• TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Acknowledgement
 List of acronyms
 Table of Contents
 Introduction
 National research priorities
 Regional research priorities
 Reference
 Glossary
 Appendix
 Back Matter
 Back Cover






Title: Coral reef ecosystem research plan for fiscal years 2007-2011
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Title: Coral reef ecosystem research plan for fiscal years 2007-2011
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Language: English
Creator: Puglise, K.A.
Publisher: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Place of Publication: Silver Spring, Md.
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Front Matter
        Page i
    Title Page
        Page ii
    Acknowledgement
        Page iii
    List of acronyms
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
    Introduction
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    National research priorities
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
    Regional research priorities
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
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        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
    Reference
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
    Glossary
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Appendix
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
    Back Matter
        Back Matter
    Back Cover
        Back Cover
Full Text


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FOR MORE INFORMATION:

For more information about this report or to reque
Program at 301-713-3155 or write to: NOAA Coral I
1305 East West Highway; Silver Spring, MD 20910




DISCLAIMER:

Mention of trade names or commercial products (
use by the United States government.


py, please contact NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation
)nservation Program; NOAA/NOS/OCRM;
Swww.coralreef.noaa.gov.






At constitute endorsement or recommendation for their







NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Researc
:or Fiscal Years 2007 to 2011








(.A. Puglise and R. Kelty (eds.)

nationall Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration








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Dceanic and National Ocean Service
Administration

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


We wish to express gratitude to all of the people, named and unnamed, who contributed to this Research Plan. This
document truly represents the collective work of several individuals. In particular, thanks go to Andy Bruckner for
the many hours spent helping edit the Plan, as well as providing several of the images; Steven Miller for getting the
document started; Lynn Dancy for her insightful editing; Aurelie Shapiro for creating the maps; the many authors of The
State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2002 and 2005 reports, whose
text appears in several of the jurisdictional section's introductory paragraphs; Jenny Waddell for providing assistance
with graphics and formatting; John Tomczuk for collecting and organizing the graphics; the Photo Contributors (listed
below); the many reviewers who took the time to comment on the document; and most of all to the many individuals who
went above and beyond the call of duty in coordinating, drafting, and editing the document-the Section Contributors
(listed below). Please note: we have made every effort to ensure thatthis list is complete and apologize in advance if
your name was inadvertently left off the list.

SECTION CONTRIBUTORS:
(Names are in Alphabetical Order; Use of an "*" Denotes Section Coordinators)

Greta Smith Aeby, American Samoa Coral Reef Advisory Group, *Katherine Andrews, Rich Appeldoorn, Roy Armstrong, Felipe
Arzayus, David Ballantine, Kenneth Banks, Alissa Barron, Jim Beets, Melissa Bos, Rusty Brainard, Eric Brown, Andy Bruckner,
Bruce Casler, *Malia Chow, *Athline Clark, *Erica Cochrane, Steve Coles, Chantall Collier, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands Coral Advisory Board, Peter Craig, *Nancy Daschbach, *Kristine Davidson, Gerry Davis, *Gerard Dinardo, *Richard Dodge,
*Michael Dowgiallo, Lu Eldredge, Alan Everson, Thomas Fish, Louis Fisher, Beth Flint, Alan Friedlander, Reni Garcia, David Gilliam,
Scott Godwin, *Yimnang Golbuu, Meghan Gombos, David Gulko, *Christopher Hawkins, Edwin Hernandez, *Emma Hickerson, *David
Hilmer, Cindy Hunter, *Walt Jaap, Chris Jefferies, Paul Jokiel, Brian Keller, Christopher Kelley, Jonathan Kelsey, Ruth Kelty, Jean
Kenyon, John Klavitter, Randall Kosaki, *Trina Leberer, Jo-Ann Leong, *Vanjie Lujan, *James Maragos, *Felix Martinez, Gary Matlock,
*Margaret Miller, *Steven Miller, *Risa Minato, Tony Montgomery, Barbara Moore, Ernesto Otero, Don Palawski, Michael Parke,
Matthew Parry, Lelei Peau, Greg Piniak, Kimberly Puglise, Carlos Ramos-Scharron, *Bob Richmond, Bernhard Riegl, Jose Rivera,
*Caroline Rogers, *Bill Rohring, Aida Rosario, Paige Rothenberger, Thomas Safford, Joe Schittone, *G.. Schmahl, Bob Schroeder,
Jennifer E. Smith, Richard Spieler, *Adam Turner, Bernardo Vargas, Peter Vroom, Bill Walsh, Ernesto Weil, Ivor Williams, Wendy
Wiltse, LeeAnn Woodward, Thierry Work, and Dana Wusinich-Mendez.

PHOTO CONTRIBUTORS:
(Names are in Alphabetical Order)

Ray Boland, Andy Bruckner, Dave Burdick, Craig Dahlgren, Deborah Gochfeld, Lance Horn, Doug Kesling, James P. McVey,
NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA's Undersea Research Program (NURP), NURP Center at the University of North
Carolina at Wilmington, Perry Institute of Marine Science, Diana Schmitt, Aurelie Shapiro, Jennifer E. Smith, James Watt, and
Erik Zobrist.







Acronyms



BM Ps ................... ................... Best management practices


............................ Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands


............................. U.3. ilv[lUiolilelIal n oi ecU Iio H/genlcy
............................. Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
............................. Florida Keys National M arine Sanctuary
............................. Federal Register


FW S..........
FY.............
GIS............


F::UonnI ,nn~r


............................ UUV IIIIIICIIL I 1 IUUI III U alU IIU II C UILO L/ UL UI IJJJ
......................... Habitat Area of Particular Concern
............................ Marine Conservation District
............................ Main Hawaiian Islands


............................ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
............................ Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
............................ National W wildlife Refuge
Phntner\nthetirollhr orti\/n rorliotinn


PHIAs ......................................... U.S. Pacific Hem ote Insular Areas
SPAs .................... ................... Sanctuary Preservation Areas
U.S.C. ........................................ United States Code
USCRTF ...................................... United States Coral Reef Task Force
U SV I .................... ................... U .S. V irgin Islands
UV ......................... .................. U ultraviolet radiation


I I C, --r -







Table of Contents



A know ledgem ents..................................................... ............................................................... iii
A acronym s ................................................................................................................................. iv
Table of C ontents......................................................................................................................... v

Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 1
Coral Reef Research Planning in N O A A .................................................... ............... 2
Purpose.................................................... .............................................................................. 5
Scope................................................................................................................................. 5
Coral Reef Research Plan Fram ew ork..........................................................................6
Evaluating Success.......................................................................................................... 7

Part I: N national Research Priorities ................................................................................... 9
Im portance of M apping and M onitoring................................................ .................. 10
Research Supporting Management........................... .........................................12
Fishing ........................................................................................................................... 15
Pollution ........................................................................................................................ 18
Coastal Uses ................................................................................................................. 20
Invasive Species........................................................................................................... 21
Clim ate Change ............................................................................................................ 23
Extrem e Events ............................................................................................................ 25
Technology Supporting Research and Management .................................... ..27
M marine Protected A areas ............................................................................................... 29
Habitat Restoration ......................................................................................................30
Transferring Science and Technology into Operations..........................................32
Outreach and Education: Translating Research, Improving Management .......33

Part II: Regional Research Priorities................................................................................ 36
Jurisdiction-W ide Research N eeds .................................... .................................... 37
Research Supporting M anagem ent............................................................................. 37
Fishing ...........................................................................................................................37
Pollution ........................................................................................................................ 38
Coastal Uses ................................................................................................................. 39
Invasive Species........................................................................................................... 40
Clim ate Change ............................................................................................................ 41
Extrem e Events ............................................................................................................ 42
Technology Supporting Research & Management................... ........................43
M marine Protected A areas ............................................................................................... 43
Habitat Restoration ...................................................................................................... 43





Table of Contents




























































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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Introduction


Figure 1. School of reef fish at Rapture Reef (French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). Photo credit: James Watt.


Coral reef ecosystems are highly valued for their biological,
ecological, cultural, and economic resources, as well
as their aesthetic qualities (Figure 1). Worldwide, coral
reef ecosystems provide over $30 billion in annual goods
and services (Cesar et al. 2003) and yet cover less than
1% of the earth's surface. Annual goods and services
provided by coral reef ecosystems include renewable and
non-renewable resources, coastline protection, increased
property values, tourism, and marine natural products.

Within the United States, the economic contribution of
coral reef ecosystems has been calculated for Hawaii
(Figure 2), southeast Florida, American Samoa, Guam, and
the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In
the Main Hawaiian Islands, coral reefs were estimated
to provide annual economic benefits of over $360 million,
85% of which was directly attributed to recreation and
tourism (Cesar et al. 2002). In the four-county area of
southeast Florida (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and
Monroe Counties), artificial and natural reefs supported
28.3 million person-days of recreational diving, fishing,
and viewing activities and generated approximately $4.4
billion in local sales, almost $2 billion in local income,
and 71,300 full- and part-time jobs (Johns et al. 2001).


In American Samoa, where tourism is low, the annual
economic value was estimated to be $5 million for coral
reef ecosystems and $1 million for mangrove ecosystems
(JacobsGIBB Ltd. 2004).

In the past few decades, competing demands on coral
reef ecosystems and increasing threats from both natural
and anthropogenic stressors, including fishing, pollution,
coastal uses (e.g., land and water development and
recreational use), invasive species (Figure 3), climate
change, and extreme events (e.g., harmful algal blooms
and disease), have contributed to a significant decline in
coral reef ecosystem health (Wilkinson 2000, 2002). In
response to the documented worldwide decline of coral
reef ecosystems and in order to preserve and protect the
biodiversity, health, heritage, and social and economic


An ecosystem is a geographically specified
system of organisms, the environment, and the
processes that control its dynamics. Humans are
an integral part of an ecosystem.


U




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


value of U.S. coral reef ecosystems, the U.S. took two
key actions:

(1) On June 11, 1998, President William Jefferson
Clinton issued Executive Order 13089: Coral Reef
Protection (E.O. 13089), which set forth policies to
enhance the role of Federal agencies in coral reef
conservation and established the U.S. Coral Reef
Task Force (USCRTF), an interagency group consisting
of twelve Federal agencies and governors from seven
states, territories, and commonwealths.

(2) On December 23, 2000, the U.S. Congress enacted
the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 (CRCA;
16 U.S.C. 6401 et seq.). The CRCA authorized the
Secretary of Commerce to establish a national
program and conduct mapping, monitoring,
assessment, restoration, scientific research, and
other activities benefiting the understanding,
sustainable use, and long-term conservation of coral
reef ecosystems.

As authorized by the CRCA, the Secretary of Commerce
established the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program
to carry out the mandates laid out in the CRCA and the
guidelines set forth in E.O. 13089, including supporting
effective ecosystem-based management and sound
science to preserve, sustain, and restore the condition of
coral reef ecosystems. The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation


Figure 2 Raccoon butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunula, among
coral, Porites spp. (Hawaii). Photo credit:Andy Bruckner,
NOAA Fisheries.


Program is implemented by four NOAA line offices the
National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries
Service, the National Environmental, Satellite, and
Data Information Service, and the Office of Oceanic and
Atmospheric Research.

Working with USCRTF partner agencies, non-governmental
organizations, and other stakeholders, the NOAA Coral
Reef Conservation Program developed both a national
plan and a national strategy to conserve coral reefs in
response to E.O. 13089 and the CRCA. In March 2000,
the USCRTF's NationalAction Plan to Conserve Coral
Reefs (National Action Plan) was adopted as the first
national blueprint for U.S. action to address the loss and
degradation of coral reef ecosystems (USCRTF 2000). In
June 2002, NOAA, in collaboration with USCRTF members,
published A National Coral Reef Action Strategy
(National Action Strategy) as required by the CRCA to
provide information on major threats and needs, identify
priority actions needed to achieve the goals outlined in
the National Action Plan and the CRCA, and track progress
in achieving these goals and objectives (NOAA 2002a).
Regarding research, the National Action Strategy identified
two necessary actions: (1) conduct strategic research to
provide critical information on the underlying causes of reef
decline; and (2) increase the understanding of the social
and economic factors of conserving coral reefs.

CORAL REEF RESEARCH PLANNING IN NOAA
NOAA is a science-based agency serving a large and
diverse community of users and stakeholders in the United
States and abroad. Earth system variability is dynamic
and occurs at local, regional, and global levels, as well as
multiple time scales from minutes to decades and longer.
The goal of NOAA's research is to identify and improve
the measurement of these many variables; to advance
understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological
processes in the atmosphere, oceans, and land-surface;
and to enable predictions of future events and changes.
The expertise needed to do this research encompasses
many disciplines; therefore, the research approach must be
interdisciplinary and must integrate the study of the natural
environment with human activities and societal needs.

NOAA supports internal research to respond to immediate
research needs, including those required by legislative
and judicial mandates, to sustain long-term monitoring
and modeling capabilities, and to ensure that research
is forward-looking and responsive to programmatic




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure 3. The orange cup coral, Tubastrea coccinea, a native to the Indo-Pacific, has been recorded in Florida waters growing on
steel structures. To date, the alien coral has not been documented as invasive, however, very little is known regarding its distribution
and abundance in the western Atlantic. Photo credit: Andy Bruckner, NOAA Fisheries.


needs. While the agency maintains and relies on internal
expertise in coastal and ocean sciences, NOAA also relies
on external research partners to complement and augment
NOAA's internal research capabilities, to provide critical
expertise in areas not fully represented inside the agency,
and to share new ideas and technologies. NOAA's research
partnerships engage other Federal agencies; academia; the
private sector; state, territorial, commonwealth, local, and
tribal governments; and the international community; and
are critical to ensuring that decision-making by resource
managers, Congress, and others is based on the best
available science.

NOAA has identified research as a major cross-cutting
priority in the NOAA Strategic Plan, demonstrating its
firm commitment to support high-quality research as the
underpinning of its environmental assessment, prediction, and
ecosystem management missions (NOAA 2005c). Research
is the cornerstone on which to build and improve ecosystem-
based management and resource management decisions.
Research planning and prioritization are key steps to address
the information needs of NOAA's users as indicated in both the
five-year NOAA Research Plan (NOAA 2005a) and the 20-
year NOAA Research Vision (NOAA 2005b).


This document- the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem
Research Plan- builds on the strategies identified in
NOAA's Strategic Plan, the five-year NOAA Research
Plan, the 20-year NOAA Research Vision, the National
Action Plan, the National Action Strategy, the Final Report
of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy(USCOP
2004), and the Bush Administration's response to the U.S.
Commission on Ocean Policy: the U.S. Ocean Action
Plan (Bush 2004); and identifies key directions for NOAA's
research on coral reef ecosystems for fiscal years (FY) 2007
through FY 2011. As this Plan only covers five years, it is
intentionally focused on research with short-term outcomes
of providing coastal and ocean managers with scientific
information and tools to help preserve, sustain, and restore
coral reef ecosystems. This five-year Plan will also be
used as a tool to identify longer-term coral reef research
directions.

It is important to note that the majority of coral reefs in the
U.S. and Pacific Freely Associated States (i.e., Republic of
Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated
States of Micronesia) are not managed solely by NOAA.
The primary managers for U.S. coral reefs include state,
territorial, and commonwealth government agencies


M




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan




FLORIDA



FLOWER GARDEN
BANKS






















Figure 4. A map depicting the location of U.S. coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean
Sea. Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Waddell (2005).












Figure 5 A map depicting the location of U.S coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific Ocean. Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Waddell (2005


















Figure 5. A map depicting the location of U.S. coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific Ocean. Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Waddell (2005)




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


in Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii,
Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands; and several Federal agencies,
including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the
National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Defense,
and NOAA. It is not the intent of this Plan to pre-empt any
existing management authorities. As the responsibility
for managing coral reefs falls on numerous agencies, it is
of utmost importance that NOAA works with the primary
managers to identify research priorities and coordinate,
communicate, and conduct collaborative research projects
for which results can be directly incorporated into existing
management plans or used as a basis to make major
revisions to management plans. Without this type of
coordination, coral reef ecosystem research may not target
the information needs of resource managers or support the
furthering of an ecosystem approach to management.

PURPOSE
The purpose of the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research
Plan is to identify priority research needs and guide NOAA-
funded coral reef ecosystem research for FY 2007 through
FY 2011, including research conducted through extramural
partners, grants, and contracts. The Plan is also designed
to be a resource to other non-NOAA entities that fund
and/or conduct research in coral reef ecosystems. This
Plan is intended to be a flexible, evolving document that
allows new requirements for research to be addressed
as appropriate. Annual implementation plans will allow
refinement of the research needs identified in this Plan to
further focus limited research funds, respond to emerging
issues and changing priorities, and take advantage of
technologies developed during the next five years.


SCOPE
The NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan covers
all shallow coral reef ecosystems under the jurisdiction
of the United States and the Pacific Freely Associated
States (Table 1; and Figures 4 and 5); and is written for a
broad audience, including resource managers, scientists,
policymakers, and the public.

This Research Plan addresses the USCRTF focus areas
- land-based pollution, overfishing, recreational overuse
and misuse, climate change and coral bleaching, and
coral disease identified at the eighth meeting of the
USCRTF on October 2 to 3, 2002 in San Juan, Puerto
Rico (USCRTF 2002), as well as other priority threats to
coral reef ecosystems destructive fishing practices,
invasive species, other coastal uses, and extreme events.
The Plan's research needs were developed based on
recommendations from workshop reports, technical
reports, peer-reviewed articles, and direct input and
review by the representative government agencies
and governments of the USCRTF, coral reef managers,
scientists, and other key stakeholders. (See References
and Appendix A: Additional Supporting Documents
for a list of documents that were used to prepare this
Research Plan. For information on the process used to
develop the Research Plan see Appendix B: Developing
the Research Plan.)

This plan identifies research needs to improve the
management of tropical and sub-tropical coral reef
ecosystems including mangroves, seagrasses, and hard
bottom communities, and warm water, light-dependent,
hermatypic deep water shelf and slope corals that are
typically found between 50 to 100 meters (m). Coral reef
ecosystems, as defined in 16 U.S.C. 6409, are corals


Table 1. Regions covered by the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan.


M




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure 6. Diver amongst a stand of staghorn corals, Acropora cervicornis. Photo credit: NOAA's Undersea Research Program.


and other species of reef organisms (including reef
plants) associated with coral reefs and the non-living
environmental factors that directly affect coral reefs, that
together function as an ecological unit in nature (Figure 6).
The following topics are not included in this Research Plan:

Deep-Sea Coral Ecosystems: This Research Plan
does not identify research needs for deep-sea coral
ecosystems; however, it does recognize the importance
of deep-sea coral ecosystems and the need for further
research to better understand these ecosystems. Deep-
sea coral ecosystems (also referred to as cold-water
coral ecosystems) occur deeper than 50 m and often
consist of both reef-like structures and/or thickets, other
species of organisms associated with these deep-sea
coral habitats, and the non-living environmental factors
that directly affect deep-sea corals, that together
function as an ecological unit in nature (Puglise et al.
2005). Deep-sea corals are not light dependent and do
not contain symbiotic algae. Note: Deep-sea coral
ecosystem research priorities will be identified in a
separate document

International Research Priorities: This Research Plan
does not identify research needs for NOAA-supported
research on international coral reef ecosystems.


However, it does recognize the importance of developing
an active dialogue and coordinating research activities
with other international efforts so that research findings
can be effectively compared with other programs
and locations.

SState of the Coral Reef Ecosystems: This Research
Plan does not review the current state of knowledge on
reef condition for each region, except as it applies to
specific management objectives and research needs.
For information on the status and trends of coral reef
ecosystems, refer to the report entitled The State of
Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and
Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005
(Waddell 2005).

CORAL REEF RESEARCH PLAN FRAMEWORK
The NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan is
presented in two sections: (1) Part I: National Priorities; and
(2) Part II: Regional Priorities (Table 2).

Part I is national in scope and identifies: (1) the role of
research in management, including a review of the major
stressors and threats facing coral reef ecosystems and
an overview of stressor-associated research priorities;




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


(2) the role of mapping and monitoring in management-
driven research programs; (3) a discussion of the tools and
technologies necessary to conduct research and to manage
ecosystems (e.g., marine protected areas [MPAs] and
habitat restoration); (4) a discussion of the importance of
transferring science and technology into operations; and
(5) the importance of using targeted outreach and
education to translate research results to improve
management decisions.

Part II is regional in scope and reviews the major stressors
for coral reef ecosystems in each region under the
jurisdiction of the U.S. and the Pacific Freely Associated
States, and identifies key management objectives specific
to each region and the research needed to help address
the stated management objectives. The discussions of
individual jurisdictions in Part II include a list of specific
management objectives followed by linked research needs.
Several of the identified research needs are national in
scope and have been identified in a Jurisdiction-Wide
section in Part II, whereas the individual regional sections
identify research needs that are Jurisdiction-Specific. A
stand-alone research plan for each region would include
both the national and regional research needs.


EVALUATING SUCCESS
Measuring performance and effectively communicating
results is critical. Research activities supporting the
NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan must
include performance measures that are linked to defined
management objectives, along with mechanisms to ensure
accountability and high quality, including rigorous and
independent peer-review procedures.

NOAA is a mission-driven agency with stewardship
responsibilities for marine living resources. The activities
conducted by NOAA, as well as other Federal agencies,
are driven by requirements (e.g., legal mandates, E.O.s,
and treaties) and performance measures (i.e., activities are
evaluated as required by the Government Performance and
Results Act of 1993 [GPRA] and the Office of Management
and Budget's Program Assessment Rating Tool). The
primary and secondary requirement drivers for the NOAA
Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan are listed below and
detailed in Appendix C:


Table 2 Framework of the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan.
PART 1 T11:REGIOAREACHPIITS


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Primary Requirements: Increase number of protected species that reach
CRCA (16 U.S.C. 6401 et seq.) stable or increasing population levels.
0 National Coral Reef Action Strategy (2002) Increase number of regional coastal and marine
0 The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United ecosystems delineated with approved indicators of
States and Pacific Freely Associated States ecological health and socioeconomic benefits that
(2002, 2005) are monitored and understood.
E.O. 13089: Coral Reef Protection (1998) Increase number of invasive species populations
0 National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs eradicated, contained, or mitigated.
(2000) Increase number of habitat acres conserved
0 USCRTF Local Action Strategies (2005-2007) and restored.
+ Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Increase portion of the population that is
Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable knowledgeable of and acting as stewards for
Fisheries Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) coastal and marine ecosystem issues.
+ National Marine Sanctuaries Act (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.) Increase number of coastal communities
E.O. 13178: Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef incorporating ecosystem and sustainable
Ecosystem Reserve (2000) development principles into planning
E.O. 13196: Final Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral and management.
Reef Ecosystem Reserve (2001)
+ Presidential Proclamation: Establishment of the The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program outcomes that
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National contribute to achieving NOAA's Ecosystem Goal outcome
Monument (2006) and objectives are:

Secondary Requirements: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Outcomes
The impacts of climate change and coral disease
+ Coastal Zone Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.) are understood and approaches to enhance coral
Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 460 et seq.) y developed and implemented.
reef resiliency are developed and implemented.
SE.O. 13112: Invasive Species (1999) Direct physical impacts from maritime industry and
||+^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ E.0. 13158: Marine Protected Areas (2000) natural/non-natural hazards are reduced.
natural/non-natural hazards are reduced.
SGPRA (31 U.S.C. 1115i etseq.) s Impacts from coastal uses and land-based
Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) activities are reduced
Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004
SMarine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004 Overfishing in coral reef ecosystems is reduced
(16 U.S.C. 6601 et seq.)and other adverse impacts from commercial and
recreational fishing are minimized.
Links to the NOAA Strategic Plan
The NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan links to Research is not intended to meet the NOAA Strategic
the following NOAA Strategic Plan outcomes and Plan and the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
objectives for the Ecosystem Mission Goal, for which the outcomes and objectives alone. Rather, research serves as
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program activities are a mechanism to help meet the aforementioned outcomes
directed towards achieving: and objectives. Successful research supported by NOAA
will provide information that improves the understanding
Ecosystem Goal Outcomes of coral reef ecosystem function and condition, including
Healthy and productive coastal and marine the factors (i.e., stressors and natural variability) that
ecosystems that benefit society. determine that condition, and supports development and
A well-informed public that acts as steward of evaluation of tools and approaches to assess the ecological
coastal and marine ecosystems. and economic impacts of stressors, reduce stressors, and
restore reefs.
Ecosystem Goal Objectives
Increase number of fish stocks managed at
sustainable levels.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan
Part I: National Research Priorities


School of Hawaiian squirrelfish (French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). Photo credit: James Watt.


