MEPS 295:157-169 (2005) - doi:10.3354/meps295157
Precursors for resilience in coral communities in a warming climate: a belief network approach
Scott Wooldridge1,2,*, Terry Done1,2, Ray Berkelmans1,2, Roger Jones3, Paul Marshall4
ABSTRACT: This paper explores how successful management interventions might benefit coral reefs during the period of climate warming that is expected in coming decades. To aid this task we have developed a prototype decision-support tool, called ReefState, which integrates the outcomes of management interventions within a belief network of connected variables that describe future warming, coral damage and coral recovery. In a case study applied to the inshore waters of the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, our worst case scenarios, like several others, suggest that reefs will become devoid of significant coral cover and associated biodiversity by 2050. Even under more optimistic (low) rates of future warming, the persistence of hard coral dominated reefscapes beyond 2050 will be heavily reliant on 2 things, the ability of corals to increase their upper thermal bleaching limits by ~0.1°C per decade, and management that produces local conditions that constrain excessive algal biomass proliferation during inter-disturbance intervals. Despite being perturbed by a global warming process, management of local ecological factors will thus be of critical importance in shaping the future trajectories of coral reef ecosystems.
KEY WORDS: Belief network · Decision support · Uncertainty · Coral bleaching · Adaptation · Resilience · Community composition
Full text in pdf format|