Hawaiian coral reefs are of great ecological, cultural, and economic value, but they face serious threats including overfishing and pollution as well as larger-scale changes due to climate change. Our predictions suggest that stringent local protections can help support coral reef function into the future but cannot compensate fully for regional or global climate changes. Preservation of functional coral reefs is more likely with strong proactive local efforts including establishment of marine protected areas, beach restoration, and watershed management. It may be cost-effective to focus protection effort on reefs that have been identified as providing the most critical ecosystem services.
This research feature was produced by the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center.
Featured photo: Fish on a Hawaiian reef. Image courtesy T. Grabowski/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0