Adaptation strategies for coral reef ecosystems under local pressures and changing climate

Coral reef

We modelled coral reef stressors and potential adaptation interventions using the coral reef ecosystem of Port Resolution on Tanna Island as a microcosm of endangered Pacific Small Island Developing States.

We used a modelling framework involving a range of experts from different backgrounds. The model based on a well-established probabilistic technique - Bayesian Network – was used to predict the risks to the health and resilience of the Port Resolution coral reef system from the adverse impacts of climate change and harmful human activities and the possible success of adaptations strategies. To do this, we incorporated:

  1. projections of future climate conditions and changing human activities;
  2. the influences of multiple stressors including physical environmental and sociological factors; and
  3. spatial variability in the key processes and variables.

We also used a Driver-Pressure-State-Impact (DPSI) framework for depicting the threats responsible for the decline of coral reefs health, the predictions on the future conditions of coral bleaching, diseases, and physical damages.

Then, the developed model was used to anticipate the future health and resilience condition of coral reefs under different sets of climatic projection and adaptation scenarios. We found that despite the current fair condition of coral reefs in the area, their health and resilience would be severely threatened by 2070 in the absence of implementing adaptation strategies and associated sustainable management interventions.

Visualisation of our Bayesian Network model

Our model can provide policy/decision-makers with a holistic view and new insights into the future condition of the Port Resolution reef site as well as a realistic assessment regarding the effectiveness of management strategies. Therefore, the results can be exploited in support of environmental planning and decision-making processes.


Hafezi, M, Sahin, O., Stewart, R. A., Connolly, R. M., Mackey, B., & Ware, D. (2020). Adaptation strategies for coral reef ecosystems in Small Island Developing States: Integrated modelling of local pressures and long-term climate changes. Journal of Cleaner Production, 253, 119864.

About the lead author:

Mehdi Hafezi

Mehdi Hafezi

PhD Scholar, School of Engineering and Built Environment.

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