Evangeline T. Magdaong, PhD
Although coral declines have been reported from major reefs of the world, region-specific trends still remain unclear, particularly in areas with high diversity such as the Philippines. We assessed the temporal patterns of the magnitude and trajectory of coral cover change in the Philippines using survey data collected from 317 sites. We examined the rate of change in coral cover in relation to time, effects of bleaching and protection against fishing and assessed the efficacy of marine protected areas (MPAs) using meta-analysis. Results showed an overall increase in coral cover in the Philippines from 1981 to 2010. Protection from fishing contributed to the overall increase in the mean annual rate of change as the coral cover significantly increased within MPAs than outside. The significant differences in the rate of coral cover change through time were influenced by chronic anthropogenic stresses, coinciding with the timing of thermal stress and the establishment of MPAs. The rate of change in coral cover was independent of the level of protection and the age and size of MPA.