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Representation and complementarity of the long-term coral monitoring on the Great Barrier Reef

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Mellin, C ORCID: 0000-0002-7369-2349, Peterson, EE, Puotinen, M and Schaffelke, B 2020 , 'Representation and complementarity of the long-term coral monitoring on the Great Barrier Reef' , Ecological Applications, vol. 30, no. 6 , pp. 1-13 , doi: 10.1002/eap.2122.

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Abstract

Effective environmental management hinges on efficient and targeted monitoring, which in turn should adapt to increasing disturbance regimes that now characterize most ecosystems. Habitats and biodiversity of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, are in declining condition, prompting a review of the effectiveness of existing coral monitoring programs. Applying a regional model of coral cover (i.e., the most widely used proxy for coral reef condition globally) within major benthic communities, we assess the representation and complementarity of existing long‐term coral reef monitoring programs on the GBR. We show that existing monitoring has captured up to 45% of the environmental diversity on the GBR, while some geographic areas (including major hotspots of cyclone activity over the last 30 yr) have remained unmonitored. Further, we identified complementary groups of reefs characterized by similar benthic community composition and similar coral cover trajectories since 1996. The mosaic of their distribution across the GBR reflects spatial variation in the cumulative impact of multiple acute disturbances, as well as spatial gradients in coral recovery potential. Representation and complementarity, in combination with other performance assessment criteria, can inform the cost‐effective design and stratification of future surveys. Based on these results, we formulate recommendations to assist with the design of future long‐term coral reef monitoring programs.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Mellin, C and Peterson, EE and Puotinen, M and Schaffelke, B
Keywords: adaptive management, decision-making, disturbance, ecosystem dynamics, indicators, sampling, survey design
Journal or Publication Title: Ecological Applications
Publisher: Ecological Soc Amer
ISSN: 1051-0761
DOI / ID Number: 10.1002/eap.2122
Copyright Information:

© 2020 by the Ecological Society of America

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