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Relative resilience potential and bleaching severity in the West Hawai'i Habitat Focus Area in 2015
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Relative resilience potential and bleaching severity in the West Hawai'i Habitat Focus Area in 2015
  • Alternative Title:
    Relative resilience and bleaching severity in West Hawai'i
  • Description:
    "The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), NOAA Habitat Blueprint, and Sentinel Site Program have an overlapping Focus Area on the west side of the Island of Hawai'i that includes the South Kohala coastline. The Habitat Blueprint and Sentinel Sites focus areas have merged into a single effort. In addition, the NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the West Hawaii Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program both support and are supported by the focus area initiative. Nearly a quarter of the coral and fish species in Hawaii are endemic (i.e., can only be found in the Hawaiian Islands) and South Kohala contains one of the longest contiguous coral reefs in the state. Coral reefs are of critical importance to the communities and environment of West Hawai'i, and supporting the resilience of reefs is a goal within many management plans in the area. Coral reef resilience is the capacity of a reef to resist or recover from degradation and maintain provision of ecosystem goods and services. Resilience-based management of coral reefs can include assessing spatial variation in resilience potential and then targeting and tailoring appropriate actions to preserve or restore resilience. The assessments involve measuring or assessing resilience indicators (e.g., coral disease, coral recruitment and herbivorous fish biomass) and producing an aggregate score that expresses resilience potential for all sites as relative to the site with the highest (assessed) resilience potential. Our project team assessed the relative resilience potential of reef sites at two depths along priority areas of South Kohala and North Kona in October of 2015. The surveys were conducted as a collaborative effort with the Hawai'i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), The Nature Conservancy, NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Program, and community organizations. While conducting the resilience surveys, the project team also assessed coral bleaching prevalence and severity as well as coral disease prevalence. By October 2015, NOAA Coral Reef Watch confirmed that West Hawai'i experienced greater thermal stress than anywhere else in the Hawaiian Archipelago that year. This report presents results from the resilience and bleaching surveys, which forms year 1 of a 2-year project. During Year 2 (Oct. 2016-Sept. 2017) our team will use the resilience analysis outputs to identify, discuss (with stakeholders and community members), and prioritize recommended potential management actions to support the resilience of coral reefs in the Focus Area"--Introduction.

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