4Site supports sustainable and resilient futures in Oceania by amplifying the capacity of human and natural communities to adapt to environmental challenges. We do this by leveraging the significant ecological and social science investments in observational and experimental capacity at four islands located along a transect from Hawaii to Tahiti.

The Challenge
The Pacific Islands, their coral reef systems and the communities relying on them face existential threats from climate change, environmental degradation, ecological fragmentation, and other stressors. Rigorous evidence is needed on factors that predict resilient social-ecological coral reef systems so management plans and policies can amplify these factors. In the vast region of Oceania where the islands are generally small, dispersed and diverse, investigating broad changes that affect micro- and macro- level factors predictive of coral reef health is a significant local and regional challenge.

The Vision
Responding to this challenge, the 4Site Pacific Transect Collaborative will integrate four well-established and characterized research sites to support sustainable and resilient futures, enhance adaptive capacity, and accelerate action-oriented science. We combine scientific and culturally-grounded data, knowledge, values, and perspectives to equitably achieve Sustainable Development Goals and resilient wellbeing of coastal social-ecological systems.

Pacific Island coral reefs and the economies and communities that rely on them are ‘canaries in the coal mine’ for climate change and biodiversity loss. To combat these existential threats, it is critical to identify the factors that predict resilient coral reef social-ecological systems; integrate and amplify these factors in the design of effective interventions; and implement them through robust management plans and policy frameworks.

How We Work
Coral reef systems in the Oceania region are some of the healthiest in the world and represent prioritized refuges for protection. Leveraging a transect across spatial, sociocultural, biogeographical, and temporal gradients – and significant ecological and social science investments in observational and experimental capacity at our study sites- the 4Site platform offers cultural, social, and ecological data to feed predictive models, evaluate scenarios, identify and test impactful interventions, and support decision- making.

Research and collaboration: 4Site addresses critical, action-oriented questions that are locally resonant and globally relevant. We investigate coral resilience predictors, models to integrate and amplify the most effective conservation interventions, and work closely with managers and policymakers to implement community-driven planning and decision-making. 4Site works to identify factors that best predict resilient social-ecological systems in Oceania: collate and synthesize data and knowledge from a broad range of natural and social science models to characterize the Pacific Transect from local-to-regional scale; and model integrated suites of predictors under alternate scenarios of human activity and environmental change to amplify the impact of conservation interventions.

Community Engagement: 4Site members are intimately connected to local communities and/or decision-makers that are involved in managing coral reef systems and planning sustainable futures. In addition, the United Nations Decade on Ocean Science provides a platform to disseminate and influence stakeholders within and beyond the Pacific Islands, providing a pathway for outsized impact of the proposed project. The partnership between these institutions will leverage already existing data on each site and create new research and monitoring programs across sites to help promote a sustainable future for Oceania. 4Site aims to coordinate meetings with local interested partners to address questions of community roles in conservation science and practice; data standards, FAIR data principles, indigenous data sovereignty, and related issues in support of synthesis models; and coordinate meetings with interested parties to develop conservation and management plans, best practices, and contemporary challenges in support of planning;

4Site Objectives

  • Characterize functional attributes of nested social-ecological system components, incorporating multidisciplinary data
  • Model and quantify relationships between functional attributes under historic and current conditions
  • Map how data and local knowledge are utilized in different contexts to conserve, manage, and sustain natural resources
  • Predict dynamically linked trajectories of ecological and community wellbeing under various policy-driven scenarios and environmental conditions using the Island Digital Ecosystem Avatar
  • Engage and support Indigenous and local communities with templates for island sustainability plans using community-driven data stewardship and equitable dialogues

For more information about 4Site, see our 2022 Fact Sheet.