The article, which is entitled Capturing the cornerstones of coral reef resilience: linking theory to practice, is written together with UK researcher Nicholas Graham from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Australia.
The world´s coral reefs are threatened by a range of human-induced pressures, including climate change, coastal development, overfishing and pollution. Faced with these threats, reefs seldom respond in a linear way. Rather, they tend to undergo unexpected and dramatic (and sometimes irreversible) changes in community composition, so called phase shifts.
The implications of these are absolutely staggering, not only for biodiversity but also for ecosystem services like tourism, fisheries and coastal protection.
No wonder, then, that many managers and researchers around the world now search for early warning signals or - as it is labelled in the new article - “operational indicators of resilience" in order to predict vulnerability before such abrupt phase shifts occur.
Resilience is the capacity of a coral reef to both withstand disturbance (like storms, overfishing and pollutants) and to rebuild itself if damaged. Hence, the more resilient a coral reef is, the less likely it is to abruptly switch into alternative degraded and stable states.
Practical resilience applications have lagged behind
- The rapid development of resilience has been paramount for the understanding of dynamic ecosystem behaviour in everything from coral reefs and lakes to oceans and forests, but practical advancements of how to operationalize resilience theory have lagged behind, says Magnus Nyström, lead author of the article.
The review presents indicators such as “functional group approaches", “the ratios of ‘good´ and ‘bad´ colonizers of space", “measurements of spatial heterogeneity", and “estimates of potential space availability against grazing capacity" of fish and sea urchins.
The work is considered an important step forward in how to apply resilience theory as a tool to improve coral reef management, but there is still much ground to be made.
- Much research remains to test, refine, and develop the use of these indicators in a management context in order to make them truly operational, the four researchers write.
Research news | 2020-06-29
Researchers debunk five illusions about forests and forest management. With it comes the hope for change
Research news | 2020-06-25
The complex interactions among the planetary boundaries can be challenging to grasp, but they play a critical role in the resilience of society’s responses to urgent global pressures. The SRC–L’Oreal research collaboration is focusing on the challenge of tackling multiple issues at once, in resilient ways.
Research news | 2020-06-25
Benchmarking the Swedish diet relative to global and national environmental targets shows more action on sustainable dietary shifts and more research needed
Research news | 2020-06-23
A blanket solution for persistent poverty does not exist. Researchers present three insights for action
Research news | 2020-06-22
Centre researcher internationally renowned for her research on the dynamics of social-ecological systems
Research news | 2020-06-21
Production model promises triple wins for smallholders and the environment. That may be too good to be true