Monday , Dec 10, 2018
06:30 - 11:00
Reef Lounge/The Islander
Free Coffee (Breakfast & Lunch not provided Monday )
Free coffee available daily at 6:30am - 11:00am at the Reef Lounge.   
07:30 - 17:30
Carysfort Hall Foyer
Registration
08:30 - 11:30
Tarpon Room
SNP Chip Workshop (Restoration Genetics)
Format : Workshop
Track : Monday AM Workshops
Speakers
Sheila Kitchen, Postdoctoral Researcher, The Pennsylvania State University
Moderators
Iliana Baums, Assoc Prof, Penn State University
A critical need for coral restoration planning is the identification of genotypes in order to increase or at least maintain genotypic diversity within nurseries and in outplanting sites. High-resolution genetic tools are required for this task because Caribbean reef building corals, including Acropora spp, occur as large clonal stands that can only be delineated via genotyping. Previously, species-specific microsatellite markers were used to resolve genotypes and while these markers provided reliable results they are difficult to implement for restoration practitioners without access to a genetics laboratory. We have identified biallelic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) markers from deep- and shallow-sequenced Acropora genomes to genotype individuals, distinguish populations and hybrid states. From these markers, we developed a custom SNP array and an open access web portal, Standard Tools for Acroporid Genotyping (STAG), to perform an automated bioinformatics protocol to obtain genotypes. The SNP array combined with STAG will allow for reliable, standardized identification of host genotype information. In this half-day workshop, we will provide a demonstration that walks the user through the three steps: data collection, genotype analysis with STAG, and navigation of the online database. Participants will explore whether or not the database contains previous observations of their test genotypes. For genets with matches in the database, information such as where and when they were sampled and associated phenotype data can be extracted. In the future, this database can be used for the definition of management units based on genetic differentiation among genets, sites, populations, and species. Our standardized approach to genotype corals will enhance data archiving of genetic diversity across the Caribbean and can be expanded to other threatened corals.   For more information, please contact: Dr. Iliana Baums- baums@psu.edu Dr. Sheila Kitchen- sak89@psu.edu    
Demonstration on SNP array data use for standardized Acroporid genotyping
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Sheila Kitchen, Postdoctoral Researcher, The Pennsylvania State University
A critical need for coral restoration planning is the identification of genotypes in order to increase or at least maintain genotypic diversity within nurseries and in outplanting sites. High-resolution genetic tools are required for this task because Caribbean reef building corals, including Acropora spp, occur as large clonal stands that can only be delineated via genotyping. Previously, species-specific microsatellite markers were used to resolve genotypes and while these markers provided reliable results they are difficult to implement for restoration practitioners without access to a genetics laboratory. We have identified biallelic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) markers from deep- and shallow-sequenced Acropora genomes to genotype individuals, distinguish populations and hybrid states. From these markers, we developed a custom SNP array and an open access web portal, Standard Tools for Acroporid Genotyping (STAG), to perform an automated bioinformatics protocol to obtain genotypes. The SNP array combined with STAG will allow for reliable, standardized identification of host genotype information. In this half-day workshop, we will provide a demonstration that walks the user through the three steps: data collection, genotype analysis with STAG, and navigation of the online database. Participants will explore whether or not the database contains previous observations of their test genotypes. For genets with matches in the database, information such as where and when they were sampled and associated phenotype data can be extracted. In the future, this database can be used for the definition of management units based on genetic differentiation among genets, sites, populations, and species. Our standardized approach to genotype corals will enhance data archiving of genetic diversity across the Caribbean and can be expanded to other threatened corals.
12:00 - 14:30
Pelican East
Office Hours with an Engineer
Format : Workshop
Track : Monday Mid-day Workshops
Moderators
Maya Trotz , Professor, University Of South Florida
Deepak Sathyanarayan, Biomedical Research Engineer, Aptima, Inc.
Do you have a restoration problem that could use an engineering solution? Bring it to Office Hours with an Engineer to get immediate feedback.
12:15 - 15:00
Tarpon Room
Communications Training – Engaging the public, media, & corporate partners
Format : Workshop
Track : Monday Mid-day Workshops
Speakers
Ben Shouse, Officer, Pew
At this interactive session, you will learn how to develop communications for a variety of audiences, including government, businesses, and the public. After an introduction to key principles, you will develop messages based on your own work and refine them with the help of the group. The goal is to equip you with skills and words you can use the day you return from the Symposium.
13:00 - 15:00
Heron Room
High-Res Coral Reef Mapping Workshop
Format : Workshop
Track : Monday Mid-day Workshops
Speakers
Sarah Frias-Torres, Scientist/Researcher, Vulcan Inc
One of the greatest challenges in global coral reef restoration is to quantify what is the status of coral reefs around the world, and where we should direct our active restoration efforts. In this lunchtime workshop, we will learn how to use a new tool to plan, implement and quantify coral reef restoration success. Paul G. Allen Philanthropies in collaboration with Planet, Carnegie Institution of Science, University of Queensland, and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology have produced the first-ever seamless mosaic of high-resolution satellite imagery of the world’s coral reefs. The global coral reef satellite imagery provided by Planet at 3.7-m resolution will be processed and corrected for distortions from the atmosphere, sun glint, materials in the water column and surface waves. The images will deliver accurate information on sea-floor reflectance which is essential for mapping depth, benthic and geomporphic systems around the globe. In this workshop, we demonstrate the mapping tool capabilities by teaching participants how to navigate our global coral reef mosaic and our initial five sites where field verification was completed: Heron Island, Australia; Moorea, French Polynesia; Lighthouse Reef, Belize; west Hawaii and Karimunjawa, Indonesia. Future partnerships will expand mapping from sites to regions in 2019 and then the entire planet in 2020. Also in 2019, the use of artificial intelligence will be applied to detect changes on the reefs and alert conservationists and governments to the situation so that resources can be immediately engaged. Therefore, workshop participants will learn how to use the new tool and how to engage in the developing of the global scale mapping. WORKSHOP INFO: The High-Res mapping workshop includes a hands-on demonstration on a web-based mapping site. While access to a laptop or tablet with WI-FI connection is not essential to learn the content of the workshop, it might be beneficial to bring one if attendees want to experiment with the mapping application. The site is not optimized yet for smartphone use at the moment. Please bring a laptop if you plan to attend.   
WORKSHOP-Expanding the restoration toolbox: A New High-Resolution Satellite-based mapping of global coral reefs
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Sarah Frias-Torres, Scientist/Researcher, Vulcan Inc
One of the greatest challenge in global coral reef restoration is to quantify what is the status of coral reefs around the world, and where we should direct our active restoration efforts. In this lunchtime workshop, we will learn how to use a new tool to plan, implement and quantify coral reef restoration success. Paul G. Allen Philanthropies in collaboration with Planet, Carnegie Institution of Science, University of Queensland, and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology have produced the first-ever seamless mosaic of high-resolution satellite imagery of the world’s coral reefs. The global coral reef satellite imagery provided by Planet at 3.7-m resolution will be processed and corrected for distortions from the atmosphere, sun glint, materials in the water column and surface waves. The images will deliver accurate information on sea-floor reflectance which is essential for mapping depth, benthic and geomporphic systems around the globe. In this workshop, we demonstrate the mapping tool capabilities by teaching participants how to navigate our global coral reef mosaic and our initial five sites where field verification was completed: Heron Island, Australia; Moorea, French Polynesia; Lighthouse Reef, Belize; west Hawaii and Karimunjawa, Indonesia. Future partnerships will expand mapping from sites to regions in 2019 and then the entire planet in 2020. Also in 2019, the use of artificial intelligence will be applied to detect changes on the reefs and alert conservationists and governments to the situation so that resources can be immediately engaged. Therefore, workshop participants will learn how to use the new tool and how to engage in the developing of the global scale mapping.
15:15 - 17:00
Permit Board Room
CRC Leadership Communications Strategy Meeting (*Invite Only)
Format : Closed Meeting
CLOSED MEETING This closed session will complete the first draft of a communications strategy for the CRC.  
15:15 - 17:15
Heron Room
Coral Patch Sim Training
Format : Workshop
Track : Monday PM Workshops
Speakers
John McManus, Professor, U. Miami
CoralPatchSim is a new user-friendly, visually-oriented free software system to facilitate forecasting the likely future development of a coral community. Given rates of recruitment and mortality, which can be estimated from diameter measurements of dominant benthic species, along with some values generally available online, the software will 'grow' the idealized benthos under various simulated stresses, while providing annual estimates of ecoservices such as CaCO2 production and refuge volumes by fish size. This software, applicable globally, can add value to survey and monitoring data, improve damage mitigation and habitat equivalency analyses, assist with projections of climate change or pollution impacts, and assist teachers with classes from High School onward. Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops, PC or Mac, pre-installed with Java 9.0 or later, Excel 2010 or later, with 16 Megs memory preferred (8 is ok). Laptops may be shared in pairs if necessary. Familiarity with basic operations and regressions in Excel will be helpful. The software reads and writes via multi-page Excel workbooks. Demonstrations will include estimation of recruitment and mortality from field data, and various analyses from the simulation outputs, all using Excel. Participants will be provided with the CoralPatchSim software to load. 
CoralPatchSim Software and Suggested Protocols for Coral Community Mitigation Analyses
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
John McManus, Professor, U. Miami
Decisions on the choice of locations for construction or dredging involving coral community damage, and on required compensatory mitigation actions for both planned and unplanned damage, generally require ecological forecasting capabilities. U.S. federal laws, in particular, focus on estimated losses of ecosystem services over time and their replacement – often in the form of on-site restoration and/or the development of new areas of similar ecological habitat. CoralPatchSim software can assist in providing such forecasting capabilities. In combination with in-situ measurements of coral diameters, information on growth forms, competition hierarchy, and other traits from literature and online sources, the program projects coral community development on a spatially explicit, 2-D, centimeter-resolution grid. ‘Species’ can actually be genus-form combinations. Storm disturbance frequency and magnitude can be varied. The fine resolution facilitates the inclusion of stationary coral fragments. Program outputs include estimates over time of bottom cover, volumes, surface areas, calcium carbonate production, and the refuge volumes available to fish by size-category for the simulated communities. The estimation equations are based on generalized geometries of major habitat-structuring benthos, and so will be applicable globally. The software is complementary to other available tools, including the ReefBudget methodology, the Coral Trait Database, the Indo Pacific Coral Finder and other field guides, as well as habitat equivalency analyses via spreadsheets or the Visual_HEA Software. Suggestions are provided for applying existing data, and for efficiently obtaining new field data for the analyses.
15:15 - 17:15
Sailfish Room
Hands-on Restoration Monitoring Training
Format : Workshop
Track : Monday PM Workshops
Speakers
Meaghan Johnson
Liz Goergen, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council/NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
A hands on restoration workshop focused on nursery structure building and outplanting techniques. Demonstrations will include the construction of a coral tree as well as discussions on other nursery structures, outplant design and techniques, and restoration program operations. Coral tree materials will be raffled off during the workshop to two participating programs. We will end the workshop with a panel discussion with representatives from multiple jurisdictions.
16:00 - 17:30
Tarpon Room
Using Drones as Reef Management Tool
Format : Workshop
Track : Monday PM Workshops
Speakers
Matthew Parry, Fisheries Biologist, National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, Restoration Center
Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (aka Drones) is becoming widely accepted within the coral reef management tool as a quick and effective way to map and monitor large swaths of the reef. However the learning curve to become operational is steep. This session will provide an overview of drones and drone usage within NOAA and an introduction into the requirements needed to fly drones as an employee of the Federal government. We will discuss the FireFly Pro 6 Drone's benefits and limitations, highlight recent data collected, and discuss future applications.
17:30 - 19:00
Palm Court/Lagoon Beach
Reef Manager's Meet & Greet
Informal get together onsite at the Ocean Reef Club.
Tuesday , Dec 11, 2018
07:00 - 08:00
Town Hall Patio
Breakfast (provided)
Free coffee available daily at 6:30am - 11:00am at the Reef Lounge.  Breakfast will be available on the Town Hall Patio.
08:00 - 17:30
Carysfort Hall Foyer
Registration
08:30 - 08:50
Town Hall Ballroom
Welcome Address
Track : Plenary
Speakers
R. Scott Winters, CEO, Coral Restoration Foundation
Sarah Fangman, Superintendent, NOAA/Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Tom Moore, Reef Futures Chair & NOAA Coral Reef Restoration Team Lead, NOAA Restoration Center
08:50 - 09:05
Town Hall Ballroom
The Role of Coral Reef Restoration in a Changing World
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Tom Moore, Reef Futures Chair & NOAA Coral Reef Restoration Team Lead, NOAA Restoration Center
09:05 - 09:50
Town Hall Ballroom
Keynote: Gardening the coral reefs - reviewing two decades of activities to construct the "reefs of tomorrow"
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Baruch Rinkevich, Professor And Senior Scientist, National Institute Of Oceanography
09:50 - 10:20
Town Hall Ballroom
The Coral Restoration Consortium
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Tali Vardi, Coral Scientist, ECS For NOAA Fisheries Office Of Science & Technology
10:20 - 10:50
Town Hall Patio
BREAK
Format : Break
10:50 - 11:05
Town Hall Ballroom
How to maximize future adaptive potential of restored coral populations
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Iliana Baums, Assoc Prof, Penn State University
How to maximize future adaptive potential of restored coral populations
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Iliana Baums, Assoc Prof, Penn State University
Caribbean coral populations are actively being restored via asexual fragmentation of adult populations and the production of sexual offspring. The goal of restoration is to increase population sizes while maximizing adaptive potential of restored populations. Because the total number of remaining wild coral genotypes far exceeds the capacity of nurseries to propagate them all, we provide guidelines for selecting species and genotypes for restoration projects. For each species selected, we suggest that collecting 3-4 genotypes per reef is sufficient to capture much of the allelic diversity. Because environmental conditions are rapidly changing, a mixed provenance strategy is preferred where genotypes are sourced both locally as well as from more distant sites within the management area, allowing for the inclusion of potentially adaptive genetic variants under a wider range of environmental gradients. We further recommend that nurseries concentrate on propagating genotypes with records of high relative growth, outplant survival, bleaching and infectious disease tolerance or resistance, and successful sexual propagation with other genotypes (“winners”). At the same time, some low-level propagation effort for genotypes not performing well in nurseries (“runts”) should be maintained to guard against unintended selection during captivity and to preserve genetic variants that could become adaptive in the future. Given current evidence, we do not think that outbreeding depression is a major problem. Likewise, we do not expect inbreeding depression to be an issue because currently only F1 and F2 larvae are raised. We stress that high rates of sexual reproductive success will be essential for adaptation. Hence, our recommendations outline tools to optimize coral fitness while providing adequate genetic diversity for restored coral populations to rapidly adapt to changing environmental conditions.
