webGIS & Reef Health Simulator

 

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This online Geographic Information System enables you to display coral reef related data and interact with maps on Caribbean coral reefs . The layers present data which can be used to identify the location of reefs in the Caribbean, characterize them as well as aspects of the Caribbean basin in which they are located (wave exposure), highlight potential risks (e.g. hurricanes) or give them protection (e.g. MPAs). The data and maps can contribute towards reef research and management planning.

 

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The unique reef health simulator is an interactive, scenario-building, simulation tool which can be used to estimate changes in reef resilience under different environmental regimes and management policies. A reef is considered resilient if the coral assemblage tries to recover after a disturbance. In other words, that there is sufficient recruitment of new corals to permit recovery of individual coral populations (where each coral species is a separate population).

Resilience is strongly influenced by three factors: (i) the location of any critical thresholds in the ecosystem, beyond which there is insufficient coral survival and coral cover will continue to decline (the location of thresholds is heavily influenced by the physical environment and includes wave exposure and nutrient concentration), (ii) the current state of the system (how close it lies to a critical threshold if one exists, and includes measures such as the cover of individual coral species, the number of herbivorous fish, and urchin density), and (iii) the disturbance regime because frequent, intense disturbances are more likely to push a system beyond a threshold.

The simulator allows you to test the effect of various management actions on reef resilience. After tweaking the various management options you would be able to determine what are the best designs of management scenarios that would maximize reef resilience in the future.

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