Social–environmental drivers inform strategic management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene

Darling, E.S. and McClanahan, T.R. and Maina, J. and Gurney, G.G. and Graham, N.A.J. and Januchowski-Hartley, F. and Cinner, J.E. and Mora, C. and Hicks, C.C. and Maire, E. and Puotinen, M. and Skirving, W.J. and Adjeroud, M. and Ahmadia, G. and Arthur, R. and Bauman, A.G. and Beger, M. and Berumen, M.L. and Bigot, L. and Bouwmeester, J. and Brenier, A. and Bridge, T.C.L. and Brown, E. and Campbell, S.J. and Cannon, S. and Cauvin, B. and Chen, C.A. and Claudet, J. and Denis, V. and Donner, S. and [Unknown], Estradivari and Fadli, N. and Feary, D.A. and Fenner, D. and Fox, H. and Franklin, E.C. and Friedlander, A. and Gilmour, J. and Goiran, C. and Guest, J. and Hobbs, J.-P.A. and Hoey, A.S. and Houk, P. and Johnson, S. and Jupiter, S.D. and Kayal, M. and Kuo, C.-Y. and Lamb, J. and Lee, M.A.C. and Low, J. and Muthiga, N. and Muttaqin, E. and Nand, Y. and Nash, K.L. and Nedlic, O. and Pandolfi, J.M. and Pardede, S. and Patankar, V. and Penin, L. and Ribas-Deulofeu, L. and Richards, Z. and Roberts, T.E. and Rodgers, K.S. and Safuan, C.D.M. and Sala, E. and Shedrawi, G. and Sin, T.M. and Smallhorn-West, P. and Smith, J.E. and Sommer, B. and Steinberg, P.D. and Sutthacheep, M. and Tan, C.H.J. and Williams, G.J. and Wilson, S. and Yeemin, T. and Bruno, J.F. and Fortin, M.-J. and Krkosek, M. and Mouillot, D. (2019) Social–environmental drivers inform strategic management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 3. pp. 1341-1350. ISSN 2397-334X

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Without drastic efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate globalized stressors, tropical coral reefs are in jeopardy. Strategic conservation and management requires identification of the environmental and socioeconomic factors driving the persistence of scleractinian coral assemblages—the foundation species of coral reef ecosystems. Here, we compiled coral abundance data from 2,584 Indo-Pacific reefs to evaluate the influence of 21 climate, social and environmental drivers on the ecology of reef coral assemblages. Higher abundances of framework-building corals were typically associated with: weaker thermal disturbances and longer intervals for potential recovery; slower human population growth; reduced access by human settlements and markets; and less nearby agriculture. We therefore propose a framework of three management strategies (protect, recover or transform) by considering: (1) if reefs were above or below a proposed threshold of >10% cover of the coral taxa important for structural complexity and carbonate production; and (2) reef exposure to severe thermal stress during the 2014–2017 global coral bleaching event. Our findings can guide urgent management efforts for coral reefs, by identifying key threats across multiple scales and strategic policy priorities that might sustain a network of functioning reefs in the Indo-Pacific to avoid ecosystem collapse.

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Journal Article
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Nature Ecology and Evolution
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Deposited On:
09 Sep 2019 15:05
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 00:58