11:05 - 11:50
Town Hall Ballroom
Keynote: Progress in larval propagation since 2010 and a vision for 2030
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Kristen Marhaver, Scientist, CARMABI
11:50 - 12:00
Town Hall Ballroom
Video: 25 years of restoration around the world
Track : Plenary
12:00 - 12:15
Town Hall Ballroom
Special Announcement!
Track : Plenary
12:15 - 13:15
Town Hall Patio
Lunch (provided)
Format : Break
12:15 - 13:15
Sailfish Room
Restoration in the Pacific (Lunch Meeting)
Format : Workshop
Moderators
Lani Watson, Marine Habitat Resource Specialist, NOAA Office Of Habitat Conservation, Restoration Center
A time and place to gather for anyone (scientists, managers, practitioners, etc.) working in the Pacific Ocean on coral restoration. All are welcome to attend. 
13:15 - 15:15
Tarpon Room
Monitoring Assessment Technology and Tools
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Joseph Pollock, Coral Strategy Director, The Nature Conservancy
Brianna Craig, Student Scholar, National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, Hollings Scholarship Program, University Of Hawai'i At Hilo
Alison Moulding, Manager, NOAA Fisheries
Alexander Neufeld, Data Manager, Coral Restoration Foundation, Inc.
Liz Goergen, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council/NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Stephanie Schopmeyer, Associate Research Scientist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Diego Lirman, PI, UM RSMAS
Wyatt Million, University Of Southern California
Moderators
Stephanie Schopmeyer, Associate Research Scientist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
This session will cover advanced monitoring technologies as well as recently developed assessments and tools to help practitioners track restoration status on the reef scale.
Revolutionary aerial mapping technologies to advance coastal conservation and restoration
13:15 - 13:30
Presented by :
Joseph Pollock, Coral Strategy Director, The Nature Conservancy
Defining the location and condition of coastal habitats, including coral reef, mangroves, and seagrass, is essential for effective protection and management of these invaluable ecosystems. Producing detailed habitat maps over large spatial scales, however, has traditionally required large capital investments and the deployment of highly skilled local practitioners to remote geographies. We are bridging this critical knowledge gap by leveraging recent advances in remote sensing technologies and partnering with the organizations at the forefront of this rapidly developing field. In collaboration with Planet, whose fleet of around 200 satellites collects global data on a daily time step, and the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, whose high-fidelity imaging spectrometers and multiple laser scanners provide high fidelity habitat differentiation, we are pioneering coastal monitoring approaches to provide spatial, temporal, and taxonomic resolutions never before possible. eCognition, an object-oriented approach, is being used to delineate benthic habitats throughout the Caribbean using the Planet satellite imagery. In contrast to pixel-based classification methods, object-oriented image analysis segments satellite data into seascape objects that have ecologically-meaningful shapes, and classifies the objects across spatial, spectral, and textural scales. These objects represent distinct patches of uniform benthic habitat and are classified based on both spectral and non-spectral attributes of the imagery which include bathymetry, geomorphic zones, and corresponding texture, spatial, and contextual information. We integrated thousands of GPS-referenced field video transects, drone, and scuba diver data collected throughout the area to train the classification algorithm. This innovative, scalable approach to coastal ecosystem mapping and monitoring will provide the data needed to target coastal conservation actions to provide maximum human benefit, including ecosystem valuation, targeted conservation and habitat restoration, and effective marine spatial planning.
Characterization of Shallow-Water Reef Habitats of the 
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument 
Using 3-Dimensional Reconstruction Techniques
13:30 - 13:45
Presented by :
Brianna Craig, Student Scholar, National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, Hollings Scholarship Program, University Of Hawai'i At Hilo
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) is one of the largest protected marine conservation areas in the world. During NOAA’s 2017 Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program expedition to PMNM, Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs) were conducted to survey fish, coral, and invertebrate abundance at 7 remote islands, shoals, and atolls. In addition to the REAs, the benthos was photographed in order to be reconstructed into 3D reef models. The goal of this research is to analyze REA and benthos characteristics in an effort to study reef complexity and ecosystem function. Utilizing Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry techniques, the photos taken from each transect were aligned using Agisoft software, generated into a point cloud of overlapping data, to ultimately produce a 3D and Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the reef. The 3D model was flattened to a 2D orthograph, and then analyzed together with the DEM using ArcGIS software. Along the orthograph, arbitrary survey plots were drawn and processed for many different complexity parameters using the Benthic Terrain Modeler tool, such as slope, curvature, roughness, and rugosity of the reef. GIS processing of the 86 reefs surveyed across PMNM has been completed at 1 centimeter (cm) and 5cm resolutions. Additionally, orthographs were analyzed using CoralNet, an online annotation tool for classifying percent coral coverage by genus and morphology (ex. Branching Acropora), as well as percent algal, macro-fauna, and abiotic benthos coverage. Future goals of this ongoing research include GIS processing up to the 100cm resolution, as well as statistical analysis to investigate correlations between reef complexity and REA data.
Tracking Caribbean Coral Nursery and Outplant Restoration
13:45 - 14:00
Presented by :
Alison Moulding, Manager, NOAA Fisheries
In the Caribbean, there are numerous organizations propagating corals in nurseries for use in restoration and population enhancement. The most common species is Acropora cervicornis followed by Acropora palmata, both of which are listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA Recovery Plan for these two species promotes scaling up of nursery efforts as one of the actions to promote species recovery. As coral propagation is becoming more common and widespread, there is a need to track outplanting efforts, particularly for ESA-listed species, to gauge their distribution and cumulative impact on population status. A preliminary database was developed to collect information, including species, number of corals outplanted, and outplant location, from nursery operators. The information was initially collected only for Acropora species in US jurisdiction, but through the work of the Coral Restoration Consortium, information collection has expanded to include additional species and locations throughout the Caribbean. This information can be spatially depicted in GIS to show information such as nursery locations, species distribution, genotype locations, and outplants through time. The database can be used for a number of purposes such as to inform best management practices, increase partner collaboration, identify priority areas or gaps, or help with scaling up of restoration. We envision an online portal for easy data entry and searchable content that would allow users to download data for their own studies and management purposes. We will present data, maps, and capabilities we have developed to date.
The use of large-scale photomosaics (photogrammetry) as a method for monitoring long-term success of Acropora restoration efforts in the Florida Keys.
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Alexander Neufeld, Data Manager, Coral Restoration Foundation, Inc.
Photomosaics can be a useful scientific tool for efficiently and accurately analyzing large numbers of coral outplants. Coral Restoration Foundation, Inc. (CRF) has developed cost-effective, in-house procedures for creating large-scale (~2,000 sq meters) reef photomosaics of reefs for the purposes of long-term monitoring of Acropora spp. outplants. Here, we compare the monitoring data obtained using standard, in-water data recordings of coral survivorship and health, with that obtained using photomosaics, for transects of outplanted corals located at Carysfort Reef located off of north Key Largo, Florida. We expect to show that (1) similar information can be obtained from each method with comparable accuracy and (2) that photomosaics offer the potential to capture additional, more complex information for calculating sophisticated metrics, such as percent coral cover. Already, photomosaics created by CRF immediately before and after Hurricane Irma allowed for analysis of large areas of reef- not just individual outplanted corals- and provide a clear snap-shot of coral cover. As restoration efforts increase in the future, photomosaics can also offer a way for monitoring emphases to shift from individual corals to entire reef communities, thus allowing natural dynamics such as asexual fragmentation to be captured, deepening our understanding of best restoration practices and coral reef ecosystems.
Acropora cervicornis colony residency and retention rates implications for long-term monitoring of ephemeral species
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Liz Goergen, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council/NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Monitoring of individual ephemeral coral species such as Acropora cervicornis is difficult because of frequent fragment or displacement, yielding individual colonies nearly impossible to track long-term. However, much of the remaining A. cervicornis exist as low density populations comprised of individual colonies, and we must understand individual colony dynamics of the species in order to develop proper monitoring guidelines and success metrics for population enhancement programs. In this study, the spatial and temporal components of A. cervicornis colony residency and retention were explored by 1) measuring changes in colony abundance, 2) evaluating two methods for colony fate tracking, 3) estimating colony residence and retention rates, and 4) determining if colony size effects colony residency. All parameters were measured within 3.5 m radial plots (n=56) established between numerous sites (n=11) in three sub-regions of the Florida Reef Tract from June 2011 to July 2015. Colony residence times were similar between methods used for fate tracking and less than 16% of colonies remaining after two years. A majority of colony loss came from complete colony dislodgement and not mortality. Mean colony abundance by sub- region did not change significantly between survey events; however, median colony residency time was less than one year, and three month retention rates were between 29-88% for all sub- regions, indicating significant and frequent colony movement within sites. The probability of a colony remaining through the end of the study was over three times greater in the Dry Tortugas (0.12) sub-region than Broward (0.03) and Middle Keys (0.04). Colony size had a positive effect on retention time although the relationship was weak (between 9 and 19%). Our data show that fate tracking is likely underestimating population growth, propagation, survival, and health of the species, ultimately suggesting the need to modify how A. cervicornis are being monitored to describe long-term success and species recovery. Furthermore, these results indicate the success of a population enhancement program should not be defined exclusively by fate tracking outplanted colonies, but should utilize a systematic site level monitoring approach to capture individual species dynamics.
An Evaluation Tool to Determine the Status of Coral Restoration: II. Regional Benchmark Development
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Stephanie Schopmeyer, Associate Research Scientist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Active restoration to mitigate declines in coral cover is an essential component of coral conservation and management plans. However, the availability of monitoring data and success criteria is limited and often leads to criticism of restoration projects. Expanding an evaluation tool developed by Lirman et al. (2017), immediate and long-term success metrics were developed for evaluating restoration efforts to assess individual or collaborative performance and advancement towards restoration goals. Metrics provided within this tool are designed to evaluate the strength and robustness of each restoration project, program, or regional-scale effort, while also identifying specific metrics which may require action to improve performance. This tool follows the recovery goals, objectives and criteria outlined in the Recovery Plan for Elkhorn and Staghorn Corals (NMFS 2015) which may also be applied to additional species now listed within the US Endangered Species Act or have recently suffered dramatic losses in abundance and cover due to severe bleaching and disease events. Success metrics focus on increasing the abundance of and protecting the genetic diversity of coral populations throughout their geographical ranges through restoration and active management. Therefore, metrics outlined here focus on best management practices or results from restoration-based research conducted by experts in the field of coral propagation and outplanting. The intent of this tool is to evaluate each restoration metric using a stop-light indicator framework and allow self-critique of methodologies, techniques, and protocols to promote the design of adaptive strategies to improve performance and encourage communication between restoration partners (locally, regionally, or globally) to increase success. Therefore, this tool will advance the development of science-based benchmarks to achieve population-based recovery for coral reefs by evaluating the status of restoration techniques, outlining the positive attributes of productive projects and programs, and promoting the development of successful strategies.
An Evaluation Tool to Determine the Status of Coral Restoration: I. An example from the Dominican Republic
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Diego Lirman, PI, UM RSMAS
With the proliferation of local and regional coral propagation and reef restoration programs around the world, there is an increasing need to develop uniform, consistent guidelines to ascertain the status of these efforts that are initiated with differing levels of expertise and a wide range of programmatic goals (e.g., restoration, education, enhanced livelihoods). Here, we will describe a simple assessment tool based on the stop-light indicator framework that captures status information of a wide range of potential project components and goals, including key steps such as coral collection, nursery deployment and maintenance, coral monitoring, stakeholder involvement, funding sources, data sharing, education and outreach, and project sustainability. The scores obtained for the different desired program attributes are combined into a single score that can be easily tracked among projects and over time to see the status and progress of the restoration activities. The assessment tool proposed is tested using data from seven restoration projects from the Dominican Republic, highlighting strengths and shortcomings of each project as well as identifying steps that can be taken to improve project status. This tool was expanded by Schopmeyer et al. (2018) to evaluate the status of regional, multi-species restoration programs. Results from this regional perspective will be detailed in a separate presentation.
Virtual Reef Restoration: Using 3D photogrammetry to track morphometrics of outplanted Acropora cervicornis fragments.
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Wyatt Million, University Of Southern California
The ability to monitor the growth and survival of a restored coral is vital for assessing the success of a restoration program as a whole. Information on outplant performance is useful to restoration managers to direct future operations as well as to scientists using such coral to understand ecological and evolutionary processes of the reefs. Current non-intrusive methods for monitoring coral are limited to total linear extension or indirect estimates of surface area which can be difficult to obtain in the field, especially when dealing with structurally complex corals. 3D photogrammetry provides a way to digitally reconstruct a coral and quantify morphometric characteristics outside of the water. Within the timespan of a routine monitoring survey, Acropora cervicornis fragments were photographed with a standard underwater camera from an array of angles to produce 50 to 100 images; a process that required roughly 90 seconds per fragment. Images of each coral were entered into the Agisoft Photoscan software which then generated the 3D models. Using the scaling targets photographed into the models, we calculated linear extension, surface area, and volume of 270 corals outplanted by Mote Marine Laboratory’s Staghorn Restoration Project. In order to ground-truth the methodology, we compared photogrammetry-based measures to in situ measurements of total linear extension. To assess bleaching, analysis of color cards included in photographs provided quantification of fragment color with no additional effort on the part of the surveyors. Long-term data on outplant survival will enable determination of the utility of 3D photogrammetry for assessing the performance of coral outplants. By obtaining direct total linear extension, surface area, volume, and color measurements, 3D photogrammetry can provide a more comprehensive method of monitoring outplant success when compared to traditional methods without adding substantial effort to current restoration practices.
13:15 - 15:15
Town Hall North
Restoration as a Tool for Reef Management
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Jennifer Koss, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
Kristi Kerrigan, Reef Resilience Coordinator, Florida Department Of Environmental Protection
Elizabeth Shaver, Restoration Lead, The Nature Conservancy/Reef Resilience Network
Joanne Delaney, Resource Protection And Permit Coordinator, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
ASTRID DANIELA SANTANA CISNEROS, Technician Researcher, INAPESCA
Mike Brittsan, Director Of Aquatic Science, Columbus Zoo And Aquarium
Sarah Fangman, Superintendent, NOAA/Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Moderators
Sarah Fangman, Superintendent, NOAA/Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Jennifer Koss, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
This is a collection of talks from various managment agencies on how restoration activies are incorporated into their conservation strategies.
NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program: Establishing an emphasis on coral restoration
13:15 - 13:30
Presented by :
Jennifer Koss, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) rolled out its new Strategic Plan this fall. This plan incorporates lessons learned from programmatic evaluations and assessments, and its implementation is predicated on employing a resilience based management strategy. The plan takes a multi-pronged approach to reduce threats affecting coral reefs, particularly in U.S. waters, and to restore coral ecosystem function at an ecological scale. Direct and ecologically informed interventions are needed to keep coral reef ecosystems viable and functioning. The Coral Program’s new Strategic Plan formally establishes an additional pillar of work: Restore Viable Coral Populations. This pillar specifically addresses building and maintaining resistance and resilience to threats and will drive recovery of the ecosystem. This pillar will support necessary research, implement on-the-ground actions to prevent additional losses of corals and their habitat, and apply innovations in restoration and intervention techniques to create resilient, genetically diverse, and reproductively viable populations of key coral species. Active and targeted coral repopulation, using novel ecological interventions (e.g., stress hardening and assisted gene flow), will facilitate adaptation of coral reef ecosystems to evolving environmental conditions. Additionally, the Coral Program will improve the use of regulatory mandates to prevent loss of coral and coral reef habitat through supporting technical knowledge transfer to permitting agencies, encouraging consistent use of best management practices, and informing mitigation options with appropriate restoration techniques. Our strategies are to: *Improve coral recruitment habitat quality *Prevent avoidable losses of corals and their habitat *Enhance population resilience *Improve coral health and survival The Coral Program will require the assistance of numerous partners to realize the objectives of these restoration and resilience strategies. The Coral Restoration Consortium is a primary partner, because its membership spans the various disciplines and expertise required. To research and develop the various techniques, the Coral Program will engage academia, nongovernmental organizations, and private industry.Implementation of these techniques at ecologically meaningful scales will also require partnership with restoration practitioners, private foundations, and federal and local management agencies, as well as less traditional partners in engineering and technology development.
The New USCRTF Restoration Working Group: Goals and Jurisdictional Updates
13:30 - 13:45
Presented by :
Kristi Kerrigan, Reef Resilience Coordinator, Florida Department Of Environmental Protection
Recent efforts to combat coral reef decline have focused on increasing resilience by reducing local stressors, but these management strategies alone are insufficient. In each U.S. State, Territory and Commonwealth with coral reefs, there are corals that are already locally stress-adapted, thriving in stressful environments such as harbors, inlets, or in areas with poor water circulation. These “adapted corals” have demonstrated adaptation to attributes that have allowed them to endure harsh conditions such as higher temperatures, increased turbidity, elevated levels of toxins, and decreased salinity. These resistant and resilient corals could provide stocks of significant restoration potential for local coral reefs. The All Islands Coral Reef Committee (AIC) and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) have established a new working group dedicated to this initiative to help preserve and restore the functions of these valuable coastal ecosystems. The purpose of this working group is to support locally led teams in each U.S. coral reef jurisdiction (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) that can select, cultivate, and transplant adapted corals or those raised for specific attributes. Each jurisdiction has been responsible for identifying managers and researchers for their local working group as well as guidelines for implementation. On behalf of the USCRTF Restoration Working Group, I will present the efforts to date of each jurisdiction including any research gaps, challenges or obstacles, and immediate needs.
Sharing Knowledge and Resources Around the World with the Reef Resilience Network
13:45 - 14:00
Presented by :
Elizabeth Shaver, Restoration Lead, The Nature Conservancy/Reef Resilience Network
The Reef Resilience Network connects marine resource managers with information, experts, resources, and skill-building opportunities to accelerate and leverage solutions for improved conservation and restoration of coral reefs around the world. The Network is a partnership led by The Nature Conservancy that is comprised of more than 1,350 members and supported by dozens of partners and TNC staff. It also includes over 100 global experts in the field of coral reefs, fisheries, climate change, restoration, and communication, and more who serve as trainers, advisors, and content reviewers. To achieve these goals over the last 15 years, we have focused on 1) synthesizing and sharing the latest science and management strategies through our website modules, journal article summaries, manager case studies, and newsletter; 2) connecting managers and experts to share resources and lessons learned through Network-hosted learning exchanges, trainings, and interactive webinars; and 3) providing training, seed funding, and support to help managers incorporate resilience concepts into their management strategies and regulatory policies, and encourage increased knowledge-sharing within and across regions. We have recently launched a new website module on coral restoration, focused on sharing best practices for methods including coral gardening in field-based and land-based nurseries, larval propagation, micro-fragmentation, and substrate addition and enhancement with engineered and other approaches. In this presentation, we will share information about RRN resources, the coral restoration module, and our plans for new content and tools coming down the pipeline.
Merging management and restoration goals through regulatory frameworks
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Joanne Delaney, Resource Protection And Permit Coordinator, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
It is widely recognized that active coral restoration is a necessary component of coral reef habitat management in the U.S. and broader Caribbean. Inevitably, permit(s) of some kind are required to undertake coral restoration, notably when those activities occur within marine protected areas, which are most often the focus of such efforts. While often viewed by practitioners as a bureaucratic impediment of the restoration process, permits provide a tool for coral reef managers to track activities, garner key data on efficacy of programs, and ensure that restoration activities do not interfere with other critical research or monitoring programs. Most importantly, through permitting, managers can ensure that multiple, discrete restoration programs are working towards a broad, holistic goal of habitat restoration. There are times, however, when emergency coral restoration actions, such as response to vessel groundings or coral disease outbreaks, must be implemented immediately. In those instances, having streamlined processes in place to address legal requirements (such as those of the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, among others) greatly facilitates critical coral restoration work. NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary used lessons learned during Hurricane Irma and a large-scale coral disease outbreak to refine and implement such simplified permitting processes.
Proposal to evaluate the efficiency of coral reefs restoration actions through the adaptation of International standards for the practice of ecological restoration (SER)
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
ASTRID DANIELA SANTANA CISNEROS, Technician Researcher, INAPESCA
Degradation of coral reefs around the world has increased in recent years; causing its loss of structure and functionality. Therefore, ecological restoration actions have begun to be implemented to recover these characteristics, as well as the environmental services that they provide. However, there is not a specific survey that evaluates the effect of restoration actions and have to use methods for monitor reef’s health. The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) has developed International Standards for terrestrial ecosystem restoration. These standards evaluate a site before, at the time, and after the restoration actions, using six main ecosystem attributes: Absence of threats, Physical conditions, Species composition, Structural diversity, Ecosystem functionality and External exchanges; in a range of 0 to 5 to evaluate their recovery. The National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Mexico (INAPESCA) is working to adapt these concepts to restored reefs. A pilot test is presented to evaluate the efficiency of restoration actions implemented in two reef areas damaged by ship grounding, action which outplanted fragments of eight corals species, from 2012 to 2016, and was lead by the Reef Restoration Program of Mexico. Attribute changes were mainly observed in species composition, structural diversity and ecosystem functionality, due to the increase in coverage of reef building corals. A shift of dominant species occurs, as well as an increase of environmental heterogeneity and fish fauna improved in richness and density. These changes contribute to the recovery of the reef’s natural functionality towards a resilient ecosystem. This tool also provides a more complete picture of the recovery process, which guides the implementation of actions towards restoration goals.
American Zoological Association (AZA) SAFE Atlantic Acropora Conservation Action Partnership program
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Mike Brittsan, Director Of Aquatic Science, Columbus Zoo And Aquarium
Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) focuses the collective expertise within our accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages our massive audiences to save species. At the same time, SAFE will build capacity to increase direct conservation spending. The program goal of the SAFE: Atlantic Acropora CAP program is to increase abundance and enhance genetic diversity among wild populations of elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), and their naturally-occurring F1 hybrid (Acropora prolifera). The program is to ensure that these species remain extant throughout their native range, experiencing successful reproduction and recruitment. This will be accomplished through a combination of conservation and restoration activities that include direct restoration and repopulation, using both asexually and sexually-propagated corals. Additionally, we will work with land-based nurseries and cryopreserved collections in order to preserve valuable genetic diversity for future research, conservation and restoration activities. This program will increase the number of AZA-accredited member institutions directly participating in and contributing to the conservation of Atlantic Acropora corals, and increase awareness of the global coral reef crisis and impacts to Atlantic Acropora species through our collective education, outreach and public engagement activities. Through these conservation and educational programs, AZA-accredited member institutions and project partners will create a measurable positive impact on these populations and public awareness of their status, their importance, and their place in the global coral reef crisis.
Creating a model for ecosystem restoration within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Sarah Fangman, Superintendent, NOAA/Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Until recently, most restoration efforts in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary focused primarily on Natural Resource Damage Assessment for coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves following mechanical injuries caused by human activities. Debris removal, framework repair, transplantation, infilling, and nutrient enhancement are all techniques that have been employed. More recently, in addition to expanding outplanting of acroporids by partners to promote recovery of ESA-listed species, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) also recently supported coral salvage and stabilization following Hurricane Irma to mitigate losses associated with this natural disturbance. In recognition of the accelerated decline of marine life throughout the Florida Keys, substantial threats posed by high levels of use, and recent waves of bleaching and lethal diseases, ONMS has made a new commitment to proactive ecosytem restoration. New technologies that expand the scale and the species involved in restoration efforts are needed to promote recovery of biogenic habitat, associated biodiversity, and critical functional roles provided by abiotic and biotic ecosystem elements. Our primary tactic will focus on reestablishing essential functional elements that stimulate subsequent natural recovery of other degraded habitats nearby or downstream. Priorities include restoration of herbivores such as Diadema to promote grazing, removal of corallivores to reduce coral losses, seeding of coral larvae, and outplanting of boulder corals and other species to restore habitat complexity and diversity. Auxiliary requirements may include controls on fish and lobster removal in order to restore the full range of symbiotic interactions that characterize healthy coral reef ecosystems, as well as control of invasive species. Effective ecosystem restoration also needs to consider the sensitivity of corals to physical damage from waves and storms, vulnerability to predation, and mortality due to competition with algae and other space competitors. By incorporating high genetic and species diversity, identification of coral holobionts that are resistant to disease, temperature stress and other climate impacts, and selection of the most appropriate reef environments and habitats, the performance and resilience of outplants can be enhanced.
13:15 - 16:15
Town Hall South
Vignettes: 5 minute snapshots of global restoration projects
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Frederick Smith, Director, Epic Ocean Adventure
Simone Montano, Researcher, Università Degli Studi Di Milano Bicocca-MaRHE Center
Tess Moriarty, PhD Candidate , The University Of Newcastle
Mohammad Islam, Science & Management, Marinelife Alliance
Nadeem Nazurally, Lecturer And PhD Student, University Of Mauritius
Edward JK Patterson, Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute, Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute
Samantha Iliff, Student Intern , National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, Hollings Scholarship Program, Florida Atlantic University
Roshni Yathiraj, Project Manager, ReefWatch Marine Conservation
Nikola Rodriguez, Scholar, NOAA EPP
Valeria Pizarro, Director, Fundación Ecomares, Calle 39 Norte 3CN 89, Cali-Valle, Colombia
Irene Antonina Salinas-Akhmadeeva, Student/Project Technician , Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México / Universidad Autónoma De Baja California Sur
Adrián Andrés Morales Guadarrama, Coral Production, INAPESCA
Juan Carlos Huitron Baca, Director, Anclamarina
Erinn Muller, Science Director Of The Elizabeth Moore International Center For Coral Reef Reserch And Restoration, Mote Marine Laboratory
Lauri MacLaughlin, Regional Research Associate/Resource Manager, NOAA/NOS/ONMS
Michael Nemeth, Coral Reef Restoration Specialist, NOAA Restoration Center
Forrest Courtney, Teaching Assistant / Researcher, Samford University
Francesca Virdis, Coordinator, Reef Renewal Bonaire (fmr. Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire)
Phanor Montoya Maya, Director/Founder, Corales De Paz
Moderators
Baruch Rinkevich, Professor And Senior Scientist, National Institute Of Oceanography
Tali Vardi, Coral Scientist, ECS For NOAA Fisheries Office Of Science & Technology
Lightning talks presenting snapshots of restoration projects from around the globe.
Coral Culture's State-of-the-Art 2018: an inspired world traveler’s photo-essay of methods, people and places.
13:15 - 13:22
Presented by :
Frederick Smith, Director, Epic Ocean Adventure
I have visited over a dozen coral restorations programs in 2018, documenting each program's management goals, and propagation and out-planting methods, and learning more about what makes each unique. My qualitative research, including follow-up interviews, shows that each organization uses methods specific to their goals, financial and logistical parameters, and the local marine environment. In my presentation, I explore 3-4 case studies of programs working to restore coral reef ecosystems. Each case study discusses 1) programmatic goals, (2) current propagation and out-planting methods, and (3) logistical and ecological considerations. This information will be useful to coral restoration practitioners when designing and managing effective coral restoration programs. Join me on a visual journey around the world.
Suitability of Maldivian lagoons for the restoration of the reef-building branching coral Acropora muricata
13:23 - 13:30
Presented by :
Simone Montano, Researcher, Università Degli Studi Di Milano Bicocca-MaRHE Center
Coral reefs are complex and productive ecosystems that encompass the highest biodiversity of any marine ecosystem. Unfortunately, 2010-2016 bleaching events seriously affected coral reefs health of the Republic of Maldives, including the coral reefs surrounding Magoodhoo Island, Faafu Atoll. This study was aimed to evaluate suitability of Maldivian lagoons for the restoration of Maldivian reef-building corals using the coral gardening concept. Herein, 4 rope nurseries of 20m square each were installed in a sandy lagoon at 13 meters depth where large stands of different scleractinian species were found. A total of 755 corals fragments were installed, belonging to Acropora muricata (66%), Acropora sp. (19%), Porites rus (13%), and Pocillopora sp. (2%). Quarterly survival, growth (linear extension/ecological volume) and tissue regeneration monitoring of coral fragments revealed a 95% survival of coral fragments. In particular few coral colonies were found affected by coral bleaching and diseases. Furthermore, after 6 months the average growth for coral fragments ranged from 1.22 to 4.71 cm/month with the most abundant species A. muricata displaying the highest value. The calm conditions of the lagoon seem to have favour colony growth and regeneration for this species which is in contrast to reports in the literature. Thus, we strongly highlight the extreme growth rate showed by Acropora spp. These are the results of the first workshop on coral reef restoration held in Magoodhoo with the objective of transfering theoretical and practical knowledge on large-scale coral gardening for the rehabilitation of degraded reefs. We finally believe that similar initiative becomes essential to the recovery of coral reefs in the Republic of Maldives, heavily affected by coral bleaching and poor coastal development.