M




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Coral resource managers should have the most up-to- habitat types, including defining the 'natural' ecosystem
date scientific information to facilitate management of or what is considered normal, documenting change
the resources under their purview. The intent of this and environmental conditions (e.g., in situ sea surface
Research Plan is to guide the full suite of NOAA's coral reef temperature, photosynthetically active radiation [PAR],
ecosystem research capabilities, both internal and external, and ocean color), evaluating the effects of environmental
toward meeting this challenge within the context of stressors, identifying the causes of decline, and analyzing
limited resources. human populations and their use (or non-use) of coral reef
ecosystems. An ecosystem approach to management
Importance of Mapping and Monitoring requires knowledge of the natural ecosystem, including
Sound management of coral reef ecosystems requires the guilds or trophic levels that are normally present
scientifically-based information on their status (or and interactions between these; how communities may
condition), the causes and consequences of that condition, vary with latitude, season, and geomorphology; what
forecasts of their future condition, and the costs and environmental variables define community composition;
benefits of possible management actions to maintain as well as an understanding of processes and outcomes
or improve their condition. Even more fundamental is necessary for sustainability, including the role of
the identification and characterization of each coral reef surrounding ecosystems.
ecosystem, including the physical location (boundaries),
spatial extent, physical and biological characteristics, Mapping and monitoring efforts are most useful when
and characterization of the social and human aspects data are integrated at the appropriate spatial and tempora
of coral reef ecosystems. Baseline information on the scales and aligned closely with process-oriented research
economic, cultural, institutional, and social values, as well designed to help understand the causes of spatial and
as human use patterns, of coral reef ecosystems should be temporal variability and change. Additionally, better
determined. Because coral reef ecosystems are dynamic, coordination of mapping, monitoring, and research
even in their physical attributes, continuous research is projects among NOAA, other Federal, state, territorial,
required to quantify changes and understand the processes commonwealth, and local agencies, coral resource
and rates at which they occur. Thus, the map products managers, and local reef specialists would allow for the
(mapping) and long-term data collections (monitoring) maximum amount of information to be obtained from
necessary for sound management decisions are as much a single sample or endeavor and increase coverage by
a part of the research agenda as the quantitative analyses reducing overlap among monitoring programs.
applied to these products.
Coral reef ecosystems and individual reefs can vary
Mapping and monitoring provide information fundamental over space (spatially) and time temporallyy). Therefore,
to understanding the history, current state, and future monitoring programs need to consider: (1) the spatial
condition of coral reef ecosystems and are cornerstones to resolution necessary to document the spatial mosaic
ecosystem-based management. Long-term monitoring also defining coral reef ecosystems (e.g., across multiple
provides data to allow a rigorous evaluation of whether habitat types moving from nearshore to offshore, among
or not management programs are working. Historically, and within reefs, and across depths); (2) the sampling
monitoring programs have focused on determining the frequency needed to try to understand the causes of
condition of ecologically or economically important species ecosystem change; and (3) the variety of data required
and/or specific habitat types (e.g., emergent reefs) by to make management decisions. Sampling frequency
documenting a combination of static (e.g., cover and for monitoring programs usually ranges from rapid
abundance at a point in time) and process-oriented (e.g., assessments conducted over relatively short time scales
recruitment, growth, and condition) parameters. Surveys of days and weeks that characterize broad patterns of
have also recorded the presence and abundance of major community structure or episodic and unpredictable events
corallivores or coral predators (e.g., crown-of-thorns (e.g., physical damage caused by ship groundings or
starfish [COTS]) and herbivores (e.g., sea urchins). The storms, or biological events such as coral disease and core
development of an ecosystem approach to management bleaching) to monitoring that occurs repetitively at the
will require that programs expand their scope to address same locations) over many years.
the broadest set of management issues across multiple




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure 7. Tiger grouper, Mycteroperca tigris, on a star coral colony, Montastraea franksi (Flower Garden Banks National Marine
Sanctuary). Groupers are harvested Caribbean-wide and in the U.S. The tiger grouper is included under the Grouper Snapper
Fishery Management Plan for Federal waters, although there is no specific fishery targeting this species. Photo credit: Andy


Bruckner, NOAA Fisheries.

Decisions about what and when to monitor should be
based on the management and scientific questions being
asked. Both short-term (less than five years) and long-
term (greater than five years) assessments are needed to
understand ecosystem variation. For example, short-term
monitoring programs intended to provide early warning of
coral reef ecosystem changes and document the status
of economically and ecologically important reef species
(Figure 7). Short-term assessments can document acute
changes impacting coral condition, such as El Niio
Southern Oscillation events and coastal development
(e.g., dredging and beach renourishment projects). Long-
term assessments document changes caused by factors
that operate at decadal scales, such as the influence of
declining fish stocks, as well as the potential impacts of
increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and the potential
associated temperature increases.


When linked to targeted research programs, mapping
and monitoring programs can improve identification and
understanding of threats to coral reef ecosystems by
providing baseline characterizations of coral condition
and habitat, as well as contributing to solving high priority
management issues. Additionally, characterizing and
monitoring economic, demographic, and institutional
changes may also help resource managers anticipate
impacts from anthropogenic influences on coral reef
ecosystems. Mapping and monitoring efforts record
change and the condition of the resource, and
characterize the societal aspects of the resource; while
research examines the causes and predicts the impacts
of changes on the condition of the resource. The ability
to ascribe declines in ecosystem condition to a stressor
is often confounded by the fact that stressors often act
synergistically. In situations like these, it is important




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


for research to be conducted in tandem with monitoring
programs to try to understand the causes of
ecosystem decline.

NOAA is committed to working with its partners to
support a long-term environmental monitoring program
and the mapping of all U.S. shallow-water coral reefs
and associated ecosystems. This commitment addresses
the USCRTF goal to develop and implement a nationally
coordinated, long-term program to inventory, assess, and
monitor U.S. coral reef ecosystems. NOAA monitoring
and mapping efforts should be coordinated with partners
from Federal, state, territory, commonwealth, and local
government agencies; non-governmental organizations;
and academia to minimize duplication and maximize
data collection. NOAA coral monitoring efforts
represent a small part of the growing national coastal
monitoring network.

RESEARCH SUPPORTING MANAGEMENT
The condition of ecosystems is impacted by the singular or
combined effects of five stressors: land and resource use
(herein referred to as fishing and coastal uses), climate
change, pollution, extreme events, and invasive species
(OSTP 2001). Interactions between these stressors, as
well as natural variability over space and time can also
be involved in determining ecosystem condition. These
generalizations are applicable to coral reef ecosystems,
and it is the goal of NOAA's coral reef ecosystem research
to provide sound science to enable effective ecosystem-
based management by identifying the stressors affecting
ecosystem condition, determining the processes by which
they affect ecosystems, identifying their short- and long-
term impacts, identifying strategies to mitigate these
impacts, and forecasting future ecosystem conditions with
and without management intervention. It is the intent
of the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan to
identify priority research needs for NOAA-supported coral
reef ecosystem research for FY 2007 through FY 2011.
Research priorities are based on management-driven
information needs as identified by resource managers,
scientists, and other key stakeholders.

Conservation and management of coral reefs require
a multidisciplinary approach that acknowledges the
complexity and multiple dimensions of coral reef
ecosystems (e.g., anthropogenic, ecological, and biological)
and their dynamic nature, and the need for cooperatively
implementing management measures, as management


responsibility for coral reef ecosystems often crosses local,
commonwealth, territory, state, Federal, and international
jurisdictions. Therefore, maintaining healthy coral reef
ecosystems requires a balance between not only ecological
functions, but the many different types of human uses of
those ecosystems.

Conservation and management of coral reefs also requires
recognition that coral reef ecosystems are one piece of
much larger marine ecosystems. Within NOAA, ecosystem
research and management activities are organized into
eight regional ecosystems adjacent to the U.S. coasts
(i.e., Northeast Shelf, Southeast Shelf, Caribbean, Gulf
of Mexico, Great Lakes, California Current, Alaska, and
Pacific Islands). These eight regional ecosystems in turn
link into other larger marine ecosystems. For example, the
Gulf Stream current links the coral reef ecosystems of the
Southeast U.S. to those of the Caribbean and Gulf
of Mexico.

Coral reef ecosystem protection and conservation
require a strong legal framework that provides managers
with a variety of tools, including zoning ordinances,
permit programs, water quality criteria and standards,
management plans, regulations, and enforcement
capabilities that operate across multiple jurisdictions.
A strong legal framework will require Federal, state,
territory, commonwealth, and local government agencies to
coordinate and commit to conducting mapping, monitoring,
and research, as well as implementing management
measures, cooperatively. This framework should also take
into consideration traditional and customary management
practices of the U.S. Pacific Islands in revitalization and
identification of resource use practices to garner the
support of the indigenous communities. Policymakers
and the public are also an integral part of the
management process.

Understanding societal views and processes and their
affects on coral reef ecosystem condition is integral to
improving management of coral reef resources. Examples
of dynamic societal processes that may have far-
reaching impacts on coral reef ecosystems include rapid
population growth, global movements of humans, the
mixing of cultures and loss of traditional cultural integrity,
globalization of economies, and advances in technology.
The role of social science in coral reef ecosystem
management is to improve the understanding of these
changing societal processes by determining how society




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


is currently choosing to use coral reef ecosystems and
estimating the social and economic costs and benefits of
those uses from an ecosystem perspective, including the
biological costs and benefits to the resource associated
with these uses. Social science research could also help
characterize attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs within
different segments of the population and examine how
these factors influence human behaviors related to both
the use and conservation of coral reef ecosystems.

Traditionally, coral reef ecosystem research has focused
on the impacts that human activities have on the
ecosystem as measured by one or more environmental
metrics. While we are beginning to understand the
ecology of these systems more fully, Federal, state,
territory, and commonwealth management agencies still
lack information on the social, cultural, and economic
aspects of coral reef ecosystems. For example, economic
valuation of annual and net benefits of goods and services
provided by U.S. coral reef ecosystems are key needs
for managers to show the importance of the resource in
economic terms. Yet economic valuations have only been
completed for the four-county area of southeast Florida
- Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties
(Johns et al. 2001), the Main Hawaiian Islands (Cesar et
al. 2002), American Samoa (JacobsGIBB Ltd 2004), Guam
(van Beukering et al. 2006a), and Commonwealth of the


Northern Mariana Islands (van Beukering et al. 2006b).
This critical information gap jeopardizes the nation's ability
to make science-based decisions that include the human
environment, as well as the natural environment.

Research of both natural and physical sciences needs to
be integrated with socioeconomic research to develop
management actions that are compatible with the
resources and their users. Many factors contribute to
change in coral reef ecosystems (Table 3), but it is difficult
to ascribe widespread decline to single factors locally or
regionally because stressors can vary in occurrence and
severity across regions and sometimes from reef to reef
and have possible cumulative and synergistic impacts.
The complexity of interactions among stressors that
affect coral reefs makes it difficult to sort out the
primary stressors responsible. The coral reef ecosystem
decline now being witnessed is due to the integrated
consequences of many stressors.

The next sections summarize the major threats to coral
reef ecosystems as identified by the USCRTF, and identifies
key national-level research priorities. The major threats
discussed are: fishing, pollution, coastal uses, invasive
species, climate change, and extreme events. These
categories parallel research categories found in Part II
of this Plan.


Key Socioeco m R c Qes
fo Cora Ree Ecsses


* Who are the users of coral reef ecosystems?
* What are the social and economic uses of coral
reef ecosystems?
* What are the social and economic costs and benefits of
those uses?
* What are the impacts of social and economic uses to
these ecosystems?
* What are the relationships between uses and a series of
environmental metrics?
* What are the interactions between human use activities
in coral reef ecosystems?
* How do societal reactions to changes in coral reef
ecosystems impact human behavior and how do these
behavioral changes affect the coral ecosystem?


* How do different laws and policies influence human use
and protection of coral reef ecosystems?
* In what ways do local knowledge and scientific
information influence how adjacent communities use and
protect coral reef resources?
* What impacts do changing human demographics have on
coral reef ecosystems?
* What (non-monetary) values does society hold or assign
to coral reef ecosystems?
* How well do people understand coral reef ecosystems
(biological and physical elements, scarcity,
and sensitivity)?




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


2002
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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Fishing fishing can mobilize groups to support or oppose different
A fishery is comprised of the species sought (including management measures. Thus, it is important to understand
the incidental or unintended catch), the habitat in which inter-group relationships, perceptions, beliefs, and their
they live, and the humans conducting the fishing activities. links to particular behaviors. Additionally, research is
Coral reef ecosystems support important commercial, needed to better understand the impacts of fishing-related
recreational, and subsistence food fisheries in the U.S. and activities on species of concern, including threatened,
around the world. Fishing also plays a social and cultural endangered, rare, and protected migratory species that are
role in many island communities (Figure 8). The biodiversity dependent on coral reefs (e.g., low reef islets and lagoons)
of reefs supports the aquarium and aquaculture industries, for their survival, such as monk seals, sea turtles, pearl
biomedical industry, and other commercial industries. The oysters, giant clams, conchs, coconut crabs, humphead
management of coral reef fisheries falls across several wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, groupers, and rare ground-
groups, including NOAA through the regional fishery nesting seabirds.
management councils, and state, territory, commonwealth,
and local agencies. Fishing and Overfishing: Overfishing of high value
predators and important herbivores has been documented
Successful management of coral reef fisheries through the on nearly all U.S. inshore reefs near populated areas
balancing of society's desire to attain the economic benefits (Figure 9; Turgeon et al. 2002), and is spreading to deeper
from these resources with the biological requirements for reefs and more remote locations. In general, we know
sustaining them depends critically upon the best available the causes of this decline direct overexploitation of
scientific information. Implementation of an ecosystem- fish and invertebrates by recreational, subsistence, and
based approach to fisheries management will require commercial fisheries. However, the full ramifications
the development of practical approaches that support of overfishing are poorly understood and present a
shifting from single species management to an ecosystem major challenge to resource managers and scientists.
approach. There is increasing evidence that overfishing, including
historical overfishing of apex predators, herbivores, and
Research is needed to address three key fishing-related keystone species on reefs not only results in shifts in
threats to coral reef ecosystems fishing and overfishing, fish size, abundance, species composition, and genotypic
destructive fishing, and the effects of marine aquaculture diversity, but also is a major driver contributing to
- and the social and economic costs and benefits of the degradation of coral reef ecosystems. Increasing
these threats. The social importance of activities such as the state of knowledge on the potential cascading
effects of reduced predator and herbivore abundances




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


and sizes, by using fished and non-fished coral reef
ecosystems, are instrumental to understanding the full
effect of overfishing on ecosystem functions, designing
effective conservation programs, and determining the
impact of management actions (e.g., fishing closures)
on the sustainability of fish stocks. Understanding the
drivers of overfishing (e.g., perceptions of the impacts
of overfishing and resource availability), how decisions
are made to exceed sustainable limits, and a thorough
analysis of existing fisheries data are also key to
understanding the impacts of overfishing. Research
focused on the perceptions and attitudes about factors
including fishery health, gear restrictions, aquaculture
versus extraction of wild stocks, market conditions,
regulations, and environmental conditions could help
shed light on how fishers decide to target a particular
species or utilize different fishing techniques.


Destructive Fishing: Indirect impacts associated with
some fishing techniques and gear include: (1) physical
impacts to reef environments; (2) by-catch, ghost fishing
(i.e., lost or derelict fishing gear that continues to catch
fish and other species), and mortality of non-target
species; and (3) unauthorized fishing in closed areas.
Research is needed to predict, prevent, and mitigate
these indirect fishing impacts. Research should include
identifying and assessing gear impacts, developing new
technologies and gear to minimize these impacts, and
researching and developing techniques to improve fishing
surveillance, enforcement, and management of remote
coral reefs.

Marine Aquaculture: Marine aquaculture is growing
rapidly in regions with coral reefs, and may provide
employment and decrease collection pressure on wild
populations. However, if poorly sited or managed,


Figure 8. The spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, is one of the most valuable fishery species in the Caribbean. They are exported from
several non-U.S. Caribbean countries. In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, spiny lobsters are for local consumption only.
Photo credit: Deborah Gochfeld.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


of opportunistic pathogens on native populations from important fisheries? How do the products of aquaculture
aquaculture activities. (including species released purposefully or accidentally




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


and water quality pollution, where it exists) affect the
structure and function of surrounding ecosystems? What
are the politics associated with increasing aquaculture
development and trade in farm-raised seafood (e.g.,
are special opportunities presented or denied to locals
associated with the aquaculture industry)? What are the
socioeconomic impacts of existing and proposed fisheries
management plans that affect coral reef ecosystems? How
do invertebrate fisheries (e.g., octopus, sea cucumbers)
impact the coral reef ecosystem? How has the fishing
of spawning aggregations affected fish communities?
What tools can be developed to predict likely locations
of spawning aggregations? How do management
activities and regulations influence fishers' attitudes and
perceptions? How do perceptions of scientific information,
and the agencies disseminating it, shape fishers' attitudes
and behaviors?

Pollution
Worldwide, the threat to coral reef ecosystems from
pollution is surpassed in severity only by coral bleaching
and fishing (Spalding et al. 2001). Model estimates
indicate 22% of the world's coral reef ecosystems are
threatened by land-based pollution, including soil erosion
(Bryant et al. 1998). At a local scale, pollution can be the
dominant pressure on an ecosystem. The primary stressors
from land-based sources are nutrient and chemical


too much phosphorus can lead to weak coral skeletons
that increase the coral's susceptibility to storm damage
(Wilkinson 1996). The primary mechanism of iron deposition
is rainfall and it is the sole source of iron to coral reef
ecosystems (aside from shipwrecks). In addition to chemical
and nutrient deposition, atmospheric transport may also
carry disease-producing organisms, such as the soil fungus
Aspergillus sydowii, which has been thought to be
introduced to coral reef ecosystems through African dust
deposition (Smith et al. 1996; Kellogg and Griffin 2003).

While pollutants can occur alone, they often occur
together and interact synergistically. For example,
sediment runoff from land can potentially introduce
toxicants and disease-producing microorganisms to
coral reef ecosystems which can affect coral function
and survival. Additionally, pollutants may be introduced
by multiple sources as in the case of reactive nitrogen
and phosphorous, which may be introduced via land-
based inputs, atmospheric deposition, or upwelling.
Pollutants can impair coral function and may make the
corals more susceptible to disease, climate change, and
the presence of invasive species. Research is needed
to better understand the allowable concentrations or
thresholds of pollutants and to determine the tolerance
of coral reef ecosystems to pollutant concentrations (i.e.,
at what concentration does an effect occur).


derived sewage, and increased amounts of sediment Management actions to address water quality concerns
from coastal development and storm water runoff (Figure are taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
10). Other pollutants, such as heavy metals and oil, can (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, NOAA, and local,
also be prominent at specific locations. Direct impacts state, territorial, and commonwealth governments,
of pollutants include reduced recruitment, the loss of depending on jurisdictions. Research is needed to
biodiversity, altered species composition (shifting from understand how coral reef ecosystems respond to
predominantly phototrophic to heterotrophic fauna), and impaired water quality, and to provide managers with
shallower depth distribution limits (ISRS 2004). tools to detect, assess, and remedy negative impacts.
To this end, the sources of the substances that adversely
In addition to land-based sources of pollution, chemicals affect water quality must be identified, and relevant
and nutrients (e.g., mercury, iron, nitrogen, and phosphorous) policies and strategies developed and validated.
are also introduced via atmospheric deposition following Monitoring of sediment, water, and coral tissue for likely
long-range transport from distant origins (e.g., African and pollutants (e.g., organic contaminants, trace events,
nutrients, and pathogens) in threatened or high pollutant
Gobi desert dust). It is not yet known how mercury, which
concentration areas can alert managers to changes in
is transformed to biologically hazardous methyl mercury s a
pollutant inputs and impacts.
after deposition to the ocean surface, might affect corals. p
Iron, nitrogen, and phosphorus are critical and potentially Changing attitudes and behaviors is central to any
Changing attitudes and behaviors is central to any
limiting nutrients on coral reefs. The atmospheric input effort to reduce nonpoint sources of pollution. Thus,
effort to reduce nonpoint sources of pollution. Thus,
of iron, nitrogen, and phosphorus represents an increase.
understanding the factors influencing individuals'
in the nutrient loading of the water body, with biological attitudes, and the driving forces) behind particular
consequences that cannot be ignored. For example, k ; ;+; +particular
consequences that cannot be ignored. For example, ^^,,:.^ : ^:. i ^ ^ ^:.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


























Figure 10. Pollutants, such as nutrients from fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, human-derived sewage, and increased amounts of
sediment from coastal development, can have direct impacts on coral reef ecosystems, including increasing turbidity. Photo credit:
Deborah Gochfeld.

issue. As addressing pollution concerns requires other local and global stressors? How long do impacts
coordination among an array of Federal, state, territory, caused by pollutants persist once the stressor is reduced
commonwealth, and local agencies, research on these or eliminated? How fast does change occur within coral
institutional features and how data are collected should reef ecosystems due to pollution from either chronic low-
be linked to reducing the threat of pollution to coral reef level inputs (e.g., sewage) or episodic high-level inputs
ecosystems. Research indicates that knowledge alone (e.g., storm water runoff, rainfall, and upwelling)? What
does not beget responsible environmental behavior; are the best measures of pollutant impacts on coral reef
however, resource managers can be more effective in ecosystems? What are the best ways to reduce pollution
targeting education and outreach activities with an and what are the costs and benefits of available options
understanding of how the public perceives impacts of relative to each other and to addressing other stressors?
land use and other human activities. What are the pollution impacts on compromised organisms
subjected to additional stressors from both allochthonous
General research questions relevant to understanding and (i.e., derived from outside the system) and natural
improving water quality in coral reef ecosystems include: sources? Which watersheds contribute the highest loads
What are the economic and social factors that influence of contaminants, including sediment and nutrients, to
the adoption of pollution control measures, the use of coral reef ecosystems? What is a system's vulnerability
agricultural inputs, or perceptions of different nutrient- to chronic versus episodic pollution? What are the
related best management practices (BMPs) in agricultural relationships between coral condition and presence/
areas? Are some corals or coral reef ecosystems more input of specific and multiple contaminants and the
resistant to pollution stress than others? What are the concentrations of those contaminants? How do impacts
long-term implications of differential resilience on coral from contaminants vary with distance from the source of
reef ecosystem community structure and function? How those contaminants? How does increased sedimentation
does pollution affect coral reef ecosystem resiliency to impact coral reproduction and larval recruitment?




