Coral Reef Status and Trends
Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network
The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) was founded in 1995 as the data arm of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to document the ecological condition of coral reefs, strengthen monitoring efforts, and link existing organizations and people working on reefs worldwide. I started working for GCRMN in 2012 under the supervision of Dr. Jeremy Jackson as the database manager and statistical analyst. In 2014, we published a 304 page book documenting quantitatively the status and trends of corals, macroalgae, urchins and fishes in the wider Caribbean from 1970-2012 based on available data from individual scientists as well as from peer reviewed literature, monitoring programs and reports. The overarching objective was to understand why some reefs are much healthier than others, to identify what kinds of actions have been particularly beneficial or harmful, and to vigorously communicate results in simple and straightforward terms to foster more effective conservation and management. Since 2014, I’ve continued to collaborate with a team of researchers on several questions related to the findings published in our book, as well as several additional projects. Part of this ongoing work includes aspects of my dissertation that is focused on how the structure of fish assemblages varies across the region and how this relates to the status and trends of the reefs overall.
A Synthesis of Hawaii Monitoring Data
Multiple monitoring programs exist in Hawaii, and together with surveys conducted by individual researchers, Hawaii is one the most extensively studied coral reef areas in the world. To build on these efforts, I've been leading the Hawaii Monitoring and Research Collaborative (HIMARC), a project to collate existing data on underwater visual censuses of both benthic and fish assemblages into a unified database framework for analysis. In total, this amounts to over 20,000 individual surveys that span the entire archipelago. Aspects of this work have also included developing statistical tools for accounting for the heterogeneous nature of the data. The database is being incorporated into multiple projects including Ocean Tipping Points, the Main Hawaiian Islands Biogeographic Assessment, as well as several papers working to understand patterns of fish biomass, ecosystem based approaches to management, and describing patterns of endemism in Hawaii. This database and outputs based on the database are also forming the information backbone of the Sustainable Hawaii Initiative to effectively manage 30% of Hawaii's nearshore by 2030.