Island ecosystems present unique challenges for conservation due to distinctive ecological and evolutionary processes and vulnerability to threats. The 2013 Milstein Science Symposium explores case studies that exemplify responses to disturbance of change in order to elucidate patterns and processes that foster resilience.
WENDY A. COVER1, Peter Houk2, Charles Birkeland3
1National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, Pago Pago, American Samoa 2Pacific Marine Resources Institute, Saipan 3University of Hawaii, Manoa
DRIVERS OF RESILIENT CORAL-REEF ASSEMBLAGES IN FAGATELE BAY, AMERICAN SAMOA
In an age of accelerating climate change and increasing anthropogenic pressures on coral reef ecosystems, it becomes imperative to understand how disturbance regimes and localized stressors interact to determine coral-reef resiliency through time. The coral reefs of Fagatele Bay, American Samoa, have proven to be resilient following numerous disturbances over the last three decades, including a crown-of-thorns starfish outbreak that reduced coral cover by 80-90%, six cyclones with varying impacts, three shallow water bleaching events, and a tsunami. The bay sits within a collapsed volcanic crater that isolates its watershed from nearby human settlements, maintaining clear waters largely free of sedimentation and pollutants. It has gently sloping reefs with high cover of tabletop and branching Acropora corals, and despite relatively low fish biomass, the reef has low macroalgal cover. Recent analyses of island-wide coral recovery patters following the most significant disturbance since 2000 (Cyclone Heta) revealed that both good water quality and high herbivore/detritivore density predicted recovery rates, and Fagatele was one of the fastest reefs to recover around Tutuila. It appears that Fagatele's resilience to disturbance regimes may be due to its high water quality, while other sites have recovered well due to high herbivore biomass. Both good water quality and high herbivory are positively correlated with coral recovery in American Samoa, indicating that management for these two attributes will promote resilience and benefit coral reefs.
NATALIE DAWSON1, Steven McDonald2, Joseph Cook2
1Wilderness Institute, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 2Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
INTRODUCING RESILIENCE: PINE MARTEN (MARTES AMERICANA) ON NORTH PACIFIC ISLANDS
The interaction between endemic island species and introduced species continues to shape one of the biggest concerns in conservation practices and mitigation efforts on island systems around the world. Two closely associated species of pine marten (Martes americana and Martes caurina) naturally occur on islands along the North Pacific Coast of North America. M. americana has a wide distribution associated with many island and mainland localities throughout the region, while M. caurina has restricted populations that have been described as endemic to specific islands. These two closely associated species only naturally coexist on one island throughout their known range along the North Pacific Coast-Kuiu Island in southeast Alaska. In the 1930s, and again in the 1950s and 1960s, M. americana was introduced to several islands throughout the region, culminating in growth of populations of pine marten on islands where numbers were previously low. This has led to changes in the genetic structure of populations on islands, as well as the potential loss of endemic M. caurina populations from previously undocumented islands within its range. These introductions have led to an increase of marten populations on islands where numbers were low, creating a false "resiliency" of this forest carnivore, which has implications for forest management throughout the region. The interplay between these species illustrates the fragility of these north temperate island systems to anthropogenic disturbance, and illustrates the propensity for loss of biological diversity when such disturbances occur.
Lyon Arboretum, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
BIOCULTURAL DIVERSITY IN BOTANICAL GARDEN CONSERVATION STRATEGIES IN ISLAND SYSTEMS
Concerns continue to mount regarding potential impacts of global climate change, habitat loss, and other environmental changes to biological and cultural diversity. Just as floristic diversity is eroding, so too are cultural and linguistic diversity. The impacts to island systems and peoples are of particular concern. Botanic gardens and other conservation organizations should consider explicitly both biological and cultural diversity within their conservation programs. For example, the Lyon Arboretum (University of Hawai'i) has recently established a Center for Biocultural Studies. Furthermore, in Hawai'i, more than twenty state government agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, and private enterprises have established a statewide conservation initiative (Ka Mauli Hou) that embraces biological and cultural conservation as well as establishment of an "indigenous economy." It is not enough to consider just the effects of environmental change on plant life within the current context of the global conservation initiatives such as the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and the CBD (particularly Article 8(j)). Rather, we must actively engage in understanding the broader impacts of environmental change to biocultural diversity to achieve biological, cultural, and economic resilience.
