Historical reconstruction reveals recovery in Hawaiian coral reefs

Kittinger, John N., Pandolfi, John M., Blodgett, Jonathan H., Hunt, Terry L., Jiang, Hong, Maly, Kepa, McClenachan, Loren E., Schultz, Jennifer K. and Wilcox, Bruce A. (2011) Historical reconstruction reveals recovery in Hawaiian coral reefs. PLoS One, 6 10: e25460-1-e25460-13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025460

Author Kittinger, John N.
Pandolfi, John M.
Blodgett, Jonathan H.
Hunt, Terry L.
Jiang, Hong
Maly, Kepa
McClenachan, Loren E.
Schultz, Jennifer K.
Wilcox, Bruce A.
Title Historical reconstruction reveals recovery in Hawaiian coral reefs
Journal name PLoS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2011-10
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0025460
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 6
Issue 10
Start page e25460-1
End page e25460-13
Total pages 14
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Coral reef ecosystems are declining worldwide, yet regional differences in the trajectories, timing and extent of degradation highlight the need for in-depth regional case studies to understand the factors that contribute to either ecosystem sustainability or decline. We reconstructed social-ecological interactions in Hawaiian coral reef environments over 700 years using detailed datasets on ecological conditions, proximate anthropogenic stressor regimes and social change. Here we report previously undetected recovery periods in Hawaiian coral reefs, including a historical recovery in the MHI (~AD 1400-1820) and an ongoing recovery in the NWHI (~AD 1950-2009+). These recovery periods appear to be attributed to a complex set of changes in underlying social systems, which served to release reefs from direct anthropogenic stressor regimes. Recovery at the ecosystem level is associated with reductions in stressors over long time periods (decades+) and large spatial scales (>103 km2). Our results challenge conventional assumptions and reported findings that human impacts to ecosystems are cumulative and lead only to long-term trajectories of environmental decline. In contrast, recovery periods reveal that human societies have interacted sustainably with coral reef environments over long time periods, and that degraded ecosystems may still retain the adaptive capacity and resilience to recover from human impacts.
Keyword Human Impacts
Sustainability Science
Remote Oceania
Molokai Island
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Centre for Marine Studies Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 30 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 31 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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