Tracing the influence of land-use change on water quality and coral reefs using a Bayesian model

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Brown, Christopher J
Jupiter, Stacy D
Albert, Simon
Klein, Carissa J
Mangubhai, Sangeeta
Maina, Joseph M
Mumby, Peter
Olley, Jon
Stewart-Koster, Ben
Tulloch, Vivitskaia
Wenger, Amelia
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2017
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Coastal ecosystems can be degraded by poor water quality. Tracing the causes of poor water quality back to land-use change is necessary to target catchment management for coastal zone management. However, existing models for tracing the sources of pollution require extensive data-sets which are not available for many of the world’s coral reef regions that may have severe water quality issues. Here we develop a hierarchical Bayesian model that uses freely available satellite data to infer the connection between land-uses in catchments and water clarity in coastal oceans. We apply the model to estimate the influence of land-use change on water clarity in Fiji. We tested the model’s predictions against underwater surveys, finding that predictions of poor water quality are consistent with observations of high siltation and low coverage of sediment-sensitive coral genera. The model thus provides a means to link land-use change to declines in coastal water quality.

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Scientific Reports

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7

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© The Author(s) 2017. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)

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