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Ice Volume and Climate Changes From a 6000 Year Sea-level Record in French Polynesia

Abstract: Mid- to late-Holocene sea-level records from low-latitude regions serve as an important baseline of natural variability in sea level and global ice volume prior to the Anthropocene. Here, we reconstruct a high-resolution sea-level curve encompassing the last 6000 years based on a comprehensive study of coral microatolls, which are sensitive low-tide recorders. Our curve is based on microatolls from several islands in a single region and comprises a total of 82 sea-level index points. Assuming thermosteric contributions are negligible on millennial time scales, our results constrain global ice melting to be 1.5–2.5 m (sea-level equivalent) since ~5500 years before present. The reconstructed curve includes isolated rapid events of several decimetres within a few centuries, one of which is most likely related to loss from the Antarctic ice sheet mass around 5000 years before present. In contrast, the occurrence of large and flat microatolls indicates periods of significant sea-level stability lasting up to ~300 years.

Author: Hallmann, N., G. Camoin, A. Eisenhauer, A. Botella, G.A. Milne, C. Vella, J. Fietzke
Year: 2018
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Email for the full article: resilience@tnc.org
Nature Communications 9(1). doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02695-7

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Florida – Monitoring Reef Resilience


Coral Reef Resilience to Climate Change in the Florida Reef Tract

Location
Florida Reef Tract, Florida, USA

The Challenge
Climate change and a range of human activities threaten the natural resilience of coral reef ecosystems. Reef resilience is the ability to resist and recover from disturbances while retaining essentially the same function and structure. Managers can support the natural resilience of reefs by reducing their sensitivity to climate-related disturbances, such as coral bleaching, by reducing stress on reefs caused by human activities. Identifying resilient reef areas and better understanding their interaction with human stressors can help inform management strategies to better protect coral reefs in the future.

Southeast Florida’s coral reefs are located close to shore and co-exist with intensely urbanized areas. They are subject to impacts from a variety of natural and human stressors including, among others, coral bleaching and disease, invasive species, marine debris, land based sources of pollution, recreational and commercial misuse, and coastal construction. The challenge for natural resource managers in Florida, as with everywhere else reefs occur, lies in deciding which actions to implement and where, to best support resilience. Understanding spatial variation in resilience to climate change in the Florida Reef Tract was the goal of this project, with the aim being to produce information that can inform management decisions.

This project was a collaboration co-funded by NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and The Nature Conservancy’s Florida office. This project addresses this priority from Florida’s Climate Change Action Plan – Determine and map areas of high and low resilience to climate change in order to prioritize management efforts.

Actions Taken
Data Collection & Analysis
In order to understand the spatial variation in resilience to climate change in the Florida Reef Tract, the following seven indicators were included in the assessment of relative resilience:

  • coral cover
  • macroalgae cover
  • bleaching resistance
  • coral diversity
  • coral disease
  • herbivore biomass
  • temperature variability
Collecting data. Photo © Jessica Keller

Collecting data. Photo © Jessica Keller

Data used to develop these indicators come from field reef monitoring surveys (excepting temperature variability, which is remotely sensed) conducted in 2016 (no other years are included) as part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program and Florida Reef Resilience Program. Both monitoring programs use a stratified random sampling design whereby surveys are completed within all of the various habitat types and sub-regions of the Florida Reef Tract. A tutorial on analyzing relative resilience can be found here.

For this analysis, the data collected are summarized using weighted averages within ‘strata’, which combine habitat type and reef vertical complexity (i.e. ‘PR_HR’ Patch reef high relief in Tortugas). There are eight strata in Tortugas, seven in the Florida Keys (FL Keys) and eight in Southeast Florida (SE FL). A single value for each indicator is produced for each of these 23 strata. Indicator scores are then made uni-directional (high score is a good score), the scores are normalized to the maximum value to standardize scores to a 0-1 scale, and the scores are averaged and re-normalized to produce the final resilience scores. The strata are then ranked from highest to lowest score and classified as follows, based on the average (AVG) final resilience score (0.77) and standard deviation (SD) (0.16):