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure 11. A golf course located on the shoreline near a coral reef (Mangilao, Guam). Photo credit: Dave Burdick.


local resource management agencies. When these areas
Coastal Uses are managed as limited access sites, whether the goal is
Coral reef ecosystems are being damaged continually to provide security, serve as reference sites for research,
and in some cases irreparably by a number of or protect sensitive critical habitats, they can serve as de
anthropogenic impacts, some of which are avoidable. Non- facto MPAs. Research is needed to understand the role of
extractive human activities that may damage or impact these restricted areas in managing coral reef ecosystem
coral reef ecosystems include recreational activities (e.g., resources. For restricted access areas that are used in a
boating and scuba diving), shipping, coastal development non-sustainable manner (e.g., as ammunition ranges), the
(Figure 11), weapons testing, vessel groundings, anchor role of research is to document resource damage or loss
damage, and marine debris accumulation. Scores of and predict ecological, economic, and societal costs and
shipwrecks exist which may retain fuel, explosives, and/ benefits of that use.
or other pollutants that threaten not only the condition
of the reefs, but also the safety of divers. Construction, Other coastal activities impact reefs by causing the
excavation, and dredging associated with new or accumulation of marine debris. Marine debris consists
expanding facilities (e.g., for ports, navigational channels, of not readily biodegradable trash, including lost and
bridges, and underwater cables) can also cause direct derelict commercial fishing nets, metals, plastics, and
and indirect damage to coral reef resources, such as rubber products (Figure 12) Marne debrs accumulation
sedimentation that can literally smother the corals and is considered a high-level threat by coral reef managers
turbidity that decreases the amount of light available in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the Federated
to the corals (Muller-Parker and D'Elia 1997). Military States of Micronesia; and as a medium-level threat in
weapons testing, toxic and hazardous waste disposal, base Florida, Puerto Rico, the Main Hawaiian Islands, the
construction and operation, unexploded ordnance, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S.
warfare can also cause direct and indirect damage to coral Pacific Remote Insular Areas, and the Republic of Palau.
reefs and are of key concern in the U.S. Pacific Islands. Derelict commercial fishing nets can dislodge and break
coral colonies and entangle marine mammals, sea turtles,
Some coastal uses restrict access or prohibit all other fish, and seabirds. Marine debris is also a vector for exotic
uses, as is the case for some areas managed by U.S. species introductions. Removing marine debris is an
military. Federal. state. territory. commonwealth, and/or expensive and difficult task. In 2004 alone, 112 metric tons


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

of debris, primarily derelict fishing gear, was removed from foundation for research assessments on the institutional
reefs and beaches in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at relationships and how they benefit or impair coral reef
an estimated cost of $2.8 million. Research is needed on ecosystem management.
how to apply or develop remote sensing techniques to aid
in the identification of floating debris and other materials General questions relevant to coastal uses include: What
near coral reef areas that can impact the reef. are the impacts and associated costs and benefits of
maintaining navigational access? What are the carrying
By increasing resource use, coastal development and capacities of different coral reef areas in a variety of
tourism increase the potential for recreational overuse coastal situations at local and regional scales? What are
and misuse. To better determine the appropriate levels the ecological and economic consequences of coastal
of resource use for both existing and new areas, research uses? What are the sources of marine debris? Can
is needed to identify mixed and heavy use areas where technology be developed to locate and remove debris
user conflict and resource damage are most likely to before it gets entangled on reefs? What are the economic
occur, and to quantify the effects of commercial and and social drivers for particular coastal uses (including
recreational use of these areas (e.g., loss of coral cover, conservation activities) that impact coral reef ecosystems?
biodiversity). Additionally, the drivers behind recreational How do changing demographic and economic patterns
misuse should be identified and used to target education correlate with particular stressors and the quality of reef
and enforcement. Research needs to focus on institutional habitats? What are the costs and benefits of different
arrangements and how laws, policies, and organizational approaches to managing coastal uses?
relationships influence the use, management, and
protection of reef ecosystems. There has been extensive Invasive Species
social science research on "common pool" resources and Alien species (also known as exotic, non-native,
how institutional relationships can increase or decrease introduced, and/or non-indigenous species) are plants,
the effectiveness of addressing problems associated with animals, and microorganisms that have moved as a result
such resources (Ostrom and Ostrom 1972; Ostrom 1988a, of human activities from their native geographic range and
1988b). Findings from these studies have documented habitat to a new location. Alien species are considered
the importance of particular institutional arrangements as to be "invasive" if the alien species acts as 'an agent of
drivers for conservation and management. This work also change and threatens native biological diversity' in its
emphasizes the importance of examining how different new location (IUCN 2000). It is important to note that not
institutions or individuals use scientific and locally-derived all alien species become invasive or cause economic or
information within decision-making processes for natural ecological harm by displacing, outcompeting, or preying on
resource management. This work should serve as the native species.

Alien species may be introduced to coral reef ecosystems
via vectors or pathways such as shipwrecks, ship hulls
and ballast water, waterways, aquaculture systems,
r- aquarium discards into coastal waters, marine imports, and
marine debris. Recent evidence also suggests that both
fungal and bacterial pathogens from terrestrial habitats
could also be transferred to coral reef ecosystems (Porter
2001). Intentional and unintentional releases of invasive
species have been documented worldwide and are often
the focus of expensive control and eradication programs.
S ..For example, in Waikiki on the island of Oahu in the
Main Hawaiian Islands, there have been 14 volunteer-led
liii ... ....... cleanup to remove approximately 85 tons of an invasive
alga, gorilla ogo (Gracilaria salicornia), from August 2002
Figure 12. NOAA diver frees an endangered Hawaiian monk seal to February 2005 (Figure 13; Smith et al. 2004; Hunter et
from marine debris (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). Photo
credital. 2004). In the Atlantic, the lionfish Pterois volitans, a
credit: Ray Boland, NOAA Fisheries.


B




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Gracilaria salicornia,

















Figure 13. The invasive red alga, Gracilaria salicornia, washed up on Waikiki Beach after a large summer swell. This alga has
become quite abundant on the reefs around Oahu since its introduction in the 1970s. This species poses a threat to the reefs in the
Hawaiian Islands as it appears to outcompete many of Hawaii's native species. Photo credit: Jennifer E. Smith.

native to the Pacific, is now well established and suspected overfishing. Predictive risk assessments on species likely
to be reproducing from North Carolina to south Florida to become invasive can forecast their potential ecological
(Figure 14; Hare and Whitfield 2003). The potential impact and socioeconomic impacts. Researchers should also
of lionfish on native species is unknown. To date, lionfish develop and evaluate new strategies and technologies
have not been sited south of Miami; however, should to prevent introductions, eradicate invasive species, and
lionfish make their way to the Florida Keys, the impact to mitigate their effects. With the information from targeted
the ecosystem could be significant. research, coastal managers can make contingency plans
and take coordinated actions to prevent future occurrences
Research can contribute to reversing the trend of and establishment of invasive species and mitigate existing
increasing invasive species in U.S. coastal waters by and future species effects.
improving prevention, detection, prediction, response, and
restoration. The science of invasive species is relatively
new, but it is clear that prevention is easier and cheaper
than eradication. Early detection tools are needed to
alert managers of alien species before they become
established. As few survey programs exist to monitor
for alien species, by the time they are noticed, they are
often well established and eradication or control is not
an option. When an alien species is detected, research
is needed to determine its vectors of origin, potential for
future spread, and potential to become invasive. Increased
understanding of species tolerances and life cycles can
be applied to predict the risks associated with alien
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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

As alien species are primarily introduced via human
activities either intentionally or unintentionally, documenting
the human attitudes and perceptions towards alien species
could be important research. For example, aquaria and pet
stores play a fundamental role in shaping attitudes related to
exotic fish. Understanding how these actors view the threat
of exotic species, regulations, and potential environmental
impacts is a critical step to reducing the introduction of
exotic species into the environment. Similar research on
sport fishermen could help reduce the threat from bait fish
introductions. Research on institutional and intergroup
relationships will also help ensure that managers are
targeting the appropriate groups and that their message is
positively received.
Figure 15. Shoreline erosion likely due to storm activity. Photo
General research questions with relevancy to the credit Dave Burdick.
management of invasive species include: What native
species occur in each coral reef ecosystem? What The frequency and severity of coral bleaching events has
is the extent and distribution of existing populations increased over the last 25 years (Reaser et al. 2000; IPCC
of invasive species? What are the likely vectors for 2001a, b; Lackner 2003) and bleaching is considered a
introduction? What ecological factors facilitate successful major threat to coral reef ecosystems (Table 3; Figures
competition with native species, especially for species 16 and 17). Coral bleaching (the process in which a coral
that are known to be outcompeting native species? polyp, under environmental stress, expels its symbiotic
How have anthropogenic or natural changes facilitated zooxanthellae from its body, and appears whitened or
the establishment of invasive populations, and can "bleached") is caused by a multitude of stressors, such
management actions mitigating these changes reduce the as increasing ocean temperatures and extended light
introduction and spread of invasive species? What are the exposure. Predictions call for even greater frequency and
predicted and observed ecological, social, and economic severity of bleaching events over the next 50 years (Reaser
impacts of an established invasive species? What are et al. 2000; IPCC 2001a). There is considerable evidence
the public's perceptions of non-native species and their that global temperature, including seawater temperature,
impacts on coral reefs? has increased substantially over the last century, in large
part, to the burning of fossil fuels (Reaser et al. 2000;
Climate Change IPCC 2001a, b). However, the physiological mechanisms
Climate change, in particular increases in temperature and linking climate change to bleaching and the intra- and
carbon dioxide levels primarily from the burning of fossil inter-species variability in bleaching responses are just
fuels, threatens coral reef ecosystems through increased beginning to be understood (LaJeunesse et al. 2003).
occurrence and severity of coral bleaching and disease For example, little is known about the environmental
events, sea level rise, and storm activity (Figure 15; Smith conditions and mechanisms whereby ultraviolet radiation
and Buddemeier 1992; Hoegh-Guldberg 1999). Climate (UV) and PAR interact with temperature increases to induce
change may also reduce calcification rates in reef-building coral bleaching (Jones et al. 1998; Dunn et al. 2004). Long
organisms by lowering the pH of seawater and reducing term monitoring and research are needed to understand
the availability of carbonate ions (Feely et al. 2004; Kleypas the underlying causes of coral bleaching (Hoegh-Guldberg
et al. 2006). Reduction in calcification rates directly affects 1999), to clarify initial and long-term impacts of coral
the growth of individual corals and the reef's ability to bleaching events, and to identify factors affecting
maintain itself against forces that cause reef erosion, resistance and resilience to coral bleaching. Monitoring
potentially compounding the 'drowning' of reefs caused by of key physical and chemical data in real- and near-real
sea level rise (Hoegh-Guldberg 1999; Schiermeier 2004; time at coral reef sites, including temperature, salinity,
I anndlnn inrl AtVinnn ?nnrl PAR. INV. water clarity. nutrients, and carbon dioxide, is


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure 16. A bleached (A) mountainous star coral colony,
Montastraea faveolata, photographed five months later is shown
to be almost fully recovered from the bleaching event (B). Photo
credit: Andy Bruckner, NOAA Fisheries.

responses (Jones et al. 2000), such as coral bleaching,
algal blooms, and disease events. Research is also needed
to better understand factors that might act synergistically
with elevated seawater temperatures to change predicted
bleaching responses. For example, high exposure to middle
wave UV (or UVB) might lower the seawater temperature
thresholds for predicted bleaching events or increased
water turbulence might increase predicted seawater
thresholds (Dunn et al. 2004).

Long-term records of local sea surface temperatures
from coral cores and other paleoclimatic sources may be
used to place more recent records of bleaching events and
changes in coral communities within a longer temporal
perspective. The effects of longer temporal variability,
including the Pacific Decadal Oscillation/Variability, the
El Niio Southern Oscillation, and other important climate
oscillations, should be examined for their role in climate
change. Other research should delineate and validate
biological impacts of decreased pH on calcifying and non-
calcifying organisms.

Given that managing climate change is beyond the scope
of coral reef managers, effective management of coral
reef ecosystems affected by climate change requires a
better understanding of coral reef ecosystem resiliency.
Coral reef ecosystem resiliency is defined as "the return
of a coral reef ecosystem to a state in which living, reef-
building corals play a prominent functional role, after this
role has been disrupted by a stress or perturbation" (UNEP
1999, p. 2). One management strategy is to mitigate stress


and damage caused by local stressors to improve reef
condition and thus, make the ecosystem less vulnerable to
local, regional, or global bleaching events. Management
actions before, during, and after bleaching events might
also reduce local stressors, thus helping to facilitate
recovery. For example, fisheries management actions
to promote herbivores that reduce algal populations at
overfished sites; boating restrictions to reduce anchor
damage; and shoreline setbacks, greenbelts, and exclusion
zones in areas vulnerable to waves, sea level rise, or
flooding may reduce nutrient and pollutant loads to reefs
and may be beneficial in reducing stressors when corals
are recovering from a bleaching event.

The following questions target climate change research
with significant relevance to management issues: How
much of the variability in bleaching observed within and
among species (and within and among coral reefs) is
explained by environmental patchiness (in temperature,
light, water motion) compared to phenotypic and genotypic
variability in corals and their symbiotic algae? What are
the relative contributions of global, regional, and local
stressors and their interactions to particular ecosystem
responses? What are the most important factors
influencing recovery after coral bleaching events? Does
the addition of human impacts and the fragmentation
of coral reef habitats (affecting gene flow) undermine
coral reef ecosystem resiliency and make them more
susceptible to coral bleaching? What is the relationship
between coral bleaching and non-temperature related
stressors such as light and pollutants? How does climate


Figure 17. (A) A bleached colony of brain coral, Diploria
labyrinthiformis, during the 2005 Caribbean bleaching event,
and (B) a healthy colony of brain coral (Big Point, Lee Stocking
Island, Bahamas). Photo credit: Deborah Gochfeld.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


iange affect coral exposure to these stressors? How


Dlonization of macroalgae, bioeroding sponges, and other
ncrusting invertebrates that inhibit the recruitment of
tony corals. Research is needed to understand and
redict changes resulting from extreme events versus
natural variability.


















figure 18. An abraded and overturned elkhorn coral, Acropora
almata, was detached during a storm. Photo credit: Andy
?ruckner, NOAA Fisheries.


physical impacts of extreme events can persist for
extended periods; for example, strong winds and waves
om hurricanes and storms can directly impact reefs by
)ppling corals, resuspending sediment, and increasing
urbidity. Storms, floods, and droughts also affect coral
3ef ecosystems by changing inputs of freshwater and
associated nutrient, sediment, and chemical pollutants.
hurricane and severe storm forecasting capabilities have
vastly improved in recent years, but coastal communities
re still unsure how to best reduce and mitigate the
amage that these storms produce. To help fill this
eed, researchers should forecast expected coral reef
cosystem changes resulting from extreme abiotic events.
researchers also need to better understand how extreme
vents influence human use and protection of coral reef
cosystems. For example, if a hurricane damages or
destroys particular reef areas on which tourist and fishing
activities depend, do the impacts of these activities shift
) other reefs, thereby negatively impacting coral areas
ot directly damaged by the storm? Understanding the use
patterns and decision-making processes of stakeholders
an help managers proactively protect critical coral
3ef areas.

understanding and forecasting how population outbreaks
nd die-offs affect coral reef ecosystems, and how those
vents affect change if other stressors are present, are
their critical management needs. The long-spined black
Da urchin (Diadema antillarum) die-off in the 1980s
nd COTS (Acanthasterplanci) outbreaks are examples
f unanticipated biotic events with far-reaching impacts
n coral reef ecosystems (Figures 19 and 20). In 1983,
searchers documented an unprecedented Caribbean-
tide die-off of the urchin Diadema antillarum (Lessios
t al. 1984; Lessios 1995). The Diadema die-off
resulted in a reduction in grazing pressure and has been
nplicated in the increase in fleshy algal cover on coral
3efs where herbivorous fishes had been overfished. The
occurrences of COTS outbreaks have been documented
then environmental conditions favor larval settlement
nd have resulted in the sudden occurrence of large
umbers of COTS on extensive coral reef areas [note: the
reat Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority defines active
utbreaks as areas with more than 30 adult COTS per
ectare (Engelhardt 1997; Fraser et al. 2000)]. While COTS
utbreaks are a natural occurrence, increased nutrients
nd exploitation of natural predators may favor larval and
ivenile COTS.


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figures 19. A crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci,
outbreak along a reef track in Guam. Photo credit: Dave Burdick.


Figure 20. A crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, shown
feeding on a soft coral, Sinularia polydactyle (Piti Bomb Holes,
Guam). Photo credit: Deborah Gochfeld.


Disease in corals and associated organisms has
dramatically increased in frequency and distribution over
the last decade, contributing to unprecedented decreases
in live coral and altering the function and productivity
of coral reef ecosystems (Figure 21). In the Caribbean,
white-band disease has been implicated as the principal
cause of mass mortalities of elkhorn coral (Acropora
palmata) and staghorn coral (A. cervicornis), with
losses of 80 to 95% accompanied by an ecological phase
shift from a coral-dominated to algal-dominated reef
(Aronson and Precht 2001). Some evidence suggests that
stress may increase susceptibility to disease. There is
also a possible relationship between disease and climate
change, as pathogenic organisms are often most virulent


at increased seawater temperatures. The potential
relationship between anthropogenic stressors and disease
suggests that the emergence of disease as a major factor
causing high levels of coral mortality is relatively new,
and management strategies targeted towards reductions
in other stressors (e.g., land-based pollutants) may reduce
the likelihood of disease outbreaks. Thus, research is
needed to examine the underlying causes) of disease in
coral reef ecosystems, the mechanisms of infection, and
the relationship between disease and stress. In addition,
research is needed on the basic biology and physiology of
corals to serve as a baseline for coral health and disease
investigations and to better distinguish between disease
and natural changes (e.g., growth and reproduction).

Beginning in March 2000, the Coral Disease and Health
Consortium was established through an interagency
partnership between NOAA, EPA, and the U.S. Department
of the Interior (DOI), with involvement by over 50 domestic
and international partner institutions, to provide a
comprehensive approach to understand and address
the effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors on
corals. The Coral Disease and Health: A National
Research Plan identifies three major research priorities:
1) standardize terminology, monitoring protocols,
collection techniques, reporting standards, and laboratory
protocols to provide a consistent, integrated body of
scientific information; 2) define baseline measurements
of coral health and vitality, examine occurrences of
disease, and determine the causes and effects of
declines in coral health; and 3) investigate the effects of
anthropogenic, environmental, and climatic stressors on
coral health (NOAA 2003a). Additional priorities were
the dissemination of technical information and practical
diagnostic tools to improve the ability of managers and
scientists to evaluate, track, predict, and manage coral
diseases; and improved multidisciplinary collaborations and
cross-disciplinary training for scientists and managers.

The following management-relevant questions target
extreme events in coral reef ecosystems: To what extent
and by what mechanism is disease affected by other
factors, such as temperature, light, sediment, nutrients,
and pollutants (and in what combinations)? How many
different diseases significantly affect coral reef ecosystems
and what are their etiologies? Is there variability in
susceptibility and resistance to disease observed within
and among species (and within and among reefs)? If so,
what are the roles played by environmental patchiness
(in temperature, light, water motion) and phenotypic or




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure 21. Images of diseased corals. (A) A colony of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, with white band disease (Pajaro Reef, Mona
Island, Puerto Rico, 2003). (B) A colony of mountainous star coral, Montastraea faveolata, with yellow band disease (Carmelita Reef
Mona Island, Puerto Rico, 2006). (C) A colony of mountainous star coral with black band disease (Mujeres Wall, Mona Island, Puerto
Rico, 2006). Photo credit: Andy Bruckner, NOAA Fisheries.


genotypic variability (related to coral defense mechanisms
and immune systems)? What are the most important
factors influencing recovery after coral disease epizootics
(i.e., an outbreak of disease affecting many animals of one
kind at the same time)? What is the relationship between
the loss of live coral and the condition of reef-dependent
fisheries? What is the relationship between extreme
events and the use of different reef resources? Are local
agencies structured to address the management and
information needs associated with extreme events? How
do changing quantities of runoff, the timing of extreme
events, and the nature and extent of resulting physical
damages affect coral reef ecosystems?

TECHNOLOGY SUPPORTING RESEARCH
AND MANAGEMENT
Essential components of this Research Plan are the
technologies, tools, and techniques used to carry out
the research and management objectives. Every day,
scientists employ numerous technologies to better
understand the world. Many of these technologies are
essential to a scientist's ability to view, measure, assess,
and evaluate the environment and yet, Federal planning
and investment in technology research and development
has remained unchanged for the past decade (USCNS
2001; USCOP 2004). It is the purpose of this section to


identify technology research and development priorities for
improving the monitoring, research, and management of
coral reef ecosystems.


Figure 22. Scuba diver cleans marine growth off of NOAA's
Aquarius, an underwater laboratory located in 64 ft. of water
at the base of a coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary. Aquarius provides a special diving capability, called
saturation diving, which allows scientists to work out on the reef
up to nine hours a day, compared to one hour if they had to work
from the surface. Photo credit: NOAA's Undersea Research
Program Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.


U




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Although many technologies are currently available,
improvements are needed. Research and management
of coral reef ecosystems could be aided by a national
effort to develop low cost technologies for use by
resource managers and scientists (Crosby et al. 1996);
to disseminate existing engineering and oceanographic
concepts or models; and to develop new tools
and techniques.


Figure 23. An advanced scuba diver This diver is carrying four
cylinders: two in front (filled with oxygen and mixed gases)
and two on his back (filled with air or mixed gases). Advanced
diving techniques allow divers to extend the depth limit and
bottom time per dive to significantly increase the undersea
areas where self-contained wet-diving scientists can make
first hand observations, take fine measurements, and conduct
experiments. NOAA and its university partners are working to
establish diving procedures to extend the safe diving depth limit
for scientists from 130 ft. to 300 ft. Photo credit: Doug Kesling,
NOAA's Undersea Research Program Center at the University of
North Carolina Wilmington.


Priorities for research and development include
technologies that:

improve in situ observations, monitoring, and
measuring of coral reef condition and change
including: developing low cost chemical and
biological sensors that provide resource
managers with an "early warning" on declines
in environmental condition; improving rapid
assessment techniques; developing habitat
characterization and sea bed classification
schemes, which incorporate management-relevant
criteria; advancing diving techniques to enable
scientists to spend more time underwater (Figures
22 and 23), including the next generation of
underwater laboratories (Figure 22); developing
remotely operated observatories and supporting
technologies (e.g., in situ sensors, satellite
imagery) to allow for observations of remote coral
reefs, including monitoring remote coral reefs
for unauthorized fishing; assessing populations
and behavior using non-traditional means (e.g.,
stereo video and passive acoustics technologies)
by developing new non-destructive, fishery-
independent approaches; developing alternative
methods to erecting seawalls to mitigate
coastline changes; developing algorithms to
interpret acoustic and optical remote sensing data
for improving the accuracy (>90%) of large island
maps; and developing expert computer systems
that analyze collected data and provide the results
in a format understandable to decision-makers.
improve the understanding of factors influencing
coral reef ecosystem dynamics and change,
including developing predictive models or
forecasts of ecosystem condition that incorporate
management-relevant criteria, and ecosystem
response to natural events (e.g., storms, floods)
or anthropogenic impacts (e.g., eutrophication,
sewage discharges).
avoid and minimize impacts to coral reef
ecosystems by providing resource managers with
guidance concerning BMPs and developing new
fishing technologies and gear.
minimize adverse impacts of aquaculture to
the environment and wild stocks by developing
criteria for aquaculture facility site-selection,
permissible discharges, and environmental impact
assessments (NOAA 1998).