Coral restoration in the Maldives: An evaluation of the effectiveness of popular restoration methodologies.
13:30 - 13:37
Presented by :
Tess Moriarty, PhD Candidate , The University Of Newcastle
Maldivian hermatypic coral reefs have been exposed to disturbances for more than two centuries (Brown and Dunne 1988). Coral is not only the basis of which the Maldives is formed but, historically the founding blocks for houses, businesses, and mosques (Sluka and Miller 1998). Subsequent to the first coral bleaching event in the Maldives in 1998 sparked the apprehensiveness for the future of the reefs (Goreau et al. 2001). Since then Maldives has been exposed to another major coral bleaching event (2016). As a result many of the tourist resorts have responded with numerous techniques to rejuvenate their house reefs. Although there are extensive coral restoration projects in the Maldives, there is limited literature establishing the success of such projects. This paper is the first to elucidate the success of three methods of coral restoration in the Maldives and advises room for future improvements. Methods Coral transplantation: Methods adapted from Edwards and Gomez (2007) transplantation techniques. Coral modular frames: Methods adapted from Edwards (2010). Coral gardening: Adapted from Frias-Torres S, Montoya-Maya PH, Shah N.J (Eds.) (2015). Ecological measures of coral health were collected. Preliminary data indicates that the three methods have their strengths and weaknesses. So far the coral gardening technique proves to be the most successfully with respect to survival rates. Due to the relatively long nursery phase no immediate rejuvenation results are initially seen on the reef, extending the amount of time before resort guests experience visual impacts from the project. Nevertheless the nursery phase provides larger and more resilient coral colonies with respect to total size and coral health respectively. Although direct relocation methods give an immediate visual impact to the reef they indicated significantly lower and marginally lower growth and survival rates compared to the coral gardening project for the transplantation and modular frame methods, respectively. Evaluating such popular reef restoration methods is extremely important for both the development of the projects, and also for increased understanding for best practises of these restoration tools for reef managers.
Coral restoration efforts in Bangladesh
13:38 - 13:45
Presented by :
Mohammad Islam, Science & Management, Marinelife Alliance
St Martin’s Island is the only coral habitat in Bangladesh marine water. There are 66 known coral species under 22 genera and 15 sclerectinian coral families. During the last decade tourism spread all over the north zone of the island and in winter month’s mass tourism hampers the coral growth through plastic pollution and sedimentation in the water. Although several GOB projects completed in the last 20 years the degradation of habitat prevails due to lack of essential activities needed for the coral restoration. The research organization Marinelife Alliance(MLA) took initiative for field intervention in addition to awareness during 2015 through the development of Locally Managed Marine Area(LMMA). The major western nearshore area is less used by local community. and since the habitat is less accessible for boat anchoring and fishing it is easily agreed by people to keep as no take zone. MLA conducting all possible activities for the long time restoration of the habitat and its coral coverage expansion, viz., coral plantation through coral frame with steel structure, direct plantation on solid bed rock, installation of mooring buoys, removal of unwanted trashes, mining prohibition, and prohibition of other physical damage conducted by tourist on the intertidal coral habitat. The program MLA is conducting with the partnership of Bangladesh Department of Environment.
Assessing the success of coral restoration following a beach and lagoon rehabilitation work in Mauritius
13:45 - 13:52
Presented by :
Nadeem Nazurally, Lecturer And PhD Student, University Of Mauritius
In response to the ongoing damage to coral reefs and the consequences on sand erosion, hotel industries in Mauritius have started to engage on beach and lagoonal rehabilitation works as well as coral farming as being a major part of conservation strategies. The project consisted of two parts. First, corals and marine organisms were removed along three (10m by 10m) area labelled Reef 1, Reef 2 and Reef 3 to accommodate Permeable Submerged Breakwaters (PSBs) made of basaltic rocks inside the lagoon. The marine organisms were displaced outside the working zones while corals were fragmented as well as whole corals colony removed. Hard corals were removed by fragmentation and loosening the whole colonies from their natural substratum. Line intercept transect (LIT) method was used to assess the percentage coral cover prior to removal process. They were placed on table nurseries and were carefully monitored for 1 month before transplantation. The second part involved the transplantation of corals on artificial structures placed next to the PSBs. One of the major aspects of this project has been to demonstrate the sustainable approach towards placement of artificial structures to prevent sand erosion while incorporating the ecological criteria. The present study investigated the culture of corals and success of coral farming before and after a beach and lagoonal rehabilitation work along with biodiversity regenerations over time after placement of these PSBs. Overall, number/unit of organisms removed were as follows: 1146 at Reef 1, 101 at Reef 2 and 970 at Reef 3 which comprised of molluscs, crustaceans and hard & soft corals. The overall percentage survivorship so far has been 95% with very few bleaching. Salinity, pH, DO, Temperature, Total Suspended Solids, nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) and Feacal Coliforms were monitored. In most of the experimental treatments the physico-chemical parameters were higher during construction activities and returned to normal range after construction as per the coastal water quality guidelines of Mauritius. These results are indicative that engineering solutions towards beach and lagoonal rehabilitation along with active restoration measures can be made possible.
Restoration in Reef Management and Conservation in Gulf of Mannar, Southeastern India - Best Practices and Lessons Learnt
13:53 - 14:00
Presented by :
Edward JK Patterson, Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute, Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute
Gulf of Mannar is one of the four major coral reef areas in India. Out of an area of 110 km2, 32 km2 has been degraded due mainly to mining and destructive fishing practices. Low-tech and low-cost transplantation techniques using artificial substrates like concrete frames and fish houses were standardized during 2002-2005, and scaling up started in 2008. During 2002-2018, restoration was successfully done in 18 acres covering 7 islands. Survival rates of the transplants differed from Island to Island ranging between 67.28 and 81.6%. Fast growing genus Acropora showed higher growth at 15.96 cm/year, while in massive coral genera like Porites and Favia, higher growth was at 2 cm/year. Recently, climate change caused coral bleaching, and mortality is a major concern. The bleaching events in 2010 and 2016 killed 9.7% and 16.2% corals respectively. However in Gulf of Mannar there are species which are resistant to bleaching. Coral transplants in Koswari Island in southern Gulf of Mannar particularly showed the highest resistance to bleaching, for mortality was only 10.02%, while the bleaching intensity in Shingle Island in northern side was severe among the transplants and mortality was 78.78%. Restoration involving resistant and resilient coral species helps to save corals from the impacts of climate change. The selection of sites, identification of healthy native transplants, precision in fragmentation and fixing on substrates, and regular monitoring and maintenance are important for the success of coral restoration.
Ecological Impacts of The Reef Runway Coral Nursery
14:00 - 14:07
Presented by :
Samantha Iliff, Student Intern , National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, Hollings Scholarship Program, Florida Atlantic University
Historically, the transplantation of coral from surrounding reefs has been thought to degrade source areas and jeopardize donor colonies. The Reef Runway Coral Nursery is a novel coral nursery concept designed to aid in coral restoration efforts in response to reef injuries by harboring corals of opportunity and creating a stock-pile of donor material for future out planting. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the survivorship and physiological responses of dislodged corals placed on the platform and to identify any ecological impacts of implementation. This presentation will focus on the potential ecological impacts of collecting corals from source areas as well as the impacts of the nursery structure using fish assemblages as an indicator. Results indicate that the collection of over 500 dislodged corals from approximately 1000 m2 of source area had no observable impact on associated fish assemblages. A substantial assemblage of fish, including over 20 different species, recruited to the nursery structure over time, with the addition of coral colonies. The collection of dislodged corals from rubble areas did not noticeably degrade the source area, and the accumulation of the colonies on the nursery structure created ample fish habitat, providing a potential net positive impact around the nursery. The Reef Runway Coral Nursery could prove to be a multi-functional restoration tool that serves primarily to harbor recovering corals for future out-planting, and secondarily as an artificial reef habitat, possibly a juvenile fish nursery, thus providing an overall positive restorative impact.
Re(ef)Build : Rebuilding reefs in the Andaman Islands
14:08 - 14:15
Presented by :
Roshni Yathiraj, Project Manager, ReefWatch Marine Conservation
The fringing reefs of the Andaman Islands have, in the recent past, been subject to overfishing, siltation, and El-Nino related mass bleaching events. Reefs here have been in decline with reports showing decreasing live coral cover from 80% in 1998 to 41.9% in 2011. The project started in November 2016, as a combination of structural and biological restoration, 2 structures made of iron rebar were sunk into the water adjacent to a reef with low structural diversity. Naturally broken coral fragments (due to boat, anchor, storm or fish damage) were then collected from the adjoining reef area and transplanted onto these structures, with care taken to maintain the depth range from which they were collected. During the first year of the project we tested different materials to determine what method worked best for coral attachment. Polyurethane cableties were more effective than nylon or cotton based threads. Additionally, species of corals were not differentiated from, with fragments of all species found being collected. The structures were then left underwater for the monsoon period – July to October, when the sea is the most rough – to see how well they withstood turbulence. In the post monsoon monitoring we found that corals on one structure had survived better than on the other due to structure design differences. We concluded that for a coral fragment to be stable enough to grow around the metal structure, a grid is required, without which the fragment slides down the iron rods. 2 more structures were designed and sunk at the site correcting for this error, this time increasing the range area of coral fragment collection, thus diversifying the genetic pool on the structures. In 2018, we collaborated with Coral Aid to connect all 4 structures to mineral accretion devices. The difference in these devices to traditional ones connected to a local power grid is the source of electricity comes from 2 6-volt solar panels floating on the surface above the structures. The addition of this device has visually shown an increased growth rate in coral fragments. However, we are yet to quantify its value.
Evaluating Corals of Opportunity for an in-situ Coral Nursery at Reef-runway, Oahu, HI
14:15 - 14:22
Presented by :
Nikola Rodriguez, Scholar, NOAA EPP
The degradation of coral reefs worldwide has accelerated efforts to find cost effective and adequate methodologies for restoring reefs. Coral reefs are declining from rising sea temperatures, massive storm events and vessel groundings. There are several styles of coral nurseries, but there are no standards for coral nursery design or depth. When designing coral nurseries, there are concerns of negative impacts to marine life, such as entanglement in lines and nets. Here, a nursery platform was designed using fiber reinforced plastic. The platform is a 20ft hexagon that sits on twelve legs with circular and square bases and anchored with three 13lb Danforth anchors. The nursery is located off the south shore O`ahu in a sandy area of the seafloor at 55ft depth, where nearby reefs were evaluated for collection of corals of opportunity. Corals of opportunity were identified as unattached corals in rubble reef flats that naturally detach from storm surge or loose substrate. Corals were assessed in the surrounding area, if loose, they were moved onto the platform. A total of 514 coral fragments of varying size and species were collected and placed on the platform, out of these, thirty two corals of multiple species were monitored in a control area of the nursery over seven weeks. Physiological responses varied with several corals showing recolonization and re-skinning, while others showed partial mortality. This nursery prototype utilizes the natural ability of coral to regenerate, demonstrating that coral restoration and mitigation can become more timely, efficient and economical.
Coral restoration in the Colombian Tropical Eastern Pacific: gathering the information we need before reefs are threatened
14:23 - 14:30
Presented by :
Valeria Pizarro, Director, Fundación Ecomares, Calle 39 Norte 3CN 89, Cali-Valle, Colombia
Coral reefs around the world are disappearing at an alarming rate, reducing its services to marine biodiversity and human communities. Coral researches, managers and conservationists have been implementing coral restoration methods to help deteriorated reefs go back to functional states or to recover to previous status. Although coral reefs in the Colombian Tropical Eastern Pacific (CTEP) have been bleached by past El Niño and subaerial exposure events, they still are in good health, appear to be sufficiently resilient and currently are not in need of restoration. However, the CTEP region is affected by rising seawater temperatures and acidification and coral restoration will be a necessity. Instead of waiting until restoration measures are needed, since 2015 we have been conducting a series of studies to gather essential information for future coral restoration projects at the Gorgona National Natural Park. We have estimated survival and growth rates of Pocillopora damicornis fragments in nurseries and in situ environments as function of their size, coral/algae cover, and abundance of fish corallivores. Fragment survival and growth increased with size in nurseries but decreased with size after transplantation because larger fragments were negatively affected by corallivores. Fragment morphology seems to play a key role, as fragments with most complex morphology appear to suffer less predation. Other studies on the massive coral Pavona clavus included the use of coral nurseries and CaCO3 enriched substrates. P. clavus survival and growth was affected by the genotype of donor colonies but not by substrate type. Additionally, ground nurseries, instead of floating or semi-submerged structures gave better results, since the latter type of structures were destroyed or severely damaged by floating wood and sea turtles. These results are important for coral reef restoration in the CTEP and can be used by managers and conservationist in case a catastrophic event occurs. We believe that gathering relevant information for reef restoration before it is needed can be key for the future of coral reefs.
CORAL RESTORATION TECHNIQUES IN THE TROPICAL EASTERN PACIFIC, THE CASE OF CABO PULMO NATIONAL PARK, GULF OF CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
14:30 - 14:37
Presented by :
Irene Antonina Salinas-Akhmadeeva, Student/Project Technician , Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México / Universidad Autónoma De Baja California Sur
In recent years, a series of natural and anthropogenic disturbances have caused damage to the only coral reef barrier in the Gulf of California, located at Cabo Pulmo National Park. Therefore, the administration of the protected area considered the implementation of management actions intended to reverse the degradation of the system, one of them, restoration of the reef using naturally generated coral fragments. The objectives of the presentation are to describe the implementation of this project at Cabo Pulmo, and to determine the effectiveness of the in-situ restoration, analyzing changes in coral growth and survival resulting from the application of two methodologies and two depths. For the project, 200 coral fragments of the genus Pocillopora were recovered and placed at 8 and 14 m deep, using two methodologies: plastic straps and epoxy resin; Subsequently, the colonies were monitored between November 2017 and May 2018 to estimate their growth and mortality. The survival percentage was 84%, although colonies at -14 m presented only 2% mortality, significantly lower than that of the shallow site (21%). In contrast, no difference in fragment mortality between methods was found; thus, the restoration efforts carried out in the park might be more successful if conducted in deeper areas of the reef regardless of the technique used. A secondary analysis of the data was done to generate a model to predict future effectiveness of a restoration effort, based on survival rate and growth rate of the fragments. The model shows that by year 5, coral cover reached its maximum, and afterwards the recovered surface start declining, returning to the initial value after 10 years. Considering that natural recruitment is extremely low, our results call for a detailed plan to introduce new fragments to the reef after year 4 of the initial restoration to support the recovery.
