The open access ReefBudget methodology developed by geographers at the University of Exeter has been integrated into the monitoring programmes of major reef conservation agencies globally.
The carbonate budget of a coral reef (the balance between calcium carbonate production and erosion) is critical for the physical resilience of reef structures. The application of carbonate budgets to guide management and conservation has been limited by a lack of standardised approaches.
ReefBudget is an open access tool, developed by geographers at the University of Exeter to address this challenge, with an initial focus on the Caribbean region, field testing and workshops.
The methodology has been used to quantify the severe impacts of the 2016 coral-bleaching event in the Maldives and to undertake budget assessments at sites along the length of the Mesoamerican Reef. Associated work in the Netherlands Antilles has identified areas of enhanced coastal vulnerability to sea-level rise. Work in the British Indian Ocean Territory is also using the methodology to monitor changes post the 2016 coral-bleaching event.
Data from this research has most recently been used to assess global-scale trends in reef growth potential.
ReefBudget is now being used by regional reef management agencies and NGOs working at sites spanning four of the six global biogeographic realms in which coral reefs grow. advice has been provided via dedicated in-person training workshops and organisations have modified their field protocols to integrate the methodology.
Resultant datasets are now being used by these agencies in formal reef status reporting protocols. For example, The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia noted that within their major programme of reef site assessments at over 70 locations within the world heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef: “The online ReefBudget methodology provides us with an invaluable tool to start linking ecological state and state change data to the physical functionality of reefs, and thus to feed such metrics into local management action plans.”
Institution: University of Exeter
Researchers: Professor Chris Perry