2005 Progress Report: Connectivity in Marine Seascapes: Predicting Ecological and Socioeconomic Costs of Climate Change on Coral Reef Ecosystems

EPA Grant Number: R832223
Title: Connectivity in Marine Seascapes: Predicting Ecological and Socioeconomic Costs of Climate Change on Coral Reef Ecosystems
Investigators: Sanchirico, James N. , Mumby, Peter J. , Hastings, Alan , Brumbaugh, Dan , Micheli, Fiorenza , Broad, Kenneth
Institution: Resources for the Future , American Museum of Natural History , University of California - Davis , University of Exeter , University of Miami , Stanford University
Current Institution: Resources for the Future , American Museum of Natural History , Stanford University , University of California - Davis , University of Exeter , University of Miami
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: March 1, 2005 through February 28, 2008 (Extended to June 30, 2009)
Project Period Covered by this Report: March 1, 2005 through February 28,2006
Project Amount: $749,087
RFA: Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystem Services Provided by Coral Reefs and Tidal Marshes (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecosystems , Climate Change , Water , Aquatic Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Global Climate Change , Water and Watersheds

Objective:

The objective of this research project is to integrate theory and data from ecology, biology, and the social sciences to address major questions about the potential consequences of climate change (sea level rise, increases in sea level temperatures, and increased storm intensity) on coral reef-mangrove ecosystems. Using a structure that is representative of Caribbean ecosystems, we systematically explore several core questions, including: (1) How do local impacts including overfishing and mangrove deforestation affect the vulnerability of Caribbean coral reefs to climate change? (2) When do socioeconomic responses to changes in the ecosystem triggered by climate change stressors exacerbate the vulnerability of coral reef ecosystems to future stressors? (3) What are the critical ecological and/or socioeconomic uncertainties for predicting climate change impacts on ecosystem services that will yield the greatest returns from investigation? In all questions, we measure ecosystem services through the effects on fisheries, biodiversity, and social/cultural systems.

Addressing these questions requires building an integrated ecological-socioeconomic model. We currently are developing three of the subcomponents of the integrative model: (1) a simulation model of climate change impacts and mangroves on the state of Caribbean coral reefs; (2) a trophic model of fish standing crop and production; and (3) a model to predict how fishing pressure, tourism development, and local economies will be affected by climate change stressors. Model development and parameterization is primarily based on our unique data set with meta-analysis and data mining of the literature employed when needed.

Progress Summary:

Numerical Model of Climate Change Impacts and Mangroves on the State of Caribbean Coral Reefs

Initial progress in model subcomponent 1 is an extension to a model of coral-algal-grazer-disturbance interactions to investigate the potential consequences of climate change on different areas in the Caribbean. Projected temperatures and historical sea surface temperature (SST) climatologies are used to develop a time series of bleaching probabilities for each year from 2010 to 2100 under two emissions scenarios. Simon Donner (Princeton) provided SSTs obtained with the use of the Hadley Centre’s HadCM3 coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model together with climate data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Emission Scenarios. SSTs and bleaching probabilities vary with spatial location, as does predicted hurricane intensity.

Corals are modeled to suffer partial mortality as a result of bleaching. Species are affected differently by raised temperatures (parameterized with data from the literature), and corals that previously have been exposed to elevated SSTs are modeled to be less likely to suffer partial mortality as a result of bleaching. Outcomes of the model focus on the impact of different grazing levels of Stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) upon interactions taking place in various locations across the Caribbean.

Preliminary findings demonstrate that although simulated bleaching events occur with high frequency over the 100-year period, coral recruitment and growth compensate for decreases in colony size because of changes in species composition. Key predictive factors are the abundances of urchins and parrotfish. We currently are undertaking a reassessment of the parameters and data on whole-colony mortality from the coral bleaching literature.

Trophic Model of Fish Standing Crop and Production

Advances in model subcomponent 2 are in data analyses and developing models examining population and community dynamics of grazers (parrotfish) and predators (grouper and snapper). The data include fish surveys at 200 sites across 7 islands in the Bahamas and was completed as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) biocomplexity project. Initial data analysis suggests significant positive relationships between measures of fish community structure to ecological functions (e.g., grazing of macroalgae by herbivorous fishes and secondary production) and fish diversity, both in terms of species and functional groups. We find that habitats supporting greater fish diversity also support greater grazing intensity and biomass of species targeted by local fisheries. These analyses will contribute to determining the possible impacts of fishing and habitat loss on ecological functions and what combinations of habitat types are needed to support these key functions.

Large-bodied parrotfishes represent the dominant grazer on most Caribbean reefs, an ecosystem function that enhances recruitment and survival of corals, both of which are inhibited by macroalgae and are correlated with coral reef resilience. Because of their important role in the macroalgae-coral relationship and their complex life history, we initially will focus our efforts on modeling the demographics of S. viride and the effects of Epinephelus striatus predation and fishing on their population. Like many parrotfish species, the Stoplight parrotfish is a protogynous hermaphrodite, with two adult phases (initial and terminal) and two major social categories (group and territorial). Changes in fishing and predation on parrotfish populations by grouper may affect size-specific mortality or other demographic traits, such as changes in growth rates or size at sex-change or maturity. Subsequent modeling efforts will link biomass of S. viride to algal grazing rates and incorporate grouper predation on yellowtail snapper, a species whose biomass on Montastrea reefs is enhanced by the presence of adjacent mangrove forests and serve as additional prey for E. striatus whose gape size precludes feeding on the largest parrotfish.

