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Palau International Coral Reef Center

29 August, 2014

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PICRC, PCC, PAN and JICA concludes certification training for PAN conservation officers

From August 11 to 22, 2014, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) conducted a pilot course at PICRC Student Laboratory to train and certify ten participants from nine states with Protected Areas Network (PAN) sites on the ecological monitoring protocol for PAN sites. Participants from the respective states included Mandiko Iyechad and Omkilumel Polloi from Koror, Roger Rumong from Ngarchelong, Charley Patris from Hatohobei, Ricky Daniel from Ngiwal, Artingal Polloi from Airai, Sheldon Siksei from Ngardmau, Mike Henry from Angaur, Weider Debengek from Kayangel and Lyman Pedro from Ngaraard. This pilot course was in partnership with PICRC, Protected Areas Network Office (PANO), Palau Community College (PCC) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to help the conservation officers become certified through PCC Continuing Education. The conservation officers will be certified to conduct marine ecological monitoring in their states and support the goal of Micronesian Challenge which is to effectively conserve and manage 30% of the near-shore marine areas. Not only will the officers be able to monitor their protected areas but also be able to present the information to their communities effectively. The success of this pilot course ensures that further ecological monitoring courses will be conducted.

Trainers and Instructors during the pilot course were PICRC Researchers, Marine Gouezo, Shirley Koshiba and Lincoln Rehm. PICRC Staff Senior Aquarist Asap Bukurrou and Research Assistant Geory Mereb helped in fish sizing and identification. PICRC would like to give a special thanks to Mr. Fabio Esposito, who taught diving to six of the students and also assisted during one of the field tests and to Koror State Rangers, who helped provide a boat necessary for the field tests.

This pilot course training by PICRC in partnership with PCC, PAN and JICA, supports PICRC’s mission to guide efforts supporting coral reef stewardship through research and its applications for the people of Palau, Micronesia, and the world. For more information about PICRC’s research programs, visit PICRC’s Facebook and Website www.picrc.org.

 

 

 

27 August, 2014

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PICRC releases a new report on sustainable use of watersheds and coral reefs in Pacific Islands

Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) recently published a paper entitled, “2000 years of sustainable use of watersheds and coral reefs in Pacific Islands: A review for Palau”.  The paper was published in the international peer-reviewed scientific journal, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. The authors of the paper include Shirley Koshiba, Adelle Lukes Isechal and Dr. Yimnang Golbuu from PICRC, Meked Besebes from the Bureau of Arts and Culture, Kiblas Soaladaob from United Nations Joint Presence (GEF-SGP), Madelsar Ngiraingas who was at Palau Automated Land and Resource System (PALARIS) and now with Palau Community College and Steven Victor from The Nature Conservancy.

The paper examines the sediment trapping capability of cultivated wetlands, in particular taro (Colocasia esculenta) fields, which are natural wetlands used to grow taro, a main staple crop for the population. A 7-months long field study was undertaken to quantify the sediment accumulation rate for taro fields and to determine their sediment trapping efficiency. The results showed that the taro fields were able to trap on average 90% of sediment, therefore sheltering coastal coral reefs and their fisheries from the negative impacts of terrestrial runoff.

Based on the results of this study, the authors suggest that the combined sediment trapping capacity of taro fields and mangroves helped reduce sedimentation on coral reefs around Babeldaob Island. This enabled human settlement for over 2000 years on a small Pacific Island with the main staple food being taro for starch and reef fish for protein.

According to PICRC Researcher, Shirley Koshiba, the lead author of the paper, “taro fields play an important role in mitigating environmental degradation of coastal marine areas and also provide taro which is a main staple crop for Palau.  Efforts to promote the continuation of taro farming would benefit Palau in terms of food security, as well as protection of coral reefs. ”

This collaborative research by PICRC in partnership with other local agencies, supports PICRC’s mission to guide efforts supporting coral reef stewardship through research and its applications for the people of Palau, Micronesia, and the world. A full list of all PICRC publications is available at the PICRC library and website (www.picrc.org). For a copy of this report or any other PICRC publications, please contact Ms. Ines Kintoki at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

