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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
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Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12700

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Reef Resilience Indicators – Hawai‘i, 2016

During the IUCN World Conservation Congress, twenty-seven marine resource managers, scientists, and practitioners, representing nine countries, attended a half-day workshop to learn how to monitor coral reefs for resilience and use this information to guide management.

Workshop participants learned about resilience-based management – what it is, why it’s important, and how they can incorporate resilience concepts and strategies into existing management efforts. They got a behind the scenes look into The Nature Conservancy’s reef resilience assessment for west Hawai’i Island (what it takes to conduct an ecological resilience assessment from planning and data collection to analysis) from the Hawai’i Program’s Marine Science Director Dr. Eric Conklin. They were also treated to examples and stories from across the globe about how the results of resilience assessments have translated into management and policy from Dr. Rodney Salm, Senior Advisor, Marine Program Pacific Division, The Nature Conservancy.

Twelve of the workshop participants joined the second session – an afternoon snorkel trip to two reefs in Kaneohe Bay to provide guidance on identifying resilience indicators in the field.

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Resilience-based Management – Philippines, 2016

This training brought together marine managers from 28 countries around the world. Topics included resilience-based management, resilience assessment data, tools and methods, future directions, as well as an overview of the current global-scale coral bleaching event and the tools available for monitoring thermal stress. The Reef Resilience Network tools and trainings for implementing resilience-based management and examples and best practices for conducting resilience assessments from planning the assessment through to collecting, analyzing and interpreting the data to inform management were shared. Case studies demonstrated how assessments have been used to inform management and policy decisions.

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Climate Change Tools – Seychelles, 2015

In cooperation with NOAA’s International MPA Capacity Building Program and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, we hosted a hands-on training for MPA managers and practitioners in the Western Indian Ocean region on tools to address climate change and enhance resilience within their MPAs. Twenty-six participants from eight countries in the region attended this week-long training on marine spatial planning, coastal processes with implications for management, and basic marine and coastal monitoring protocols, including hands-on training to monitor sea urchin density, structural complexity of the benthos, fish identification and sizing, and beach profiling. Read the report.
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Western Indian Ocean Training of Trainers – Zanzibar, 2013

The fourth in a series of four Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops included 25 managers from 10 countries throughout the Western Indian Ocean. Participants completed a 16-week online course prior to the in-person workshop. The five-day workshop was designed to create an atmosphere of learning and exchange with multiple opportunities for participants to share ideas with each other and interact with experts. Training in each topic area was provided throughout the week and expert coaches supported the participants in the development of a specific training plan for implementation in their area to build resilience into reef management.
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Southeast Asia Training of Trainers – Bali, 2012

The third in a series of Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops included 26 managers from 16 countries and territories. Participants completed the online Reef Resilience course and in‐person training. The workshop focused on building resilience into reef management and the tools that are available to address the impacts of climate change. The meeting brought together managers/trainers from throughout Southeast Asia to learn about and share ideas and led to the completion of in‐country trainings.
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Managing for Resilience – Guadeloupe, 2011

Part of the 4th International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium (ITMEMS), this learning exchange included 58 individuals. The Reef Resilience Network participated as conference leaders and dedicated a day of the conference to resilience concepts, with trainings.

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Coral Reef Resilience – Florida, 2011

This was the 2nd Reef Resilience Conference: Planning for Resilience, with 242 participants. It included a 2-day workshop, with a presentation of viewpoints of the fishing/diving industry and the International Reef Resilience practitioners workshop.

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Resilient MPA Networks – Canada, 2011

This learning exchange consisted of two parts: A pre-International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) workshop with 24 participants that focused on solving problems around MPA network design and implementation and a half-day symposium with 120 attendees. This symposium included a presentation of resilience science and application of advances to management decisions.

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An Integrated Coral Reef Ecosystem Model to Support Resource Management under a Changing Climate

Ecosystem-based management is a useful management tool that considers both indirect and cumulative effects of added stressors to a system. Ecosystem models, especially those that consider physical and biological disturbances and human uses, can help to inform ecosystem-based management during planning and implementation stages. This study modified the Atlantis Ecosystem Model to quantify and predict the effect of added stressors on the Guam coral reef ecosystem. Specifically, the study focused on three main stressors: climate change, land-based sources of pollution (LBSP), and fishing. The study used the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report highest emission scenario to predict atmospheric COconcentrations and the RCP8.5 projection to predict sea surface temperatures. LBSP was predicted using previous data collected on Guam’s sediment and nutrient loads and river flow. Fishing predictions were based on historical catches. Short term (i.e. 30 years) and long term (i.e. 65 years) simulation tests were run for each stressor.

The short term tests revealed that fishing resulted in the greatest negative impacts with LBSP following close behind. Climate change became the dominant stressor in longer time scales with the bleaching threshold exceeded every year after year 48. It becomes clear that long-term high intensity disturbances from multiple stressors limits and sometimes even prevents ecosystem recovery. Limiting frequency, intensity, and number of stressors can significantly increase reef resilience. This study revealed that reducing LBSP and increasing water quality can delay climate-related impacts for up to 8 years while buying time for the corals to adapt to higher temperatures. The Atlantis Ecosystem Model and others like it can be used to provide a wealth of knowledge to inform ecosystem-based management decisions on both regional and global levels.

Author: Weijerman M., E.A. Fulton, I.C. Kaplan, R. Gorton, R. Leemans, W.M. Mooij, and R.E. Brainard
Year: 2015
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PLoS ONE 10(12). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144165

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