Scaling-up coral production for reef restoration in the North of Mexican Caribbean: lessons and perspectives
14:38 - 14:45
Presented by :
Adrián Andrés Morales Guadarrama, Coral Production, INAPESCA
Reef restoration programs require a supply of coral colonies for their implementation. Most of these efforts obtain colonies from the natural environment, limiting production goals. Recently, marine nurseries being established to propagate corals and to keep a stock available for out-planting them in damaged areas. However, facilities on land to produce corals in a more controlled manner is an ideal complement for marine nurseries, because it is possible to take care of the fragments and sexual recruits. The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute of Mexico (INAPESCA) have been developing biotechnology for culturing corals over the last 13 years. Controlled and semi-controlled system tanks have been installed at the facilities, as complement of the marine nursery. The total coral production has reached 8,000 fragments and 35,000 microfragments of 10 species of caribbean corals (Acropora palmata, A. cervicornis, Dendrogyra cilyndricus, Dicochoenia stockesii, Orbicella annularis, O. faveolata, Montastraea cavernosa, Pseudodiploria strigosa, Porites porites and Siderastrea spp.). Out-planting action has been carried out on 2,159m2 of reefs damaged by ship grounding and hurricanes. The experiences and lessons learned in the art of culture and coral propagation are presented. Optimal size of fragmentation, cutting zones and healing time per species. Good practices such as the opportune treatment of ciliate infection and the sanitation of tanks, as well as the use of gastropods as an herbivorous group for the control of algae. These aspects enable to increase coral survival and to maintain production lots on schedule. Finally, the experiences of scaling-up production through microfragments in seven species are presented. Units of coral tissue (2.1 cm2) are handled; these are produced from microfragments of < 1cm2 in a period of 5 to 7 months. Fractions of these units are cut successively to maintain the scaling-up of coral production, avoiding the collection of fragments from the natural environment. At the facilities, genotypes will be artificially selected taking into account specific traits (i.e. higher thermal tolerance) to enhance the success of the restoration program and the preservation of the coral reef environment.
Training of brigades to respond to the impact of tropical cyclones in the Reef of Puerto Morelos, Mexico.
14:45 - 14:52
Presented by :
Juan Carlos Huitron Baca, Director, Anclamarina
Tropical cyclones cause great damage to coral reefs due to the rupture of coral colonies and the transport of materials from land. Recovery actions that are implemented immediately after this kind of events reduce the probability of death of several damaged colonies. In order to minimize the impact of these meteorological events The Nature Conservancy and the State Government of Quintana Roo are developing a Coastal Zone Management Trust that will purchase the world´s first ever insurance policy for coral reefs. To implement this instrument, an Early Warning Protocol and Immediate Response to the impact of tropical cyclones on the reefs of Puerto Morelos Reef National Park was elaborated, which stipulates the actions to be taken before, during and after a hurricane hit. To apply the actions of this protocol, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and the National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Mexico, with support from The Nature Conservancy, organize a training directed to people from the community (33 persons in total), to carry out rapid assessments after the cyclone impacts and the primary response actions on the reef, such as removing garbage and rubbish, flipping up corals that has been detached and attaching broken fragments. Staff from the National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the organization Anclamarina trained the brigades in different techniques such as: rapid evaluation of damages to define priority areas of attention, how to handle lifting bags to move heavy objects underwater, the use of pneumatic drills for anchoring rods, and developing abilities to quickly attach coral fragments, mainly of Acropora palmata. Also, the leadership among the participants was fomented to organize activities carried out in the field. Finally, a simulation exercise was conducted where the brigades put into practice the corresponding stages of the protocol, from the hurricane warning to the direct interventions on the reef. The community taking part in these actions allows more resilient reefs.
Mote Marine Laboratory: leading a collaborative charge for responsible coral restoration using resilient corals
14:53 - 15:00
Presented by :
Erinn Muller, Science Director Of The Elizabeth Moore International Center For Coral Reef Reserch And Restoration, Mote Marine Laboratory
Millions of dollars have been invested in restoring the Florida reef tract by ‘re-seeding’ reefs with nursery raised corals. However, both wild and nursery raised corals must survive significant environmental changes and extensive threats within the reef environment in order to reproduce and contribute to self-perpetuating population recovery. Mote Marine Laboratory’s strategy for coral restoration focuses on propagating multiple coral species with high genetic diversity that are also resilient to some of the most common and severe threats on reefs today and likely into the future: coral disease, increasing oceanic temperatures, and ocean acidification. Unlike most other restoration initiatives, Mote propagates massive coral species using microfragmentation, a technique proven to increase growth rates of nursery-reared corals up to 50 times faster than large-sized corals. To maintain high genetic diversity, thousands of sexually propagated corals are incorporated into our microfragmentation pipeline each year. Indeed, corals that exist today are likely robust because they have persisted through the last several years or decades. Yet, genotypic differences in resilience still remain within these robust corals. Mote scientist’s conduct precise laboratory exposure experiments within its newly renovated and expanded climate change and ocean acidification testing facility at Mote’s IC2R3 campus and executes coral disease exposure studies at its Sarasota campus, to determine the resilience of each coral genotype to major threats within our reefs. Collaborations with experts in genetics and microbiome characterization assist in the identification of the mechanisms driving resilient traits for each coral species used within Mote’s restoration plan. These mechanistic signatures are then used to screen corals for resilient traits both within the restoration platform and within the wild populations. Finally, Mote Marine Laboratory will utilize the data collected from these exposure experiments to conduct trait-based modeling to assess successful population recovery under different environmental scenarios. The mindful approach that Mote is undertaking will ensure greater success for restoration initiatives by outplanting a coral community that is genetically diverse and resilient to major threats on reefs today and tomorrow.
Pioneering coral “rescue nurseries” to support restoration, research, and natural resource management
15:00 - 15:07
Presented by :
Lauri MacLaughlin, Regional Research Associate/Resource Manager, NOAA/NOS/ONMS
The juxtaposition of the continental U.S.’s only living bank-barrier reef with the significant South Florida population center of over 6.5 million people presents unique challenges for resource managers. Expanding commercial and private development combined with necessary infrastructure repairs to roads, bridges, and seawalls impacts sensitive nearshore marine habitats such as mangroves, seagrasses, corals, and hardbottom. NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) is charged with protecting and managing all marine resources in the 3840 square mile sanctuary, not just the iconic offshore barrier reef. In 2003, FKNMS staff pioneered an innovative coral “rescue nursery” in response to corals threatened with destruction during military pier repairs. Over 3500 individual coral colonies were removed from the construction zone and placed in a specially constructed underwater nursery. Since that time, corals have been rescued from hundreds of similar projects and moved to FKNMS coral rescue nurseries. Corals in rescue nurseries are moved to vessel grounding restoration sites, provided to research institutions for laboratory studies, and made available to support educational displays at public aquariums. Using rescued corals for these purposes relieves pressure on natural habitats of the sanctuary and supports management-based research. Since inception, more than 10,000 coral colonies have been rescued by FKNMS and partner organizations. When impacts to corals from coastal construction cannot be avoided and options to transplant corals to nearby habitats are not available, coral rescue nurseries provide a low-tech tool for protecting critical resources.
Scaling up Coral Propagation Efforts in Puerto Rico, considerations and lessons learned for increasing project scope
15:08 - 15:15
Presented by :
Michael Nemeth, Coral Reef Restoration Specialist, NOAA Restoration Center
Coral propagation efforts for restoration and species recovery in Puerto Rico have increased over the last few decades from a few scattered pilot projects to sustained nursery operations producing thousands of corals annually for outplanting. We report on an effort to scale-up propagation using in-situ nursery corals and increase the restoration footprint through outplanting; funded in part by compensatory restoration from large ship groundings. This effort will utilize proven nursery systems having high efficiency and robustness focused on the species Acropora palmata, A. cervicornis and Dendrogyra cylindrus. Obtaining coral genetic data will be used to help determine factors that drive success and insure high diversity. The methods have been selected by learning through communication with other nursery operators and setting up test nurseries and outplant locations to evaluate effectiveness before investing resources in scaling-up operations. This presentation will describe the planning process and selection of best practices/methods for scaling-up propagation in PR.
Saba Dutch Caribbean, A Small Island Reef Rehabilitation Project
15:45 - 15:52
Presented by :
Forrest Courtney, Teaching Assistant / Researcher, Samford University
Jennifer Rahn, Professor , Samford University
Global deterioration of coral reefs globally due to a variety of variables has put this critical ocean ecosystem at risk. To combat this decline large-scale global action and restoration methods are being implemented. In this study, we attempt to rehabilitate coral reefs surrounding the Dutch Caribbean island, Saba, by successfully cultivating Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata fragments in a mid-water floating nursery. By collecting storm-generated coral fragments scavenged from the sea floor or rescued from island development projects, we attempt to mirror the asexual fragmentation process that the Acropora species naturally performs. The coral fragments hang from floating tree and ladder-like structures which can be raised and lowered to adjust for temperature fluctuation while also providing protection from sediment coverage. The position of the structures allows multiple divers ample workspace for cleaning, maintaining, and data collection in the nursery. Over a three-year period, the nursery saw encouraging signs of growth and low mortality rates. We estimate if transplantation continues successfully, implementation of floating coral nurseries in Caribbean waters could have a lasting impact on reef rehabilitation and ocean health.
Bonaire: a community-based coral restoration success story in the Dutch Caribbean
15:53 - 16:00
Presented by :
Francesca Virdis, Coordinator, Reef Renewal Bonaire (fmr. Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire)
The non-profit Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRFB) uses offshore coral nursery and outplanting techniques to enhance the population of critically endangered Acropora corals. Combining science, education, and eco-tourism, this successful model engages local stakeholders and recreational divers in a community-wide effort to restore coral reefs. This effective model for ecotourism contributes greatly to Bonaire’s leadership in international tourism and conservation. With the support of 5 local dive shops, since 2012, CRFB has trained over 700 restoration divers, installed 7 nurseries and outplanted more than 20,000 coral colonies back to the reef, which have grown successfully in 7 different sites. One of these restored sites, Jeff Davis Memorial, is showcased as “Demonstration Site” by the CRC. The 3,000 corals outplanted there have shown high survivorship and have spawned spectacularly the last two years. The site is monitored using traditional in-situ research methodologies as well as cutting-edge photomosaic techniques to create a site baseline and get a better understanding of the development over time. This site serves as just one example of the successful work done by the Foundation in Bonaire and demonstrates that “coral gardening” is a viable strategy for Acropora coral population enhancement. Based on the coral restoration experience gained over the years and recognizing the urgency of the threats facing our reefs, CRFB is transitioning to become Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, which will embrace a more comprehensive vision and expand to new coral propagation techniques to give Bonaire’s reefs a helping hand on an ecological scale, focusing on not only genetic diversity, but species diversity as well.
Social-ecological restoration in the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve - San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina Archipelago, Colombian Caribbean
16:00 - 16:07
Presented by :
Phanor Montoya Maya, Director/Founder, Corales De Paz
October 2017 saw the start of Colombia's largest coral reef rehabilitation project via coral gardening. The project objective is to upscale coral reef restoration actions in the San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina Archipelago to accelerate the natural recovery of intervened reefs, promote adaptation to climate change, anticipate the direct effects of anthropogenic origin, and reach a great social impact. In its first phase, eight nurseries have been built with the capacity to grow at least 16,000 fragments of coral reef species. The initial stock is 13463 fragments of four species of hard corals, three soft corals and two sponges. Twelve months after stocking, the average fragment survival (86% ± 3 SE) and the increase in ecological volume (EV) recorded (>300% of their initial size) are within the reference values for reef restoration projects in the Caribbean. Construction, installation, stocking and monitoring of nurseries and corals was conducted by more than 50 people representing different relevant social actors, aimed at developing the local capacity in coral gardening and the monitoring of coral reefs in the archipelago. We are also piloting the first payment for ecosystem services scheme for marine areas in Colombia which seeks to offer an alternative livelihood to artisanal fishermen committed to enforce local coral reef protection, reduce local coral reef threats, and assist with the project´s coral rehabilitation activities within voluntary conservation agreements (VCA) that are being designed following the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. In three years, we expect to see that the joint protection of selected sites with the addition of ca. 5,000 nursery-grown coral colonies per hectare, lead to a 10% increase in the live coral cover, fish biomass, aesthetic value and structural complexity and overall health at intervened coral reefs within the Seaflower MPA.
13:15 - 17:30
Pelican West
Genetic Influence on Restoration Performance
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Andrew Shantz, Eberly Fellow, Pennsylvania State University
Margaret Miller, Research Director, SECORE International
Carly Kenkel, Assistant Professor, University Of Southern California
John Parkinson, Research Scientist, SECORE International
Iliana Baums, Assoc Prof, Penn State University
Rowan McLachlan, Ph.D. Candidate, Ohio State University
Crawford Drury, Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology
Amelia Moura, Science Program Manager, Coral Restoration Foundation
Kelli O'Donnell, Coral Reef Restoration Coordinator/Fisheries Biologist, NOAA/NMFS/CRCP/UF
Johanna Calle Triviño, Research Fellow, CINVESTAV-FUNDEMAR
Morgan Hightshoe, Research Associate, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
Benjamin Young, PhD Student, RSMAS University Of Miami
Daniel Merselis, Student, Florida International University
Erinn Muller, Science Director Of The Elizabeth Moore International Center For Coral Reef Reserch And Restoration, Mote Marine Laboratory
William Precht, Director, Marine And Coastal Programs, Dial Cordy & Assoc., Inc.
Daniel Burdeno, Restoration Program Associate, Coral Restoration Foundation
Moderators
Iliana Baums, Assoc Prof, Penn State University
Petra Lundgren, Project Director Restoration, Science And Innovation, Great Barrier Reef Foundation
Rowan McLachlan, Ph.D. Candidate, Ohio State University
Daniel Merselis, Student, Florida International University
The success of restored corals is determined by a range of genetic as well as environmental factors. This session addresses some specific aspects of performance of restored corals relative to genetic identity or genetic diversity and how these might be leveraged to improve restoration outcomes.
