has advanced dramatically in recent years, and we are now at a point where a feasible and useful process can be recommended for use in environmental planning and management.
This Guide presents a 10-step process for completing a resilience assessment, putting into managers’ hands the means to assess, map and monitor coral reef resilience, and the means to identify and prioritize actions that support resilience in the face of climate change. The guidance presented here represents the culmination of over a decade of experience and builds on ideas first presented by West and Salm (2003), Obura and Grimsditch (2009), and McClanahan and coauthors (2012). The resilience assessment process described in the Guide has been applied by the author group in Australia, Florida, CNMI, Guam, Palau, Indonesia, the Cayman Islands, and US Virgin Islands and in many other reef locations by other groups.
This guide is first and foremost intended for the individuals in charge of commissioning, planning, leading or coordinating a resilience assessment. The Guide also provides a resource for ‘reef managers’ of all kinds, including decision-makers, environmental planners and managers in coral reef areas, with influence over pressures affecting coral reefs. Outreach coordinators and educators working in coral reef areas may also benefit from the Guide, and they can participate in parts of the resilience assessment process, but the Guide focuses on the needs of decision-makers and the scientists who support them.
Author: Maynard, J.A., P.A. Marshall, B. Parker, E. Mcleod, G. Ahmadia, R. van Hooidonk, S. Planes, G.J. Williams, L. Raymundo, R. Beeden, J. Tamelander
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ISBN No: 978-92-807-3650-2
Ready to get practical with adapting your management activities in light of climate change, but wondering how to organize what can be a complicated ‘adaptation design’ process? A new course, Corals & Climate Adaptation Planning: Adaptation Design Tool, can help you as a coral reef manager incorporate climate-smart design into your management activities.
This month-long mentored training (8-10 hour time commitment) features interactive lessons, hands-on exercises, webinars, and interaction with experts and other managers. Using real-world examples, you will be guided through the process of incorporating climate change adaptation into a management plan, first using existing planned actions as a starting point, and then through the development of additional climate-smart strategies as needed.
The lessons are based on the user guide, Adaptation Design Tool: Corals & Climate Adaptation Planning, which was developed as a collaborative project of the Climate Change Working Group of the interagency U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and The Nature Conservancy.
This course was designed for coral reef managers but is also fully transferable for use with other systems and applications, such as wetland and watershed management planning. Everyone is welcome!
- Course Dates: October 16 – November 17, 2017
- September 25 – October 16: Course Orientation and Introductory Webinar registration
- October 16: Course Orientation and Introductory Webinar – Introduction to the Adaptation Design Tool (1 hour)
- October 17 – November 16: Complete four self-paced lessons and learning exercises (approximately 6 hours)
- November 6: Webinar 2 – Developing Climate-Smart Design Considerations for Existing Conservation and Management Actions (1.5 hours)
- November 17: Webinar 3 – Expanding the List of Adaptation Options & Course Conclusion (1 hour)
The course will open with an orientation webinar held on October 16 at 10:00 AM HST / 4:00 PM EST. Register here for the Orientation Webinar which will cover how to enroll in the course. If you are not able to take this mentored course, there is a self-study version available here (Note: you will need to create a user account to access the self-study course). If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While there are many stories to tell, here is what support from the Network looks like and how it translates into real action for improved coral health. Meet the managers:
Read more manager spotlight stories to learn about other seed funding projects.
Listen to our interview with author Dr. Annick Cros, researcher at the Hawaiian Institute of Marine Biology, as she shares highlights from her recent publication on connecting Palua’s marine protected areas and discusses how findings from this study can guide conservation strategies for coral reef managers.
Click the play button below to hear the interview.
Reef Resilience (RR): Hello everyone, Reef Resilience is interviewing Dr. Annick Cros, researcher at the Hawaiian Institute of Marine Biology and today she will share highlights from her recent publication on connecting Palau’s marine protected areas.
Annick Cros (AC): Hi everybody, thanks for having me today.
RR: Great, thanks for joining us. So how does this paper challenge how we are currently designing MPA networks?
AC: This paper challenges old assumptions about larval dispersal and connectivity. Connectivity is the exchange of individuals between populations. It is one factor that shapes the size and composition of a population. It plays a key role in genetics because connectivity acts against speciation and it may bring key genetic diversity that allows for adaptation. In the marine world, adults don’t move much or not at all and most of the connectivity happens with the dispersal during the pelagic larval stage of organisms.
RR: What did you assume about this topic before your paper and what were some of the take home messages from your research?
AC: Well larvae are so small, they are difficult to track. For example, we assumed that the longer a larvae could survive in the water column, the further it would travel, dispersed by currents due to its small size. Therefore, we assumed that most dispersal took place at large scales of hundreds of kilometers. We also assumed that at a small scale, genetically, a population would be very homogeneous because the exchange would happen at larger scales so that we would see genetic diversity at large scales. However, more recently an increasing amount of research has shown that dispersal is happening at a much smaller scale than expected and that most larvae recruit close to home.
AC: In our paper, we use population genetics to study the dispersal of Acropora hyacinthus around the barrier reef of Palau, Micronesia to test some of these assumptions. And the reason why we selected Palau was because in 1998 it suffered from heavy mortality from bleaching, in particular the coral Acropora hyacinthus. Since then it has recovered and the colonies we observe on Palau today are the result of recent patterns of dispersal making it easier to understand what is happening. What we found is that the patches of Acropora hyacinthus separated by a few kilometers around Palau’s reef do not mix very much, there is little connectivity. Instead we find surprisingly high numbers of colonies related to each other over a few hundred meters, indicating that dispersal happens at a very small scale.
RR: So how can research on larval dispersal guide effective conservation strategies for coral reef managers?
AC: Well what we found is that instead of having a homogenous reef we had a mosaic of genetically different patches of corals which reflects the diversity that could play a role in the resilience and resistance of corals. So to manage it is a challenge because it requires protection of the entire reef, leading to the need for a more comprehensive approach than an MPA to manage Palau’s reef.
Authors: Cros, A., R.J. Toonen, M.J. Donahue, and S.A. Karl
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Coral Reefs: 1-14. doi: 10.1007/s00338-017-1565-x