Taking a lesson from Wall Street, scientists advocate risk-sensitive planning to restore and conserve climate-stressed coral reefs

Coral reef ecosystems worldwide are seriously threatened by changing conditions in the ocean.

Although many factors are implicated, climate change has emerged as a dominant and rapidly growing threat.

Developing a long-term strategic plan for the restoration and conservation of coral reefs is urgently needed yet is complicated by significant uncertainty associated with climate change impacts on coral reef ecosystems.

In this paper, researchers use Modern Portfolio Theory to identify coral reef locations globally that, in the absence of other impacts, are likely to have a heightened chance of surviving projected climate changes relative to other reefs.

Long-term planning that is robust to uncertainty in future conditions provides an objective and transparent framework for guiding conservation action and strategic investment.

These locations constitute important opportunities for novel conservation investments to secure less vulnerable yet well-connected coral reefs that may, in turn, help to repopulate degraded areas in the event that the climate has stabilized.

Photo of reef in Thailand by wolfgang Lützgendorf from Pixabay

See full research paper.

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