Identifying reefs of hope and hopeful actions: Contextualizing environmental, ecological, and social parameters to respond effectively to climate change

T. R. McClanahan, J. E. Cinner, N. A J Graham, T. M. Daw, J. Maina, S. M. Stead, A. Wamukota, K. Brown, V. Venus, N. V C Polunin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Priorities for conservation, management, and associated activities will differ based on the interplay between nearness of ecosystems to full recovery from a disturbance (pristineness), susceptibility to climate change (environmental susceptibility [ES]), and capacity of human communities to cope with and adapt to change (social adaptive capacity [AC]). We studied 24 human communities and adjacent coral reef ecosystems in 5 countries of the southwestern Indian Ocean. We used ecological measures of abundance and diversity of fishes and corals, estimated reef pristineness, and conducted socioeconomic household surveys to determine the AC of communities adjacent to selected coral reefs. We also used Web-based oceanographic and coral mortality data to predict each site's ES to climate warming. Coral reefs of Mauritius and eastern Madagascar had low ES and consequently were not predicted to be affected strongly by warm water, although these sites were differentiated by the AC of the human community. The higher AC in Mauritius may increase the chances for successful self-initiated recovery and protective management of reefs of this island. In contrast, Madagascar may require donor support to build AC as a prerequisite to preservation efforts. The Seychelles and Kenya had high ES, but their levels of AC and disturbance differed. The high AC in the Seychelles could be used to develop alternatives to dependence on coral reef resources and reduce the effects of climate change. Pristineness weighted toward measures of fish recovery was greatest for Kenya's marine protected areas; however, most protected areas in the region were far from pristine. Conservation priorities and actions with realistic chances for success require knowledge of where socioecological systems lie among the 3 axes of environment, ecology, and society.

LanguageEnglish
Pages662-671
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

coral reefs
coral reef
reefs
reef
climate change
Mauritius
Seychelles
Madagascar
Kenya
corals
conservation areas
protected area
socioeconomic survey
social change
household surveys
ecosystems
disturbance
fish
Indian Ocean
ecosystem

Keywords

  • Adaptive management
  • Coral bleaching
  • Global climate change
  • Marine protected areas
  • Resilience
  • Socioecological systems

Cite this

McClanahan, T. R. ; Cinner, J. E. ; Graham, N. A J ; Daw, T. M. ; Maina, J. ; Stead, S. M. ; Wamukota, A. ; Brown, K. ; Venus, V. ; Polunin, N. V C. / Identifying reefs of hope and hopeful actions : Contextualizing environmental, ecological, and social parameters to respond effectively to climate change. In: Conservation Biology. 2009 ; Vol. 23, No. 3. pp. 662-671.
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Identifying reefs of hope and hopeful actions : Contextualizing environmental, ecological, and social parameters to respond effectively to climate change. / McClanahan, T. R.; Cinner, J. E.; Graham, N. A J; Daw, T. M.; Maina, J.; Stead, S. M.; Wamukota, A.; Brown, K.; Venus, V.; Polunin, N. V C.

In: Conservation Biology, Vol. 23, No. 3, 06.2009, p. 662-671.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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