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Development of a Large-Scale, Long-Term Coral Cover and Disturbance Database in the Philippines

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Integrative Observations and Assessments

Part of the book series: Ecological Research Monographs ((APBON))

Abstract

The Philippines is located in the tropics and contains highly diverse coral reefs, as it lies within the Coral Triangle, which is the global center of marine biodiversity. However, this biodiversity “hotspot” has experienced reef degradation driven by natural disturbances and intense anthropogenic pressures. Consequently, coral researchers are focusing on promoting awareness of local reefs through the conservation, management, and assessment of reefs to monitor coral health. The status of coral reefs in the Philippines has been reported periodically since surveys were initiated in the 1970s. This study presents the preliminary steps to develop a large-scale, long-term coral cover database in the Philippines. The research was conducted through personal communications and electronic search of coral studies by different sectors (government, nongovernmental organizations, and reef scientists) conducted all over the Philippines. The collated data consist of living hard coral cover percentages from 2,349 reef benthic surveys conducted between 1978 and 2010. These data were analyzed to assess the spatial and temporal variability of Philippine reefs and to determine recent trends in coral cover. Overall, the results revealed an increase in areas with low levels (<25 %) of coral cover and a larger reduction in areas with high levels (>75 %) of coral cover. The results indicated that the Visayan Sea area is at high risk, with the highest ratio of sites with low levels of cover across time periods. Based on a review of the disturbances driving the reef decline, anthropogenic impacts are the most prevalent threat to Philippine reefs.

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Acknowledgments

We extend our gratitude to all who contributed to make this study possible. Special thanks to Reef Check, especially Director Gregor Hodgson and Ms. Jenny Mihaly for providing data. Thanks also to Coral Cay Conservation, PhilReefs (Marine Science Institute), Dr. Alan White, Dr. Cleto Nañola, Mr. Lambert Meñez, and Mr. Mark Vergara, for their prompt responses to our inquiries and for providing copies of their publications, and to Dr. Wilfredo Campos and Dr. Angel Alcala for granting us interviews. We also thank Dr. Jean Tanangonan, Dr. Rene Abesamis, Ms. Emily Layos, Mr. Melchor Deocadez, and the Hokkaido University Sustainable Low-Carbon Society Project for their assistance and support. This paper is a contribution to the S-9 Project and is supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund, Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

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Correspondence to Evangeline T. Magdaong .

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Appendix

Appendix

Survey Method Used

Most of the collated data were based on the line intercept transect (LIT) method to assess benthic communities. A transect line, typically a 10-, 20-, 30-, or 50-m measuring tape, is placed (randomly or permanently) on the reef along a constant depth contour and growth forms are estimated in situ under the tape. The point intercept transect (PIT) method is similar, except that measurements are conducted at specific intervals. For instance, Reef Check lays four 20-m transect lines and samples points every 50 cm to determine substrate type. The video transect method also uses a transect line placed along a depth contour, and a video is recorded along the entire transect. Substrate identification is conducted in a laboratory using the point sampling technique. The same principle is used in the phototransect method, except that a digital camera is used instead of a video camera. Vergara (2009) used the phototransect method in the 63 transects included in this study. A total of 50 images covering 0.4 × 0.5 m substrate areas were taken along each 50-m transect.

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Magdaong, E.T., Yamano, H., Fujii, M. (2014). Development of a Large-Scale, Long-Term Coral Cover and Disturbance Database in the Philippines. In: Nakano, Si., Yahara, T., Nakashizuka, T. (eds) Integrative Observations and Assessments. Ecological Research Monographs(). Springer, Tokyo. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-4-431-54783-9_5

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