The Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean project brings together the best available knowledge on the Caribbean region’s coral reefs, as a basis for a region-wide analysis using a consistent method. Wide-ranging information is consolidated within a geographic information system (GIS), including data on coral reef locations (maps); pressures on coral reefs (observed threats, pollution, physical impacts); changes in condition; observations of coral bleaching and disease; and information on the management of coral reefs. Once these data are collected and integrated, we review and improve the data sets, although many gaps in the information remain. The project then attempts to fill in some of those gaps through inferential modeling of threats to coral reefs from human activities, including overfishing pressure, coastal development, and pollution and sediment from land-based and marine-based sources. These threat estimates were calibrated using the data available from the compiled sources (Data from CARICOMP, AGRRA, Reef Check, and REEF were used. See a full description in a later section on model calibration and validation) and have been subjected to several reviews by experts. Changing climate, coral bleaching, and coral disease are also significant threats to Caribbean coral reefs, but we were not able to model such threats using currently available data. The Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean report, however, presents current knowledge of the extent of and projections for these threats, within the context of the other pressures facing Caribbean coral reefs.
The project’s modeling approach involves identifying sources of stress that can be mapped for each threat category. These