Decision tools for coral reef managers: Using participatory decision support to integrate potential climate impacts and informed decision making
Global Ecology and Conservation
University of Florida, Florida Sea Grant College Program, 803 McCarty Drive, Gainesville, FL, United States; University of Florida, Tropical Research and Education Center, Soil Water Science Department, 18905 Southwest 280th Street, Homestead, FL, United States; NOAA, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL, United States; University of Florida, Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, PO Box 110310, Gainesville, FL, United States; University of Florida, Soil Water Science Department, 2181 McCarty Hall A, PO Box 110290, Gainesville, FL, United States; University of Florida, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, PO Box 110570, Gainesville, FL, United States; University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, South Africa
The decline in coral reef health presents a complex management issue. While several causes of decline have been identified and are under continued study, it is often difficult to discern management actions necessary to address multiple near- and far-field stressors to these ecosystems. As a result, resource managers seek tools to improve the understanding of ecosystem condition and to develop management responses to reduce local and regional pressures in the wake of larger, global impacts. A research study conducted from 2010 to 2014 in southeast Florida, USA consisted of two objectives: (1) conduct a needs assessment survey with coral reef and marine resource managers to identify data needs and the preferred design and delivery of climate information; and (2) develop and evaluate prototype decision support tools. The needs assessment process was helpful for identifying the types of climate information managers would like to obtain to inform decision making and to specify the preferred format for the delivery of that information. Three prototype tools were evaluated by managers using pre/post surveys that included hands-on tutorials to explore the functionality of each. Manager responses were recorded using a five-point scale with 1 being No or Not Useful to 5 being Absolutely or Very Useful. The median responses rated the usefulness of the tools (4), if they would consider using the tool (4), and if they would recommend using the tool to other managers (4 or 5). The median response for increasing manager's knowledge about climate impacts after completing a tutorial of each of the climate tools was a 3 (moderately useful). Of the managers surveyed in the pre/post-survey, all but one stated they believed they would use the decision support tools in the future with the single response due to wealth of data availability in their institution. © 2015.