CORAL REEF STRUCTURE INDEX: A SPATIALLY EXPLICIT TOOL FOR MANAGEMENT DECISION SUPPORT IN THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN.
We present a synoptic management tool for decision support: the Coral Reef Structure Index (CoRSI) for the Western Atlantic. It is a three-pronged approach based on the coral community composition (density of colonies by species), coral cover and rugosity. It offers a common currency to objectively compare the reef structure in reef sites, zones and tracts temporally and spatially. This index can be used as stand-alone values for comparison, or can be mapped using high-resolution satellite imagery and spatial prediction techniques. Our study case, Akumal, is a very well developed fringing reef in Quintana Roo México, part of the Mesoamerican Reef, which has experienced a boom in coastal development and tourism in the last two decades, with the highest average hotel occupancy in Quintana Roo. Since 2001 it has been assessed as in critical condition with changes in the coral community composition as well as a complete phase shift with macroalgae coverage averaging 65% vs. 7% of average coral cover. Historical data from a network of monitoring stations since 2000, and archival imagery (Ikonos, WV-2, WV-3), allow, in the one hand, the calculation of CoRSI, and in the other hand, allow the mapping of CoRSI to estimate the loss of reef structure. These spatial estimates using CoRSI reflect 66% of reef structure loss in a 15 years span (2000-2015) for Akumal Reef. This result is in accordance with the historical analysis of shifts in coral community composition, the decrease in coral cover and rugosity estimates in the area.
Garza-Pérez, J. R., PIESACOM, UMDI-Sisal, F.Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico, email@example.com
López-Patoni Caro, A., PIESACOM, UMDI-Sisal, F.Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico, firstname.lastname@example.org
García-Guzmán, S., PIESACOM, UMDI-Sisal, F.Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico, email@example.com
González-Pizá, L. D., PIESACOM, UMDI-Sisal, F.Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico, firstname.lastname@example.org
Molina-Hernández, A. L., PIESACOM, UMDI-Sisal, F.Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico, email@example.com
Naranjo-García, M. J., PIESACOM, UMDI-Sisal, F.Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico, firstname.lastname@example.org
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