ROD FUJITA1 and Kendra Karr1,2
1Environmental Defense Fund, San Francisco, CA, USA 2University of California at Santa Cruz, CA, USA
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO PROVIDE MANAGEMENT GUIDANCE FOR DATA-LIMITED FISHERIES
The vast majority of fish stocks have not been assessed, increasing the risk of stock collapse, ecosystem impacts, and oss of fishery and ecosystem services. Coral reef fisheries in particular pose risks to coral reef resilience. One obstacle fo increasing the number of stocks that are assessed has been the cost of data collection and stock assessments - in many cases these costs may be similar to or even exceed revenues generated by the fishery. Data-limited methods that are currently available can be used to estimate risks to marine ecosystems, generate estimates of the vulnerability of a stock to fishing, estimate the degree of depletion relative to unfished levels, assess the sustainability of the fishery, and generate sustainable yield targets and other management reference points. To maximize the utility of data-limited methods for providing management guidance and to increase the capacity to assess and improve data over time, we propose the following 6-step framework: 1) assess the status of the ecosystem; 2) determine the vulnerability of the stocks; 3) assess stock depletion; 4) prioritize action for full assessment and precautionary management based on estimated vulnerability and depletion; 5) set management measures; and 6) collect data to measure progress and inform adjustments in management. Careful design of data collection systems to match assessment methods and management needs may reduce costs and increase the usefulness of the data for management, thereby reducing major barriers to stock assessment in data-limited fisheries and in turn reducing risks to coral reef system resilience.
VICTOR GALVAN1, Diego Lirman2, Jake Kheel1
1PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 2Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami, FL
ACTIVE RESTORATION OF ENDANGERED ACROPORA CERVICORNIS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
People living in coastal tropical island communities depend on the social, ecological, and economical services that coral reefs offer for all or part of their livelihoods. Nonetheless, coral health worldwide continues to decline due to a variety of natural and anthropogenic factors. These declines threaten the ecosystems services reefs provide. One example of a drastic coral decline is the loss of >95% of the Acropora cervicornis corals over the last 40 years, prompting their listing for protection under the ESA in 2006. In the Dominica REpublic, we are mitigating this problem by utilizing an active restoration technique called "coral gardening" to promote the propagation of A. cervicornis for reef restoration. To date, six coral nurseries have been established totaling >1.1 km of linear tissue in >1,300 staghorn fragments from 21 distinct genotypes, representing the largest genotypic diversity being tacked for A. cervicornis in the Caribbean excluding Florida. Outplanting activities in 2012 saw the establishment of 20 plots in 15 sites at three nursery localities resulting in >1,200 Acropora fragments and >1 km of live tissue returned to denuded natural reefs, representing one of the largest restoration attempts for this species in the Caribbean to date. Outplanted corals have been observed to grow as well or better than protected nursery corals, which provides reasons for optimism for the recovery of this species through active restoration.
