Integrating Coral Reef Ecosystem Integrity and Restoration Options with Watershed-based activities in the Tropical Pacific Islands and the Societal Costs of Poor Land-use Practices

EPA Grant Number: R828008
Title: Integrating Coral Reef Ecosystem Integrity and Restoration Options with Watershed-based activities in the Tropical Pacific Islands and the Societal Costs of Poor Land-use Practices
Investigators: Richmond, Robert H. , Hamnett, Michael , Wolanski, Eric
Institution: University of Guam , Australian Institute of Marine Sciences , University of Hawaii at Honolulu
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period:     (Extended to July 31, 2004)
Project Amount: $795,249
RFA: Water and Watersheds (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water


Coral reefs are highly diverse, productive and complex ecosystems. They build tropical islands and land masses, protect their shores from coastal erosion and wave damage, support fisheries of cultural and economic value, are a repository for natural products of biomedical value, and are truly museums of the world's tropical marine biodiversity. While coral reefs are relatively robust and have survived millions of years of natural disturbances, anthropogenic influences are a major concern for the sustainability of these important ecosystems. Due to the small size of the islands of Micronesia, activities conducted within watersheds have almost immediate effects on coastal coral reefs. Runoff, sedimentation and non-point source pollution are among the greatest threats to coral reefs throughout the Pacific Basin. The societal costs of coral reef degradation resulting from land-based developments are great, especially when considering the importance of coral reefs to island cultures.

The objectives of the proposed research are to apply the knowledge gained from a previous STAR grant to determining the classes and concentrations of coastal pollutants associated with watershed discharge of greatest concern to coral reef health, to collect quantitative data on physical and chemical characteristics of coastal waters affected by watershed discharge and apply these to developing integrated management schemes, to provide an accurate assessment of the societal costs of insufficient environmental protection measures within watersheds as they affect reefs and related coastal marine resources, to determine if coral reef restoration activities are practical if coupled with watershed restoration efforts, and to make this information readily accessible to stakeholders as a means of affecting appropriate environmental policy.


The approach includes performing ecological studies on coral reefs, quantifying levels at which sedimentation and selected classes of pollutants become problematic, studying coastal water characteristics of flow, residence time and spatial extent of watershed discharge to determine measures that can be implemented to reduce negative impacts, quantifying the societal costs to island communities resulting from watershed and related reef degradation, and testing reef restoration techniques coupled with land-based remediation. The proposed research integrates ecological studies, physical oceanographic research and social science to deal with problems identified as priorities by the US Coral Reef Task Force. It will focus on the anthropogenic disturbances most relevant to coral reefs, and translate this information for regional educational outreach.

Expected Results:

The expected results will include protocols for assessing stress on coral reef ecosystems, water quality guidelines on coastal pollutants of greatest concern, data to guide reef recovery and restoration efforts, information on societal values of watersheds and coral reefs, and appropriate educational materials and data to support the development of policies for integrated watershed management.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 65 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 11 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

TMDLs, ecological indicators, pollution, capacity-building., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, Water & Watershed, Environmental Chemistry, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Chemistry, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Wet Weather Flows, Ecological Risk Assessment, International, Watersheds, anthropogenic processes, water resources, coastal ecosystem, aquatic ecosystem, anthropogenic stress, coral reef ecosystem, coastal watershed, coral reefs, valuation of watersheds, watershed, human activities, runoff, sediment, coral reef ecosystem restoration, coastal environments, socioeconomics, aquatic degradation, hydrology, Tropical Pacific Islands, societal costs, aquatic ecosystems, coral reef ecosystem integrity, human values, non-point sources, restoration, water quality, flow monitor, ecological indicators, ecology assessment models, outreach and education, Micronesia, ecological integrity, land use, restoration planning, watershed restoration

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • Final Report