National Center for Caribbean Coral Reef Research
University of Miami - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149




CARRUS Alliance

The Comparative Analysis of Reef Resilience Under Stress (CARRUS) Alliance is being developed into an international organization of research teams that will conduct long-term interdisciplinary research on coral reefs and associated human societies around the world. The research will be driven by the need to develop Dynamic Decision Support Systems (DDSSs) to improve coral reef management. These DDSSs will combine Geographic Information Systems with scenario-testing models that will allow managers to simulate various management decisions before implementing them on the reef. For example, if a decision needed to be made regarding whether a new coastal hotel should be established or a ban on spearfishing put in place, DDSSs would help the manager become better informed as to the likely range of impacts on the corals, reef geochemistry, the fish, the fisheries, tourism, the local economy, and the sociological relationships among people who depend on the reef. Initial concepts for these systems were developed at the International Conference/Workshop The Future of Decision Support for Coral Reef Management: Agent-Based Models and Interdisciplinary Research, organized by NCORE in Miami on July 22-25, 2002.

CARRUS Alliance activities will address the need for long-term comparative research at the whole reef level. The primary activities will consist of field work and data assimilation from prior and concurrent studies and sensors (in situ and remote). Modeling will serve as an important integration tool and a link to management applications. We will strongly emphasize multi-level agent-based models, which can be truly interdisciplinary, and tie easily to other types of models such as hydrodynamic and watershed models. Software will be developed in an open-source, community-build operation. The partners in the Alliance will be joined together through agreements to exchange advice, methods, information, software and results. We are aiming for a 15-year program, with initial models and GIS within five years and increasingly well-tested DDSSs within 10 to 15 years. Throughout the program period, the long-term comparisons among reef systems will greatly improve our understanding of reef processes and their relationships to human economies and societies.

The CARRUS Alliance will be initiated with limited seed support from the World Bank/Global Environmental Facility for its Modeling and Decision Support Working Group, involving teams based in the US, Mexico, Australia and the Philippines. However, the partners in the Alliance will depend on funds from many sources. The CARRUS Alliance will be formally announced and opened to interested research groups at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Japan in June, 2004.