LEINĀ-ALA S. HALL1, Kealohanuiopuna M. Kinney2, Pelika Bertelmann1, Cheyenne Perry3, Mike Robinson4, Alan Ortiz1, Melanie Dudley1
1Keaholoa STEM Scholars Program, University of Hawai'i at Hilo 2Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland 3Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, USDA Forest Service 4East Hawai'i District Office, Department of Hawaiian Homelands
PRESCRIBED GRAZING OF SHEEP HELPS NATIVE ECOSYSTEM TO RECOVER FUNCTION AND SERVICE ON HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS IN HUMU'ULA HAWAI'I
WHITNEY HOOT1, Danko Taborosi1, Miklos Kazmer2
1Island Research & Education Initiative, Palikir, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia 2Department of Paleontology, Eotvos University, Budapest, Hungary
THE ABANDONMENT OF SOROL ATOLL (YAP STATE, FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA)
Sorol Atoll, a remote coral island in the western tropical Pacific Ocean, belongs to Yap State, one of four states within the Federated States of Micronesia. In the early 20th century, likely 1907, Sorolese residents left after a devastating typhoon that decimated food resources and destroyed homes and canoes. Since then, several attempts were made to return to the island, but none succeeded in the long term. Sorol has been uninhabited since 1993. Today, the Sorolese and their descendants represent a diaspora community without a base population on the home island, a unique occurrence in the Western Pacific. The Sorolese have migrated in waves to other atolls (Ulithi and Ifalik in Yap; Puluwat in Chuuk State) and to the main island of Yap. We conducted interviews and surveys on Ulithi and Yap, intending to study Sorol's inhabitation and abandonment (including driving forces behind the emigration); the current state of Sorolese identity, language, and culture; and perceptions of the Sorolese and their non-Sorolese neighbors. Notably, the Sorolese living on Ulithi have blended almost seamlessly with the Ulithians, demonstrating remarkable resilience and adaptability, but difficulties preserving idiosyncrasies of culture and language. The case of Sorol Atoll is becoming increasingly relevant in the face of global climate change; if sea level rises in a way that reef growth and the deposition of island-building sediments cannot keep up, and the intensity of destructive weather increases, like on atolls in Micronesia - and on other islands across the Pacific - may become impossible.
PRICILA IRANAH and Pankaj Lal
Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, USA
BRIDGING GAPS IN BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION POLICY AND ACTION: CASE STUDY OF MAURITIUS
The Small Island Developing State of Mauritius is geographically isolated from Africa with a population density of 631/km2. In pre-settlement times, rapid evolution of the island's biota saw its ecosystems develop high rates of endemism (e.g. nearly 40% of the islands angiosperms are single island endemics). In the last four decades Mauritius saw rapid growht based on agriculture, exports, and tourism. Rising population and expansion of human induced land use changes led to a growing tend in environmental concerns, including loss of native habitats nd species. Good quality native forest (with ≥50% native canopy) has reduced drastically to less than 2% of the island's surface area. Introduction of invasive alien species (e.g. Psidium cattleianum, Cervus timorensis) worsened native habitat degradation, with consequences on quality and quantity of ecosystem services. Systematic analysis of the island's conservation policies suggests prominence of "top-down" approach in creating protected areas and species-centric investments which did help the Falco punctatus - population recovered from last four individuals in the 1970s. Fenced and actively-weeded "conservation management areas" were set up with proven success, e.g. reappearance of previously "extinct" plant species, increase in numbers of native butterflies and general rapid regeneration of native plants. However, conservation efforts in privately owned forestlands are limited; mostly due to high initial costs and poor returns. Fragments forest patches, limited community participation, gaps between planned restoration and actual implementation, incoherence between different government bodies, and inadequate research are resulting in piecemeal conservation policies with limited improvement in ecosystem health.
Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
TRADITIONAL ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE AND RESILIENCE ON MALEKULA ISLAND, VANUATU
Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is a key component of resilience in the Republic of Vanuatu. TEK accumulates through the interaction of social and ecological systems over time, and forms the basis for environmental use and management throughout the archipelago. In Vanuatu, TEK is threatened by the formal school system, shifting cultural norms, and linguistic attrition, which have interrupted the cultural transmission of knowledge. This may fundamentally impact conservation and adaptive capacity. In response, several measures to maintain TEK have been proposed. I will present empirical research on TEK change and maintenance from the second largest island in Vanuatu, Malekula. First, I will discuss drivers (e.g., time deficits) and impacts (e.g. eroded community cohesion) of TEK change on resilience in the focus communities. Here, I will highlight the role that TEK may play in future adaptive capacity on Malekula (e.g., enabling subsistence in the island interior). Second, I will examine local perceptions of the efficacy of options to maintain TEK. These data indicate that while both to-down (e.g. formal schools) and bottom-up (e.g. community schools) methods have value for different aspects of TEK, both are subject to fundamental constraints (e.g. community heterogeneity). As in many areas of the world, TEK on Malekula is a contextualized information source for resource management, and includes coping strategies for environmental disturbance. Given the likely impacts of climate change, greater understanfing of options for TEK maintenance will assist in promoting social and ecological resilience in small island states.