Incorporating phenotypic traits in coral restoration
13:15 - 13:30
Presented by :
Andrew Shantz, Eberly Fellow, Pennsylvania State University
Measuring the performance of coral phenotypes can link genotypes to their environment, potentially allowing practitioners to cultivate species and genotypes that are particularly well suited for restoration projects. Yet, performance depends on interactions between individuals and their local environment that are difficult to predict and trade-offs between desirable traits, such as growth and thermal tolerance, may be common. As a result, ensuring a diversity of corals are present in outplant populations that can thrive under future ocean conditions will provide resilience to restored populations. To that end, tracking key traits in nursery populations will not only help restoration practitioners optimize their nursery stock, but can ensure that such a diverse suite of potentially important traits is represented in outplanting designs. However, traits are not all equally relevant to success and measuring some traits can be technically challenging, time consuming, and expensive. Therefore, establishing consistent guidelines for collecting a minimum level of the most informative data is important for optimally managing nurseries. Here, we highlight several key phenotypic traits that correlate well with the performance and survival of corals on the reef. Specifically, we recommend tracking the rates of survival, wound healing, and skeletal growth, along with disease and bleaching susceptibility, and reproductive output for every genotype maintained in the nursery. We provide a standardized, low-cost protocol to measure each trait that will facilitate comparisons between genotypes, nurseries, and regions. By focusing on propagating corals with a high degree of phenotypic resilience to climate change, restoration practitioners can outplant genetically diverse populations with the greatest potential to survive, adapt, and acclimatize to changing environments.
Restoration provenance strategies to improve climate resilience
13:30 - 13:45
Presented by :
Margaret Miller, Research Director, SECORE International
Conventional coral reef conservation and management has been reliant on natural recovery processes following management actions to remove stressors. This approach is characterized by a laudable precautionary principle to ‘do no harm’ and to minimize intervention in natural processes. As active propagation and population enhancement measures have been deemed appropriate, this precautionary principle has been expressed in the ‘local is best’ approach for sourcing restoration stocks, or provenancing. However, in the current anthropocene era of rapid environmental change, adequate removal of stressors to allow recovery and persistence appears infeasible in most coral reef settings, attested to by observed drastic coral declines. Hence, increasing calls are heard to devise and implement restoration and management strategies that proactively maximize the adaptive capacities of species and communities, rather than conserving their historic state. Evolutionary theory identifies large effective population size, high connectedness and gene flow, and maximizing the standing genetic variation in populations (especially as relates to functionally adaptive traits) as key aspects to improve evolutionary resilience. Restoration, with some emphasis on sexual processes, can clearly play a key role in enhancing these population characteristics. However, exclusively local provenancing is not the way to maximize standing adaptive genetic variation in restored populations. This presentation will review alternative provenancing strategies that are expected to improve adaptive capacity of coral populations.
Population genetic considerations for coral restoration
13:45 - 14:00
Presented by :
Carly Kenkel, Assistant Professor, University Of Southern California
Nurseries are limited in the numbers of coral genets (fragments originating from the same colony) they can propagate, raising questions as to whether the genetic diversity of natural populations is adequately represented, and whether sexual propagation of these limited individuals will result in excessive inbreeding. Additional concerns arise when considering assisted gene flow: transplanting individuals from distant locations could lead to outbreeding depression, a decrease in fitness of the next generation due to the swamping of locally adaptive genetic variants with maladaptive foreign ones. Here, we present results suggesting that these issues are not as problematic as they seem. Based on existing population genetic data, we show that collecting as few as 3-4 individual corals is sufficient to capture the majority of common genetic diversity within a population. Such a low per-population effort also facilitates collections from multiple populations spanning a range of environments. For the long-term genetic success of restoration efforts, it is imperative for outplanted corals to breed with each other and with local corals. It is therefore essential to keep track of the genetic origin of nursery-propagated fragments to ensure outplanting of genetically diverse coral groups capable of cross-fertilization. For nurseries equipped to breed, another option would be to generate crosses within nurseries and outplant offspring. Given that coral populations are generally highly genetically diverse, the potential risk of inbreeding is low in these first-generation offspring. Finally, a simulation analysis indicates that introducing ~0.1-1% of foreign corals into a local population would ensure efficient transfer of adaptive genetic diversity while greatly lowering the risk of outbreeding depression.
Molecular tools for coral reef restoration: beyond biomarker discovery
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
John Parkinson, Research Scientist, SECORE International
As coral reefs continue to decline due to climate change and other stressors, scientists have proposed adopting genomic tools, such as biomarkers, to aid in conservation and restoration of these threatened ecosystems. Biomarkers are easily measured indicators of higher-order biological processes that can be used to predict or diagnose health, resilience, and other key performance metrics. The goal is to use biomarkers to determine the conservation value and utility of a given coral colony, including the host animal, its algal symbionts, and their microbial partners. However, we remain far from achieving this goal as most efforts have not yet moved beyond the initial discovery phase. Here, we review recent progress in the development of coral molecular biomarkers from a practical standpoint, considering the many challenges that remain as roadblocks to large-scale implementation. We caution practitioners that while biomarkers are a promising technology, they are unlikely to be available for field application in the near future barring a shift in research focus from discovery to the subsequent validation and field trial phases. To facilitate such a change, we propose a stepwise framework to guide additional study in this area, with the aim of accelerating practical molecular biomarker development to enhance coral restoration practice.
How to maximize future adaptive potential of restored coral populations
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Iliana Baums, Assoc Prof, Penn State University
Caribbean coral populations are actively being restored via asexual fragmentation of adult populations and the production of sexual offspring. The goal of restoration is to increase population sizes while maximizing adaptive potential of restored populations. Because the total number of remaining wild coral genotypes far exceeds the capacity of nurseries to propagate them all, we provide guidelines for selecting species and genotypes for restoration projects. For each species selected, we suggest that collecting 3-4 genotypes per reef is sufficient to capture much of the allelic diversity. Because environmental conditions are rapidly changing, a mixed provenance strategy is preferred where genotypes are sourced both locally as well as from more distant sites within the management area, allowing for the inclusion of potentially adaptive genetic variants under a wider range of environmental gradients. We further recommend that nurseries concentrate on propagating genotypes with records of high relative growth, outplant survival, bleaching and infectious disease tolerance or resistance, and successful sexual propagation with other genotypes (“winners”). At the same time, some low-level propagation effort for genotypes not performing well in nurseries (“runts”) should be maintained to guard against unintended selection during captivity and to preserve genetic variants that could become adaptive in the future. Given current evidence, we do not think that outbreeding depression is a major problem. Likewise, we do not expect inbreeding depression to be an issue because currently only F1 and F2 larvae are raised. We stress that high rates of sexual reproductive success will be essential for adaptation. Hence, our recommendations outline tools to optimize coral fitness while providing adequate genetic diversity for restored coral populations to rapidly adapt to changing environmental conditions.
Phenotypic Variation in Hawaiian Corals Provides Insight into Coral Selection for Restoration
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Rowan McLachlan, Ph.D. Candidate, Ohio State University
Coral reefs worldwide are threatened due to ocean warming and acidification, and their persistence hinges on corals capacity for adaptation. To maximize adaptive potential, coral genotypes with increased phenotypic resilience to climate change conditions should be selected for restoration. Corals from Kāne’ohe Bay (Oahu, HI) would be excellent candidates for this as they currently experience temperatures and pH levels not expected to occur on most Hawaiian reefs for another 30-50 years, and are likely locally adapted to their environment. We hypothesize that Kāne’ohe Bay corals (a) are phenotypically distinct from conspecific populations on other nearby reefs, and (b) possess certain phenotypic traits that facilitate their resilience. To investigate this, a variety of morphotypes (e.g. branching, mounding, encrusting) of eight species (constituting ~97% of the coral cover across the Hawaiian archipelago) were sampled from six sites around Oahu, which during the summer, span a natural range of temperature and pH profiles representative of today, through those predicted by 2050. Biomass, protein, and chlorophyll a concentration were quantified in each species from each site. Preliminary results suggest that phenotypic diversity is greatest among species and morphotypes, and contrary to hypothesis (a), differences due to environment are less pronounced. This suggests that morphotype variation may be more important than previously thought for yielding greater adaptive potential when selecting corals for restoration. Furthermore, no evidence was found to support hypothesis (b) as all variables influenced phenotypic variation equally. However, further research (including quantification of Symbiodinium density, carbohydrates, total lipids, lipid class analysis, and heterotrophic capacity) is being conducted to further investigate phenotypic resilience traits. Overall, this survey contributes to our understanding of source coral variability that can inform sampling practices for maximizing adaptive potential.
The role of genetic diversity: Lessons from A. cervicornis thickets for coral restoration
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Crawford Drury, Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology
The contemporary distribution of Acropora cervicornis includes dispersed, isolated colonies and very dense interlocking assemblages called thickets that may cover hectares of the bottom. The density of thickets and sessile nature of corals creates the opportunity for ongoing interactions between genets which occur across a range of potential relatedness values. This type of interaction influences resistance, resilience and associated community function in other ecosystems. Using next generation sequencing data and field observations we document a positive relationship between genetic diversity and coral cover. This pattern does not appear to relate to growth, but may be due to changes in fragmentation mortality or disturbance response. In the Florida Keys, one thicket with observations during the 2015 bleaching event fared better than outplanted corals on the same reef and discrete colonies monitored as part of a region-wide survey (FRRP). Thickets (n=4) observed in Florida and The Dominican Republic contained between 13 and 30 genotypes, with clones distributed from 0-12m across the substrate, however some observed areas were nearly monoclonal. These data highlight the natural patterns of thickets which may be replicated during restoration in an attempt to gain added biomass or stress resistance from emergent properties of high-density assemblages.
Incorporating Genetic Diversity in a Coral Outplant Strategy to Promote and Enhance Species Resilience
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Amelia Moura, Science Program Manager, Coral Restoration Foundation
Once largely abundant throughout the Florida Keys and Caribbean, Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata populations have drastically declined (>98% at some locations) due to multiple, compounding natural and anthropogenic stressors. As these threats continue, there is a clear need for innovative methods to reinforce remaining coral populations. Incorporating conservation genetics for the recovery of a species is not a novel concept, and its implications for the continued persistence of the species is quintessential, especially in the era of accelerating climate change. Guided by NOAA’s Acropora Recovery Plan, Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) has developed a large-scale restoration program that encourages coral diversity for two reasons: 1) to promote resiliency at restoration sites in the context of a changing world, and 2) to better understand the influence of genetics on success at restoration sites. In 2016, CRF launched a restoration plan that emphasizes genetic diversity through outplanting nearly 50 genotypes of both A. cervicornis and A. palmata onto eight reef sites along the Florida Reef Tract. Genotypes of each species were sequenced and selected to ensure the largest range of genetic diversity possible. Here, we present preliminary findings from initial surveys of the outplanted Acroporids from all eight restoration sites. This information can help provide insight not only into survivorship of different genotypes, but also the role that genetic makeup plays in restoration strategies. Variable responses to the environment have been recorded at restoration sites and in nurseries, yet the role of genetics is still unclear in its contribution to the long-term success of local and regionally restored Acropora populations, warranting further investigation into the role of genetics and recovery of the species. This restoration strategy, coupled with subsequent tracking of coral health post-outplanting, can provide insights as to what factors promote survivorship and resilience of restored coral populations in the face of a changing ocean environment.
Acropora cervicornis genet performance and symbiont identity throughout the restoration process
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
Kelli O'Donnell, Coral Reef Restoration Coordinator/Fisheries Biologist, NOAA/NMFS/CRCP/UF
In the Caribbean, corals are commonly cultured in ocean-based nurseries and outplanted back to reefs for population enhancement. Intraspecific diversity in host and symbiont is an important consideration for nursery and resource managers. We built upon a previous study that quantified Acropora cervicornis growth phenotypes in a nursery by outplanting the same genets across two reef sites and tracking their performance for 1 yr. Further, we identified the Symbiodinium ‘fitti’ strains present in each of the A. cervicornis genets during the restoration process from the initial wild collection as early as 2008 to 24 months post-outplant in 2017. Survival to 1 yr post-outplant was consistent with regional averages and did not differ significantly among A. cervicornis genets or between outplant sites. Outplant site and host genet had significant effects on coral growth. However, genet growth response did not depend on outplant site, providing no evidence for site-genet matching. Conversely, growth rates measured for each genet in the nursery were not predictive of performance following outplanting. Instead, A. cervicornis genets appear to exhibit differences in relative growth through the restoration process. Despite this variability, relative differences in growth among genets were consistent within a given timeframe, even across varying environments. Most colonies sampled were infected by one of five unique strains of S. ‘fitti’. Host-symbiont specificity varied among coral genets, but four out of five genets exhibited spatial and/or temporal differences in symbiont strain composition throughout the restoration process. The ability for A. cervicornis to associate with more than one S. ‘fitti’ strain and the lack of correlation between nursery and outplant growth performance contribute to a growing understanding of the A. cervicornis population enhancement process.
Assessment and genotyping of propagation of threatened staghorn coral nurseries for restoration in southeastern Dominican Republic
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Johanna Calle Triviño, Research Fellow, CINVESTAV-FUNDEMAR
Acropora cervicornis is a key Caribbean species, both in structural and functional terms. It has suffered an important population loss since the 1980s and exhibited no signs of recovery in the following three generations. Hence, it is classified as a Critically Endangered Species. Its fast growth rate compared to other species makes it a perfect candidate for use in active coral restoration programs. In 2011 Fundación Dominicana de Estudios Marinos (Dominican Marine Studies Foundation, FUNDEMAR) started the A. cervicornis restoration program at Bayahibe in the southeastern part of the island. In this study we present the methodology and results of the program's assessment since its beginning until year 2017, as well as a preliminary analysis after the strong cyclonic seasons in 2016 and 2017 in the greater Caribbean, and the genetic characterization of the "mother nursery". Mean survival of the fragments for 12 months was 87.45 ± 4.85% and mean productivity value was 4.01 ± 1.88 for the eight nurseries. Mean survival of transplanted colonies during 12 months for six outplanting sites was 71.55 ± 10.4% and mean productivity value was 3.03 ± 1.30. The most common cause of mortality during the first 12 months, both from the nurseries and the outplanting sites, was predation by Hermodice carunculata fireworm. We identified 111 multilocus genes from the 145 analyzed individuals, 54 clonal individuals distributed in 20 genets, which indicates there is high genotype richness in the germplasm bank. Finally, only three nurseries and two outplanting sites were considerably damaged after the cyclonic seasons of 2016 and 2017. The results and techniques described here will help to continue developing current and future restoration programs in nurseries and outplanting sites.