  • High (>AVG+1SD)
  • Med-high (>AVG & <AVG+1SD)
  • Med-low (<AVG & >AVG-1SD)
  • Low (<AVG-1SD)

Results
For the Florida Reef track sites, the average score for the ‘raw’ resilience scores was 0.5 and ranged from 0.31 to 0.65. The average of the normalized, final resilience scores was 0.77 and ranged from 0.31 to 0.65. The standard deviation around this average was 0.16. Relative resilience categories are set as:

  • High (>AVG+1SD; >0.93)
  • Med-high (>AVG & <AVG+1SD; >0.77&<0.93)
  • Med-low (<AVG & >AVG-1SD; <0.77&>0.61)
  • Low (<AVG-1SD; <0.61)
Figure 1. Relative resilience to climate change in the Florida Reef Tract, based on data collected in 2016. Rankings from highest to lowest relative resilience (1-23) are shown after strata codes top left, and descriptions for strata codes are right. Relative resilience is greatest in the FL Keys and lowest in SE Florida. Results of a canonical analysis of principal (CAP) coordinates are inset and show strong groupings among the relative categories in multivariate space. High resilience sites are strongly associated with high values for coral cover, bleaching resistance, and herbivore biomass and low levels of coral disease; the opposite is true for low resilience sites. (from Maynard et al. 2017)

Figure 1. Relative resilience to climate change in the Florida Reef Tract, based on data collected in 2016. Rankings from highest to lowest relative resilience (1-23) are shown after strata codes top left, and descriptions for strata codes are right. Relative resilience is greatest in the FL Keys and lowest in SE Florida. Results of a canonical analysis of principal (CAP) coordinates are inset and show strong groupings among the relative categories in multivariate space. High resilience sites are strongly associated with high values for coral cover, bleaching resistance, and herbivore biomass and low levels of coral disease; the opposite is true for low resilience sites (from Maynard et al. 2017). Click to see larger image.

Among the 23 strata, there are 5 with relatively high resilience, 9 medium-high, 6 medium-low, and 3 with relatively low resilience (Figure 1). The Tortugas had 1 high, 4 med-high, and 3 med-low resilience strata. The FL Keys had 4 high, 2 med-high, and 1 med-low resilience strata. SE Florida had 5 med-low and 3 low resilience strata.

The strata with relatively high resilience are:

  • F_D_LR [1] – Forereef deep low relief in FL Keys
  • MC_PR [2] – Mid-channel patch reef in FL Keys
  • PR_HR [3] – Patch reef high relief in Tortugas
  • RF_HR [4] – Reef high relief in FL Keys
  • F_M_LR [5] – Forereef mid-depth low relief in FL Keys

The strata with relatively low resilience are:

  • NEAR [21] – Nearshore in SE Florida
  • RR_C [22] – Reef-ridge complex in SE Florida
  • RF_D [23] – Reef deep in SE Florida

Results of a multivariate statistical analysis (canonical analysis of principal coordinates) results indicate that high resilience sites generally had high values for herbivore biomass, coral diversity, coral cover and bleaching resistance; the opposite is true for sites with medium-low or low resilience (Figure 1). Results are shared within a project report as maps and show spatial variation in relative resilience, as well as spatial variation in each of the 7 resilience indicators included in the analysis.

How successful has it been?
A better understanding of the spatial variation in resilience to climate change in the Florida Reef Tract was gained, which can now be used to inform management decisions. The maps of areas of high and low resilience to climate change will help to prioritize management efforts and decide which actions to implement and where, to best support resilience.