26 August, 2014

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Palau Aquarium After Dark Lecture Series to highlight the role of Masech and other grazing fishes in keeping Palau’s coral reefs healthy

At the upcoming Palau Aquarium After Dark Lecture Series on Wednesday August 27th from 6:30 - 8:30 pm, Dr. Alyssa Marshell, a post-doctoral researcher from the Marine Spatial Ecology Lab at the University of Queensland, will discuss the role of herbivorous fishes on coral reefs, and present some results from her first research project conducted at Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), which involved investigating the important role of the abundant and common Masech (lined bristle-tooth surgeonfish) in different reef habitats. Dr. Marshell is based at PICRC for the next 12 months to conduct research on herbivorous fishes, working in collaboration with PICRC researchers.

Coral reefs are often called the ‘rainforests of the sea’ because they are one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. Although coral reefs occupy less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean surface, they are home to 25% of all marine species. Coral reefs provide important ecosystem goods and services, such as tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection, for millions of people worldwide. However, coral reef ecosystems are currently seriously threatened from climate change, ocean acidification, pollution from poor land-use practices, and overfishing and destructive fishing practices. Urgent action is required and one approach is to apply management that enhances reef resilience.

Resilience refers to the ability of an ecosystem to absorb impacts and regenerate after natural and human-induced disturbances. For coral reefs, it is the ability of the reef to cope with recurring disturbances and rebuild functioning coral-dominated systems that continue to provide ecosystem services, rather than changing to degraded algal-dominated ecosystems. The resilience of coral reefs is increasingly important as disturbances such as coral bleaching and storms become more frequent and severe with climate change.

Herbivorous fishes are fishes that eat plant material. The most common, abundant and important herbivorous fish families on coral reefs are surgeonfishes, parrotfishes and rabbitfishes. Through their daily feeding activity, these fishes prevent algae from overgrowing corals and occupying space that is important for coral recruitment. Therefore, herbivory is one of the most important processes in maintaining the ecological balance on coral reefs and herbivores play a critical role in reef resilience by limiting the establishment and growth of algal communities. By feeding on fast-growing algae, herbivorous fishes reduce and maintain the amount of algae on reefs and help slow-growing corals to compete for limited reef space. The depletion of herbivore populations, especially in conjunction with other stressors, such as elevated levels of nutrients from fertilizers or sewage, can shift the delicate balance of reef ecosystems from coral to algal dominance. This can lead to dramatic changes in reef appearance and function, with corals being quickly overgrown by fast-growing algae. Once this has occurred, it is very difficult for the system to change back to coral dominance. Therefore, protecting herbivores from over-exploitation (in combination with other management strategies) is a crucial consideration for reef management.

 

 

18 August, 2014

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PICRC releases a new report on coral reef resilience across Micronesia

 

This month, the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) released a report on Reef Resilience Assessment in the Federated States of Micronesia.  The report, written by PICRC researchers and their colleagues, presents the results of surveys conducted in Yap, Kosrae and Pohnpei.  PICRC researchers conducted 161 surveys in the three states of Federated States of Micronesia to assess corals, fish, and invertebrates such as clams and sea cucumbers.  Based on the results of these surveys, PICRC researchers developed maps showing resilient reef areas or areas that might be better in bouncing back and recovering from acute disturbances such as coral bleaching event or typhoons.

According to Lincoln Rehm, the lead author of the report, “It is important for coral reef management to know which reefs are resilient and therefore deserve special conservation focus, especially in light of the continuing rise in atmospheric CO2.  Global warming is anticipated to get worse and this will lead to increased water temperatures, which will result in greater frequency and severity of coral bleaching.

The resilient maps produced by the report can be used as a basis for setting aside protected areas or designing protected areas network. This regional research by PICRC supports its mission to guide efforts supporting coral reef stewardship through research and its applications for the people of Palau, Micronesia, and the world. A full list of all PICRC publications is available at the PICRC library and website (www.picrc.org). For a copy of this report or any other PICRC publications, please contact Ms. Ines Kintoki at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .