Summary of Abstract Submission

Abstract Submission No. IO50-03-0036PresentationPoster

INTEGRATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESILIENCE FEATURES INTO THE INCREMENTAL REFINEMENT OF A SOUTH-EASTERN INDIAN OCEAN MARINE PARK

Lynnath E Beckley*1, Harriet N Davies1, Halina T Kobryn1

1 Murdoch University, Australia

ABSTRACT :

Ever-increasing anthropogenic impacts are causing a decline in the ecosystem health of tropical coastal environments. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are recognised as an effective tool to mitigate these impacts. However, while climate change is recognized as a growing threat to coral reefs, there has been limited research addressing the incremental incorporation of resilience features into MPA design. To investigate integration of climate change resilience features into Ningaloo Marine Park in the south-eastern Indian Ocean, this study used MARXAN conservation planning software and shallow water (< 20 m) bathymetry and habitat maps (3x3 m pixels), empirical benthic community data from deeper water and comprehensive socio-economic information. The distributions of coral reef resilience features were mapped to determine priority areas of high resilience. In addition to standard habitat conservation features, conservation targets of 34% were set for areas with high levels of resilience. These targets were not met with the current zoning of the marine park. However, an incremental increase of reserves in deeper water and southern regions of the marine park achieved these targets. As extensive coral bleaching has already occurred at Ningaloo, it is important to ensure that any future incremental refinement to the reserve network includes the areas most likely to persist in the face of climate change. This work demonstrates that inclusion of fine-scale climate change resilience features within the design process for MPAs can be applied to future marine conservation planning for coral reefs.