LUCIANO MINERBI, Dolores Foley, Saleh Azizi Fardkhales, Molly Chebnikow, Karla Filibeck, Joon Ho Hong, Xian Hua, Neeraj Dangol, Ye Liang, Tan Nguyen, Lydia Nikolao, Pragya Pradhan, Ginger Porter, Germaine Salim, Gabriella Sham, Hoi Van Tran
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii
SUSTAINABLE ECOSYSTEM AND DISASTER RESILIENT PRACTICES IN AN AMERICAN SAMOA VILLAGE
This project on community capacity building for resilience and natural hazard mitigation uses a sustainable ecosystem framework by developing village-level planning tools in consultation with federal and territorial agencies. Research in in close collaboration with the Council of Chiefs of the Village of Leone in Tutuila Island, American Samoa. Nine planning tools that integrate community , local environment, and physical infrastructure include: 1) The Village Response Plan identifies tasks of primary responder groups before, during, and after disaster. 2) The Environmental Education Tool raises awareness for environmental protection. 3) The Coastal Resource Tool utilizes natural ecosystems and the mangrove wetlands to mitigate impacts. 4) The Survival Household Toolkit is to protect families isolated during a disaster. 5) The Food Security Plan is to ensure local foods during disasters. 6) Drinking Water Treatment Tool addresses safe drinking water to avoid waterborne diseases after natural disasters. 7) The Evacuation Route Tool maps alternate escape routes and staging areas during disasters 8) The Healing and Coping Tool concerns post-disaster related stresses 9) Disaster Resistant Housing Structures focuses on design for hurricanes, earthquakes tsunamis, flood, and landslides. The process was sensitive to local culture and incorporated traditional knowledge. The product was possible because graduate planning practicum students conducted research and field work in collaboration with village leaders. Some of the tools are only proposed, others implemented. Some priority projects are underway, others need more time to be integrated into a village plan.
Pelika Bertelmann1, Kehau Tom1, KIM MORISHIGE2, Nakoa Goo3, Kaho Aiona1
1Keaholoa STEM Scholars Program, University of Hawai'i at Hilo 2The Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i 3Mokupāpapa Discovery Center
INTEGRATING KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS AND METHODOLOGIES TO UNDERSTAND THE NEARSHORE ECOSYSTEM IN NORTH KONA, HAWAI'I
College of Sustainability, Dalhousie University
IS TOURISM AN ENEMY TO ANEMONES? EXAMINING THE IMPACTS OF TOURISM ON CORAL REEFS IN SAN ANDRES, COLOMBIA
San Andrés attracts roughly 400,000 tourists annually to white sand beaches and coral reefs. The island sits within the Seaflower Marine Protected Area, which covers 75% of Colombia's coral reefs, including the western Caribbean biodiversity hotspot. A Study of marine tourism was requested by MPA managers to support policy, monitoring, and enforcement decisions. This paper uses quantitative information on tourism activity types, user density and coral reef condition to provide baseline information on the marine impacts of the local tourism industry. Data was collected through interviews with marine tour operators and shallow reef transects following Reef Check protocols.
There are up to 3,700 visitors on the water every day during the high season, including SCUBA divers, snorkelers, kite surfers, sailing boats, cruises, etc. It's clear that the impact of tourism is not linear nor is it easily divided by activity type, however spatial analysis indicated that San Andrés reefs have been significantly changed by tourism development. High traffic areas showed lower hard coral cover, increased algal growth, increased coral rubble and low invertebrate diversity. Further historical and comparative analysis is required to understand the area more completely.
