As managers, it is helpful to have a good sense of what resilience looks like. Resilience is more than being able to recover from a major disturbance, surviving bleaching, or resisting bleaching. For a community to be resilient, it must also be able to continue to thrive, reproduce, and compete for space and resources. For example, coral communities that have experienced bleaching but not mortality may be weakened and less able to thrive, grow, and reproduce in the competitive reef environment.
Multiple factors contribute to resilient coral communities, some of them known and others to be discovered. Scientists are working to identify important ecological, biological, and physical factors that managers can evaluate to determine the health or resilience of a coral community. The following sections discuss some of these factors, and how they contribute to the overall resilience of coral communities. It is important to be able to identify and better understand these factors, so management strategies can be focused on maintaining or restoring communities to these optimal conditions to maximize coral survival after stressful disturbances. Please refer to the section on monitoring resilience for help in using this information in a field monitoring context.
Anticipating Ecological Surprises: Managing Reef Resilience by Terry Hughes