“Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs” Nature (2016)
Joshua E. Cinner, Cindy Huchery, M. Aaron MacNeil, Nicholas A.J. Graham, Tim R. McClanahan, Joseph Maina, Eva Maire, John N. Kittinger, Christina C. Hicks, Camilo Mora, Edward H. Allison, Stephanie D’Agata, Andrew Hoey, David A. Feary, Larry Crowder, Ivor D. Williams, Michel Kulbicki, Laurent Vigliola, Laurent Wantiez, Graham Edgar, Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Stuart A. Sandin, Alison L. Green, Marah J. Hardt, Maria Beger, Alan Friedlander, Stuart J. Campbell, Katherine E. Holmes, Shaun K. Wilson, Eran Brokovich, Andrew J. Brooks, Juan J. Cruz-Motta, David J. Booth, Pascale Chabanet, Charlie Gough, Mark Tupper, Sebastian C. A. Ferse, U. Rashid Sumaila & David Mouillot
A new study co-authored by an interdisciplinary group of scientists highlights the importance of linking social and ecological sciences to understand drivers of coral reef health. In order to bridge this gap between ecology and social sciences, lead author Joshua Cinner and co-authors “develop a Bayesian hierarchical model, using data from more than 2,500 reefs worldwide, to predict reef fish biomass based on various socioeconomic drivers and environmental conditions,” as described by the Editor’s Summary. From this model, they identified 15 “bright spots”, or reefs that are performing significantly better than expected. Specifically, this means that reef fish biomass was much higher than expected. Conversely, it also identified “dark spots”, where reefs were seemingly overfished and in poorer condition, despite expectations for success.
Interestingly, the study found that “bright spots are found not only among iconic remote and pristine areas, but also where there are strong sociocultural institutions and high levels of local engagement. On the basis of this analysis, the authors argue for a refocus of coral reef conservation efforts away from locating and protecting remote, pristine sites, towards unlocking potential solutions from sites that have successfully confronted the coral reef crisis.”
Dr. Sandin, an author of this study, provides commentary in a San Diego Union Tribune article, found here.
You can find the full length article in Nature here.