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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