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Assessing land-based toxic runoff and coral reef ecosystem resiliency in the Pacific Islands: Synthesizing the State of the Science

The preponderance of recent research on the effects of “land-based pollution” on coral reefs has focused on sediment, nutrients, or marine debris (plastics, derelict fishing gear, and other forms of trash).  Each of these stressors poses important and reasonably well-understood threats to the health and diversity of coral species, as well as the integrity of reef communities that rely on productive coral cover. Toxic chemical runoff has received comparatively little attention. Monitoring data for contaminants in stormwater are practically nonexistent, and coral reef species are not typically a focus for conventional eco-toxicology studies. As a consequence, the scientific literature available to assist resource managers and others working to assess and reverse the impacts of toxic runoff on reef ecosystems is exceptionally limited. 

This project will provide an up-to-date synthesis of the science describing land-based pollution impacts on coral reefs, written for a general audience, with practical guidance for pollution reduction strategies and new research to assess both mitigation effectiveness and still-poorly understood threats.

Nat Scholz
Northwest Fisheries Science Center
John Incardona
Northwest Fisheries Science Center