Tracing the influence of land-use change on water quality and coral reefs using a Bayesian model

Christopher J. Brown*, Stacy D. Jupiter, Simon Albert, Carissa J. Klein, Sangeeta Mangubhai, Joseph M. Maina, Peter Mumby, Jon Olley, Ben Stewart-Koster, Vivitskaia Tulloch, Amelia Wenger

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)
    21 Downloads (Pure)


    Coastal ecosystems can be degraded by poor water quality. Tracing the causes of poor water quality back to land-use change is necessary to target catchment management for coastal zone management. However, existing models for tracing the sources of pollution require extensive data-sets which are not available for many of the world's coral reef regions that may have severe water quality issues. Here we develop a hierarchical Bayesian model that uses freely available satellite data to infer the connection between land-uses in catchments and water clarity in coastal oceans. We apply the model to estimate the influence of land-use change on water clarity in Fiji. We tested the model's predictions against underwater surveys, finding that predictions of poor water quality are consistent with observations of high siltation and low coverage of sediment-sensitive coral genera. The model thus provides a means to link land-use change to declines in coastal water quality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number4740
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalScientific Reports
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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