The project was successful in that the planned analysis was completed and report written, and the results were shared with collaborating managers from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Lessons Learned and Recommendations
Future research and communication activities recommended include:

  • Compile past reef monitoring data to examine trends in resilience indicators and resilience over the last 10 years
  • Examine spatial variation in the resilience of other (than stony corals) key habitat builders, such as barrel sponges, sea fans and soft corals
  • Examine site-based data to review resilience at a higher-resolution than strata
  • Produce fact sheets to educate senior policy and decision-makers on resilience concepts
  • Use resilience information to predict survivorship of corals transplanted from nurseries
  • Develop a dashboard that makes reef monitoring data and resilience summaries available as interactive maps to managers and the public

Funding Summary
Funding for the project was provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, and The Nature Conservancy

Lead Organizations
SymbioSeas and the Marine Applied Research Center
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Nature Conservancy
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program

Partners
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
University of Miami RSMAS
NOAA Atlantic and Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory

Resources
Assessing and Monitoring Reef Resilience
Coral Reef Resilience to Climate Change in the Florida Reef Tract (pdf, 3.5 M)

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Year in Review – 2017

Reflecting on the past year, there has never been a more critical time for effective coral reef management. In June of 2017, the world’s longest and most widespread bleaching event on record ended, with many reefs experiencing significant mortality. To address these – and other – challenges, the Reef Resilience Network continues to empower a global network of marine managers and scientists to improve coral reef management by sharing and implementing cutting-edge resilience science, inspiring greater collaboration, and working with global and regional reef initiatives to roll out guidance and best practices. Based on feedback from our managers, we have led in-person and online trainings, and have added new webinars, case studies, journal summaries, guidebooks, and modules on key topics to our website, reefresilience.org, which had over 150,000 visitors this year alone!

We are inspired by the thousands of reef managers, practitioners, and scientists in our Network and beyond, who spend their days working to reduce the threats facing reefs and supporting the necessary policies and programs to help our reefs to recover and thrive. We thank you and look forward and ahead to 2018 – the International Year of the Reef – and are grateful for the renewed attention to one of our world’s most precious resources, our coral reefs. See how we, as a Network, have improved reef management around the world.

RR Year in Review 2017_final

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Assisted Evolution: A Novel Tool to Overcome the Conservation Crisis?

Assisted Evolution Announcement PhotoThis 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.

Presentations:

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.

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?

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Coral Bleaching Futures

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
Year: 2017
View Full Article

Nairobi, Kenya. ISBN: 978-92-807-3649-6

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Climate Adaptation & Lessons Learned From Community Engagement in Belize

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September 27, 2017

Elizabeth McLeod, Climate Adaptation Scientist from The Nature Conservancy, shares the latest scientific guidance to help managers determine social and ecological vulnerabilities to climate change and other stressors. In addition, Dareece Chuc, Environmental Education and Communication Director from the Belize Audubon Society, shares successes, challenges and lessons learned implementing the LEAP (Local Early Action Planning and Management) Tool in Belize.

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Connecting Palau’s Marine Protected Areas: A Population Genetics Approach to Conservation

(INTERNAL RIGHTS ONLY) Aerial view of Kmekumer, Rock Islands, Republic of Palau, Palau, Asia Pacific. Photo credit: © Jez O'Hare

Aerial view of Kmekumer, Rock Islands, in Palau. Photo © Jez O’Hare

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.


Interview Transcript

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
Year: 2017
View Abstract
Email for the full article: resilience@tnc.org

Coral Reefs: 1-14. doi: 10.1007/s00338-017-1565-x

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Western Indian Ocean Post-Bleaching Assessment Training

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July 21, 2017

Dr. David Obura and Mishal Gudka of CORDIO East Africa (supported through the Biodiversity Project of the Indian Ocean Commission) present a training on how to conduct a post-bleaching assessment in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). This is part of a regional project in 6 WIO countries to assess the global impacts of the 2016 coral reef bleaching event. Contact mgudka@cordioea.net to learn more about the program.

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New Techniques for Coral Restoration in the Caribbean

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May 18, 2017

Hear experts from the Global Coral Restoration Project provide an overview of coral restoration efforts around the world and discuss current obstacles and potential solutions. This seminar kicks off an in-person workshop designed to foster exchange between practitioners working in the fields of coral science, restoration, aquaculture and marine resource management. Explore the seminar presentations and learn about coral restoration from the experts!

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