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


improve the ability to grow and reproduce coral
reef ecosystem species in captivity to reduce
pressure from the aquarium industry on natural
stocks and to be used for habitat restoration,
including improving the understanding of natural
inducers for spawning and larval settlement.
develop biotechnological techniques to improve
the understanding of complex biochemical
systems.
minimize environmental impacts during the
research and development of new marine-derived
drugs and commercial products.
improve the management of coral reef ecosystems
by using networks of MPAs and establishing
drivers for particular human uses of reef
ecosystems, including ensuring that incentives
exist for environmentally-sustainable alternatives.
develop coral restoration techniques.

Marine Protected Areas
A MPA is an area of the marine environment that
has been reserved by Federal, state, territorial,
commonwealth, tribal, or local laws and/or regulations
to provide lasting protection for part or all of the
natural and cultural resources therein (E.O. 13158,
May 26, 2000). A MPA can have various levels of
protection, from no-take reserves to multiple-use areas
that may allow fishing or other uses and extractive
activities, and may include multiple zones with
different protection levels across this spectrum. There
are many examples of MPAs in the U.S. (Figure 24),
including national parks, national marine sanctuaries
(Figure 25), national wildlife refuges (NWR), fisheries


Figure 24. A marine protected area (Tumon Bay, Guam). Photo
credit: Dave Burdick.


Figure 25. Glassy sweepers, Pempheris schomburgkii, and a
stand of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata (Florida Keys). Photo
credit: NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

closures, habitat areas of particular concern, and state
parks. MPAs with common purposes or contributions
to common goals can function as networks to protect
specific species and their linked habitats across
geographic scales and conditions.

MPAs and MPA networks are considered essential
components of marine ecosystem management (NRC 2001).
On May 26, 2000, President William Jefferson Clinton
issued E.O. 13158: Marine Protected Areas, which set
forth policies to strengthen the management, protection,
and conservation of existing MPAs and establish new or
expanded MPAs. E.O. 13158 also directed NOAA and
DOI to work with other Federal agencies and consult
with states, territories, commonwealths, tribes, and the
public to develop a scientifically-based, comprehensive
national system of MPAs. In September 2006, NOAA, in
concert with DOI and various stakeholders, released a draft
framework in the Federal Register that outlines guidance
to develop the national system of marine protected areas
(MPAs) in the U.S. (NOAA 2006a).
While the use of MPAs and MPA networks as
resource management tools has grown significantly
in recent decades, there is still substantial scientific
investigation needed to better understand the
appropriate design, size, number, and siting
characteristics that ensure their effective use.
Research focusing on the development of criteria
for MPA and MPA network design, including the
size, location, connectivity among MPAs, and their
ecological and socioeconomic impacts, is needed.
Growing scientific and observational evidence


U




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


indicates that no-take marine reserves may increase
the health and abundance of corals, reef fishes, and
other reef-associated species within these sites.
However, targeted research is required to better
understand the effect of no-take reserves on resources,
particularly outside of reserve boundaries (e.g.,
spillover effects and enhanced reproduction output
[Sladek Nowlis and Friedlander 2005]). MPAs do
not protect all species equally; for example, animals
that move long distances relative to the size of the
MPA receive less protection. Nevertheless, mounting
scientific evidence shows that MPAs can increase coral
reef fish and invertebrate abundance and biomass
because protection from fishing allows animals to live
longer and grow larger. This has been hypothesized
to increase the export of larvae and coral reef
ecosystem resilience, although few research projects
or monitoring programs address these issues directly.
Additionally, there is a need to oceanographically
characterize MPAs to enable calculation of larval
drift and to better understand migration pathways for
better site-selection of MPAs. Research should also
be conducted to determine the effects of long-term de
facto MPAs (e.g., marine waters within military zones,
security zones, harbors, and airports) on surrounding
fished areas.

The human dimension of MPAs is critical to the
success of planning, development, management, and
monitoring of MPAs and MPA networks. Historically,
most research on MPAs has focused on natural
science; however, recent studies have shown that
social factors, as much as or more than biological or
physical factors, determine the success of a MPA. In
establishing and managing MPAs, managers need to
understand how the areas may impact the people who
use them, and how users, in turn, impact those areas
and non-MPA areas. Social science research is needed
to fill information gaps and help MPA programs identify
and consider important issues, such as public attitudes
and perceptions, relationships between and among
uses and users of the marine environment, impacts of
MPAs on the character of communities, and direct and
indirect economic impacts of MPAs over time.

General research questions related to the
effective application of MPAs and MPA networks
as management tools of coral reef ecosystems
include: How do location, size, and oceanographic


processes influence MPA function and efficiency in
terms of meeting both biophysical and socio-cultural
objectives? Where and what level of protection is
needed for MPAs to enhance the resilience of coral
reef ecosystems, improve fish stocks, and manage
risk associated with multiple stressors? What factors
affect and enhance the recovery of exploited species
within no-take reserves and how long does it take
to see a response for economically and ecologically
important species? What are the spillover effects
(e.g., export of larvae and fish) from reserves to MPAs
and MPA networks? What are the effects of MPAs
and MPA networks on commercially or recreationally
harvested species inside and outside MPA boundaries?
What socioeconomic factors enhance support for and
compliance with rules and regulations associated with
MPAs by fishers and/or other stakeholders? What
factors associated with the processes to design and
establish MPAs have the most significant effect on
acceptance of MPAs by the public? What impediments
exist to adding more MPAs? What ecosystem impacts
and benefits are provided by different MPA access
restrictions? How can fish spawning aggregations be
used in the design of MPAs and MPA networks? How
can local knowledge and social capital be utilized to
improve MPA acceptance and long-term effectiveness?

Habitat Restoration
The dramatic and widespread loss and alteration of
coral reefs have generated discussion about replacing
what was lost or accelerating the rate of recovery


Figure 26. A diver prepares to reattach an elkhorn coral
fragment, Acropora palmata, in response to the Fortuna Reefer
grounding (Mona Island, Puerto Rico, 1997). Photo credit: Erik
Zobrist, NOAA Restoration Center




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure 27. Staghorn coral fragments, Acropora cervicornis, are attached to a wire frame as part of a restoration effort at the M/T
Margara grounding site off Guayanilla Bay, Puerto Rico. This staghorn coral nursery shows rapid growth after one month as
evidenced by the new branches. Photo credit: Andy Bruckner, NOAA Fisheries.


from damage. Restoration is defined as the "return
of an ecosystem to a close approximation of its
condition prior to disturbance" (NRC 1992, p.11). Most
projects aim to restore the ecosystem to its condition
prior to the disturbance, but in many cases recovery
converges on a community that is different from its
pre-disturbance state (Aronson and Swanson 1997).

The science behind coral reef ecosystem restoration
is still in its infancy. The few restoration efforts that
have occurred to date have been relatively small-
scale responses to physical damage from vessel
groundings, anchorings, dredging, and other coastal
development activities. These emergency restoration
efforts have included righting and reattachment
of displaced and broken coral (Figure 26), and the
removal of coral rubble. Some of these restoration
efforts have used underwater cements and other
substrates in combination with creative engineering to
repair structural fractures (e.g., obliterated spurs and
holes caused by large propeller excavations) and to
stabilize rubble. To date, very few restoration efforts
have addressed the living component of the coral
reef ecosystem, with the exception of transplanting
fragments (Figure 27) or cementing dislodged corals
back in place.


One example of a resource injury documentation and
small-scale restoration process is in the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). Vessel groundings
in the FKNMS have damaged over 30,000 acres and pose
a major threat to coral reefs and seagrass beds (FKNMS
1997). Depending on the extent of the injury, a vessel
grounding in the FKNMS can initiate a sequence of
events that includes injury assessment, emergency triage
(i.e., emergency righting and reattachment of displaced
or broken corals, and stabilization of the substrate),
possible litigation between the natural resource trustee
agency and the responsible party or parties responsible
for the damage, and a detailed damage assessment and
restoration project (Precht et al. 2003). NOAA has a strong
legal mandate through the National Marine Sanctuaries
Act (16 U.S.C.1443) and the Natural Resource Damage
Assessments rule (15 C.F.R. 990) to recover losses of
natural resources and their services from the responsible
party, including compensation to restore damaged
resources and compensation for lost services from the
time that the damages occurred until the resources have
recovered based on an established economic process to
calculate damages. This includes collection of a monetary
damage claim to restore the damaged resources as
closely as possible to their pre-injury condition (primary
restoration), and to replace the services lost over time from


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

the injury (compensatory restoration) (Shutler et al. 2006). include an examination of different institutional factors
It does not include conducting research on how to restore driving both the use and protection of coral reef
coral reef ecosystems. In 1994, $3.76 million was paid as ecosystems. Study of local attitudes and perceptions
a settlement for destruction of 345 m2 of reef area due to regarding habitat conservation efforts could also be
a ship grounding. The recovered funds were applied to important to the long-term success of restoration and
primary and compensatory restoration, including monitoring conservation efforts.
of the restoration site (NOAA 1999).
Management-relevant questions pertaining to habitat
Prior to undertaking restoration, it is important to verify restoration include: What do monitoring results from
that the factors responsible for the original loss are existing restoration projects, compared to results from
not still present; the area of interest has the capacity undamaged coral reefs, tell us about community processes
to be restored; and clear restoration project goals, a that are important for recovery, such as coral reproductive
measurable endpoint, and parameters for measuring biology, coral recruitment, algal growth, links between
achievement have been identified. Additionally, the coral health/habitat provision and fish populations,
project design may need to be altered during the resistance to perturbations, and coral reef ecosystem
restoration process in light of new information or resilience? What techniques, if any, significantly enhance
problems (i.e., adaptive management). It is important the rate and trajectory of recovery to predamaged condition
to note that despite localized efforts to curtail or some other defined restoration goal? How do physical
degradation (Patterson et al. 2002; Szmant 2002; oceanographic processes, both large-scale (km) and small-
Wilkinson 2002; Turgeon et al. 2002; Gardner et al. scale (m), facilitate or hinder recovery and restoration
2003; Lang 2003; Pandolfi et al. 2005), in general, coral efforts? Are instituted management actions preventing
reef loss is ongoing unabated. This loss suggests vessels from striking previously damaged areas? Do
a broader consideration of global processes (such existing policies and institutional arrangements lead
as the effects of expanding human demands on to desired restoration outcomes? What institutional/
the environment) might be necessary in coral reef socioeconomic factors impede the implementation of
restoration efforts. restoration efforts?

Hypothesis-driven research is needed to evaluate TRANSFERRING SCIENCEAND TECHNOLOGY
and improve coral reef ecosystem restoration efforts INTO OPERATIONS
including criteria development for determining when Coral reef ecosystems will benefit from the research
restoration is a viable option and assessing the conducted and supported by NOAA and other organizations
socioeconomic costs and benefits of restoration and only if that research is transferred into operations by
its alternatives; the development and comparative management authorities in a timely manner. NOAA relies
evaluation of restoration techniques, including on research results to develop management actions based
the examination of both unimpacted controls and on sound science to fulfill its statutory and regulatory
impacted/unrestored controls; the experimental responsibilities. Thus, data should be analyzed and
testing of the efficacy of different restoration options; disseminated to resource managers quickly. Too often,
and quantifiable measurements of restoration project data collection is completed, but it is years before the
success. Long-term monitoring programs to measure information is shared, and by then the information
the success of a restoration project should incorporate is outdated.
an experimental design and be based on hypothesis-
driven questions. The development of models that End-to-end research planning outlines the path for
predict resource recovery with and without restoration the transfer of new technologies, research results,
may also guide decisions on where and when and advances in observation systems into improved
to intervene. operational capabilities. This transition is achieved
through close collaboration between researchers and
Social science research related to habitat restoration service delivery professionals at all phases of the research
and protection should investigate the factors driving and development process. Frequent exchange between
suooort for or oooosition to such efforts. This could M..n.no r .on. kh ... ,; on., n +kh+ +k, Arl;+;




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

of research is adjusted to address solutions to OUTREACHAND EDUCATION: TRANSLATING
management problems. RESEARCH, IMPROVING MANAGEMENT
Outreach and education are processes used to increase
As indicated in NOAA's Five-year Research Plan (p. 8): public awareness, appreciation, knowledge, and
"One tool for enabling the transition of research understanding about coral reef issues in order to promote
to operational use is the testbed. Testbeds informed decision-making and increase stakeholder support
provide the research community a setting to work in reef conservation. Strategic outreach is a critical and
directly with NOAA's operational elements through underutilized component of effective management, and is
established testing and evaluation protocols with an important step in the science-to-management linkage.
clearly defined goals and decision points for cost- Just as scientists and managers should collaborate to
effective and rapid transition of new research and develop research that supports the information needs
technologies into routine operations. With the of managers, outreach specialists can help identify and
goal of accelerating infusion of technology and achieve tenable management solutions supported by
research results into operations, testbeds provide the public.
the opportunity to address the following:
Socioeconomic research can also elucidate impacts to coral
System design studies for the global observing reef ecosystems by providing an understanding of human
system network. motivations, which is critical information for policymakers,
SAssessing scientific breakthroughs and new managers, and outreach specialists. Accordingly,
Assessing scientific breakthroughs and new
techniques to identify advanced analysis socioeconomic research works hand-in-hand with outreach
techniques, numerical forecast models and efforts to inform managers and policymakers of probable
techniques, numerical forecast models and
methods, observational systems, and climate- responses to management strategies and policy measures.
water-weather linkages having potential for Outreach and socioeconomic studies can also determine
significantly improving forecasts, mid-course if the public is responding as anticipated to a
management measure or if further outreach and feedback
Using advanced statistical and numerical mechanisms are needed. In this sense, outreach activities
weather prediction model output (especially depend on social science research examining multi-
model ensemble information) and stimulating stakeholder processes and the institutional arrangements
further model enhancements. necessary to successfully manage coral reef ecosystems.
Refining computer-based models, products,
and observations in a quasi-operational
information technology environment subject Goals of integrating research, management, and
to metrics that mandate good scientific outreach to improve effectiveness:
performance while meeting ease-of-use, Promote public awareness of the status and
reliability, and operational criteria, importance of reefs, and foster a stewardship ethic.
Developing enhanced verification capabilities. Translate scientific research into information about
Exploring societal impacts resulting from the condition of coral reefs and the rationale for
improved products and services." management decisions that the public can access
and use.
Transferring science and technology into operations includes
developing methods for managers to conduct social impact Improve effectiveness and responsiveness of
analyses; evaluating alternative management options; and management through information-sharing and two-way
developing information technology to support management dalogues that promote agency understanding of public
decisions, such as data visualization techniques and values related to coral reef ecosystems, and how and
geographic information systems (GIS). Social science why stakeholders use coral reefs.
research analyzing the use and evaluation of science and Build public support for management initiatives.
technology is also critical to management efforts and should
include assessing the appropriate delivery mechanisms for
technical information.


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure 28. Youth learn about sea stars in a hands-on education
program in the Bahamas. Photo credit: Staff Photographer,
Perry Institute of Marine Science.

Management effectiveness can be directly proportional to
public support for a given initiative. For example, a MPA
is unlikely to be successful if commercial and recreational
resource users do not support or understand the underlying
need for the MPA. Accordingly, management initiatives
benefit from the broad support of the range of coral reef
ecosystem users. Outreach activities should be designed
to encourage this broad support and involvement, and to
solicit feedback. For outreach to be most effective, the
information needs and motivations of stakeholders should
be considered at all stages of the research-to-management
process, from program design to implementation to
performance measurement. Social science research should
focus on characterizing the social, cultural, economic, and
institutional environments linked to particular reef systems
to allow for the development of outreach initiatives
targeting specific public concerns and perceptions related
to reef management.

Effective planning and coordination of national, regional,
and local outreach initiatives are also imperative. Outreach


plans should consider the initial and future receptiveness
to conservation goals by competing interest groups, and
then develop locally- and culturally-appropriate programs
that work with communities to facilitate the long-term
success of resource management. Outreach activities
should stem from and be tailored to an understanding
of the motivations and needs of those impacted by
management programs. This end-to-end integration
of research, management, and outreach may decrease
the need for enforcement and restoration activities, and
encourage improved stakeholder behavior and participation
in the management process.

Wherever possible, full integration of outreach and
management strategies should be encouraged and
supported by effective research. This integration is guided
by the need for increased translation of scientific findings
into initiatives that build public support for management
goals. Outreach activities should work in tandem with
research and management to cause behavioral changes
through science-based information.

Established and well-documented social science tools
include focus groups, opinion polling, baseline and
comparative surveys of public values and awareness, as
well as participatory research and planning and citizen
advisory groups. NOAA's use of polling and survey
work is somewhat constrained, and applying these
techniques requires training in social science methods,
as well as sound information on the human, social, and
economic environments in which management activities
are occurring. Therefore, research is needed to define
additional ways with which to measure outreach activities
and the impact of outreach on management effectiveness.

Examples of outreach activities include encouraging
sustainable behavior through skills-building workshops
and training programs with constituents; providing access
and orientation to current research findings and data
through information transfer tools like NOAA's Coral
Reef Information System; developing and distributing
educational materials and displays; fostering community
involvement in conservation and restoration projects; and
hosting two-way discussions with stakeholders to improve
mutual understanding of resource needs and management
goals. Social marketing initiatives, which use traditional
marketing methods of public communication to promote
sustainable behavior, have also proven quite effective.
Marketing expertise can help outreach specialists and




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

managers develop information materials that the public .
can recognize. Public service announcements on radio and I t "
television, billboards, materials placed in hotels and on
flights into coral reef areas represent potential options for
communicating with the public.

Emphasis should be placed on encouraging effective two-
way communication and information-sharing between
managers and various stakeholder groups. Successful
projects will support local management-to-outreach
integration through effective planning and implementation,
and should involve key stakeholders throughout the
process as appropriate. Constituents are more likely to
respond favorably to management and enforcement if they
understand, have been able to anticipate, and can continue
to be involved with conservation programs, becoming
active hands and resources for change rather than being
isolated through non-inclusive management processes.

Formal and informal education initiatives are also
encouraged where appropriate. Youth education is
increasingly recognized as critical to building lifelong
environmental literacy and stewardship and as a precursor
to a diverse workforce for future generations (Figures
28 and 29; USCOP 2004). Developing partnerships with
schools and educational and community organizations can Figure 29. Georgetown Police Youth Summer Camp provides
the opportunity for local youth to learn about the sea and its
maximize limited educational resources and encourage creatures through the use of a touch tank (Bahamas). Photo
stewardship throughout the community through service credit: Staff Photographer, Perry Institute of Marine Science.
learning projects and other initiatives involving parents
and others in the process of student learning. Educational
programs should focus on translating the latest research
into activities that help students understand the living and
evolving nature of science and the need for scientists from
diverse backgrounds. Finally, training for educators in the
use of coral reef science and education materials is critical
to ensuring the effectiveness of education programs.
Educators involved with even one-time professional
development workshops are many times more likely to
use materials and encourage student awareness and
stewardship than those who are simply handed materials
without hands-on orientation (Fortner and Corney 2002).











U1




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Part II: Regional Research Priorities






















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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Jurisdiction-Wide Research Needs

Broad overarching research needs that apply to all jurisdictions (except where noted) are based on the discussion in Part
I of this Plan and are presented below. Research needs that are specific to a jurisdiction are detailed under the sections
entitled Jurisdiction-Specific Research Needs.

RESEARCH SUPPORTING MANAGEMENT

Fishing


ALL JURISDICTIONS FISHING


Management Objective Research Need


Conserve and manage
fisheries to prevent
overfishing, rebuild
stocks, and minimize
destructive fishing.


Determine the population status of managed reef species using fishery dependent and independent programs.


Determine the level of fishing pressure and the distribution of effort for subsistence, recreational, and commercial fisheries,
and the impact of these activities on fisheries resources and coral reef habitats.


Determine the effects of habitat degradation and loss of coral on fish community structure and stability.


Determine the effects of various fisheries (gear and techniques) on coral reef ecosystems, including physical impacts on
habitat, trophic effects, and incidental catch; and identify alternatives to minimize impacts.


Determine the effectiveness of fishery management actions, including size limits and seasonal closures.


Determine the current status and locations of reef fish spawning aggregations.


Characterize fish movements and habitat utilization patterns of different life stages to assist in the identification of essential
fish habitat.


Characterize the life histories of important fish species and their movement patterns within and among different habitats.


Characterize recruitment patterns for commercially and ecologically important species.


Quantify fish community structure including size, diversity, and abundance among reefs and across multiple habitat types.


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Pollution


ALL JURISDICTIONS POLLUTION


Management Objective Research Need


Reduce the impacts of
pollutants on coral reef
ecosystems by improving
the understanding of their
effects.


Ascertain pollutant loads, their primary sources, flow rates, and transport pathways, and net flow rate (flux) to coral reef
communities.


Determine atmospheric deposition rates and concentrations of pollutants on coral reefs.


Identify the components) in air samples from dust sources (e.g., Africa and Gobi Desert) and downwind sites that are
toxic to coral reef organisms.



Identify target concentration loading rates and develop bioindicators for pollutants to detect organismal and ecosystem
stress at sublethal levels.


Develop and test indicators for land-based pollutants and prioritize their use in environmental and injury assessments.


Identify, evaluate, and track anthropogenic activity through the use of biogeochemical and biological tracers, and
indicator organisms.



Investigate algal community dynamics in response to pollutant level changes to determine their utility as an indicator of
future changes in coral reefs.


Investigate microbial organisms as indicators of nutrient, sediment, and chemical pollutants in coral reef ecosystems.



Integrate current biological monitoring techniques with water quality monitoring data to assess potential affects of
water quality on various habitat types and associated organisms.


Quantify, characterize, and prioritize the land-based sources of pollution that need to be addressed based on identified
Improve water quality impacts to coral reefs and develop strategies to eliminate, reduce, and mitigate these impacts.
Improve water quality
by reducing land-based
pollutant inputs and impacts
on coral reef ecosystems. Evaluate changes in water quality to determine the success of management actions to reduce sediment, nutrient, and
chemical pollutants and other factors that degrade water quality.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Coastal Uses


ALL JURISDICTIONS COASTAL USES


Management Objective Research Need

Quantify and characterize, both spatially and temporally, threats from commercial and recreational non-extractive
activities and the impact of these activities on coral reef ecosystems, and develop strategies to eliminate, reduce, and/
or mitigate these impacts.

Develop scientific criteria to determine the carrying capacity of the reef ecosystem, and determine the level of
recreational use (e.g., diving, snorkeling, and boating) that specific areas can support.

Reduce the impacts from Design and conduct demonstration projects to evaluate science-based management options for improving shoreline
reuce te impact stability, while maintaining coral reef ecosystem functions.
recreational use, industry,
coastal development, and
maritime vessels on coral Identify and apply biological indicators toward quantification and characterization of impacts associated with coastal uses.
reef ecosystems.
Develop new technologies, construction practices, and management measures to eliminate, reduce, and/or mitigate
impacts from coastal uses.

Conduct research to better understand the economic and social factors of the human dimension and their impact on
coral reef ecosystems.

Quantify and track vessel discharges, spills, and anchor damage, and their impacts on coral reef ecosystems; and
recommend mitigation measures.

