Habitat Conservation

Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Reef Resilience Studies

The Saipan Reef Resilience Study produced a report published in December of 2012 entitled "Coral reef resilience to climate change in Saipan, CNMI; field-based assessments, and implications for vulnerability and future management." This report presents the results of an analysis of the capacity of coral reef sites in Saipan to resist and recover from disturbances. The capacity to resist and recover from disturbance is collectively referred to as resilience. We evaluated resilience potential at a total of 35 sites in the lagoon and on the fringing reefs around Saipan based on a total of 11 variables that were either measured or calculated. These variables were: coral diversity, bleaching resistance, recruitment, herbivore biomass, macroalgae cover, temperature variability, nutrient input, sedimentation, fishing access, coral disease, and anthropogenic physical impacts. This applied research was funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Initiative and is a collaboration between scientists and local managers. The report presents the results of the resilience analysis including a ranking of the surveyed sites from highest to lowest relative resilience. Applications for the findings include evaluating existing marine protected areas as well as assessing which sites will most benefit from management actions. The analysis of resilience potential presented is among the first of its kind so is an important case study example. The report concludes with a description of the team's plans to advance the work further in 2014.

The Appendix provides a two page site summary for each location surveyed during the study. Within each summary a representative photograph is shown with a map showing the site location in red. The summary also includes graphic and text information about the relative ranking for all 11 variables used in the resilience analysis. Detailed information about the fish and benthic communities found at each site is also described. Lastly, lists are provided for the coral species observed that have been proposed for threatened or endangered listing by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Click here to see the report (pdf 5.2MB)
Click here to see the appendix to the report (pdf 38.8Mb)