A lack of understanding of the impacts of multiple stressors on coral reefs in a changing climate and the most effective management strategies was addressed in a recent paper using a simulation model. Researchers validated the model at four sites in Bolinao, the Philippines. The future reef state was projected for each site 40 years into the future under varying scenarios of cumulative impacts of poor water quality, fishing, and bleaching mortality. Management of water quality and fishing were found to have a significant impact on future reef condition. Simulated coral recovery following mortality caused by bleaching was highest at the least degraded sites and sites with the least impact from stressors. Poor water quality alone had a larger effect on overall reef state than the individual effect of fishing and bleaching. The authors highlight the importance to management of considering impacts of multiple stressors rather than considering them individually. For coral reef managers, the take away message is that managing local-scale stressors is critical to the future persistence of coral reefs in a changing climate.
Author: Gurney, G.G., J. Melbourne-Thomas, R.C. Geronimo, P.M. Alino, and C.R. Johnson
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PLoS ONE 8(11): e80137. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080137