Timely information is critical for coral reef managers and decision-makers to implement sustainable management measures. A Coral Reef Resilience Index (CRRI) was developed with a GIS-coupled decision-making tool applicable for Caribbean coral reef ecosystems. The CRRI is based on a five-point scale parameterized from the quantitative characterization of benthic assemblages. Separate subindices such as the Coral Index, the Threatened Species Index, and the Algal Index also provide specific information regarding targeted benthic components. This case study was based on assessments conducted in 2014 on 11 reef sites located across 3 geographic zones and 3 depth zones along the southwestern shelf of the island of Puerto Rico, Caribbean Sea. There was a significant spatial and bathymetric gradient (p < 0.05) in the distribution of CRRI values indicating higher degradation of inshore reefs. Mean global CRRI ranged from 2.78 to 3.17 across the shelf, ranking them as “fair.” The Coral Index ranged from 2.60 to 3.76, ranking reefs from “poor” to “good,” showing a general cross-shelf trend of improving conditions with increasing distance from pollution sources. Turbidity and ammonia were significantly correlated to CRRI scores. Multiple recommendations are provided based on coral reef conditions according to observed CRRI rankings.
Part of the book: Corals in a Changing World