Good Management Could Help Coral Reefs Survive Climate Change

Getty/Donald Miralle

An Australian Institute of Marine Science-led international study shows how a holistic approach to reef management could boost coral resilience under environmental change.

The researchers suggested the management system, Adaptive Resilience-Based Management framework, to help guide decision-making to improve the health of coral reefs.

Coral reefs are under pressure from a variety of sources including climate change, ocean
acidification, storms, declining water quality, crown-of-thorns (COTS) starfish outbreaks and
overfishing.

The researchers applied the framework to Caribbean and Indo-Pacific reefs, where climate change and ocean acidification will be making the job of coral reef managers increasingly difficult.

“Keeping coral reefs healthy and resilient will require an increasingly cautious approach as
impacts from both global and local stressors accumulate on these ecosystems” says Paul
Marshall of the University of Queensland.

“Our work shows how strategic efforts to reduce stresses like poor water quality and also simultaneously combat COTS (Crown of Thorns) outbreaks can increase the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef up to a point, but that climate change and ocean acidification will ultimately need to be addressed,” says Dr Anthony.

The study is published in the journal Global Change Biology.

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