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Palau International Coral Reef Center

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 .

 

 

18 August, 2014

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PAN Conservation Officers Training begins

On Monday, August 11, 2014 Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) hosted a brief opening ceremony of the Palau Protected Network (PAN) Conservation Officer Training at the PICRC Kedarm Conference Room. The ceremony was opened by the PICRC CEO Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, followed by special remarks by the Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, Honorable Umiich Sengebau, Dr. Patrick U. Tellei, President of Palau Community College (PCC) and His Excellency Kazuhiro Tajiri, Ambassador of the Embassy of Japan and closed by Director Matsui Nobuaki of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Palau Office.  Over thirty participants attended the ceremony included Governors, Browny Salvador from Ngarchelong, Renguul Masahiro from Ngardmau, Tmewang Rengulbai from Airai and Maria Gates from Angaur State. Koror State Director Jose Ise, Administrative Officer Ernest Ongidobel, PAN Coordinators and conservation officers from the states of Koror, Ngardmau, Angaur, Ngaraard, Ngarchelong, Airai, and Kayangel and the staff of PICRC, PAN Office, PAN Fund and Japan Embassy were also present at the ceremony.

After the ceremony, the PAN Conservation training began at the PICRC Student Lab. PICRC Researchers, Marine Gouezo, Lincoln Rehm and Shirley Koshiba together with the Head of Research and Aquarium Department Geraldine Rengiil are conducting the training to a selected number of PAN conservation officers. Lessons and field activities during the training includes proper ecological methods in monitoring of MPAs; identification of corals, fish, invertebrates, seagrass; and managing and conserving our marine resources.

The purpose of the training is to help provide support in areas that conservation officers need and to be certified in managing their state Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Collaborating with PCC and PANO to conduct the training with the technical assistance of JICA and Palau Coral Reef Island Ecosystem (P-CoRIE) fulfill PICRC’s mission in supporting conservation and management for the perpetuation of marine and associated environments through research and education that is significant to Palau and relevant to the world.