Acroporids

Identify the historical and current distribution of acroporids, compile this into a GIS database, and analyze spatial
changes and relationships with physical, environmental, and anthropogenic factors.

Assess (region-wide) the abundance and condition of acroporids incorporating colony size and counts per unit area of
the different life stages (i.e., colonies, fragments, and new recruits).


Evaluate the efficacy of measures to reduce anthropogenic stressors (including sedimentation, pollution, eutrophication,
climate change, overfishing, and ship groundings) in enhancing recovery of existing populations of acroporids and
Protect, conserve, and promoting sexual recruitment.
enhance the recovery of
protected, threatened, and
other key species. Evaluate the effects of storms and other natural stressors (e.g., coral predators) on the destruction and recovery of coral
populations, and determine how anthropogenic disturbances may affect these natural processes.
Research needs related
to acroporids are for the
Atlantic Ocean only. Evaluate the costs and benefits of various acroporid restoration strategies at promoting recovery of degraded
populations, including efforts to reseed areas with larvae, optimal reattachment methods for fragments, and strategies
to treat colonies affected by disease, predators, and other natural stressors.


Identify microbial communities associated with diseased and healthy acroporid colonies; identify how these microbial
communities change spatially, temporally, and undervarying environmental conditions; and determine relationships
between these communities and the health and mortality of colonies.


Characterize the genetic structure and conduct demographic modeling of acroporid populations to predict population
response to future disturbances and stresses encompassing a range of spatial and temporal scales.


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


ALL JURISDICTIONS


Management Objective


Assess the extent and condition of de
habitat.
Manage coral reef
ecosystems and their uses in
a holistic manner.
Expand ecological and taxonomic und
groups, such as sponges, octocorals,
and microbial diversity.



Invasih
I I


COASTAL USES


Research Need


vater hermatypic coral reef ecosystems and their importance as essential fish




ending of functionally important, but understudied, coral reef ecosystem
jsks, polychaetes, crustaceans, echinoderms, tunicates, seagrasses, algae,



Species

1


Management Objective Research Need



Identify possible vectors and pathways of alien introductions and develop prevention measures, where applicable.

Minimize the introduction
and spread of alien species.

Determine the threat and impact of hull fouling and ballast water as mechanisms for introducing and dispersing
invasive species.




Quantify the presence and evaluate the impact of invasive species on coral reef ecosystems.





Establish protocols for early detection and eradication of invasive species.
Control or eradicate invasive
species that have the
potential to cause damage to
coral reef ecosystems. .
Develop methods to mitigate impacts of invasive species on coral reef ecosystems and evaluate the efficacy of these
methods.




Develop and evaluate methods to monitor, contain, and sterilize ballast water to prevent introduction of invasive species
to coral reef ecosystems.




_NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Climate Change

ALL JURISDICTIONS CLIMATE CHANGE

Management Objective Research Need

Bleaching of Coral Reef Organisms

Assess the spatial and temporal scales of bleaching of coral reef organisms during identified bleaching events.

Quantify the relationships between severity of bleaching events and mortality including factors that exacerbate
bleaching impacts or confer resistance and resilience.

Quantify the socioeconomic impacts of coral bleaching events on user groups and the economy and investigate user
group perceptions of coral bleaching events.
Identify factors and their thresholds that cause coral bleaching (including physical parameters, environmental factors,
and anthropogenic stressors) and investigate interactions between factors and the severity of bleaching events and the
ability of corals to recover from bleaching.
Identify the potential for coral reefs to adapt to future bleaching events through changes in clades of zooxanthellae in
individual species and shifts in taxonomic composition of symbiotic organisms.

Develop early warning systems for coral reef bleaching based on known or predicted relationships with environmental
factors (e.g., temperature and light) and catastrophic pollution events (e.g., oil spills and toxic discharges).

Develop models to predict long-term impacts to coral reef ecosystems from coral bleaching events and climate change
Minimize the effects of incorporating relationships with environmental and anthropogenic stressors.
climate change on coral reef
ecosystems. Calcification
ecosystems.
Investigate variations in rates of coral calcification among species, temporally and spatially, and within different life
stages, and how those variations may affect survivorship.
Investigate how differing levels of atmospheric CO2 will affect ocean pH, carbonate saturation state, and coral
calcification and growth rates.

Quantify the effects of temperature, pH, and aragonite saturation state on calcification, reproduction, and recruitment.

Measure biogenic CaCO, production, seawater chemistry, CaCO, dissolution and accumulation, bioerosion, and off-shelf
export of CaCO to improve the accounting of coral reef carbonate budgets and predict how reef accretion may change in
the future.
Determine how variations in calcification rates affect associated organisms, food web dynamics, carbon and nutrient
cycling, and ecosystem services.

Examine how reduced saturation states of CaCO, affect rates of bioerosion.

Waves

Determine the relationships among wave energy, coral reef damage, and factors that increase or minimize damage to
reefs and coastal communities.

Determine the effectiveness of management strategies to reduce anthropogenic stressors in mitigating the severity of
Mitigate the impacts from bleaching.
climate change on coral reef
ecosystems. Evaluate available tools and develop new tools to quantify and mitigate the impacts of climate change on coral reef
ecosystems.
Quantify organism and ecosystem responses to climate change and determine their relationships with stressors and
Predict the future pertinent physical, biological, and chemical parameters.
composition and condition
Sco nd i Examine the impacts of past climate fluctuations on coral community structure.
of coral reefs under various
climate change scenarios
Develop tools to detect and describe decadal changes in relation to natural and anthropogenic disturbances.


M




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Extreme Events


ALL JURISDICTIONS EXTREME EVENTS


Management Objective Research Need


Identify and reduce the
incidence of disease in coral
reef ecosystems.


Determine temporal and spatial variations in disease prevalence among reef-building coral species across habitats,
depths, and varying distances from land and their relationships with environmental factors and anthropogenic stressors.


Quantify the rates and extent of partial and whole colony mortality from diseases, the effect of partial mortality on
individual colonies (e.g., effect on reproduction and growth), and long-term impacts on affected coral reef ecosystems.



In the event of a major die-off of corals resulting from disease, quantify the ecological and socioeconomic impacts.



Identify external sources of pathogens (e.g., human sewage and dust) and disease vectors and quantify their distribution
and abundance.


Determine the distribution, abundance, and impact of diseases affecting other ecologically important benthic coral reef
invertebrates (e.g., sponges and urchins) and fishes.


Identify factors that increase the prevalence and impact of diseases (e.g., toxins, pollutants, sedimentation, temperature,
and biotic agents), including factors and processes that increase the virulence of pathogens, increase host susceptibility
and/or reduce resistance, and contribute to the transmission and spread of diseases.


Identify and characterize the etiology of key coral diseases, including identification of biotic and abiotic causes.


Characterize microbial communities associated with corals and coral mucus; the variations among species, seasons, and
locations; identify factors that cause variations in microflora; and characterize the consequences of these changes to the
host (e.g., shift from a symbiotic association to a disease-causing state).

Develop standardized nomenclature, diagnostic characteristics, standardized field and laboratory methodologies, and
rapid response protocols to enhance the comparability of data, improve capacity to respond to disease outbreaks and
report on findings, and to identify viable management responses.

Develop early warning systems for disease outbreaks based on known or predicted relationships of coral reefs with
environmental factors (e.g., temperature and hurricanes) and catastrophic pollution events (e.g., oil spill and toxic
discharge).

Develop models to forecast long-term effects of disease on population dynamics, community structure, and ecosystem
function incorporating information on biotic agents, environmental factors, and anthropogenic stressors known or
predicted to affect disease prevalence and incidence.


Characterize healthy and diseased corals on a cellular and physiological level (e.g., histological changes, immunological
responses, and production of stress proteins).



Develop tools to reduce the prevalence of diseases, mitigate their impacts, and treat affected corals.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

TECHNOLOGY SUPPORTING RESEARCH & MANAGEMENT

Marine Protected Areas

ALL JURISDICTIONS MARINE PROTECTED AREAS

Management Objective Research Need

Develop site-selection criteria for MPAs to assist in the conservation of coral reef ecosystems and
management of commercially important fishery species, taking into account:
o Species diversity, trophic structure, and abundance of economically or ecologically important species.
o Habitat utilization patterns of different life stages.
o Larval recruitment, dispersal, and connectivity (including sources and sinks).
o Connectivity between habitat types (including seagrass beds, mangroves, and other associated
communities), spawning aggregations, and nursery areas.
o Environmental factors and anthropogenic stressors.

Evaluate and improve the Develop models to predict changes to coral reef resources that may occur under different zoning schemes,
teff n of making into account ways to conserve and possibly enhance marine resources.
effectiveness of MPAs as a
management tool.
Evaluate the effectiveness of MPAs, including no-take reserves and other marine zoning schemes, taking
into account:
o Abundance of ecologically and economically important species.
o Spillover of fishery species into adjacent habitats.
o Improvements in the condition of the sessile benthic community and abundance of mobile invertebrates.
o Cascading effects on non-target species.

Develop useful indicators (biophysical and socioeconomic) of management effectiveness.

Determine the socioeconomic and ecological costs and benefits of MPAs as a management tool, including
relationships between levels of compliance and achieved benefits.


Habitat Restoration

ALL JURISDICTIONS HABITAT RESTORATION

Management Objective Research Need
Identify and test new coral reef restoration strategies, including transplantation and attachment techniques; optimal
fragment size, shape, and orientation; ability to withstand high-energy events; and use of environmentally-friendly exotic
materials.
Determine the effectiveness of efforts to collect and settle coral larvae as a restoration tool.

Design and evaluate techniques to control or eradicate organisms that may inhibit recovery of damaged or degraded
habitats.

Evaluate the effectiveness of current strategies to restore degraded reefs (e.g., culturing corals in a laboratory,
transplanting fragments, and creating coral nurseries), taking into account the ability to maintain genetic variability,
Restore injured and mitigate sources) of the damage, maintain the historical distribution of the species within that habitat, and restore
degraded coral reef habitat. habitat function.
Evaluate effectiveness of restoration techniques for associated habitats, including mangroves, seagrass beds, sandy
beaches, and riparian habitats.

Determine the impacts of exotic materials (e.g., iron, cement, rubber, and fiberglass) on recruitment efficiency,
biodiversity, and community structure.
Evaluate the ecological recovery of restored areas.
Evaluate the effectiveness of restocking ecologically important species (e.g., Diadema and herbivorous fishes), and the
costs and benefits of restocking using species raised in captivity versus wild populations.


U





NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Jurisdiction-Specific Research Needs:

Atlantic Ocean


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

:LORIDA fishing and all of the attendant problems associated with
coastal development that can be detrimental to coral reefs.
ie Florida Section of this research olan is divided into


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


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Figure FL-1. Locator map for Florida. Map: A. Shapiro.


cold), and deepwater upwelling. Potentially detrimental Coral diseases in southeast Florida are present across
human activities include effects from offshore and habitats and depth gradients. The main diseases observed
onshore construction (e.g., pipelines, fiber optic cables, in the region include black band disease, white band
beach renourishment, channel dredging, and coastal disease (mainly affecting A. cervicornis), white plague,
development), large and small ship groundings, anchor and and octocoral aspergilliosis, although numerous other
anchor chain damage, fishing, non-extractive recreational conditions also occur. Bleaching also affects corals in the
activities, and pollution from sewage and other land-based region; however the scale and severity of these events are
sources, including groundwater seepage, discharge from not well documented. Because mean live coral cover in
navigational inlets, and general runoff. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Overfishing appears to be a major problem for snappers
and groupers. During a four-year period (August 1998 to
November 2002), 667 sites on the three reef tracts were
censused for fishes. There was a surprising scarcity of
legal size groupers (19) and snappers (198) over the entire
survey area (Ferro 2005).

While coral reefs south of Miami enjoy various levels of
Federal protection in the form of national parks, state
parks, and national marine sanctuaries, there is only
one established formal protected area north of Biscayne
National Park, the Oculina Habitat Area of Particular
Concern (HAPC). The Oculina HAPC, a 1029 km2 area
located off central Florida, is closed to bottom-associated
fishing gear to protect the ivory tree coral, Oculina
varicosa, an azooxanthellate coral with a fragile branching
structure (NOAA 2003b). Within the Oculina HAPC, a
92 nautical square mile (nm2) area known as the Oculina
Experimental Closed Area is also closed to the snapper
and grouper fishery. It should be noted that the Oculina
HAPC does not protect the more shallow-water reefs of
Southeast Florida (Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and
Martin Counties).

Eastern Gulf of Mexico (West Florida Shelf)
The eastern Gulf of Mexico, or west Florida Shelf, has
a broad continental shelf (140,000 km2) dominated by
sedimentary bottom types. The hard bottom habitat
typically consists of ridge or ledge rock formations (Lyons
and Collard 1974), which serve as essential fish habitat for
both snappers and groupers. The coral reefs and live hard
bottom habitats consist of warm-temperate species in the
northern area and hardy Caribbean species in the southern
area. The northern area comprises the Florida Middle
Ground, Madison-Swanson Reserve, Steamboat Lumps
Reserve, and Twin Ridges; the southern area consists of
Pulley Ridge and the Dry Tortugas.2

Northern Area:
* The Florida Middle Ground is a 1,193 km2 area in
the northeastern Gulf of Mexico that represents the
northernmost extent of hermatypic coral reefs in the
United States.
* Madison-Swanson Reserve is a 394 km2 area located
south of Panama City, Florida and Steamboat Lumps
Reserve is a 356 km2 area located west of Tarpon Springs,
Florida. Both Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps
Reserves lie at the margin of the continental shelf and
slope in 60 to 140 m of water and are sites of spawning


aggregations of gag (Mycteroperca microlepis) and
other reef fish species (Koenig et al. 2000).
* Twin Ridges is an area adjacent to Madison-Swanson
and Steamboat Lumps Reserves which is unprotected
and used as a reference site to measure the impact of
the reserves.

Southern Area:
* Pulley Ridge is a drowned barrier island approximately
100 km in length located off the southwest Florida Shelf
at 60 to70 m in depth (Halley et al. 2003), and is believed
to be the deepest hermatypic coral reef dependent on
light off the continental U.S. (Halley et al. 2005). The
ridge itself is 5 km wide with 10 m of relief. Coral cover
in some sites may be as high as 60% (Jarrett et al.
2005). The fragile corals of Pulley Ridge remain at risk to
bottom tending fishing gear and more habitat delineation
is needed to assess the extent of coral habitat. As no
coral bleaching events have been observed on Pulley
Ridge to date, this area could serve as a control site for
investigations of similar species in shallower waters
which have experienced bleaching.

The major stressor in the eastern Gulf of Mexico is fishing
pressure on grouper and snapper stocks and shrimp. The
region has three prominent fisheries: the Penaeid shrimp,
snapper and grouper, and a commercial sponge. Other
important stressors are annual red tides or harmful algal
blooms of phytoplankton that are toxic to many fish, birds,
and marine animals that last from four to five months;
pollutant loads from the Mississippi River and other rivers
during spring runoff; occasional upwelling of cold, high
nutrient water on the northern areas; positioning gas
pipelines over the shelf that impact benthic organisms;
ocean dumping; climate change; coastal development;
and bottom tending commercial fishing gear. In 2005,
extreme events heavily impacted the condition of benthic
communities and fish stocks, including an extreme red tide
and increased Mississippi River runoff from Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita.

The coral reef ecosystems and spawning aggregations
in the Gulf of Mexico have differing levels of protection.
The Florida Middle Ground HAPC was designated in 1982
and encompasses most of the high-relief and live bottom
habitat (Coleman et al. 2004). Although protected from
coral harvest and bottom-associated fishing gear, this
region's reef fish populations are fished using hook and
2 The Dry Tortugas are addressed in the Florida Keys section.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

line. The level of commercial and recreational fishing coastal pelagic and highly migratory species. Continued
pressure is unknown for this area and is a priority research evaluation of the efficacy of the reserve determined
need. Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Reserves through monitoring of reef fish abundance and distribution
were established in 2000 to protect gag and other fish in and near the reserves remains a high priority as the
spawning aggregations. These reserves were initially species of interest are long-lived and late maturing.
closed to all fishing (except highly migratory species) for Enforcement of the fishing restrictions is complicated by
a period of four years. These closures have since been the remoteness of the reserves and the level of illegal
extended to 2010 to evaluate the effectiveness of the fishing is not being fully evaluated.
reserves; however, surface trolling is now allowed for


Research Needs



FLORIDA FISHING S



Management Objective Research Need


Produce habitat maps with adequate bathymetric and habitat resolution to manage and
understand the region's nearshore and offshore reefs, hard bottom and soft bottom communities,
estuaries, inlets, and the Intercoastal Waterway. Whenever possible, use existing maps to
streamline new acquisition efforts.



Assess the distribution, abundance, and ecological role of aquarium trade species and the
impacts associated with their extraction.



Conserve and manage Characterize the trophic dynamics of the ecosystem relevant to key fisheries species.
fisheries to prevent
overfishing, rebuild
stocks, and minimize
destructive fishing. Develop spatially explicit bioeconomic models for important commercial and recreational
fisheries incorporating ecosystem attributes such as predator-prey relationships, habitat
See Jurisdiction-Wide characteristics, environmental parameters, and fishing effort.
See Junsdiction-Wide
Section for additional
research needs.
Experimentally examine the potential for enhancement of degraded inshore habitat and
concomitant change in associated fauna.



Determine the levels of fishing pressure and associated impacts on deepwater hermatypic coral
reef ecosystems.


Determine whether the source of recruits of commercially important groupers and snappers in
the Upper Florida Keys are from localized spawning sites or elsewhere in Florida or the wider
Caribbean.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


c

FLORIDA FISHING S L I

u_ CD


Management Objective Research Need
Queen Conch

Identify the specific toxins or pollutants that inhibit reproduction and/or recruitment, develop
options to mitigate these factors, and determine the effectiveness of implemented management /
actions on conch recovery.

Evaluate the status and trends of conch populations (spatial distribution and abundance of
different life stages) to determine whether management measures are helping to rebuild /
populations.

Identify reliable methods to assess conch population dynamics, including size, age, and /
reproductive structure.

Characterize habitat use patterns of different life stages of conch, and movement patterns/ K /
between reproductive and feeding grounds.
Protect, conserve, and
enhance the recovery of Identify natural factors that contribute to the recovery of conch populations, including reproductive/ K /
protected, threatened, potential (e.g., optimal densities), recruitment, predator-prey relationships, and food sources.
and other key species.
Spiny Lobster


Assess the relationships between habitat types and quality, and abundance of different life/ K /
history stages of lobsters.

Identify the natural factors affecting the population dynamics of lobsters, including recruitment, /
predator-prey relationships, and ontogenetic shift in habitats.

Determine whether the source of spiny lobsters recruitment in the Florida Keys is from adults
spawning in the Florida Keys or elsewhere (e.g., Central or South America).

Assess the impacts of the recreational and commercial lobster fisheries on lobster populations /
and coral reef habitats.


Evaluate benefits of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, including whether the reserve is: improving
the quality of habitat and the recovery of fish stocks; helping replenish the fish stocks in the /
surrounding non-MPA areas; and supporting societal needs.

Evaluate and improve
the effectiveness of Determine the effect of management measures in the Oculina Experimental Closed Area and
MPAs as a fisheries other southeast Florida MPAs on commercial and recreational fishery stocks.
management tool.
Determine the effectiveness of Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Reserves in protecting
See Jurisdiction-Wide gag and other fish spawning aggregations.
Section for additional
research needs. Determine the level of commercial and recreational fishing pressure in the Florida Middle
Grounds HAPC.

Determine short- and long-term costs and benefits of marine zoning in the Florida Keys National /
Marine Sanctuary to displaced commercial fishers.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan





FLORIDA POLLUTION L

w JCD

Management Objective Research Need

Produce thematic maps for outlining habitat landscaping patterns for Miami-Dade, Broward,
Palm Beach, and Martin Counties using existing laser airborne depth sounder mapping data.



Determine residence time of pollutants in specific areas. /



Identify pollutant loads associated with episodic events (e.g., upwelling and major storms) and
their impacts.



Identify sources and signals of sewage contamination by using appropriate tracers (e.g., stable
isotopes as a signal in octocorals and macroalgal/Lyncbya tissue, and human enteroviruses).


Determine whether the rivers feeding into the Gulf, including Suwannee, Withlacoochee,
Crystal, Homosassa, Chasshowitzka, Wiki Wachee, Anclote, Hillsboro, Alafia, Little Manatee,
Manatee, Myaka, Peace, Fenholloway, and Caloosahatchee Rivers, are adding significant K
pollutants, nutrients, pesticides, and other contaminants to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico coral reef
ecosystems.


Determine the amount and flux of pollutants from: exiting ocean inlets, oceanic sources, and /
atmospheric sources to coastal waters and coral reef communities.



Determine the amount and flux of effluent and pollutants from wastewater outflow pipes and net /
flux to coral reef communities along the coast.



Quantify the amount and flux of pollution transported by groundwater to coastal waters and coral /
reef communities.


Develop a mass balance pollution budget for southeast Florida reefs from both point and
nonpoint sources, including nutrients, carbon, and other pollutants. Identify the sources and /
quantify their relative and absolute contributions.


Identify and model impacts of freshwater discharges from the Everglades on coral reef /
ecosystems.



Understand the dynamics of water and waterborne chemicals as they move from source areas to /
the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys reefs.



Assess the impact of shallow injection wells and stormwater on coral reef ecosystems. /


See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


o o

FLORIDA POLLUTION L

w ; CD

Management Objective Research Need
Improve water quality
by reducing land-based Investigate effectiveness of real-time management of controlled runoff, including dams or other
pollutant inputs and effluents, to reduce stress on coral reefs ecosystems during disease outbreaks, coral bleaching
impacts on coral reef episodes, and spawning events.
impacts on coral reef
ecosystems.
See Jurisdiction-Wide Develop methods to improve water quality in Florida Keys canals.
Section for additional
research needs.

Conduct cost and benefit analyses of wastewater infrastructure upgrades and conservation land
Improve the acquisition.
understanding of the
economic benefits of
improved water quality. Determine how changes in water quality due to pollution may impact different economic uses, /
including potential fishery and habitat impacts.



o a


FLORIDA COASTAL USES I
o -a =
CD


Management Objective Research Need

Determine the impact of coastal development on seagrass and mangrove habitats and how
changes in the quality of these habitats as a result of human uses affect the condition of the /
associated reef habitat.


Reduce the impacts from Assess the impact of development on the Indian River Lagoon Estuary and associated tropical
recreational use, industry, peripheral species.
coastal development, and
maritime vessels on coral
Design and conduct demonstration projects to evaluate science-based management options for /
reef ecosystems. improving shoreline stability while maintaining coral reef ecosystem functions.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Evaluate ecological and socioeconomic costs and benefits of artificial reefs, including public/ K /
research needs, perception and their effects on fish communities and neighboring coral reef environments.

Determine the appropriate structural configuration (considering ability to withstand hurricanes)
and develop criteria (e.g., location, amount of light, and current) for creating a diverse fish and /
invertebrate community for artificial reefs.


Perform geographic and sector use assessments for the various habitats. /
Balance resource use to
minimize user conflicts,
provide equitable uses, Determine the socioeconomic costs and benefits of different management strategies on different/ K /
and ensure optimal user groups.
benefits to present and
future generations. Determine decadal changes in recreational and commercial uses (e.g., scuba diving, snorkeling,/ K /
boating) of coastal waters and their habitats, and the economic impact of these changes.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan



c0

FLORIDA COASTAL USES -




Management Objective Research Need
Acroporids
Protect, conserve, and
enhance the recovery of Identify critical habitat for Acropora spp. in Florida, including the historical and current
protected, threatened, distribution of acroporid populations, and factors that affect their spatial extent.
and other key species.

See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional Assess the abundance, population structure, and condition of Florida acroporids, including
research needs. documenting threats affecting these species, relationships between coral condition/abundance/ /
and human impacts, and the potential for recovery under different management regimes.


Restore injured and Develop economic models relating various habitats to economic value to assist in quantifying <
degraded coral reef costs of resource impacts associated with vessel groundings and other human impacts.
habitat.

See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional Evaluate the efficacy of current protocols used in seagrass and coral reef restoration efforts.
research needs.


Determine the extent and impact of vessel groundings, anchoring, and anchor chains on
coral reef and associated habitats, including the cumulative impacts of daily groundings of/
recreational vessels and the impacts surrounding designated large vessel anchorages, such as
Port Everglades.

Reduce impacts from and
restore habitat damaged
by vessel anchoring and Evaluate the effectiveness of existing mooring buoys and channel markers in reducing the impact/
groundings. of anchoring, anchor chains, and groundings to coral reefs.


Characterize patterns of recovery in unrestored areas affected by anchorings and groundings,
and compare to restored areas.


Conduct periodic assessments of stakeholder's knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of the
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary management strategies and regulations, and identify
ways to improve public support.


SDetermine whether Oculina varicosa habitat will recover throughout the Oculina Experimental
Evaluate and improve the Closed Area without human intervention, and predict the time frame for significant recovery to
effectiveness of MPAs as occur.
a management tool.

See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional Identify what and where the major habitat types are in the Oculina Experimental Closed Area,
sectn orthe Oculina Bank HAPC, and adjacent hardbottom areas.
research needs.


Assess the effectiveness of special preservation areas and ecological reserves in
resolving conflicts between extractive and non-extractive users of the Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary.




~~~~~___~~~~______________NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan




c

FLORIDA INVASIVE SPECIES a
o c
w. CD


Management Objective Research Need

Minimize the introduction
and spread of alien See Jurisdiction-Wide Section for research needs.
species.

Document the distribution, abundance, and population dynamics of non-native ornamental
marine fish such as orbicular batfish, orange spine unicorn fish, raccoon butterfly fish, several K /
varieties of tang and angelfish, and the lionfish.



Control or eradicate Determine the distribution and abundance of the green mussel in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and
Sits current and potential impacts on the ecosystem.
invasive species that
have the potential to
cause damage to coral Identify potential methods to control/eradicate the green mussel without impacting native
reef ecosystems. species or introducing alien species.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Characterize the distribution and patterns of the spread of benthic invasive algae, such as /
research needs. Caulerpa and cyanobacteria.



Determine the distribution and abundance of Tubastrea coccinea and its impact on /
benthic communities.




-o

FLORIDA CLIMATE CHANGE I
C C /)
o -a =
w= ^ C


Management Objective Research Need


Hindcast and forecast climatic trends for the region to determine what the potential impact of /
climate change was and will be on the region.

Minimize the effects of
climate change on coral
reef ecosystems. Identify potential environmental and anthropogenic factors that may influence the long
term resilience of Florida's coral reef ecosystems to maximize benefits of reefs that are not
susceptible to bleaching while seeking to improve the condition of those that are more likely
See Jurisdiction-Wide to bleach.
Section for additional
research needs.
Investigate differential impacts of coral bleaching between shallow and deeper hermatypic coral
reefs, including the extent of bleaching and the relationships between coral bleaching impacts /
and environmental factors.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


FLORIDA EXTRE




Management Objective Resi



Characterize the prevalence, incidence, anm
communities such as those off the Dry Tort

Identify causes and
consequences of
diseases in coral reef
ecosystems and mitigate
ecosystems and mitigate Understand the etiology of diseases affect
their impacts. potential pathogen sources.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.
Evaluate damselfish, butterflyfish, parrotfis
vectors for coral diseases.



Reduce impacts to and
promote restoration of *hr.tari7 th imnr. t nf hiirrina -nrl


0
S o o

EVENTS O
-o 1 : 1
o =i



ch Need



pact of emerging diseases in deeper reef
s.





Acropora spp. populations and identify






nd invertebrate corallivores as potential


affected by extreme
events.


Reduce the occurrence Investigate factors that contribute to blooms of dinoflagellates (e.g., Karina spp.),
and intensity of harmful cyanobacteria (e.g., Lyngbya spp.), and other phytoplankton, and benthic algal populations /
algal blooms. and their potential role in reef degradation.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

FLOW ER GARDEN BANKS Banks, and Stetson Bank (Figure FGB-1). The Sanctuary
is located approximately 100 miles south of the Texas-
The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Louisiana border in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico and
contains some of the northernmost coral reefs on the
(FGBNMS) consists of three geographically separate
(FGBNMS) consists of three geographically separate continental shelf of e north America. The coral reefs of the
underwater features the East and West Flower Gardenl of North Amerca The corareefs of the










































SBanha tWM U~ MWO.Mar 1#

cay o**.pawer


Figure FGB-1. Map showing the locations of the coral banks of the Gulf of Mexico. While some of the banks are protected by the
provisions of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, unprotected coral communities are present at Bright, Sonnier,
Geyer, and McGrail Banks. These banks are part of the network of reefs and banks which are biologically and ecologically associ-
ated with the ecosystems of the sanctuary. Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Hickerson and Schmahl (2005).




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


East and West Flower Garden Banks are presently in good
condition, compared to most other reef systems of the
Caribbean and western Atlantic. Over 20 years of long-
term coral reef monitoring at the East and West Flower
Garden Banks indicates that the reefs have maintained
approximately 50 to 70% coral coverage within the coral
zone an extraordinary coverage in a global climate of
coral reef decline. The reefs are dominated by extremely
large boulder corals (Montastraea spp., Diploria
strigosa, and Colpophyllia natans). Branching corals
are dominated by Madracis mirabilis fields in the deeper
portions of the reefs. The coral cap ranges in depths
from 17 to 49 m and covers an area of approximately 0.55
square miles (350 acres). Fish populations appear to be
in good condition, although scuba divers encounter fishing
debris and bycatch on a regular basis. This reef system
appears to be thriving in spite of the fact that the FGBNMS
is located in the middle of one of the most productive oil
and gas fields in the world. Stetson Bank is a colorful,
geologically exciting feature, dominated by sponges,
several species of corals, and algae.

In addition to the FGBNMS, there are dozens of other reefs
and banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. The three
banks within the Sanctuary are accessible to recreational
scuba divers (within 130 ft depth), whereas the other reefs
and banks are generally deeper. Coral reef communities


are thriving on several of the other northwestern Gulf of
Mexico features, including but not limited to McGrail Bank,
Sonnier Bank, and Bright Bank. Evidence suggests that
the coral reef communities of McGrail, Sonnier, and Bright
Banks are biologically and ecologically linked to those
found in the FGBNMS. These coral communities have
historically been unprotected from threats other than those
related to the oil and gas industry.

Due to the remote location of the banks, limited
recreational activities occur (e.g., approximately 3,000
scuba divers per year visit FGBNMS). Hook and line
fishing, both recreational and commercial, is allowed
at the FGBNMS. However, the level of fishing pressure
is not known, mainly due to the logistics of monitoring
this activity at the site, and due to the manner in which
commercial data is collected and managed.

The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council recently
identified 13 reefs and banks in the northwestern Gulf of
Mexico as HAPCs. While HAPC designation does not offer
regulatory protections, a number of measures to regulate
fishing gears and protect sensitive habitats were identified
for these areas within specific fishery management plans.
This includes prohibitions on bottom anchoring in coral reef
areas; and prohibitions on trawling gear, bottom longlines,
buoy gear, and fish traps in some areas.


Research Needs


FLOWER GARDEN BANKS FISHING


Management Objective Research Need


Assess the status and trends of fish populations within FGBNMS and on other banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.

Conserve and manage
fisheries to prevent
overfishing, rebuild stocks,
and minimize destructive Assess temporal dynamics of coral reef fish trophic structure, including interactions with varying levels of fishing and
fishing. other stresses.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.
Assess larval fish dynamics in and around the FGBNMS.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


FLOWER GARDEN BANKS POLLUTION

Management Objective Research Need

Determine the sources, types, concentrations, and effects of pollutants on important coral reef species in the FGBNMS.

Reduce the impacts of
pollutants on coral reef Model the water circulation patterns of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
ecosystems by improving
the understanding of their
effects. Assess the potential impacts of oil and gas exploration and production on neighboring related coral reef communities.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Assess the levels of toxins in commercially fished species within the FGBNMS.
research needs.

Assess the level of landborne and industry generated pollutants, including nutrients and hydrocarbon-associated
contaminants in coral reef environments and in indicator organisms.



FLOWER GARDEN BANKS COASTAL USES

Management Objective Research Need


Determine the annual number of violations of Sanctuary "no-anchoring" regulations by both commercial and recreational
Reduce the impacts from vessels, and evaluate their impact on the resource.
recreational use, industry,
development, and maritime
vessels on coral reef
Compare current bathymetric data to historical seismic and multibeam data to assess possible changes in bank
ecosystems. topography due to natural processes or industry impacts.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs. Evaluate the location and placement of artificial reefs proposed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Artificial
Reef Program.



Balance resource use to Assess the level of demand for recreational diving from commercial diving operators and private recreational boats, and
minimize user conflicts, the impacts of recreational diving on coral reef resources.
provide equitable uses, and
ensure optimal benefits
to present and future
Determine the effectiveness of mooring buoys in reducing physical impacts to coral reef resources.
generations.


Restore injured and
degraded coral reef habitats.
.See JurisdictioDetermine the feasibility of deep water coral restoration.
See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional
research needs.

Evaluate and improve the
effectiveness of MPAs as a See Jurisdiction-Wide Section for research needs.
management tool.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


FLOWER GARDEN BANKS COASTAL USES

Management Objective Research Need
Manage coral reef
ecosystems and their uses in
a holistic manner.
Determine the level of vulnerability and exploitation of coral reef resources that are currently unprotected using
See Jurisdiction-Wide deepwater survey techniques.
See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional
research needs.


FLOWER GARDEN BANKS INVASIVE SPECIES

Management Objective Research Need


Identify and remove introduced species from natural coral reef areas (e.g., Tubastrea coccinea).
Control or eradicate invasive
species that have the
potential to cause damage to
coral reef ecosystems. Investigate growth rates and reproductive potential of identified invasive species on artificial structures and nearby
natural hard bottom features.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.
Determine whether nearby oil and gas platforms serve as "stepping stones" for the introduction of invasive species.




FLOWER GARDEN BANKS CLIMATE CHANGE


Management Objective Research Need

Minimize the effects of
climate change on coral reef
ecosystems
ecosystems. Characterize bleaching events (including the extent, impact, and causes) on deeper reef communities in the
.See Jurisde northwestern Gulf of Mexico, and identify factors that affect recovery/mortality.
See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional
research needs.



FLOWER GARDEN BANKS EXTREME EVENTS

Management Objective Research Need

Identify causes and
consequences of diseases in
coral reef ecosystems and
mitigate their impacts Characterize the types of diseases and other direct sources of coral mortality (e.g., damselfish and parrotfish predation)
St i on deeper reef communities in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, including their impacts and relationships with

See Jurisdiction- Wide known stressors.
Section for additional
research needs




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure PR-1. A map of Puerto Rico. (See Figure 4 for geographic

PUERTO RICO

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a six island
archipelago in the north-central Caribbean between the
island of Hispaniola and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto
Rico has 3,370 km2 of fringing coral reefs surrounding the
island's east, south, and west coasts, as well as the two
inhabited (Culebra and Vieques) and three uninhabited
(Mona, Monito, Desecheo) small islands off Puerto Rico
(Figure PR-1). Other parts of the shelf consist of hard
ground areas, algal plains, and soft bottom communities
with isolated coral colonies.

Reefs are characterized by a high diversity of corals (i.e.,
about 65 species of stony corals and 112 species of soft
corals and gorgonians), although most nearshore locations
have been badly degraded over the last 30 years. Most
inshore reefs have a high cover of macroalgae with live


I'


U


*ontext.) Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Garcia-Sais et al. (2005).

reduced total landings, declining catch per unit effort,
shifts to smaller fish, and recruitment failures (e.g.,
commercial fish landings fell by 69% between 1979 and
1990). In one study, reef fish density (individuals per 30
m2) ranged from 93.2 near Desecheo Island to 12.6 near
Caja de Muertos, with both reef fish density and species
richness correlated with coral cover and rugosity. In 2003,
219,910 recreational anglers made over 1.1 million fishing
trips in Puerto Rico. Most (56 to 64%) recreational fishing
was from the shoreline, 35 to 40% was from private boats,
and the rest (1 to 3%) were charter trips. In 2002, there
were 1,163 active commercial fishers. Between 1995 and
2002, commercial fishers caught 1.6 million tons of fish
per year, with 87% of the fishers targeting reef fish and
invertebrates, including conch and lobster.

One of the major factors contributing to coral reef
degradation is accelerated urban and industrial
development on the coast combined with a lack of
effective coastal zone management. Massive clearing of
mangroves, dredging of rivers for sand and harbors, runoff
from large-scale agricultural developments, deforestation
in large watersheds, raw sewage disposal, and building
of power plants have contributed to coral reef damage.
Other major anthropogenic impacts include oil spills,
anchoring of large cargo vessels, overfishing, uncontrolled
recreational activities, eutrophication, and military bombing
activities (at Vieques and Culebra Islands). Additionally,




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

anthropogenic factors are exacerbating the impacts from Department of Natural and Environmental Resources
a number of natural stressors such as hurricanes, coral and the Caribbean Fishery Management Council share
bleaching, and coral diseases, responsibility for managing 24 MPAs. In an effort to
convert a collapsing fishery into a sustainable one, the
The coastal zone is managed by the Puerto Rico Government of Puerto Rico has enacted new fishing
Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, but regulations that require recreational fishing licenses,
the determination of consistency with the Coastal Zone prohibit recreational spearfishing with scuba, eliminate
Management Plan for Puerto Rico is the responsibility beach seine nets, establish size limits and daily quotas
of the Puerto Rico Planning Board. The Environmental on several species, require species-specific permits for
Quality Board monitors water quality, in part through its high-value and sensitive species, and create MPAs around
water quality certification program, and the Regulations Mona, Monito, and Desecheo Islands, and the Condado
and Permits Administration governs land use regulations. Lagoon.3
Development in the coastal zone that may result in impacts
to water bodies, including wetlands, is also regulated .
to water bodies, including wetlands, is also regulated 3 Introductory material was taken, with slight modifications, from Kelty (2004).
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Puerto Rico


Research Needs


PUERTO RICO FISHING


Management Objective Research Need

Produce high resolution bathymetric and habitat maps to 200 m in depth.


Evaluate the bioeconomic costs and benefits of current fishing regulations (i.e., size limits, closed areas, and closed
seasons associated with spawning aggregations) and the effectiveness of these regulations.
Conserve and manage
fisheries to prevent
overfishing, rebuild stocks, Assess the distribution, abundance, and ecological role of aquarium trade species and the impacts associated with
and minimize destructive their extraction.
fishing.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Identify areas that are essential as nursery grounds for exploited fisheries.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs. Determine the economic value of commercial and recreational fisheries.


Determine the level of engagement and dependence of communities on coral reef ecosystems and stakeholder attitudes,
perceptions, and preferences regarding their utilization and identify methods to integrate fishery dependent information
into the management process.


Queen Conch, Spiny Lobster, and Octopi

Protect, conserve, and
enhance the recovery of Evaluate commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishing pressure on conch, lobster, and octopi and the adequacy of
existing regulations.
protected, threatened, and
other key species.
Characterize the population dynamics, habitat utilization, recruitment and ontogenetic movement patterns of conch,
lobster, and octoni in key locations.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan



PUERTO RICO FISHING


Management Objective Research Need


Evaluate the socioeconomic impacts of aquaculture projects on existing fishing communities.
Develop and support
aquaculture projects that
minimize impacts to coral Determine the viability of restocking reef fish populations of commercial and recreational importance to aid in their
eef ecosystems, fishery recovery.
;tocks, and existing fishing
communities .
Evaluate the impacts of new and existing aquaculture operations (especially offshore fish pens) with emphasis on the
introduction of diseases, escapees, genetics, habitat impacts, and status as fish aggregating devices.



PUERTO RICO POLLUTION

Management Objective Research Need

reduce the impacts of Develop internal circulation models for Puerto Rico to understand and predict the fate and effect of nutrients and
other pollutants.
)ollutants on coral reef other po
ecosystems by improving Determine the impact of the Culebra municipal landfill to the eastern side of the Canal Luis Peia Natural Reserve.
:he understanding of their
effects.
Determine the impacts of high-use marinas in areas with poor water circulation.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Evaluate the effects of wastewater discharges from treatment plants and untreated sewage entering water bodies on
researchh needs, adjacent coral reef ecosystems.

improve water quality Develop BMPs with relevance to tropical areas to reduce or eliminate the highest priority sources of pollution and
)y reducing land-based evaluate the effectiveness of implemented measures (e.g., erosion and sediment control regulations).
)ollutant inputs and impacts
)n coral reef ecosystems.
Evaluate the role of coastal wetlands in reducing contaminants before they are released into the marine environment.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Evaluate water quality and its impacts on coral reef ecosystems in relation to changes in land and marine use in
researchh needs, coastal areas.



PUERTO RICO COASTAL USES

Management Objective Research Need

reduce the impacts from
recreational use, industry, Design and conduct demonstration projects to evaluate science-based management options for improving
coastall development, and shoreline stability while maintaining coral reef ecosystem functions.
maritime vessels on coral
eef ecosystems.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
ee usicion-ie Determine the impact of onshore and offshore coastal development on coral reef ecosystems.
Section for additional
acs.parrch npprd.'




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


PUERTO RICO COASTAL USES

Management Objective Research Need
Balance resource use to
minimize user conflicts,
provide equitable uses, and Conduct an economic valuation of coral reef ecosystems (including mangrove and seagrass habitats) in Puerto Rico.
ensure optimal benefits
to present and future
generations.
Acroporids

Identify critical habitat for Acropora spp. in Puerto Rico, including the historical and current distribution of acroporid
populations, and factors that affect their spatial extent.


Protect, conserve, and
Identify the direct causes of mortality (e.g., disease, predation, and storms) to acroporids, the role of anthropogenic
enhance the recovery of stressors in increasing their susceptibility or resistance to these factors, and benefits of existing and new management
protected, threatened, and measures at mitigating threats and rebuilding acroporid populations.
other key species.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Evaluate the effectiveness of Acropora cervicornis nurseries as a restoration tool, including potential implications of
translocation of these corals from the south coast to Culebra.
research needs.

Sea Turtles

Determine the impact of continuing development around Culebra Island on green sea turtles and
their habitat.


Assess the extent and impact of damage caused by grounding, anchoring, or human trampling in coral reefs and
Reduce impacts from and associated habitats.
restore habitat damaged
by vessel anchoring and
groundings. Evaluate the effectiveness of restoration at the grounding sites of the Fortuna Reefer(Mona Island), Magara
(Guayanilla), and other recent restoration efforts at promoting biological and ecological recovery.

Restore injured and
degraded coral reef habitats.
Develop recommendations for coral reef habitat restoration measures based on the quality of the habitat and the
See Jurisdiction-Wide potential for success.
Section for additional
research needs.
Evaluate and improve the
effectiveness of MPAs as a Evaluate the effectiveness of existing management plans for natural reserves to determine whether strengthening of
effectiveness of MPAs as a te p i warranted.
these plans is warranted.
management tool.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Determine if existing managed areas are facilitating the recovery of protected, threatened, and other key species,
Section for additional including conch, grouper, and lobster
research needs.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


PUERTO RICO INVASIVE SPECIES

Management Objective Research Need
Minimize the introduction
n See Jurisdiction-Wide Section for research needs.
and spread of alien species.

Determine the distribution and abundance of the paperbark tree and identify its impact on coastal wetlands.


Control or eradicate invasive Determine the distribution and abundance of the green iguana and identify its impact on mangrove habitats and
species that have the potential methods to control/eradicate it without introducing alien species.
potential to cause damage to
coral reef ecosystems.
Determine the effect of Casarina Pine trees on nesting turtle populations around Mona Island, and the benefits of
removal programs at improving the quality of coastal habitats.




PUERTO RICO CLIMATE CHANGE

Management Objective Research Need

Improve the capacity to
forecast and respond to
bleaching events.
Develop and implement a rapid response protocol to characterize and manage future bleaching events.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.



PUERTO RICO EXTREME EVENTS

Management Objective Research Need

Identify causes and
consequences of diseases in
coral reef ecosystems and
mitigate their impacts. Assess the differences in disease prevalence, incidence, and impacts between deeper and shallower reefs at nearshore
and offshore locations, and their relationships with other environmental stressors.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.


Develop a model to predict the potential impact of storms to coral reef habitats including factors such as spatial extent
Reduce impacts to and and degree of storm damage; storm strength, speed, and path; and benthic habitat characteristics.
promote restoration of coral
reef organisms affected by
extreme events. Identify the factors that need to be addressed to enhance the recovery of coral reefs following hurricane and
storm damage.


M




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS


View of a bay from St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.


The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) includes three main islands
- St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John and several
smaller islands (Figure USVI-1). St. Thomas and St. John
are geologically part of the Lesser Antilles and sit on the
same shelf platform as Puerto Rico. The shelf platform
ranges from 40 to 60 ft, with fringing, patch, and spur and
groove reefs distributed patchily. Extensive coral reefs lie
in water along the shelf edge in depths from 120 to 200
ft. These deeper reefs are dominated by plating forms
of the Agaricia spp. and Montastraea spp. complexes,
while corals in shallower water vary from columnar forms
of Montastraea spp. to Acropora spp. to gorgonian
dominated habitats. Maps of USVI benthic habitats (to 30
m) show that 61% of the 485 km2 area is coral reefs and
coral on hard bottom; 33% is predominantly seagrass beds,
and 4% is sediment or rocky bottom.

St. Croix is part of the Greater Antilles and sits on a
narrow, shallow shelf platform that drops off into the
4,000+ m deep Virgin Islands Trough. The shallow (46 to
60 ft) shelf edge is relatively close to shore in many places
with classic back bay/lagoons to reef crest and fore reef
habitats. The eastern and southern ends of the island are
protected by a barrier reef system. Stocks and resources


do not appear to move across the Puerto Rico Trench,
whereas St. Thomas and St. John have fish populations
more similar to Puerto Rico. Thus, St. Croix and
St. Thomas/St. John are not considered a single
management unit.

Many stresses affecting marine resources in the Caribbean
may be causing degradation of USVI coral reef ecosystems.
Over the past 40 years, living coral cover has decreased,
while macroalgal cover has increased. Intensive fishing
along with habitat degradation has been blamed for the
loss of spawning aggregations and decreases in mean size
and abundance of reef fish. Groupers and snappers are far
less abundant now, while herbivorous fishes comprise a
greater proportion of samples in traps and visual surveys
than they did in the 1960s. Other damage to marine
resources results from natural stresses such as hurricanes
and coral diseases, as well as land-based pollution and
other anthropogenic factors.

The jurisdiction over these coral resources is shared by
several U.S. agencies and the Virgin Islands Government.
In 2001, the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument
off St. John was established, and the Buck Island Reef
National Monument off St. Croix was expanded. Both
areas are managed by the National Park Service. In 2002,
the St. Croix East End Marine Park, which is managed by
the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources,
was established as the first in a series of marine parks
for the territory. These areas are designed to provide
protection for important marine resources, including coral
reef areas, thus allowing depleted populations of certain
marine organisms grouperss, snappers, corals) to recover.
Other managed areas in St. Thomas and St. John include:
the Hind Bank Marine Conservation District (established in
1999) and Lang Bank designated by the Caribbean Fishery
Management Council to protect spawning aggregations
and coral habitats; the Grammanik Bank, established as
a temporary seasonal closure area for 2005 (permanent
regulations are pending); and the Cas Cay/Mangrove
Lagoon and St. James Marine Reserves, established in
1994 to protect juvenile reef fish and associated habitat.
In St. Croix, MPAs include the seasonal Mutton Snapper
Spawning Area Closure, the seasonal Lang Bank Red Hind
closure, and the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and
Ecological Preserve. The latter was designated in 1995,
but the regulations have yet to be signed.4

4The sources for the introduction are Vasques (2005), Kelty (2004), and Jeffrey et al.
(2005).





_NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


1. Cwat say
2. Black Poin. Brewers Bay
3. Rat y
4. Red Hind Bank
. Oramnmnlk Bank
& Buck Island
7. Sprat Bay
& SBhor Coage Shoal
9. Buner Bay
10 Great Cnru Bay
11. Flh Bay
12. Coeolba Cay
13. YawIr Pont
14. Lamehur Bay
18. Taktil Reef
16. Coral Bay
17. Mennebeck
1. Hauover Bay
1i. Nrufound Bay
20. Spra Hole (of Spret Hl Beach)
21. Mutton Snapper Ree
22 USVI Rum Factcry
23. USVI Rum Facntoy Oultfl
24. St Crold Int rnatonal Airprt
28. Cane Bay
26. Govtw Sewage Oull
27. Hiovema Ol Rewry
2. Long save
29. LOno Reef


3A LBJ Purmp SmU Outfall
31. Long tReftlEata Ray
S3. Alone Lagoon
33. Grnt Pond
34. Great Pond Say
3L. Sllude Bay
3. CaOe
37. Buck 0land
3e. Jackosuic Bay
4. Genon

4(L Lang Bank
City
- V.. Nalionsl Park
V. 1 Coral Reef
Nallonl Monument
Buck laland Reef
NIlalon Monument
.. Eat End Marine Park



VMWter < m


Dep Water


Figure USVI-1. A map of USVI showing managed areas, municipalities, and other locations of interest (See Figure 4 for geographi-
cal context) Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Jeffrey et al. (2005).


M




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Res


1 Needs


U.S. Virgin Islands FISHING

Management Objective Research Need

Assess the impacts of fishing on spawning aggregations and monitor their recovery after regulations are enacted,
especially at Grammanik Bank off St. Thomas.


Conserve and manage Assess the total catch and the value of local fisheries and the number of fishermen employed.
fisheries to prevent
overfishing, rebuild stocks, Investigate the viability and effectiveness of enhancement programs (e.g., use of fishery aggregating devices to remove
and minimize destructive fishing pressure away from reefs) to mitigate fishing pressure on target organisms of commercial and recreational
fishing. importance.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Investigate expansion of pelagic fisheries within user groups affected by the establishment of MPAs, including benefits
Section for additional to coral reef ecosystems, socioeconomic implications, and other factors.
research needs.
Compare the population status of managed reef species in representative coral reef areas in St. Croix and St. Thomas, and
identify environmental and anthropogenic factors that may explain differences in population dynamics of these species.
Characterize fish assemblages on gorgonian dominated habitats and determine their importance as essential
fish habitat.

Identify factors that promote or inhibit the recovery of key species and identify those factors which can be managed.


Queen Conch, Spiny Lobster, Octopi
Protect, conserve, and
enhance the recovery of
protected, threatened, and Evaluate commercial, subsistence and recreational fishing pressure on conch, lobster, and octopi and the adequacy of
o r ky existing regulations.
other key species.

Characterize the population dynamics, habitat utilization, recruitment patterns, and ontogenetic movement patterns of
conch, lobster, and octopi in specific locations.


Evaluate the level of enforcement and assess what effect increased enforcement would have on juvenile reef fish stocks
and reef habitat.


Quantify abundance and size structure of different life stages of commercially and ecologically important fish and
invertebrate species, coral condition, and major reef processes (e.g., herbivory and recruitment) within and outside
protected areas in Buck Island Reef National Monument, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, the St. Croix
Evaluate and improve the East End Marine Park, St. Thomas Marine Conservation District, Cas Cay/Mangrove Lagoon Marine Reserve, St. James
effectiveness of MPAs as a Marine Reserve, and the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.
fisheries management tool.
Determine whether user groups displaced by the establishment of MPAs have shifted to pelagic fish species.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
Evaluate the efficacy of the marine reserves in St. Thomas and determine if additional management measures
research needs. are necessary.


Determine if existing managed areas are facilitating the recovery of protected, threatened, and other key species
including, conch, grouper, and lobster.

Assess the costs and benefits of the Marine Conservation District on the commercial fishing community of St. Thomas.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


U.S. Virgin Islands FISHING

Management Objective Research Need

Develop and support
aquaculture projects that
minimize impacts to coral Determine the viability of restocking populations of commercially and recreationally important reef species to aid in their
reef ecosystems, fishery recovery.
stocks, and existing fishing
communities.



U.S. Virgin Islands POLLUTION


Management Objective Research Need


Quantify the impacts of sewage and sedimentation associated with accelerated coastal development and assess
temporal changes in the abundance of key organisms, such as macroalgae and corals.



Quantify the impacts on coral reef ecosystems of effluents from Cruzan Rum Distillery and Hovensa Oil Refinery in
Reduce the impacts of St. Croix.
pollutants on coral reef
ecosystems by improving
the understanding of their Quantify the impacts of run-off or effluents from land fills, rum distilleries, and other industrial effluents on sensitive
effects. habitats (e.g., Mangrove Lagoon).

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs. Develop internal circulation models for USVI to understand and predict the fate and effect of nutrients and other
pollutants.



Investigate the effects of sewage and sedimentation on USVI coral reefs. Adapt the GIS-based sediment delivery model
developed for St. John for application to St. Croix and St. Thomas and implement the model to predict effects of future
coastal development.



Develop BMPs to reduce or eliminate the highest priority sources of pollution and evaluate the effectiveness of
Improve water quality implemented measures (e.g., erosion and sediment control regulations).
Improve water quality
by reducing land-based
pollutant inputs and impacts
on coral reef ecosystems. Determine the effectiveness of upgrading regional primary sewage treatment facilities and monitor the long-term
effects of upgrading on water quality and coral reef ecosystems.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.
Evaluate the role of coastal wetlands in reducing contaminants before they are released into the marine environment.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


U.S. Virgin Islands COASTAL USES

Management Objective Research Need


Investigate the effects of oil pollution, cruise ship discharge, sedimentation (and resuspension), and other factors and
Reduce the impacts from assess whether they offset the benefits associated with designation of MPAs.
recreational use, industry,
coastal development, and
maritime vessels on coral Investigate the impacts of vessel traffic, including cruise ships, and the lack of designated anchorages on coral reef
reef ecosystems. ecosystems in St. Thomas and St. Croix.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
Investigate changes in coastal land use and benthic habitat over time to determine whether and how increased
research needs, development in certain areas has impacted coral reef ecosystems.




Examine coral reef-related recreation and tourism links to the economy and the environment.

Balance resource use to
minimize user conflicts,
provide equitable uses, and Determine the effectiveness of management efforts, such as the installation of mooring buoys in seagrass and reef
ensure optimal benefits areas and the elimination of fishing by assessing changes in seagrasses, macro and turf algae, and coral cover
to present and future
generations.
Assess the costs and benefits of protective management tools (e.g., the installation of mooring buoys in seagrass and
reef areas and the elimination of fishing) on the community.


Acroporids

Protect, conserve, and
enhance the recovery of Identify critical habitat for Acropora spp. in USVI, including the historical and current distribution of acroporid
protected, threatened, and populations, and identify factors that contributed to the expansion/reduction in the spatial extent of these corals.
other key species.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Sea Turtles
Section for additional
research needs.
Determine the impact of rum distilleries and other anthropogenic impacts on sea turtles, their food sources (e.g.,
sponges and grasses), and their habitat.



Investigate the impacts of recreational vessel anchoring to benthic habitats to determine whether management
measures, such as the installation of mooring buoys, are necessary.

Reduce the impacts from
and restore habitat damaged
by vessel anchoring and Assess the damage of large vessels (e.g., propeller damage) on the shallow water habitats of St. Thomas.
groundings.


Quantify the impacts of ferry and recreational vessel groundings.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


U.S. Virgin Islands

Management Objective


Restore injured and
Restore injured and See Jurisdiction- Wide Section for res
degraded coral reef habitat.




Develop and evaluate ecosystem or trophi
resources between eastern Puerto Rico ar
species that travel long distances to spaw


Manage coral reef
ecosystems and their uses in
a holistic manner.
Identify the connectivity of resources betv
address the sharing of resources.
See Jurisdiction-Wide Section
for Additional Research Needs.



Characterize interactions among reefs, me
changes in reef communities.




Evaluate and improve the
e and iro t Evaluate the ecological impacts of the de
effectiveness of MPAs as a
management tool.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Conduct socioeconomic studies of recreat
research needs. End Marine Park.




U.S. Virgin Islands


Management Objective


Minimize the introduction
n See Jurisdiction- Wide Section for res
and spread of alien species.

Control or eradicate invasive
species that have the
potential to cause damage to
coral reef ecosystems. Investigate the status of known invasive s
protocol in the event of new invasive spec
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.


COASTAL USES

Research Need


rch needs.





models for use in ecosystem management. Identify the connectivity of
northern USVI, focusing on larval dispersal and movement of reef fish
ig aggregations (i.e., grouper and snapper).





n the British Virgin Islands and USVI to inform management practices that






roves, and seagrass beds and how deterioration of these contributes to






to marine reserve (no transit zone) off the oil refinery in St. Croix.




al and commercial user groups affected by closures and restrictions in East





INVASIVE SPECIES


Research Need


rch needs.





:ies within coastal waters of USVI, and establish a response network and
introductions.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


U.S. Virgin Islands


Management Objective

Minimize the effects of
climate change on coral reef
ecosystems.
Develop and implement a response I
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.



U.S. Virgin Islands



Management Objective



Determine the spatial and temporal
their effects on affected corals and (

Identify causes and
consequences of diseases in Examine coral community structure i
coral reef ecosystems and Red Hind Bank Marine Conservation
mitigate their impacts.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Inventory which diseases are present
Section for additional such as temperature and nutrients.
research needs.


Assess the recovery of coral species



Examine the role of hurricanes in thE
synergies with other stressors.


Develop a model to predict the poter
degree of storm damage; storm strer
Reduce impacts to and
promote restoration of coral
reef organisms affected by Identify anthropogenic factors that n
extreme events. storm damage.



Develop a system of coral maricultul
range and evaluate the value of these
and ship groundings.


CLIMATE CHANGE


Research Need




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure NI-1. A map of Navassa Island. (See Figure 4 for geographical context.) Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Miller et al. (2005).


NAVASSA

Navassa Island is a small (5 km2), uninhabited, oceanic
island between Jamaica and Haiti (Figure NI-1). Navassa
Island is under the jurisdiction of the FWS and has been
managed as a component of the Caribbean Islands NWR
since 1999. The dolomite island's cliffs plummet to about
25 m deep before a submarine terrace slopes out gradually.
Thus, Navassa lacks typical Caribbean patterns of reef
zonation and inshore and backreef habitats including
mangroves, sandy beaches, and seagrass which are
important in the life history of several reef fish groups.
Small shoulders of shallow reef habitat (10 to 15 m) are


found at the northwest point and Lulu Bay, but the primary
reef habitats are reef walls formed by the cliffs and large
boulders that have been dislodged from the cliffs. A 2002
survey documented 10 to 20% live coral cover in shallow
habitats (10 to 20 m) and 46% live coral cover at the 25 to
30 m terrace; deeper reef slopes at shelves greater than 30
m farther offshore have not been well described. Dominant
corals are Montastrea spp., Agaricia spp., Porites
porites, and, at shallow sites, the elkhorn coral,
Acropora palmata.

Because of its isolated and uninhabited status, Navassa
has been presumed to provide a relatively pristine


U




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


example of an unimpacted reef that may serve as a
valuable reference site for determining Caribbean coral
reef structure and function. Land-based pollution and
recreational uses are essentially absent. However, reefs
on the east coast (and to a lesser extent, the southwest
and west coasts) are exposed to persistent swells and
seemingly regular storms and hurricanes. A fall 2004
NOAA/FWS research cruise documented storm damage to
A. palmata colonies in the shallow shoulder of Lulu Bay.
The same cruise documented relatively high prevalence of
coral disease, despite the lack of land-based pollution and
other anthropogenic stressors.

Fishing is the primary threat to Navassa's reefs.
Subsistence fishing appears to have been ongoing since
at least the 1970s and current activity by migrant Haitian


fishers is substantial (but unquantified). A 2002 survey
noted the virtual absence of large fish the average total
length was 4.6 cm and only 11 of 1,227 fish were longer
than 24 cm. A less extensive survey in 2000 found that
92% of snapper and 23% of parrotfishes were longer
than 40 cm. These results suggest that fishing impacts
are substantial and rapidly increasing. Interviews with
Haitian fishers in 2004 provided preliminary data on catch,
frequency of fishing, and gear types. Large commercial
foreign flagged fishing trawlers have been observed within
NWR waters, which include a 12 mile area of open ocean
around the island. The primary research priority in Navassa
is the assessment of reef status and fishing activity and
impact over time.5


5 Introductory material was taken, with slight modifications, from Miller et al. (2005).


Research Needs


NAVASSA FISHING


Management Objective Research Need

Conduct capture-recapture studies to provide estimates of total population numbers of large resident species.


Interview local fishers to provide anecdotal information in order to discern trends in catch effort and perhaps size shifts
in target species.


Collect size data for the most commonly taken species as they are landed in the nearest fishing villages in Haiti.
Conserve and manage
fisheries to prevent
overfishing, rebuild stocks, Determine usage patterns of Navassa marine resources (i.e., catch and effort data for fishing activities).
and minimize destructive
fishing.
Determine what other fishery sectors (besides the Haitian subsistence sector) are active in Navassa and the impact they
See Jurisdiction-Wide are having on the resource.
Section for additional
research needs.
Conduct a sociocultural assessment of Haitian communities from which primary fishing activity originates.


Understand the relationship of declining fish assemblage and reef benthic community structure and condition.


Develop a habitat map for the 12-mile radius around the island that is under Federal jurisdiction to identify essential
fish habitat.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


NAVASSA POLLUTION

Management Objective Research Need

Reduce the impacts of
pollutants on coral reef
ecosystems by improving Understand physical oceanic processes affecting Navassa water quality.
the understanding of their
effects.


NAVASSA INVASIVE SPECIES

Management Objective Research Need

Minimize the introduction
n See Jurisdiction-Wide Section for research needs.
and spread of alien species.



NAVASSA CLIMATE CHANGE


Management Objective Research Need

Minimize the effects of
e h r Compare and contrast the prevalence of and impacts from bleaching events in Navassa with other U.S. jurisdictions,
climate change on coral reef using Navassa as a reference site due to its low level anthropogenic impacts, other than fishing.
ecosystems.



NAVASSA EXTREME EVENTS


Management Objective Research Need

Identify causes and
consequences of diseases in .
So See Jurisdiction-Wide Section for research needs.
coral reef ecosystems and
mitigate their impacts.


M




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan
Jurisdiction-Specific Research Needs:
Pacific Ocean




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
The Hawaiian Archipelago stretches for over 2,500 km from
the island of Hawaii in the southeast to Kure Atoll (the
world's highest latitude atoll) in the northwest. Hawaii
is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (Figure HI-1),
making it one of the most isolated archipelagos in the
world. As a result of its location, Hawaii's coral reefs
possess some of the highest marine endemism recorded
for a number of taxa, and are structurally influenced
by exposure to large open ocean swells. Within the
archipelago, there are two distinct regions: the Main
Hawaiian Islands (MHI) made up of populated, high
volcanic islands and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
(NWHI) consisting of mostly uninhabited atolls and banks.

Early Hawaiians recognized that coral reefs were a building
block of the islands and used coral in religious ceremonies
to demonstrate honor and care for ocean resources. Coral
reefs were important to the ancient Hawaiians for food,
cultural practices, recreation, and survival. Today, coral reef
communities continue to provide Hawaiians with food and
protection from storm waves, and are critically important
to the state's approximately $800 million per year marine
tourism industry (Cesar and van Beukering 2004).

Although the MHI and NWHI are one ecosystem, resource
management and research for these regions have
historically differed. This separation or regionalization has


"i Ama


been maintained in this research plan when developing
research priorities for the Hawaiian Archipelago.

Main Hawaiian Islands
Coral reef communities in the MHI range from newly
formed colonies at the edges of recent lava flows to
established fringing reefs (Figure HI-2). Many of these
reef communities are located near urban areas. Over
70% of the State's 1.2 million people live on Oahu, mostly
concentrated in the Honolulu metropolitan area. In
addition to this resident population, nearly seven million
tourists visit Hawaii each year. This large number of
people has put pressure on Hawaii's coral reefs through
various direct and indirect means. Many coastal areas
adjacent to urban centers are impacted by land-based
sources of pollution, fishing pressure, recreational overuse,
and invasive species. Despite these stressors, Hawaii's
coral reefs, especially those far from urban centers, remain
in good to fair condition compared with other reefs around
the world.

Coral reef ecosystems in the MHI are managed through
MPAs with varying levels of protection. These include
marine life conservation districts, fisheries management
areas, a marine laboratory refuge, natural area reserves,
NWRs, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback National
Marine Sanctuary. One of the most well known marine
life conservation districts is Hanauma Bay, established in


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

1967. Marine life conservation districts with strict no-take Research Needs
restrictions have been established at specific locations The research needs detailed below represent both
in Hawaii to help restore fish stocks and have met with MHI-specific research needs, and archipelago-wide
some success. Even with all of these protections in place, research needs focused on identifying linkages between
Hawaii's coral reef MPAs are not as effective as they could the NWHI and MHI. Understanding the linkages between
be due to difficulties enforcing current regulations and the NWHI and MHI is critical because the knowledge
laws, as well as recreational overuse of these MPAs by the gained can be applied to the management of the entire
tourism industry. 6 archipelago. NWHI-specific research needs are detailed in
the next section.
6 Introductory material was taken, with slight modifications, from Gulko et al. (2002) and the next section.
Friedlander et al. (2005a).




Hawaiian Islands FISHING ~- -


Management Objective Research Need

Assess the ecological impacts of non-extractive activities conducted in coral reef ecosystems on managed
fisheries species.

Conserve and manage
fisheries to prevent Evaluate the potential of restocking ecologically important species (e.g., parrotfish, jacks, spiny lobster).
overfishing, rebuild
stocks, and minimize
destructive fishing.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Develop affordable ciguatera test kits that would allow a viable fishery for roi.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.

Assess the ecological impact of aquarium collection on species of special concern, such as endemics, and
develop scientific guidelines for aquarium fishery management.



Evaluate the effectiveness of Hawaii's MPAs to determine how differing levels of protection improve
Evaluate and improve the catches of economically important coral reef resources and identify optimal MPA design under /
effectiveness of MPAs as various scenarios.
a fisheries management
tool.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Compare the benefits of fishery replenishment areas for the aquarium fishery in West Hawaii and
Section for additional determine additional management measure needed to rebuild stocks of species that have not rebounded
research needs. within the fishery replenishment areas and surrounding fished areas.



Increase fishers'
art n in f eri Document historical and cultural knowledge of Hawaiian coral reef resources and their ecology, as well as
pac on in their historical trends in abundance size, distribution, and community composition.
management.




_NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


0 C

Hawaiian Islands POLLUTION I-g


Management Objective Research Need

Quantify the individual and synergistic impacts of nutrients, chemicals, and pathogens from sewage on reef
Reduce the impacts of condition.
pollutants on coral reef
ecosystems by improving Develop effective tools for tracking sewage-borne pollutants from cesspools and injection wells.
the understanding of
their effects.
Quantify nutrient, fertilizer, and sediment inputs from different sources (e.g., surface water, groundwater,
See Jurisdiction-Wide injection wells, septic systems, and cesspools) and determine their impacts on coral reef ecosystems.
Section for additional
research needs.
Develop sediment transport models for critical reef areas.

e w r q y Develop low-cost tools to assess concentrations and loads of nearshore water pollutants that can be easily
Improve water quality implemented by managers and volunteers.
by reducing land-based
pollutant inputs and Develop protocols to evaluate the effectiveness of land-based pollution management methods.
impacts on coral reef
ecosystems. Create science-based guidelines for the evaluation, improvement, and/or development of permitting and
regulatory tools for protecting coral reef ecosystems from pollution stress.
See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional
research needs. Identify biological criteria for coral reefs that could be incorporated into state water quality standards.




0 rCD C
Hawaiian Islands COASTAL USES



Management Objective Research Need

Determine the ecosystem impacts of current and proposed non-extractive activities (e.g., snorkeling,
wading, scuba diving, boating, and anchoring) and prioritize areas for protection based on their economic
and ecological importance.

Evaluate the effectiveness of current management efforts at reducing impacts from non-extractive
Reduce the impacts from activities.
recreational use, industry,
recreational use, indt, Identify BMPs that should be incorporated into relevant development permits to protect coral spawning
coastal development, and and recruitment events, and determine their effectiveness.
maritime vessels on coral
reef ecosystems.
reef ecosystems. Examine the economic and legal factors contributing to destructive development and construction
e practices, and recommend economic incentives, regulatory changes, and BMPs to mitigate these impacts.
See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional
research needs. Assess the loss of coral reef productivity and potential reef fish biomass as a result of large-scale harbor
development, dredging projects, and beach replenishment activities.

Evaluate Hawaii's artificial reef program. Provide scientifically-based recommendations for expanding the
program if it is deemed effective and shown to have minimal impacts.

Determine the extent of damage due to anchorage of large vessels.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan



Hawaiian Islands COASTAL USES


Management Objective Research Need



Protect, conserve, and
enhance the recovery of Continue conducting research aimed at the protection, conservation, and recovery of protected species
protected, threatened, (i.e., marine mammals, sea turtles, and birds) that utilize coral reef ecosystems.
and other key species.





Restore injured and
degraded coral reef
habitat. Develop coastal and beach restoration techniques (e.g., stream channels, beach replenishment, and
harbor development) that minimize impacts on adjacent reefs.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.




Manage coral reef
ecosystems and their
uses in a holistic manner. Characterize and assess oceanographic factors that influence the distribution and abundance of biotic
components of coral reef ecosystems.
See Jurisdiction-Wide
Section for additional
research needs.



Evaluate the effectiveness of Hawaii's MPAs to determine how differing levels of protection influence
effectiveness and identify optimal MPA design undervarious scenarios.


Develop coupled ecosystem-hydrodynamic models to simulate and examine various management options. /
Evaluate and improve the
effectiveness of MPAs as .
Assess population replenishment and connectivity among islands, banks, and associated coral reef
a management tool. ecosystems.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Improve hydrodynamic, ecosystem, and resource assessment models that capture the dynamics, structure,
research needs. and function at appropriate temporal and spatial scales.


Identify indicator species (i.e., those which are indicative of the overall condition of the ecosystem) and
keystone species (i.e., those of importance in structuring the composition of the ecosystem) for use as K
monitoring tools.


U




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Hawaiian Islands



Management Objective


Assess connectivity among islands and banks tc

Minimize the introduction
and spread of alien Assess the distribution of alien marine sF
species.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Determine how invasive alga species are s[
Section for additional via fragments, but it is unknown if these an
research needs.
Identify alternative methods for ballast w
platform traffic.


Develop protocols and tools to detect inv


Determine factors (including natural and an


Develop and test approaches, including b
tools, to remove and control alien specie,


Quantify the effects of invasive algae on
taxa of particular concern.


Control or eradicate Determine why certain coral reefs or part
alien species that have same area.
the potential to cause
damage to coral reef Determine habitat and nest preferences
with non-native blennies and gobies.
ecosystems.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Determine the epidemiological and paras
Section for additional interactions with native species.
research needs.
Determine the ecological interactions bel
ta'ape and juvenile snappers), and their i


Evaluate socioeconomic impacts of estab


Determine the distribution, abundance, a
coral populations and identify measures (
harvesting black coral) to conserve and si


Create a risk analysis of alien species int


EVASIVE SPECIES -



Research Need


determine the rate at which alien species spread between islands. /


:ies in Hawaii, including reefs located outside of harbors. /


ading (e.g., A. spicifera spreads via spores, and H. musciformis
Father invasive species spread only by these methods).

er treatment for inter-island barges, vessels, and towed



ive species and assess their potential impacts. /


opogenic stressors) that contribute to the success of alien species. /


logical (e.g., native urchins, bacteria, and fungi) and mechanical
nd restore damaged habitats.


3f building corals, other invertebrates, and fishes, and identify


of reefs are affected by invasives more than similar reefs in the


native blennies and gobies, and determine their interactions


Sector relationships to enhance the understanding of



een established invasive species and native species (e.g.,
)acts on native populations.


hed alien species problems.


impact of the snowflake coral, Carijoa riisei, on black
:luding eradication techniques and potential restrictions on
:ainablv manage the black coral fishery.