Disease resistance among genotypes of nursery raised staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Morgan Hightshoe, Research Associate, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
The staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, was previously a major reef-building scleractinian coral throughout Florida and the Caribbean, but since in the 1980s the species has experienced unprecedented population declines primarily due to disease and bleaching. As a result, the species was listed as “Threatened” under the US Endangered Species Act in 2006. To help restore population numbers, Acropora coral nurseries grow large numbers of colonies to outplant to depauperate reefs. Nurseries allow corals to grow in a more protected environment, but managers still face the challenges of disease and other stressors. Previous research in Panama documented three disease-resistant A. cervicornis genotypes, but it was unknown if disease-resistant genotypes exist in the Florida Keys. This study conducted pathogen transmission assays to investigate disease resistance among 39 A. cervicornis genotypes from a Florida Keys nursery. Corals were exposed in situ to rapid tissue loss (RTL) through direct contact assays. Tissue degradation was documented visually based on presence or absence of RTL, and confirmed using histological analysis. In a pathogen transmission pilot study, 7 out of 39 genotypes developed signs of RTL. Of the 32 resistant genotypes, 12 genotypes were selected for a replicated (n=5 fragments per colony) transmission study. All genotypes developed signs of RTL and no statistical difference (p>0.05) in pathogen transmission was found among genotypes. However, susceptibility was variable among fragments from a single colony, ranging from 40–100% transmission. This study provides evidence that disease resistance is present within colonies of Florida A. cervicornis. The variability of disease resistance found here suggests that genotype is not the only factor influencing pathogen transmission. Caribbean Acropora restoration managers could potentially improve restoration success by propagating and outplanting larger quantities of colonies with disease resistant characteristics, while continuing to maintain a genetically diverse population. These results also provide insights into the persistence of wild A. cervicornis populations in Florida and elsewhere.
Signatures of disease resistance for the threatened Caribbean branching coral, Acropora palmata
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Benjamin Young, PhD Student, RSMAS University Of Miami
Signatures of disease resistance for the threatened Caribbean branching coral, Acropora palmata. Ben Young1*, Xaymara Serrano2, Margaret Miller3, Stephanie Rosales4,5, and Nikki Traylor-Knowles1 1 Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, USA 2 Environmental Branch, Planning and Policy Division, USACE, Jacksonville, USA 3 SECORE International, Miami, USA 4 Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, USA 5 Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, University of Miami, Miami, USA Coral reefs are important ocean ecosystems that provide biodiversity and economic stability. Despite this value, they are under threat from anthropogenic stressors that have caused drastic decreases in global coral cover. In the Caribbean, White Band Disease has caused tremendous declines in the critical ecosystem building coral, Acropora palmata. With disease incidence and virulence rising, an in-depth knowledge of disease resistance dynamics is needed by restoration institutions for all coral species. To maintain the critical ecosystem functions Acropora palmata provides, disease resistance dynamics for the already decimated wild populations are invaluable in ensuring its survival. Previous observational work with Acropora palmata genotypes has shown large differences in disease tolerance, with percent disease transmission ranging from 0% to 100%. In this study RNA-seq was used to look at the differential gene expression of 12 Acropora palmata genotypes, with different disease tolerances, in 2016 and 2017. Fragments were sampled before disease exposure, and after a 7-day disease exposure. We hypothesise that differential gene expression will elucidate the expression of important immune genes and identify signatures of disease resistance. Preliminary results indicate significant gene expression differences among genotypes of varied disease susceptibility within each year. Large differences between genotype gene expression in year is also apparent, indicating that virulence of disease or environmental conditions are strong drivers of disease resistance. This work will contribute to scientifically driven restoration work by informing out-planting efforts of disease resistant individuals, while also providing the benchmark for a field monitoring experiment of Acropora palmata on the Florida Reef Tract.
Comparative Assessment of Host Genotype, Bleaching Experience, and Symbiodinium Community as tools for Physiological "Enhancement"
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Daniel Merselis, Student, Florida International University
Rapid developments in coral restoration represent a glimmer of hope for globally declining reefs. Despite these advancements, the world's oceans are becoming increasingly hostile to reef building corals. Considering only climate change amongst numerous stressors, a complete collapse of coral reefs may occur within a human lifetime- even in the absence of further CO2 emissions. Clearly, lasting restoration will depend not only on production and outplanting effort, but also alteration of coral physiological limits. Numerous approaches have been proposed to facilitate physiological "enhancement" of restoration corals including Symbiodiniaceae community change, thermal priming, and selective breeding. The utility, feasibility, and sustainability of these approaches have been debated, but rarely measured. In order to compare the relative potential for each of these approaches to increase disease and bleaching resistance, we assessed the relative efficacy of host genetic identity, Symbiodiniaceae community, and bleaching experience of Acropora cervicornis during consecutive mass bleaching years. Resistance conveyed by host genetic identity strongly explained both disease and bleaching resistance through the consecutive thermal stress events, suggesting that approaches leveraging host genetic identity are the most promising avenues for propagating resistant phenotypes. Despite the symbiont specialist nature of Caribbean Acropora, we justify our expectation that coral host genetics will be the most tractable tool for restoration across numerous coral taxa and ecological scenarios with exceptions. Finally, we suggest avenues of synergy with approaches focuses on other mechanisms to increase holobiont resistance.
Heat tolerance, disease resistance, and resilience to ocean acidification appear independent of each other in the coral Acropora cervicornis
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Erinn Muller, Science Director Of The Elizabeth Moore International Center For Coral Reef Reserch And Restoration, Mote Marine Laboratory
The decline of living coral throughout much of the Florida Reef Tract, with no sign of community recovery over the last several decades, has resulted in a substantial need for active coral restoration. However, much of the threats associated with coral mortality, such as high water temperatures and disease outbreaks, continue to occur unabated. Therefore, the preference to select and outplant corals resilient to these threats is a primary goal among many restoration practitioners. Our objective was to screen genotypes of Acropora cervicornis used for restoration for heat tolerance, disease resistance, and resilience to ocean acidification, and determine whether there were tradeoffs among these resilient traits. We conducted a series of wetlab experiments exposing five replicates of 12 - 20 different genotypes of A. cervicornis to high water temperature, ocean acidification conditions, and white band disease. We measured the physiological responses of the corals under these different environmental scenarios including their photosynthetic efficiency using Imaging Pulse-Amplitude-Modulation Fluorometry, buoyant weight, net photosynthesis and respiration using oxygen evolution measurements, and calcification using alkalinity anomaly techniques. Additionally, we quantified the microbiome of the corals to determine whether the Symbiodinium strain or the bacterial community influenced resilience to these threats. Our results indicate that the resilient traits tested were independent of each other and few genotypes may exist that are resilient to all three threats. Disease resistant genotypes had a significantly different bacterial community compared with disease susceptible genotypes, indicating that the microbiome plays a key role in host immunity. However, the Symbiodinium strain did not appear to influence either heat tolerance or resilience to ocean acidification. These results suggest that maintaining a high genetic diversity, while also thoughtfully incorporating genotypes that are heat tolerant, resistant to disease, and/or resilient to ocean acidification, should be a primary practice incorporated into coral restoration initiatives.
Mass coral mortality events in Florida and their relevance to restoration
17:15 - 17:22
Presented by :
William Precht, Director, Marine And Coastal Programs, Dial Cordy & Assoc., Inc.
Over the last four decades the biota of the Florida Reef Tract has suffered from a number of disturbances and stresses, including disease outbreaks, warm-water bleaching events, storms and hurricanes, outbreaks of coral predators, winter cold spells, and a host of direct and indirect anthropogenic impacts. Of these perturbations, disease outbreaks have had the greatest impact in reducing coral cover. Disease outbreaks continue to present a significant threat to coral populations in the western Atlantic region. Recent studies have forged a clear link between rising ocean temperatures and the increased incidence and virulence of these diseases, suggesting that the impact of coral diseases will increase with continued global warming. Controlling disease outbreaks will, therefore, be critical to conserving coral reefs. Under scenarios of increasing frequency and duration of coral-disease outbreaks, coral genotypes with high disease resistance and resilience should have an ecological and evolutionary advantage over low-resistance genotypes, provided their ability to cope with disease does not incur unworkable tradeoffs in fitness. Understanding the coral immune system, and in particular its heritable components, as well as the links between host genetics and beneficial microbes, will be crucial to the search for the host and symbiont genotypes best suited to large-scale restoration efforts. Thus, the increasing prevalence and incidence of marine diseases and their link to climate change, make genetically-based applied research imperative to fostering the recovery of reef ecosystems.
In-situ nursery propagation and outplanting of massive boulder coral species: A Comparison of Genetic Performance
17:23 - 17:30
Presented by :
Daniel Burdeno, Restoration Program Associate, Coral Restoration Foundation
The coral reefs of Florida and the Caribbean have seen upwards of 95% decline in hard coral cover over the last several decades. This decline has been attributed to multiple, compounding, anthropogenic factors including but not limited to climate change, water pollution, and overfishing. This unprecedented decline has created a need for active intervention. The Coral Restoration Foundation has been working to develop and implement best practices for coral restoration efforts. Within the greater Caribbean and Florida, restoration organizations have focused on restoring the two dominant reef-building species: Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata. As such, the asexual fragmentation and nursery propagation of both species, for subsequent restoration outplanting, has been well examined. This cannot be said for other Caribbean coral species, especially regarding slower growing massive boulder corals. As stressors continue to impact coral reefs, boulder coral species are becoming even more at risk, and will require similar efforts to protect and restore. In 2014 the three Caribbean Orbicella sp. (annularis, faveolata, and franksi) have been classified as threatened on the ESA and on the IUCN redlist, highlighting the need for conservation actions. In an effort to broaden and expand its ecological impact and species diversity, CRF has begun to develop in-situ fragmentation and growth techniques for O. annularis and O. faveolata. Utilizing existing nursery infrastructure and available restoration materials we have developed an effective and low-cost methodology for the asexually propagation of these two species in the field; that can be extrapolated to any nursery setting or any boulder coral species. Following initial collection and fragmentation of wild genotypes, all work is done on site in the nursery, thus eliminating the possibility of transport stress/shock and allowing for efficient use of time and resources. CRF plans to incorporate these nursery-grown corals into future outplanting efforts.
13:15 - 17:30
Heron Room
Enabling Conditions for Reef Restoration
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Raphael Ritson-Williams, Postdoctoral Fellow, California Academy Of Sciences
Angelo Spadaro, PhD Candidate, Old Dominion University
NOHORA GALVIS, Directora Observatorio Pro Arrecifes, Fundación ICRI Colombia
Corinne Amir, Graduate Student, Scripps Institution Of Oceanography
Emily Hall, Program Manager/Staff Scientist, Mote Marine Laboratory
Ian Enochs, Research Ecologist, NOAA/AOML
Jenny Mallon, Co-ordinator
Andy Bruckner , Research Coordinator, NOAA FKNMS
Ian McLeod, Senior Research Scientists, JCU
Jennifer Herbig, Biologist, FWC/FWRI
Aaron Pilnick, Graduate Research Assistant, University Of Florida, Florida Aquarium
Stacey Williams, Lead Scientist, Institute For Socio-Ecological Research
Kelly Latijnhouwers, Restoration Technician, SECORE International
David Westcott, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Land And Water
Cameron Fletcher, Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO
Moderators
Jenny Mallon, Co-ordinator
Margaret Miller, Research Director, SECORE International
Coral restoration takes place within the context of a changing environment and complex ecological interactions. This session addresses aspects of climate, landscape, community composition, herbivory, and pest management that can have strong influence on restoration outcomes.
Coral Reefs Future depend on "US": Restoration means stopping local and global causes of negative impacts
13:15 - 13:30
Presented by :
NOHORA GALVIS, Directora Observatorio Pro Arrecifes, Fundación ICRI Colombia
Although some resilient coral reefs are being monitored in the past decades and still present signs of health and integrity, most of the coral reefs close to unustainable development areas are being exposed to high stress and degradation. The coral reefs scientists should inform industrial developers top decision makers and society, the great difficulty in time scales to bring back the original healthy integrity, structure, function and composition of coral reefs after provoking degradation. The ecological, social and economic values are very high and non comparable to the low benefit of any unsustainable project. Restoration is natural when stopping local and global stresses. In Colombia we have two cases studies, that are not yet officially protected by the Colombian Government but recently declared as Hope Spots by Mission Blue through a bottom-up process. Both protection frameworks were presented by scientists to the Fishers community who were requesting intervention and nomination according to the Colombian Law 70 from 1993, they expressed their disagreement with unsustainable development projects that affect them. The first case study is in the boundaries between Panama and Colombia in the Caribbean Sea. These coral reefs of Capurganá-cabo Tiburón have 70% Coral Healthy Cover. The second one is in the South of Cartagena Bay where there is 80% Coral Healthy Cover Hope. Fishermen Communities have been empowered in the last ten years to avoid the threats to their coral reefs from industrial fishing, oil / gal extraction and dredging. As result their coral reefs show indicators of good ecological integrity. Artisanal fisheries are thriving sustainably and even lionfish catches by the fishers have controlled the invasive species successfully in the past 10 Years. Even though the future (40 years of global warming and possible extinction of coral reef species) seems far away, it is actually beginning right now. Breaking coral colonies with funding of enterprises that develop dredging projects, oil extraction, pollution, amd more threats to coral reefs. Depend on the empowered scientific community, how well its advice is given to top decision makers in coherence to the real total value of the coral reef ecosystem
Spatial distribution and assemblage diversity of coral transplants drive Acropora growth on Palmyra Atoll
13:30 - 13:45
Presented by :
Corinne Amir, Graduate Student, Scripps Institution Of Oceanography
The spatial context in which species interactions occur strongly influences an ecosystem’s resilience and ability to recover after disturbance events. Therefore, understanding how spatial interactions impact coral growth, recruitment, and diversity is of paramount importance when restoring a degraded coral reef ecosystem. On Palmyra, a remote atoll in the equatorial Pacific, the corallimorpharian Rhodactis howesii has dramatically increased in abundance and now dominates >3 km2 of reef, displacing hard corals and other dominant biota in the process. To curtail further ecosystem degradation, a restoration experiment was established at the epicenter of the corallimorph outbreak. Restoration was initiated by removing corallimorph to create a bare CaCO3 substrate, which was accomplished by tenting and application of granulated bleach for 48-hours followed by manual removal of remaining corallimorph tissue fragments. Of the 12 9m2 treatment plots created, 9 plots received coral transplants and the remaining 3 were designated as treatment controls. Coral fragments of Acropora acuminata (n = 27), Pocillopora damicornis (n = 27), and Montipora capitata (n= 27) were collected from nearby regions of reef unaffected by the corallimorph outbreak and transplanted with non-toxic two-part epoxy. Fragments were transplanted in same-species aggregations, aggregations consisting of all three species, and non-aggregated arrangements to determine how spatial distribution impacts growth among corals with varying competitive abilities and life history strategies. Four years post establishment, the restoration site has experienced nearly a 300% increase in coral cover due to growth of original transplants. Plots in which corals were transplanted in aggregations consisting of three different coral species had the highest amount of coral recruitment and an additional 100% increase in coral cover due to prolific A. acuminata growth. Corallimorph reinvasion in treatment plots has been negligible. The methods used to produce this restoration experiment can be applied to other locations around Palmyra to effectively mitigate further expansion of the corallimorph throughout the atoll. Moreover, aspects of these methods, such as multi-species coral transplant aggregation and substrate preparation, could benefit coral reef restoration programs aiming to limit biological invasions, enhance coral cover and diversity, and improve branching Acropora growth rates.
