New guidelines drafted by a consortium of concerned experts could enable corals to adapt to changing environments and help restore declining coral populations in the Caribbean. The guidelines provide a definitive plan for collecting, raising, and replanting corals that maximizes their potential for adaptation.
A new paper outlining the guidelines, authored by the restoration genetics working group of the Coral Restoration Consortium, a group of scientists, restoration practitioners, educators, and concerned members of the public, appears online July 22, 2019 in the journal Ecological Applications.
“The Caribbean has experienced tremendous coral loss over the last few decades, and coral restoration has become an urgent issue in the region,” said Iliana Baums, professor of biology at Penn State and chair of the Coral Restoration Consortium restoration genetics working group. “But few of the traditional guidelines for conservation, which tend to focus on vertebrates or plants, apply to corals. In this paper, we provide concrete guidelines for restoring coral populations, using the best available data.”
Corals serve as the foundation for reefs, which protect coastal communities, provide food and medicinal compounds, and lead to an estimated $9.9 trillion per year in goods and services around the globe. But reefs worldwide face a variety of threats—foremost among them rising ocean temperatures—and are declining, particularly in the Caribbean.
A recent National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-commissioned report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provides a broad overview of 23 coral restoration strategies, though most are largely untested and not ready for implementation.
“The guidelines in this new paper are among those that can be implemented immediately and are grounded in the idea that coral populations can naturally respond to change if they have enough genetic diversity,” said Baums. “We are focusing on maintaining or increasing the genetic diversity of coral populations, which will provide more options for the corals to adapt to their changing environments.”
Coral populations grow in a variety of environments, covering a range of temperatures, depths, and light conditions, and they tend to adapt to local conditions. Thus, individuals in different environments should have differences in their genetic code that allow them to thrive. The consortium recommends collecting corals from these different environments to capture as much genetic diversity as possible. Then corals should be raised in a nursery, where they can quickly grow, and replanted on reefs.
“Corals can reproduce both asexually and sexually,” said Baums. “We can break off a small piece of a colony and replant it, essentially yielding a clone of the original coral. But sexual reproduction is key to naturally producing genetic diversity, and rates of sexual reproduction on reefs are dropping dramatically, especially for true reef-building corals. By replanting diverse corals in small groups, we enable the corals to sexually reproduce with each other.”
Collected corals could be replanted in locations similar to their original environment, or in locations that may soon become similar to their original environment.
“By taking advantage of improved climate models, we can anticipate where these traits may be beneficial in the future,” said Baums.
“We hope these guidelines for collecting, raising, and replanting corals will help to establish self-sustaining, sexually reproducing coral populations,” said Baums. “The situation surrounding coral reef decline is certainly dire, but we have a tremendous community of people that is dedicated to solving the problem. We have made enormous progress in figuring out how to do coral restoration, and we can make a difference in coral populations today. But for every minute that passes, it gets harder. With every missed opportunity to curb carbon emissions, which contribute to rising ocean temperatures, it gets even harder. Coral reefs are the world’s most diverse ecosystems and they provide incredibly important ecosystem services, so we really cannot afford to lose them.”
The Latest on: Coral reef restoration
via Google News
The Latest on: Coral reef restoration
- To combat coral bleaching, Kenya turns to reef nurserieson June 27, 2022 at 8:00 am
Minutes away from the Kenyan mainland, the densely forested island of Wasini is one of several starting lines for coral reef restoration efforts in the western Indian Ocean. On a rare calm day during ...
- Kenya turns to reef nurseries to combat coral bleachingon June 27, 2022 at 4:28 am
Coral bleaching occurs when extreme temperatures and sun glare simultaneously trigger corals to flush out algae.
- Scientists create guidelines to help conserve Caribbean coral reefson June 23, 2022 at 2:50 am
The Nature Conservancy, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association and the United Nations Environment Programme have joined forces to create a guide to coral reef restoration designed specifically for ...
- Scientists Create First Guidelines to Help Caribbean Tourism Sector Conserve Coral Reefson June 22, 2022 at 2:53 pm
At a critical time for economies and the ocean, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) joined forces to ...
- Synchronized spawning creates new life for coral reefson June 20, 2022 at 10:37 am
Divers interested in viewing the underwater phenomenon of coral spawning can join Florida Keys dive operators during select coral spawning charters — twilight trips to shallow reefs on or around ...
- Study shows mangrove and reef restoration yield positive returns on investment for flood protectionon June 17, 2022 at 9:00 am
Restoration of mangroves and coral reefs can be a cost-effective solution for coastal flood reduction in more than 20 countries across the Caribbean. Researchers used methods from the risk and ...
- Big Red (or his offspring) may one day help scientists restore iconic Florida coral reefson June 14, 2022 at 4:15 am
SUMMERLAND KEY – Meet Big Red, a Caribbean king crab captured in the wild off of the upper Florida Keys that currently lives in climate controlled raceways at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium ...
- Maharashtra: Sites across 35ha to see coral reef restorationon June 9, 2022 at 9:50 pm
says Nawab Malik's plea before Bombay HC The one-year project will identify and record stressed coral zones, as well highlight the causes that are stressing the ecosystem ...
- How to apply for a once-in-a-lifetime role saving the coral reefs in the Maldiveson June 8, 2022 at 6:47 am
Well, now you might be able to do just that as applications open for a unique opportunity to travel the Maldives and work on restoration of the coral reefs. You could have the chance to ...
- Mangrove and coral reef restoration could pay for itself, new research indicateson June 7, 2022 at 10:14 pm
FRESH research done by economists attached to the World Bank and a number of universities in the Americas have identified 20 Caribbean countries in which coral reef and mangrove restoration could ...
via Bing News