~~~~~___~~~~______________NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan



CD
Hawaiian Islands CLIMATE CHANGE -O


Management Objective Research Need

Minimize the effects of
climate change on coral
reef ecosystems.
reef ecosystems. Assess the resistance and resilience of specific populations, locations, and habitats to episodic events
(e.g., coral bleaching), emphasizing areas that may serve as sources of reproductive propagules.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.


Develop a predicative capability to identify potential impacts of climate change.


Improve the capacity to Develop response protocols to mitigate and reduce damage to coral reefs from stressors during bleaching
forecast and respond to events
bleaching events.


Assess the extent and severity of bleaching in Hawaiian waters.






Hawaiian Islands EXTREME EVENTS



Management Objective Research Need


Characterize the types, distribution, and prevalence of diseases in coral reef ecosystems at sites included
in the Hawaii's monitoring program.
Identify causes and
consequences of diseases
in coral reef ecosystems
and mitigate their impacts. Determine links between coral disease and anthropogenic stressors (including fishing effort and marine
recreational activities).
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.

Develop protocols to assess community level changes through time following a coral disease outbreak.



Reduce impacts to and
promote restoration of
o re Develop models to predict how increasing storms (in both number and severity) may alter the structure
coral reef organisms and distribution of reefs in Hawaii.
affected by extreme
events.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure HI-3. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which extend across the north central Pacific, represent a vast, remote coral eco-
system that has been subjected to relatively minimal anthropogenic impacts. Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Friedlander et al. (2005b).


Northwestern Hawaiian Islands


MANAGEMENT GOAL
Maintain ecosystem integrity by implementing
ecosystem-based management principles.

The NWHI consist of small islands, atolls, submerged
banks, and reefs, and stretch for more than 2,000 km
northwest of the high windward MHI (Figures HI-3 and
HI-4). The majority of the islets and shoals remain
uninhabited, although Midway, Kure, and Laysan Islands
and French Frigate Shoals have all been occupied
for extended periods over the last century by various
government agencies.

With coral reefs around the world in decline, it is extremely
rare to be able to examine a coral reef ecosystem that is
relatively free of human influence and consisting of a wide
range of healthy coral reef habitats. The remoteness and
limited activities that have occurred in the NWHI have
resulted in minimal anthropogenic impacts. The region


represents one of the few large-scale, intact, predator-
dominated reef ecosystems remaining in the world and
offers an opportunity to examine what could occur if larger,
more effective no-take marine reserves are established
elsewhere. The high proportion of endemic species and
unique mix of tropical and sub-tropical assemblages has
identified the NWHI as a global biodiversity hotspot. The
NWHI are critically important to a number of wide-ranging
species such as seabirds, turtles, monk seals, and sharks.
Strong ecological linkages are provided by these and a few
other organisms for the transfer of energy and nutrients
among ecosystems.

The nearly pristine condition of the NWHI allows scientists
to understand how unaltered ecosystems are structured,
how they function, and how they can most effectively be
preserved. The NWHI provide an unparalleled opportunity
to assess how a "natural" coral reef ecosystem functions
in the absence of major human intervention. These reefs
consist of discrete ecological subunits that can be used
as replicates to examine large-scale ecological processes,




_NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


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l I E


I -



m w
wwlB
"l-" m,--r


slwan- I


Figure HI-4. Locator map for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Friedlander et al. (2005b).


while the scale of the existing fisheries allows for adaptive
management strategies that can address questions related
to stock decline and recovery. The NWHI represent a
baseline within which to understand natural fluctuations


and measure the success of existing management regimes
elsewhere. Lessons learned from the NWHI can be used to
help develop more effective management strategies in the
MHI and other ecosystems. The NWHI should not only be


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NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

conserved for their intrinsic value, but also for their value the University of Hawaii. As a result of a working group
to hedge against fisheries collapses and as a model for process, it was determined that the format of this section
ecosystem-based management.7 should differ from the other regional sections in this
document. Because of the remote nature of the NWHI,
To preserve and protect the NWHI for future generations, many of the threats and stressors that typically impact coral
President Bush signed a Proclamation on June 15, 2006 reef ecosystems are not present (e.g., coastal uses). To
creating the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine account for this, the format of the plan was modified. Also,
National Monument (Bush 2006). The national monument only management objectives with associated research needs
was created to preserve access for Native Hawaiian are included in the plan. This resulted in the removal of two
cultural activities; provide for carefully regulated important management objectives that need mentioning:
educational and scientific activities; enhance visitation in a outreach activities and improving coordination and
special area around Midway Island; prohibit unauthorized collaboration among agencies, institutions, and scientists.
access to the monument; phase out commercial fishing Outreach activities, while generally not considered to be
over a five-year period; and ban other types of resource research, are pivotal to the implementation and success
extraction and dumping of waste. of management actions. Improving coordination and
collaboration between agencies, institutions, and individual
Research Needs scientists conducting research in the Hawaiian Archipelago
The research needs described herein are for light-dependent is critical to the success of this research plan, but clearly not
coral reef ecosystems in the NWHI. This section was jointly a research priority.
developed by a working group consisting of NWHI resource
managers and affiliated researchers, including the State
of Hawaii, FWS, NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science .
8 While this research plan focuses on the shallow coral reef ecosystems in the NWHI,
Center, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, and connectivity with the deep coral ecosystems has been documented. This connectivity is
acknowledged in this plan by supporting ongoing research in the deep coral ecosystems
7 Introductory material was taken, with slight modifications, from Friedlander et of the NWHI.
al. (2005b).

NWHI An Ecosystem Approach9

Management Objective Research Need

Map, characterize, and assess coral reefs and their associated habitats.

Catalogue existing data sets, document current data collection programs, and assess the quality (e.g., statistical rigor) of
these data/programs.

Describe species diversity, trophic structure, and associated dynamics (including habitat linkages with other ecosystem
components) of coral reef ecosystems.

Characterize critical oceanographic factors that influence the distribution and abundance of biotic components of coral
Characterize NWHI shallow reef ecosystems.
coral reef ecosystems and
function. Assess population replenishment and connectivity among islands, banks, and associated coral reef ecosystems.

Improve hydrodynamic, ecosystem, and resource assessment models that capture the dynamics, structure, and function
at appropriate temporal and spatial scales.

Develop decision support analysis tools that incorporate the complexity, dynamics, and uncertainty associated with
NWHI processes to assist managers in resource decision making processes.

Identify the distribution and occurrence of deepwater hermatypic coral reefs, including identification of the extent and
distribution of these habitats at each island.



U




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


NWH I

Management Objective

Evaluate ar
and ecotou

Understand

iderstand human impacts, Assess resi
..Assess resi
itural variability, and emphasizing
)isodic events.

Establish Ic
changes in


Document;


Identify an(
maintain and, where marine deb
)propriate, restore
itural shallow coral reef
systemsm. Restore, wl
invertebrat'


entify robust ecosystem- Identify rob
ised management structure; b
dicators that reflect trophic consistent'
teractions, community
position, biodiversity,
id other metrics of Identify ind
systemm status. (i.e., those


Assess the


'aluate the effectiveness of Evaluate th
PAs as a management tool. these areas


Assess the


Characteriz
wduce the threat of alien eradication
iecies to shallow coral reef
systemss in the NWHI.
Conduct re!


otect, conserve, and
chance recovery of Characteriz
otected, threatened, and threats imp


An Ecosystem Approach9

Research Need

assess impacts (direct and indirect) of human activities (e.g., recreational fishing, subsistence, research,
m) on coral reef ecosystems.

ie potential effects of coral disease on population dynamics, community structure, and ecosystem function.


dance and resilience of specific populations and locations habitats to episodic events (e.g., coral bleaching),
areas that may serve as sources of reproductive propagules.


1-term monitoring programs that incorporate biotic and abiotic data to document and assess spatiotemporal
3ta.


d remediate hazardous waste that poses a threat to fish, wildlife, or their habitats.


nplement effective restoration, recovery, and remediation strategies to address human impacts, including
accumulations, ship groundings, and hazardous waste.


re possible, anthropogenically degraded coral reef habitats that are important for sustaining vertebrate and
;tocks.


t metrics to assess coral reef ecosystems (e.g., biodiversity and other statistical measures of assemblage
m-ass size spectra; and life history responses to keystone species such as apex predators) that are
th existing mandates.



itor species (i.e., those which are indicative of the overall condition of the ecosystem) and keystone species
importance in structuring the composition of the ecosystem) for use as monitoring tools.



fectiveness of MPAs in conserving ecologically important species and their habitats.


;osts and benefits of MPAs, including compensation or assistance programs for those displaced from



innectivity among MPAs within the NWHI and between adjacent ecosystems (e.g., Johnston Atoll).


biological and ecological requirements of specific alien species and develop effective prevention and
ethods.


arch to support the detection, removal, and control of alien species in coral reef ecosystems in the NWHI.



:he role of protected species (i.e., marine mammals, sea turtles, and birds) in coral reef ecosystems and the
ting these species, and develop measures to enhance their conservation.


~El




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


COMMONWEALTH OF THE
NORTHERN MARIANA
ISLANDS

The 290 km long Mariana Islands Archipelago
encompasses 14 islands of the U.S. Commonwealth of
the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the U.S. Territory
of Guam, and numerous offshore banks (Figure CNMI-
1). From a geological perspective, the islands can be
divided into two groups: a southern and a northern island
arc region. Although the islands of the older southern
arc, which includes Rota, Tinian, Saipan, and Farallon
de Mendinilla, are volcanic in origin, they are nearly all
covered with uplifted limestone derived from coral reefs.
The West Mariana Ridge is a series of seamounts, lying
145 to 170 km west of and parallel to the main island
chains. The southern arc islands have the oldest and
most developed reefs in CNMI, which are predominantly
located along the western (leeward) sides. The majority
of CNMI's residents live on Rota, Tinian, and Saipan (the
capital). The volcanic islands north of Saipan make up the
northern island arc region. In general, limited modern reef
development exists along this active arc, although recent
surveys show numerous patches of extensive reef growth
are found on Maug, Asuncion, Agrihan, Pagan, Alamagan,
and Guguan. Although some of the islands north of Saipan
have held small permanent and seasonal communities,
most permanent residents were evacuated in 1981 after
the eruption of Pagan. 10

Coral reef ecosystems in CNMI are, on the whole, in
reasonably good condition. However, it must be recognized
that coral reef ecosystems in CNMI cannot be realistically
treated as a single entity since the geology, oceanography,
ecological history, and human activities vary widely across
the 14 islands and associated reef shoals and banks.
Biological diversity, across coral reef taxa, is variable
among islands and isolated reefs, with limited data
indicating that offshore banks and reefs support lower
diversity, probably due to lower habitat diversity.

Anthropogenic effects, such as nonpoint source pollution
and fishing pressure, have clearly affected areas in
proximity to the populated southern islands. Based on
fisheries information, the northern islands and more distant
banks and reefs appear to be in better condition than those
closer to population centers. Environmental stressors such

10 It should be noted that residents have resettled several of the northern islands since
1981.


as volcanic ashfall, elevated sea surface temperature, and
crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthasterplanci, predation
have clearly had localized negative effects on coral reefs in
the Marianas (Figure CNMI-2). Past military activity in the
northern part of Tinian has had an impact on the condition
of the island due to improper waste disposal, but current
military activities have shown minimal damage to the coral
reefs themselves.

Establishment of MPAs to serve as spawning stock areas
and to ensure habitat integrity, not only for coral reef fish
but for food organisms as well, may be the most effective
management tool available to maintain levels of spawning
stock biomass necessary to replenish or sustain coral reef
fisheries. In 1994, the first no-take MPA was established
in CNMI at Sasanhaya Bay Fish Reserve in Rota. In the
late 1990s, a bill was introduced to create two additional
MPAs Tinian Marine Sanctuary (Tinian Island) and
Managaha Marine Conservation Area (Saipan Lagoon).
The Managaha Marine Conservation Area was established
by law in 2000, but the Tinian Marine Sanctuary has yet to
be created.1


Figure CNMI-2 Crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci,
feeding on live coral adjacent to an artificial reef. Photo credit:
James P McVey, NOAA Sea Grant Program.


11 Introductorymaterialwastaken,with slight modifications,from Starmeretal.(2002,2005).




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


Figure CNMI-1. Locator map for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. (See Figure 5 for geographical context)
Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Starmer (2005).




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan

Research Needs

CNMI FISHING

Management Objective Research Need

Evaluate fishing effort and catch per unit effort in the Saipan Lagoon.
Conserve and manage
fisheries to prevent Conduct stock assessments in the Saipan Lagoon and other selected nearshore locations and compare to 2005 fish stock
overfishing, rebuild stocks, assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of the net ban.
and minimize destructive
fishing. Conduct a socioeconomic valuation of recreational and subsistence coral reef fisheries.

See Jurisdiction-Wide Determine the archipelago-wide population status of managed reef species using fishery dependent and independent
Section for additional programs.
research needs.
Establish the home ranges of key target or indicator species.

Evaluate and improve the
effectiveness of MPAs as a
fisheries management tool. Evaluate the impact of establishing a user fee structure for MPAs and fishing activities based upon willingness to pay
and economic valuations of uses and users.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.
Evaluate the current level of participation by fishers in fisheries management and determine the desired level of
Increase fishers' participation to best manage fisheries.
participation in fisheries
management. Document historical and cultural knowledge of CNMI coral reef resources and their ecology, and their historical trends in
abundance, size, distribution, and community composition.



CNMI POLLUTION

Management Objective Research Need
Reduce the impacts of Identify the effects of pollution and other anthropogenic factors on CNMI's coral reef ecosystems.
pollutants on coral reef
ecosystems by improving Determine the concentration and impacts of pollutants on nearshore water quality between Taga Beach and Barcinas
the understanding of their Bay on Tinian.
effects.
Evaluate the ability of monitoring programs to detect ecosystem change associated with land-based pollutants.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Identify the sources and impacts of pollutants (e.g., sewer outfalls, Puerto Rico dump site, and golf courses) on coral
research needs, reef condition.

Improve water quality Develop and test methods for improving water quality.
Improve w ater quality -------- -------------
by reducing land-based Model the impacts of land-use activities on nearshore water quality to predict the efficiency of various management
schemes.
pollutant inputs and impacts sch
on coral reef ecosystems. Identify appropriate methods and plants for Talakaya watershed to stabilize soil and provide a habitat conducive to the
restoration of the native terrestrial ecosystem.
See Jurisdiction-Wide Assess effectiveness of revegetation in reducing soil erosion in Talakaya watershed.
Section for additional Evaluate effectiveness of management actions to restore (and in some cases create) mangrove and wetland areas to
research needs, reduce and-based pollutants.

Improve the understanding
of the economic benefits of Identify reasons for low stakeholder participation in management opportunities and means to increase support.
improved water quality.




_NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan



CNMI COASTAL USES


Management Objective Research Need

Develop criteria to use in the review of environmental assessments and environmental impact statements.

Reduce the impacts from
recreational use, industry, Determine resource base and human pressure (including land-based pollution and fishing pressure) trends in the
coastal development, and northernmost islands.
maritime vessels on coral
Identify the environmental impacts associated with existing marine-related activities and user conflicts among these
reef ecosystems. activities.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Assess the impacts from non-extractive activities on coral reef condition.
research needs.
Evaluate the effectiveness of management measures to reduce pressures from coastal uses on CNMI's coral
reef ecosystems.

Balance resource use to
minimize user conflicts,
provide equitable uses, and
Conduct an economic valuation of coral reef ecosystems in CNMI.
ensure optimal benefits
to present and future
generations.

Reduce impacts from and
restore habitat damaged Assess the identity, location, condition, and ownership of derelict and grounded vessels and determine their impacts to
by vessel anchoring and assist in prioritizing vessel removal.
groundings.

Restore injured and
degraded coral reef habitats.
Evaluate the effectiveness of management actions to restore shoreline, sandy beach, and nearshore water quality.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.

Manage coral reef
ecosystems and their uses in
a holistic manner.
Compare the historical extent and condition of mangroves, grass beds, and coral reefs with their current status to
determine if conservation measures are necessary.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.

Conduct specific valuation of the impact of MPAs on resident fishing populations.
Evaluate and improve the
effectiveness of MPAs as a Evaluate the effectiveness of current MPAs to protect the long-term stability of CNMI's coral reef ecosystems.
management tool.

See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional Evaluate the impact of establishing a user fee structure for MPAs and fishing activities based upon users' willingness to
research needs. pay and economic valuations of uses.
research needs.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan



CNMI INVASIVE SPECIES


Management Objective Research Need

Minimize the introduction
n e iSee Jurisdiction-Wide Section for research needs.
and spread of alien species.



Control or eradicate invasive
species that have the Identify those species in CNMI waters with the potential for invasive behavior (e.g., Tilapia) and develop appropriate
potential to cause damage to management plans for each species.
coral reef ecosystems.




CNMI CLIMATE CHANGE

Management Objective Research Need


Minimize the effects of
climate change on coral reef See Jurisdiction-Wide Section for research needs.
ecosystems.




CNMI EXTREME EVENTS


Management Objective Research Need

Identify causes and
consequences of diseases in
coral reef ecosystems and
mitigate their impacts. Determine the distribution, abundance, and types of coral diseases prevalent in CNMI and their impacts on coral
reef condition.
See Jurisdiction- Wide
Section for additional
research needs.


Reduce the collateral
Assess the relative importance of ground water and surface water discharges in contributing to harmful algal blooms in
impacts from harmful algal Saipan.
blooms on nearshore areas.


Identify and reduce the
Determine the ecological and economic impacts of Acanthasterplancipopulations and identify strategies to minimize
negative impacts of outbreaks.
Acanthasterplanci.




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


GUAM


Guam, a U.S. territory located at 130 28' N, 1440 45' E,
is the southernmost island in the Mariana Archipelago
(Figure GUAM-1). It is the largest island in Micronesia,
with a land mass of 560 km2 and a maximum elevation of
approximately 405 m. It is also the most heavily populated
island in Micronesia with a population of about 164,000
people (est. July 2003). The northern portion of the
island is relatively flat and consists primarily of uplifted
limestone. The island's principle source aquifer "floats"
on denser sea water within the limestone plateau; and is
recharged from rainfall percolating through surface soils
(Guam Water Planning Committee 1998). The southern half
of the island is primarily volcanic, with more topographic
relief and large areas of highly erodible soils (Young
1988). This topography creates a number of watersheds
throughout the southern areas which are drained by 96
rivers (Best and Davidson 1981).

The condition of Guam's coral reefs (including fringing
reefs, patch reefs, submerged reefs, offshore banks, and
barrier reefs) varies considerably, depending on a variety
of factors including geology, human population density,
degree of coastal development, levels and types of marine
resource uses, oceanic circulation patterns, and frequency
of natural disturbances (e.g., typhoons and earthquakes).
Many of Guam's reefs have declined in health over the
past 40 years. The average live coral cover on the fore reef
slopes was approximately 50% in the 1960s (Randall 1971),
but by the 1990s had dwindled to less than 25% live coral
cover and only a few having over 50% live cover (Birkeland
1997). Still, in the past, Guam's reefs have recovered after
drastic declines. For example, an outbreak of the crown-
of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, in the early 1970s
reduced coral cover in some areas from 50 to 60% to less
than 1%. Twelve years later, greater than 60% live coral
cover was recorded for these areas (Colgan 1987). A more
distressing indicator of the condition of Guam's coral reefs
is the marked decrease in rates of coral recruitment.


Guam's coral reefs are an important component of its
tourism industry. The reefs and the protection that they
provide make Guam a popular tourist destination for
Asian travelers (70 to 80% from Japan). According to
the Guam Economic Development Authority, the tourism
industry accounts for up to 60% of the government's annual
revenues and provides more than 20,000 direct and indirect
jobs. Guam hosted nearly 1 million visitors in 2003
(GVB 2004).

Traditionally, coral reef fishery resources formed a
substantial part of the local Chamorro community's
diet and included finfish, invertebrates, and sea turtles
(Amesbury and Hunter-Anderson 2003). Today, coral reef
resources are both economically and culturally important.
Reef fish, although somewhat displaced from the diet
by westernization and declining stocks, are still found at
the fiesta table and at meals during the Catholic Lenten
season. Many of the residents from other islands in
Micronesia continue to include reef fish as a staple part
of their diet (Amesbury and Hunter-Anderson 2003). Sea
cucumbers, sea urchins, mollusks, marine algae, and a
variety of crustaceans are also eaten locally. In addition
to the cash and subsistence value of edible fish and
invertebrates, reef-related fisheries are culturally important
as family and group fishing is a common activity in Guam's
coastal waters.

Over 10% of Guam's coastline has been set aside in five
Marine Preserves: Tumon Bay, Piti Bomb Holes, Sasa Bay,
Achang Reef Flat, and Pati Point. The preserves were
established by local law in 1997 in response to decreasing
reef fish stocks, but were not fully enforced until 2001.
Fishing activity is restricted in the preserves with limited
cultural take permitted in three of the five areas. The
preserves are complemented by the War in the Pacific
National Historical Park; Ritidian NWR; the two Naval
Ecological Reserve Areas, Orote and Haputo; and the Guam
Territorial Seashore Park. While the five marine preserves
are enforced, the other areas currently have limited
management and enforcement. 12








12 Introductory material was taken, with slight modifications, from Porter et al. (2005).


Ui




NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan


* City

- National Park

Ecological Research Area

- Marine Protected Area


SLand

Water <20 m

Water <200 m

Deep War


Figure GUAM- I. Locator map for Guam. (See F1igure 5 for geographical context.) Map: A. Shapiro. Source: Porter et al. (2005).




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