Critical Research Needs for Identifying Future Changes in Gulf Coral Reef Ecosystems

Feary et al. (2013) full text summary PDF

For which topic were research priorities identified?

Gulf coral reef ecosystems

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?


Why was it conducted at all?

The Gulf is a semi-enclosed marginal sea, connected to the Gulf of Oman (also known as the ‘Sea of Oman') through the 56 km wide Strait of Hormuz (Chao et al., 1992; Sheppard et al., 1992; Coles, 2003). There has been a rapid and substantial increase in scientific interest within the region, especially its marine environment and the physical extremes in which its marine communities (especially coral reefs) have evolved (reviewed in Khan et al. (2002), Hamza and Munawar (2009), Sheppard et al. (2010), Sale et al. (2011), and Riegl and Purkis (2012)). In an era of unparalleled changes in global oceanic climate, understanding the potential implications of global changes on ecologically, economically and socially important coastal coral reef ecosystems will be vital in developing adequate management and conservation measures to cope with such changes. Within the Gulf, the coral reef ecosystem is characterized by some of the world's most extreme environmental conditions, with salinity often >45, and the highest variability in annual temperature encountered by coral reefs globally (Sheppard et al., 1992; Riegl, 2001; Sheppard and Loughland, 2002). Consequently, investigating coral reefs that exist in marginal environments (i.e. regions that have naturally extreme physical factors structuring their populations) will effectively inform about the limits of adaptation, acclimation, and resilience (Feary et al., 2010; Purkis et al., 2011; Riegl et al., 2011).

What was the objective?

to identify current knowledge gaps in determining future changes in Arabian/Persian Gulf coral reefs

What was the outcome?

a list of 10 research questions

How long did the research prioritization take?

No information provided.

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?


How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: survey 1: participants were asked to submit up to five questions that represented feasible research projects and information gaps for understanding future changes within Gulf coral reef ecosystem, 71 questions submitted. Step 2: data processing: thematic analysis, 12 research areas were identified. Step 3: survey 2: participants were asked to rank 23 areas by importance, participants were asked to list up to three of their research strengths and asked to rate each research question along four criteria

Which stakeholders took part?

Managers and academics. Survey 1: 31 participants. Survey 2: 31 participants.

How were stakeholders recruited?

Academics were invited to participate if they had authored or co-authored at least two peer-reviewed articles or reports on the Gulf or adjacent regions within the last 20 years. Managers were defined as those representing key environmental agencies within countries bordering the Gulf, who were responsible for making management/policy decisions in relation to the environmental management of the Gulf ecosystem.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders were mere participants of the research prioritization process; they were not actively involved in the process.