Assessing and reducing vulnerability to climate change is now the hallmark of many conservation programs and for coral reefs involves supporting the natural resilience of these biodiverse systems. Marine protected areas zoned for multiple use are the main tool used to support reef resilience. This project seeks to inform resilience-based coral reef management and conservation planning in French Polynesia in the first and second project phases, and in all reef regions in phase 3. We aim to identify critical areas that represent conservation priorities. These are sites that (1) are especially resilient due to local conditions - they resist disturbance and/or recover quickly, and (2) have historically been refugia from thermal stress events that cause coral bleaching and damaging waves from tropical cyclones. To identify these sites our collaboration combines researchers in France with specialist knowledge of the marine environments in French Polynesia and the candidate fellow. The fellow, Dr. Maynard, has worked in nearly all of the world’s reef regions to deliver tools for reef managers based on cutting edge analysis that uses remote sensing, climate model data, and ecological modelling to produce decision-support tools. Anticipated outputs include interactive tools that disseminate information on disturbance histories and habitat condition to reef managers and the public in French Polynesia. We will also produce two tools providing that same information for every coral reef site in the world based on 30 years of temperature and cyclone records. This is innovative leading work aspiring to meet some of the urgent and dire needs of coral reef managers faced with addressing the threat of climate change. The work will contribute to European excellence in this research area, and our work plan concludes with meetings in the France and US that can ensure this project results in an enduring extremely productive collaboration.
Fields of science
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