Quantifying uncertainty and resilience on coral reefs using a Bayesian approach
Van Woesik, Robert
MetadataShow full item record
Coral reefs are rapidly deteriorating globally. The contemporary management option favors managing for resilience to provide reefs with the capacity to tolerate human-induced disturbances. Yet resilience is most commonly defined as the capacity of a system to absorb disturbances without changing fundamental processes or functionality. Quantifying no change, or the uncertainty of a null hypothesis, is nonsensical using frequentist statistics, but is achievable using a Bayesian approach. This study outlines a practical Bayesian framework that quantifies the resilience of coral reefs using two inter-related models. The first model examines the functionality of coral reefs in the context of their reef-building capacity, whereas the second model examines the recovery rates of coral cover after disturbances. Quantifying intrinsic rates of increase in coral cover and habitat-specific, steady-state equilibria are useful proxies of resilience. A reduction in the intrinsic rate of increase following a disturbance, or the slowing of recovery over time, can be useful indicators of stress; a change in the steady-state equilibrium suggests a phase shift. Quantifying the uncertainty of key reef-building processes and recovery parameters, and comparing these parameters against benchmarks, facilitates the detection of loss of resilience and provides signals of imminent change. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.