A Typology for Reef Passages

Type Article
Date 2022-03
Language English
Author(s) Breckwoldt Annette1, Nozik Alexandra1, Moosdorf Nils1, 2, Bierwirth Jan3, Fache Elodie4, Ferse Sebastian1, 5, Ford Amanda6, Mangubhai Sangeeta7, Pelletier DominiqueORCID8, Piovano Susanna6
Affiliation(s) 1 : Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Bremen, Germany
2 : Institute of Geosciences, Kiel University (CAU), Kiel, Germany
3 : MSc programme ‘Marine Biological Resources’ (IMBRSea), Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
4 : SENS, IRD, CIRAD, Univ Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, Univ Montpellier, Montpellier, France
5 : Department of Marine Ecology, Faculty of Biology and Chemistry, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
6 : School of Agriculture, Geography, Environment, Ocean and Natural Sciences (SAGEONS), The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji
7 : Talanoa Consulting, Suva, Fiji
8 : Unité Halieutique Grand Ouest, Département Ressources Biologiques et Environnement, Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), Nantes, France
Source Frontiers In Marine Science (2296-7745) (Frontiers Media), 2022-03 , Vol. 9 , P. 786125 (9p.)
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2022.786125
WOS© Times Cited 3
Keyword(s) reef passages, GIS (Geographic Information System), satellite imagery, visual interpretation, marine biodiversity, Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu

Coral reefs host exceptionally diverse and abundant marine life. Connecting coasts and sheltered lagoons to the open ocean, reef passages are important yet poorly studied components of these ecosystems. Abiotic and biotic elements ‘pass’ through these reef passages, supporting critical ecological processes (e.g. fish spawning). Reef passages provide multiple social and ecological benefits for islands and their peoples, but are so far neither characterized nor recognized for their multifaceted significance. This study investigated 113 reef passages across nine Pacific islands (Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu). GIS-based visual interpretations of satellite imagery were used to develop criteria to define three distinct types, mainly based on distance to coastline and presence/ absence of an enclosed water body. The discussion identifies ways to refine and augment this preliminary typology as part of a research agenda for reef passages. With these next steps, this typology will be extendable to other regions to better document reef passages and their various roles, supporting biodiversity conservation and sustainable fisheries management.

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