The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008

Go Direct to Downloads: 2008 cover


NOAA’s Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment, Biogeography Branch, with support from NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, periodically compiles a comprehensive report describing the condition of shallow-water coral reef ecosystems in the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States. The report was called for by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in the U.S. National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs as part of an effort to develop a comprehensive National Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Program. Coral reef ecosystems, defined broadly as coral reefs and other functionally-related shallow water habitats, are found in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Navassa Island, Florida, the Flower Garden Banks and other banks of the NW Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, the Pacific Remote Island Areas, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Guam, and the three nations comprising the Pacific Freely Associated States (the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau).
This report is the third in a series of reports. The initial report, The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2002  (Turgeon et al., 2002), is similar to this report in that it incorporates the work of many scientists and managers from across the world. The first report provided a broad introduction to and a preliminary look at the status of coral reef ecosystems and was based primarily on qualitative information from the contributing authors. The 2005 report [Waddell, J.E. (ed.), 2005] and 2008 report [Waddell, J.E. and A.M. Clarke (eds.), 2008] differ from the 2002 report in that the more recent reports are based primarily on the most current quantitative monitoring data available, rather than qualitative assessments of ecosystem conditions. In addition, local writing teams, which were composed of experts from numerous research and management institutions, served as the primary authors of each jurisdiction chapter and thus were responsible for determining the content and scope of information included. As a result, the 2005 and 2008 reports have been published as edited volumes.

Project Summary

The 569-page report was structured to provide information according to the primary threats, topics, and goals outlined in the National Coral Reef Action Strategy (NCRAS, 2002) and other guidance documents developed by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) and its member organizations. Following the Executive Summary, which distills general conclusions from the entire document, an introductory chapter provides information on national- and regional-level efforts to conserve coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. and FAS that fall outside the scope of any one jurisdiction.

In the subsequent 15 chapters, local writing teams characterize the current understanding of the condition of the coral reef ecosystems in their respective jurisdictions. Writing teams were asked to: 1) introduce the types and geographical distribution of reefs within the jurisdiction; 2) discuss how each of the 13 key threats has manifested in the location; 3) describe existing monitoring programs; 4) present methods, results, and discussion for each monitoring data set, organized around the three primary themes of water quality, benthic habitats, and associated biological communities; 5) introduce the conservation and management actions currently being undertaken to respond to issues of concern; and 6) provide an overall summary of the status of each jurisdiction's coral reef ecosystems and priority recommendations for future research and management alternatives.

Finally, the National Summary chapter synthesizes the results of a multiple-choice questionnaire completed by report coordinators and/or writing team members to evaluate the present condition of key resources and threats, short- and long-term trends in reef condition, and the present ability of jurisdictions to monitor resources and threats. The results of the National Summary chapter corroborate the results of the jurisdiction chapters and indicate locations and topic areas for which additional support is needed.

This report represents an evolving effort to determine the condition of coral reef ecosystems at both local and national scales and serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of information about data collection activities in the U.S. and FAS. Data collection and integrated reporting of information are crucial to management efforts that strive to protect and conserve coral reefs, their associated habitats, and the organisms that depend on them. It is hoped that, through this report series, gaps in the current state of knowledge about U.S. coral reef ecosystems will be identified and filled, and that the availability of up-to-date, accurate, comprehensive scientific information will enable managers to slow or halt the general decline in coral reef ecosystem health that has become evident in the last several decades.


All documents listed below are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. For issues with downloading, see these downloading tips.

To Press Kit

Entire Report

Individual Chapters


The names and affiliations of the 270+ contributors to the report are listed at the start of each chapter or in the report’s front matter. Please reference these locations for partner information.

Relevant Links

Time Frame

This report is published as part of a series of assessments and will be revised periodically as additional data becomes available. A separate project page will appear on this site when the next edition of this report is complete.

For More Information

Administrative Contact:
1305 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-713-3028 x160

Technical Contact:
1305 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-713-3028 x174

Related Biogeography Projects