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. , Broad, Kenneth , Brumbaugh, Dan , Hastings, Alan , Micheli, Fiorenza , Mumby, Peter J.
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: Walters, Claudia
Project Period: March 1, 2005 through February 28, 2008 (Extended to June 30, 2009)
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


This project seeks to integrate theory and data from ecology, biology, and the social sciences to address major questions about the potential consequences of climate change on coral reef ecosystems. The researchers will establish a general framework starting at the habitat scale that is linked with population biology and socioeconomic models. This structure will allow systematic exploration of 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? and (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, ecosystem services will be measured through the effects on fisheries, biodiversity, and social/cultural systems.


We will develop an integrated ecological-socioeconomic model that will be representative of Caribbean ecosystems and be formulated in discrete time and space. Data for estimating ecological and socioeconomic response functions are already being collected by this team in an ongoing NSF funded Biocomplexity project. This unique data set will allow us to highlight and measure the effects of local processes that are typically averaged out in more aggregate climate change models. The model will include explicit spatial processes, such as larval and adult/juvenile dispersal and movements of fishers, along with dynamic adjustment responses to predict the vulnerability of coral-mangrove ecosystems to climate change stressors. Given the large uncertainties in both the nature of the relationships and measurement, we undertake a value of information analysis to learn about the impacts of “reducing” uncertainties on various ecological and socioeconomic criteria.

Expected Results:

Taking advantage of ongoing model development and data collection analysis of Caribbean coral-reef ecosystems, our goals are to develop a new understanding of changes in ecological services due to climate stressors, provide a framework for evaluating different management scenarios on ecosystem services, and highlight mechanisms where climate stressors can cascade through the ecological and socioeconomic systems triggering responses that increase the vulnerability of the ecosystem.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 75 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 38 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

bioeconomics, ethnography, aquatic, public policy, mathematics, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Chemistry, Monitoring/Modeling, Aquatic Ecosystem, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Atmosphere, environmental measurement, meteorology, climatic influence, global ciruclation model, coral reefs, global change, climate, tidal marsh, socioeconomics, climate models, ecosystem indicators, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, coastal ecosystems, global climate models, coral reef communities, ecological models, climate model, ecosystem stress, sea level rise, Global Climate Change, atmospheric chemistry, climate variability

Relevant Websites:

Connectivity in Marine Seascapes:  Predicting Ecological and Socioeconomic Costs of Climate Change on Coral Reef Ecosystems (PDF) (1 pp, 15 K)

Progress and Final Reports:

2005 Progress Report
2006 Progress Report
2007 Progress Report
2008 Progress Report
Final Report