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Remote Sensing and Modeling of Coral Reef Resilience

Author(s): Knudby A, Pittman SJ, Maina J, Rowlands G.


Center Team: Biogeography

Publication Type: Book

Date of Publication: 2014

Reference Information: U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI)

Abstract: A new paradigm has emerged for management of coral reefs in an era of changing climate – managing for resilience. A fundamental need for such management to be effective is our ability to measure and map coral reef resilience. We review the resilience concept and factors that may make a coral reef more or less resilient to climate-driven impacts, and focus on recent advances in a trio of technologies – remote sensing, spatial distribution modeling, and ecosystem simulation – that promise to improve our ability to quantify coral reef resilience across reefs. Remote sensing allows direct mapping of several ecosystem variables that influence reef resilience, including coral and algal cover, as well as a range of coral reef stressors, as exemplified by three case studies. Spatial distribution modeling allows exploitation of statistical relationships between mappable environmental variables and factors that influence resilience but which cannot be mapped directly, such as herbivore biomass. Ecosystem simulation modeling allows predictions to interpreting marine remote sensing data have advanced significantly in the past decade, and now provide reliable, repeatable and cost-effective quantitative assessments of habitat distributions and conditions over spatially extensive areas (Goodman et al. 2013). Remote sensing can provide a synoptic view of coral reef ecosystems by mapping a wide range of biological and physical variables from the water column to the seafloor, as well as on adjacent terrestrial areas that are required to characterize coral reef resilience, all at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales (Fig. 5.1). The diversity of information that can now be provided by remote sensing using passive sensors such as aerial photography, multispectral and hyperspectral sensors, or active sensors such as acoustic and lidar instruments, thus allows complex scientific and management-related questions to be addressed. Mapping the 11 resilience indicators identified by McClanahan et al. (2012), however, remains a significant challenge. Here we describe the capabilities of acoustic and optical sensors for mapping characteristics of the seafloor, the waters above, and the seascape context that is relevant to understanding and mapping reef resilience (Table 5.1).

Availability: As a book and online as a PDF

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