Institute of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
PLACE ATTACHMENT, COMMUNITY COHESION AND RESILIENCE ON PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Prince Edward Island, Canada, encompassing a land mass of 5,684 km2, and with a population of fewer than 140,000 people, is the smallest provincial jurisdiction in Canada. With its low-lying and highly erodable sandstone bedrock, the island is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm-0driven erosion and flooding A pattern of development involving forest clearance, industrial agriculture and intensive development of coastal and riparian zones exacerbate this vulnerability. Researchers at the Institute of Island Studies have explored the human-nature relationship by various means: quality of life surveys, in-depth interviews and social and cultural values mapping. The results point to islanders' intense feelings of place attachment as an important resource that could be the basis of community and individual resilience in the face of changing environmental and social conditions.
University of Queensland, Australia; Marovo Resource Management Program; Zaira Resource Management Area, Marovo Lagoon, Western Province, Solomon Islands
"HOPE" PRACTICE: TRADITIONAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT METHOD IN ZAIRA VILLAGE
Traditional resource management is common among local communities in the Island States. Portions of land or sea area covering the resources were controlled by a social unit; a family or tribal group whose consistent power is vested in chiefly system. Zaira village is located on the weather Coast of Vangunu Island in Marovo Lagoon in the Western Solomon Islands. It traditionally practiced open and closure system as a means of resource management. It was called "HOPE." It allows control of harvest, reservation and biological rehabilitation of plant and animal species. People extract food, materials and medicines from these places. Local governance, community structures, individual responsibilities and leadership qualities were essential components towards its consistency. Threats to this method are logging and mining including natural hazards. Population growth is a major concern over resource utilization. Political pressures together with national interest are evolving issues. These provlems challenge the local method. Hence, through personal observations, local participation and experience, results have shown that local management is effective through unity and communal participation. That is people's relationship with the natural environment is intact within the community circle. On the other hand, resource abundance depends on the length of seasonal closure and limited period of lifted ban, with strict measures on species sizes and quantity. In overall, local management must be incorporated with the national policy as a legitimate step to protect the indigenous people such as affirmation of management protected area.
RANDI ROTJAN1 and David Obura1,2
1New England Aquarium, Boston, MA, USA 2CORDIO East Africa, Mombasa, Kenya
THE PHOENIX ISLANDS - A REFERENCE SITE FOR GLOBAL CHANGE, RESILIENCE, AND ADAPTATION
The Phoenix Islands (Republic of Kiribati, 172-170°W and 2.5-5°S) are located in the central Pacific, where annual temperature fluctuations are narrow (<2°C), and where the central Pacific warm pool intensifies during El Niño events. In 2002-03, a severe high thermal event occurred peaking at >12 degree heating weeks in January 2003. Across all islands, coral mortality was severe, and coral cover declined by an average of 60% due to bleaching. Subsequent expeditions in 2009 and 2012 documented remarkable recovery in some areas, with coral cover ranging from 18-95%, exemplary of reefs at various stages of recovery and succession. Monitoring these reefs pre-bleaching (2000, 2002) and post bleaching (2005, 2009, 2012) has provided insight into coral successional trajectories (species and size class), as well as the relative resilience of fishes. Because each of these 8 islands are differently sized and positioned, we were able to examine the impact of local, environmental differences on reef recovery dynamics in the absence of local, human-induced stressors. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is the largest marine World Heritage Site on the planet. The remote and uninhabited reef atolls within PIPA provide an important scientific observatory and case study for exploring ecosystem responses to climate in unpopulated areas. In the context of Kiribati's and other Pacific states' vulnerability to climate change and the necessity for ecosystem-based adaptation, linking PIPA research into a broader network of observatories in populated islands will help generate knowledge on adaptation options in climate-vulnerable reefs and fisheries.