Developing a trophic model to understand the complex dynamics between representative grouper (Nassau grouper, E. striatus), parrotfish (Stoplight parrotfish, S. viride), and snapper (Yellowtail snapper, Ocyurus chrysurus) species will enable us to predict the subsequent changes in trophic structure caused by shocks to the marine environment, such as increases in sea level temperatures or changes in anthropogenic uses (e.g., creation of a marine reserve). The model has required data mining of life history and diet information of fish species. We also will examine how predator-prey interactions are affected by habitat configuration by including contributions of mangroves to predator populations. This work is ongoing, with anticipated completion by the end of the summer.

Socioeconomic Model to Predict Fishing Pressure, Tourism Development, and Local Economies are Affected by Climate Change Stressors

The socioeconomic team is analyzing fieldwork data and developing a bioeconomic model to couple with model subcomponents 1 and 2 that includes functional dependencies between mangrove and coral reef habitats. Model development is guided by our fieldwork that focuses on the interaction between local residents and their marine environment. To date, we have completed more than 200 interviews, 600 household surveys, extensive participant observations, and participatory mapping of resource use areas in six Bahamian settlements in Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera, and San Salvador from 2001-2005.

Preliminary findings reveal a number of relevant issues:

  1. Significant geographic and socioeconomic diversity exists, implying that responses in one settlement may not correspond to those in other settlements. Understanding the underlying factors driving this diversity will enable us to predict likely responses to climate change.
  2. Local knowledge is important for adaptation to climate change stressors.
  3. Demographic trends potentially are exposing the settlements to greater risks from climate change, such as more individuals getting involved in tourism-related activities than fishing and an increasing number of women entering the wage-based economy.
  4. Locals identified several land-based threats to coral reef-mangrove ecosystems, such as leaching from local dump sites and large tourist developments.

Integrative Modeling

We also are making progress linking the subcomponents. For example, links between model subcomponents 2 and 3 include indirect effects through the impacts of fishing on grouper, a major predator of parrotfishes, effects of fishing/reserves on potential resilience of reefs through impacts on grazers.

Ongoing model development and data analysis of Caribbean coral reef ecosystems are developing a new understanding of changes in ecological services caused by climate stressors, providing a framework for evaluating different management scenarios on ecosystem services and highlighting mechanisms where climate stressors can cascade through the ecological and socioeconomic systems triggering responses that increase the vulnerability of the ecosystem.


Journal Articles on this Report : 7 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 75 publications 38 publications in selected types All 38 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Chapman DDF, Pikitch EK, Babcock EA. Marine parks need sharks? Science 2006;312(5773):526-528 (comment on Science 2006;311(5757):98-101). R832223 (2005)
R832223 (2006)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Journal Article Harborne AR, Mumby PJ, Micheli F, Perry CT, Dahlgren CP, Holmes KE, Brumbaugh DR. The functional value of Caribbean coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats to ecosystem processes. Advances in Marine Biology 2006;50:57-189. R832223 (2005)
    R832223 (2006)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: University of Queensland-Australia PDF
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  • Abstract: Science Direct Abstract
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  • Journal Article Hilborn R, Micheli F, De Leo GA. Integrating marine protected areas with catch regulation. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2006;63(3):642-649. R832223 (2005)
    R832223 (2006)
  • Full-text: University of California-Santa Barbara PDF
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  • Abstract: NRC Research Press
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  • Journal Article Mumby PJ, Dahlgren CP, Harborne AR, Kappel CV, Micheli F, Brumbaugh DR, Holmes KE, Mendes JM, Broad K, Sanchirico JN, Buch K, Box S, Stoffle RW, Gill AB. Fishing, trophic cascades, and the process of grazing on coral reefs. Science 2006;311(5757):98-101. R832223 (2005)
    R832223 (2006)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: University of Queensland-Australia PDF
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  • Journal Article Mumby PJ, Hedley JD, Zychaluk K, Harborne AR, Blackwell PG. Revisiting the catastrophic die-off of the urchin Diadema antillarum on Caribbean coral reefs: fresh insights on resilience from a simulation model. Ecological Modelling 2006;196(1-2):131-148. R832223 (2005)
    R832223 (2006)
  • Full-text: Science Direct Full Text
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  • Abstract: Science Direct Abstract
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  • Other: Science Direct Full Text (PDF)
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  • Journal Article Mumby PJ. Connectivity of reef fish between mangroves and coral reefs: algorithms for the design of marine reserves at seascape scales. Biological Conservation 2006;128(2):215-222. R832223 (2005)
    R832223 (2006)
  • Full-text: Science Direct Full Text
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  • Abstract: Science Direct Abstract
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  • Journal Article Mumby PJ. The impact of exploiting grazers (Scaridae) on the dynamics of Caribbean coral reefs. Ecological Applications 2006;16(2):747-769. R832223 (2005)
    R832223 (2006)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    marine, estuary, ecological effects, ecosystem, susceptibility, aquatic, integrated assessment, sustainable development, habitat, organism, environmental assets, conservation, public policy, decision making, social science, ecology, biology, mathematics, modeling, analytical, landsat, remote sensing, EPA Region 2, coral reefs, climate model,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Chemistry, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Aquatic Ecosystem, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Atmosphere, coral reefs, environmental measurement, meteorology, climatic influence, global ciruclation model, climate, global change, tidal marsh, socioeconomics, ecosystem indicators, climate models, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, coastal ecosystems, global climate models, coral reef communities, climate model, ecosystem stress, ecological models, sea level rise, atmospheric chemistry, climate variability, Global Climate Change

    Relevant Websites:

    http://www.reefvid.org Exit
    http://bbp.amnh.org/website/home.html Exit
    http://crem.rsmas.miami.edu/GIS/Bahamas/ Exit
    http://micheli.stanford.edu/index.php Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • Final Report