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Social–environmental drivers inform strategic management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene
Nature Ecology & Evolution, Volume: 3, Issue: 9, Pages: 1341 - 1350
Swansea University Author: Fraser Januchowski-Hartley
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Without drastic efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate globalized stressors, Tropical coral reefs are in jeopardy due to high levels of carbon emissions and other global stressors. In order to strategically manage to ensure global persistence of this ecosystem, we need to identify environme...
|Published in:||Nature Ecology & Evolution|
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
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Without drastic efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate globalized stressors, Tropical coral reefs are in jeopardy due to high levels of carbon emissions and other global stressors. In order to strategically manage to ensure global persistence of this ecosystem, we need to identify environmental and socioeconomic factors that support the foundation species of coral reef ecosystems. Here, we compiled coral abundance data from 2,584 Indo-Pacific reefs and evaluated patterns of 21 climate, social and environmental drivers on the ecology of reef coral assemblages. We found that weak thermal disturbances, with longer intervals between these disturbances are associated with high abundances of the vital framework-building corals, as well as slower human population growth, limited access for markets and populations, and lower agricultural cover. We therefore propose of three management strategies (protect, recover or transform) to be followed depending on the following conditions: (1) whether structurally complex corals with high carbonate production rates obtained a proposed threshold of >10% cover of the coral taxa; and (2) reef exposure to severe thermal stress during the 2014–2017 global coral bleaching event. By both identifying the key dimensions of function and threats across multiple spatial scales, our findings can guide management and strategic policy priorities to aid in sustaining a network of functioning reefs in the Indo-Pacific.
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