U.S. Geological Survey, Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS, USA
SUGARCANE CULTIVATION IN THE WEST INDIES AND WETLAND BIODIVERSITY RESTORATION
Cultivation of sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) was one of the earliest agricultural ventures in the New World. Sugarcane came to the Americas in 1493 when it was brought by Columbus to the island of Hispaniola. As a result of centuries of sugarcane cultivation, coastal wetlands in many Caribbean islands were greatly reduced in area and quality. We implemented wetland restoration practices in abandoned sugarcane fields at the Humacao Nature Reserve (HNR) in southeastern Puerto Rico. We evaluated the effects of soil and hydrological manipulations on vegetation, invertebrates, and birds. We collected monthly data on vegetation, invertebrates, water depth and salinity, and conducted weekly bird surveys. Avian diversity increased from 16 upland-dominated species to 67 wetland-dependent species. Among the waterbirds colonizing the restored wetlands were species of conservation concern such as the Bahama Pintail (Anas bahamensis), West Indian Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arborea) and rare species such as the Yellow-breasted Crake (Porzana flaviventer). Water depths of 10-12 cm and salinity below 15 ppt promoted the establishment of wetland associated plants and invertebrates. Vegetative cover did not affect bird abundance, but it decreased bird species diversity and richness. Our results suggest management of water levels and vegetation manipulation was responsible for most bird species detected. Manipulative management practices in abandoned sugarcane fields represents an alternative to improve wetland biodiversity in the West Indies. Finally, Wetland restoration enhanced the recreational value of the reserve and facilitated the establishment of community operated ecotourism ventures.
Blue Ventures, Washington DC, USA
BUILDING RESILIENCE WITH INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL INITIATIVES IN MADAGASCAR
Climate change vulnerability is manifested both ecologically and socially, and therefore initiatives to increase resilience must also focus on both. In southwest Madagascar, the local vezo people are almost wholly dependent on the sea for food, income, and transportation, and highly vulnerable to environmental change. This isolated region is one of the poorest in the country, with few economic alternatives, deteriorating near-shore reefs, and a rapidly growing populations. However, over the last decade, integrated community based initiatives that address sustainable fishing practices, family health, and economic alternatives have been implemented, and ongoing monitoring demonstrates an increase in social and ecological resilience. For example, our monitoring shows that the locally managed protected area has increased herbivorous fish size and reduced the use of destructive fishing practices; the community health program has greatly reduced unwanted pregnancies and maternal mortality; and the aquaculture program has provided extra income to participating families. Furthermore, these initiatives have created a network of community members that regularly communicate and problem solve. These programs are jointly implemented, with integrated management and outreach, and provide a good case study for other coastal areas dealing with similar vulnerabilities.
TARA WILKINSON1 and Renata Goodridge2
1McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 2Centre for Resource Management & Environmental Studies (CERMES), UWI, Cave Hill, St. Michael, Barbados
MARINE RESERVES: BENEFICIAL FOR BARBADIAN FISHER, CONSERVATION AND RESILIENCE?
Coral reefs are crucial island ecosystems, and marine reserves are increasingly recognized as key components in helping to conserve these environments. Despite their observed strengths and the myriad of studies focused on the biological impacts of marine reserves economic and resilience studies are much less prevalent. If these aspects are not addressed, conservation will be undermined. In this study, we used existing data to evaluate the effectiveness of Folkestone Marine Reserve Barbados, in terms of the benefits it provides conservation (fish abundance within the reserve over time and compared to other sites) and fishers (catch over time at Paynes Bay - the landing adjacent to the reserve - and compared to other landings), as well as the recovery of the system after local fish kills. From 1987 to 2002, there was a noticeable increase in fish abundance at South Bellairs, compared to adjacent sites (4 X adjacent sites). By 2002, Sandy Lane achieved mean numbers in fish abundance 2-3X greater than those of adjacent sites. The catch ratio (2003/1987) of PB was greater than adjacent and major landing sites. PB also had a noticeable recovery after a fish kill (catch ratio = 38) - many times that of other sites (maximum catch ratio = 3). Although these findings suggest that the Folkestone Marine Reserve has been effective, many factors could account for the results. Moreover, as this study largely takes advantage of previously existing data, a more pointed and detailed study should be conducted to test these preliminary findings.