SEAGRASS AMELIORATES CORAL PHYSIOLOGICAL PERFORMANCE UNDER OA CONDITIONS
13:45 - 14:00
Presented by :
Emily Hall, Program Manager/Staff Scientist, Mote Marine Laboratory
Ocean acidification (OA) can lead to dissolution of coral skeletons as well as impacting general health and physiology. This can be detrimental to ongoing coral restoration efforts. Seagrass meadows, sometimes found adjacent to coral reefs, are mostly net autotrophic as a carbon sink and use excess bicarbonate for growth. This presents the possibility of locally mediating OA effects on corals downstream of seagrass meadows and may help determine new locations for coral restoration efforts. We performed land-based and in situ studies to understand if seagrass could improve coral physiological performance under ambient and OA conditions.
The implications of ocean acidification for the restoration and growth of Acropora cervicornis
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Ian Enochs, Research Ecologist, NOAA/AOML
A progressive decline in seawater pH known as ocean acidification (OA) will result in the reduced growth of numerous species of coral. The threatened staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis was once an ecologically important contributor to reef framework production throughout the Caribbean. Recent widespread mortality has decimated populations of this species and has provided the impetus for extensive nursery, restoration, and outplanting efforts. Here we synthesize the current state of knowledge concerning the impacts of OA on A. cervicornis. We explore new data that reveals that dynamic diel pH oscillations may enhance calcification at contemporary CO2 levels, and discuss how these findings may help to explain the differences in calcification responses observed among prior studies. We expand on these data to investigate the importance of co-occurring environmental conditions, such as light, temperature, and heterotrophy, as well as the contribution of host genotype. Finally, we address the impacts of OA on skeletal structure in order to examine how future conditions may interact with different nursery techniques to impact skeletal fragility, mortality, and asexual reproduction.
Calculating a blue carbon budget for Caribbean coral reefs in the context of reef restoration
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Jenny Mallon, Co-ordinator
Scleractinian corals secrete calcium carbonate skeleton to form the solid foundation of the reef matrix. This process of calcification both captures (at geological time scales) and releases (at annual time scales) CO2 at a rate of 0.6 moles for each mole of CaCO3 deposited. Due to the small amount of carbon released, reefs are not included in blue carbon calculations, however, reefs have high rates of primary production, and it is likely that the carbon released by calcification is consumed in other biological processes on the reef, such as photosynthesis by associated macrophytes, and is stored within the reef system. Corals also contribute to the ocean carbon cycle through photosynthesis and respiration. They recycle their nutrients efficiently, so that carbon sequestered into the coral reef stays within the reef system, and organic matter is converted to inorganic carbon stores in coral skeletons and reef sediments. Reef crevices house organic debris, with high organic carbon content, and herbivores produce faecal pellets which sift down into long-term sediments where the carbon processed from algal tissues can be stored for millennia. Loss of hard coral results in the large-scale release of long-term carbon stores. The cycling of carbon on reefs is more complex than that of other shallow coastal ecosystems and their actual role as blue carbon repositories has not been clarified. The balance between organic carbon release and storage on modern coral reefs has not been assessed. This study evaluates the key functional groups for carbon sequestration and storage on Caribbean reefs, and measures their physiological processes to calculate a 'carbon budget' for degraded reefs vs. high-coral cover reefs. Using water sampling and in-situ incubation to measure metabolic rates of reef organisms, we demonstrate the amount of carbon captured within a small area of reef, and by sampling at degraded areas of reef we can project how this will change under future climate conditions. Demonstration of the carbon storage properties of healthy reefs will support restoration of critical reef habitat and structure, and guide protection measures as part of the Blue Carbon Initiative regulations.
Removal of corallivores as an intervention strategy to minimize coral outplanting losses and enhance recovery following disturbances
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Andy Bruckner , Research Coordinator, NOAA FKNMS
Invertebrate corallivores can negatively impact the survival of coral species through direct predation and by serving as a vector for diseases. While outbreaks of Acanthaster and Drupella are known to rapidly devastate entire reef systems, other corallivores such as Culcita, Coralliophila and Hermodice also degrade resilience and prevent recovery of coral populations following disturbance from bleaching, hurricanes and disease outbreaks as they tend to form feeding aggregations on remnant wild colonies. Furthermore, chronic predation on nursery-propagated corals has been shown to cause partial and total colony mortality, reduced growth rates and increased algal colonization. Predator control efforts for Acanthaster were first initiated in the early 1960s, with intensive removal efforts undertaken to date in 48 countries, resulting in the elimination of 18 million starfish. Although large scale, multi-year efforts have been considered inefficient and unsuccessful, smaller scale programs have successfully eradicated starfish, prevented declines in coral cover, and improved recovery prospects, especially when control efforts are implemented after first detection and outbreaks are confined to a restricted area. Furthermore, removal efforts for Acanthaster and other Pacific corallivores are being recommended to improve survival, growth and recovery of remnant coral populations following the catastrophic bleaching between 2014-2017. In the Caribbean, removal of Coralliophila abbreviata has mitigated losses to endangered acroporids and has reduced bleaching severity in boulder corals. Extensive mortality among outplanted and wild acroporids during recent hurricanes and increased prevalence of aggregations of C. abbreviata on surviving storm generated fragments and colony remnants, along with recent emergence of coral diseases, emphasizes the need for direct efforts to control corallivore predators, as this will prevent further decline, enhance recovery, and improve coral restoration outplanting success.
Rehabilitation of coral reefs through removal of macroalgae: State of knowledge and considerations for management and implementation
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Ian McLeod, Senior Research Scientists, JCU
Coral reef ecosystems are under increasing pressure by multiple stressors that degrade reef condition and function. Although improved management systems have yielded benefits in many regions, broad-scale declines continue and additional practical and effective solutions for reef conservation and management are urgently needed. Ecological interventions to assist or enhance ecosystem recovery are standard practice in many terrestrial management regimes, and they are now increasingly being implemented in the marine environment. Intervention activities in coral reef systems include the control of coral predators (e.g. crown-of-thorns starfish), substrate modification, the creation of artificial habitats and the cultivation, transplantation and assisted recruitment of corals. On many coastal reefs, corals face competition and overgrowth by fleshy macroalgae whose abundance may be elevated due to acute disturbance events, chronic nutrient enrichment and reduced herbivory. Active macroalgae removal has been proposed and trialled as a management tool to reduce competition between algae and corals and provide space for coral recruitment, in the hope of restoring the spatial dominance of habitat-forming corals. However, macroalgae removal has received little formal attention as a method of reef restoration. This review synthesises available knowledge of the ecological role of macroalgae on coral reefs and the potential benefits and risks associated with their active removal.
Cascading effects of the herbivorous Caribbean King Crab, Maguimithrax spinosissimus, on shallow patch reef communities in the Florida Keys, FL, USA
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Angelo Spadaro, PhD Candidate, Old Dominion University
Grazing rates of Caribbean reef ecosystems have been in decline for the better part of a century. Top-down trophic cascades driven by a long history of overfishing, disease, and mortality of key herbivore and foundation species, and strong bottom-up eutrophication have been synergistic in shifting Caribbean reefs from a system typified by a taxonomic dominance of corals in the benthic community to one devoid of corals and often dominated by sponges, octocorals, and algae. These radical shifts in the character of the benthic community have been accompanied or even preceded at times by massive declines in fish communities. As such, restoration programs have sought to reverse these phase shifts through both algal removal/management and direct enhancement of hard corals. A great deal of emphasis has been placed on the recovery of the long spined sea urchin, Diadema antillarum, as a means of mediating the proliferation of benthic algae. The failure of D. antillarum to recover throughout the region as well as the rareity of large herbivorous fishes has left the grazing functional niche largely vacant on many Caribbean reefs. Here, we present evidence of an alternative grazer, the Caribbean King Crab, Maguimithrax spinosissimus, which may, through density-enhancement, offer restoration practitioners and resource managers a substantial tool for algal management efforts on Caribbean reefs. Additionally, we present evidence that M. spinosissimus grazing results in a series of cascading effects which may improve conditions for community-level coral reef recovery.
Spatial patterns of herbivorous fishes in the Florida Keys and their role in coral restoration projects
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
Jennifer Herbig, Biologist, FWC/FWRI
Coral restoration projects have been established to facilitate the recovery of coral throughout the Florida Keys. To optimize coral restoration success, identifying the ecological conditions and habitats that promote coral survival need to be identified. Since herbivory is one of the most important ecological factors effecting coral settlement, recruitment, and survival, it is necessary to determine factors controlling herbivore populations. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify reef habitat features that facilitate and influence herbivorous fish assemblages. We quantitatively evaluated herbivorous fish assemblages among different reef habitats throughout the Florida Keys using data from the Reef Visual Census monitoring program. This program collects abundance and size data for fish species and the associated benthic coverage information throughout the Keys. The assessment of these data provided an overview of herbivorous fish species composition for various reef habitats, a correlation between trophic and benthic composition (i.e. algal versus coral dominated reef), and a “baseline” of herbivore communities found in natural habitats and available to restoration programs in the Keys. This analysis demonstrates the importance of long term monitoring to understand the spatial variation in herbivorous fish assemblages available to coral restoration sites. Future work will review the extent to which these baseline patterns can be used to predict the relationship between the recruitment of herbivore fish to restoration sites and to restoration sites influenced by the addition of artificial habitat. These analyses will provide managers with information to increase the success of restoration efforts to rebuild coral reefs in the Florida Keys.
Developing intensive aquaculture of the long-spined sea urchin Diadema antillarum as a tool for coral reef restoration
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Aaron Pilnick, Graduate Research Assistant, University Of Florida, Florida Aquarium
The long-spined sea urchin (Diadema antillarum) was once an abundant reef grazing herbivore throughout the Caribbean. Benthic surveys in the Florida Keys during the 1960-70s revealed average densities of five to ten individuals per square meter. During the early 1980s, 98-99% of Diadema antillarum populations disappeared due to an unknown disease outbreak that appeared to originate at the Panama Canal. Sudden and considerable population reduction from this event resulted in lack of reef herbivory, and contributed to ongoing ecological shifts from coral dominated systems to macroalgae-dominated systems throughout the Caribbean. Diadema antillarum populations have remained very low throughout this region since the substantial reduction in the early 1980s. Currently, depressed populations of this ecologically important herbivore necessitate exploring Diadema antillarum restoration as part of an overall reef restoration initiative. Investigations into Diadema antillarum aquaculture have been occurring for over fifteen years. The purpose of this study is to refine methodology for reliable ex situ reproduction and larval rearing of Diadema antillarum in closed recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). The intention of this work is to improve the viability of large scale aquaculture for experimental population enhancement. Adult broodstock from the Florida Keys are being conditioned for spawning. A novel RAS incorporating vessel design elements developed by Martin Moe has been constructed. Replicated experiments in 40-L recirculating vessels will be used to investigate larval development in Diadema antillarum. Initial culture parameters tested will include cell density and species composition of microalgae diets. Microalgae species used will include Rhodomonas lens, Isochrysis galbana (T-Iso), and Chaetoceros gracilis. To assess larval development, morphometric features will be examined including larval appendage length and symmetry, body condition, and presence or absence of rudiments. Larval survival and feeding condition will also be assessed. Data collected will be presented. Future studies will test strategies for larval settlement.
Seeding Reefs with Diadema antillarum in Puerto Rico to increase herbivory
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Stacey Williams, Lead Scientist, Institute For Socio-Ecological Research
Sean Griffin, Restoration Specialist, NOAA Restoration Center
The mass mortality of Diadema antillarum throughout the Caribbean in 1983-4 resulted in decreased herbivory and an increase in abundance of macroalgae on coral reefs in the region. This project intends to increase population densities of Diadema antillarum on reefs in Puerto Rico by releasing lab cultured urchins to enhance herbivory and coral recovery (recruitment rates, survival, and growth). During the summer months (May to October), Diadema settlers are collected on settlement plates set along the shelf edge in La Parguera, Puerto Rico. Settlers (0.4 mm to 1.0 mm test diameter) are brought back to the lab and grown out in aquaria and raceways. Once the urchins reach a size sufficient to reduce mortality (2.0 cm to 4.0 cm test diameter), they are then transplanted to reefs in Puerto Rico. The restocking of the urchins will increase herbivory to reduce algal cover, especially Ramicrusta, and promote coral recruitment and recovery.
Grazing pressure by Diadema antillarum affects early algal succession and recruitment success on a Caribbean reef
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Kelly Latijnhouwers, Restoration Technician, SECORE International
The die-off of the long-spined sea urchin (Diadema antillarum) in the early 1980s is a well-studied event in the Caribbean. The loss of this important herbivore lead to significant increases in algal abundance, and consequently, coral reef degradation. Recently, D. antillarum populations have been increasing throughout the Caribbean basin. The potential effects of the return of this species on coral recruitment, however, remain unclear. While the return of D. antillarum is expected to increase the availability of suitable habitat for settling larvae and young settlers, dense urchin populations may also cause high settler mortality due to incidental grazing. On Curaçao, early algal community succession and subsequent coral recruitment are currently studied on ceramic tiles that were deployed on June 1st 2018 in areas where populations of D. antillarum are naturally recovering (≥ 1 urchin m-2), and in areas where they are virtually absent. In August 2018, settling larvae of the critically endangered coral species Acropora palmata will be exposed to tiles harboring these algal communities to track their settlement success. The tiles harboring settlers will be returned to their original location so their long-term survival and growth can be monitored. At present, two-month-old algal communities grown in the presence of dense urchin populations comprise 1.6 times more CCA and 2.1 times less turf algae compared to tiles conditioned in areas where D. antillarum are absent, confirming the role of D. antillarum in aiding the formation of benthic communities beneficial to recruiting corals. We thus expect D. antillarum to promote A. palmata settlement. If the latter hypothesis is confirmed, restoration techniques using sexually reared Caribbean corals may be significantly improved by conditioning and outplanting artificial settlement substrates in areas where D. antillarum is naturally occurring or recovering.
Restoring Coralline Algae to Rejuvenate Coral Recruitment
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Raphael Ritson-Williams, Postdoctoral Fellow, California Academy Of Sciences
Corals are dying at an unprecedented rate and concurrently natural ecosystem processes on reefs are being degraded. Many restoration efforts focus on increasing the abundance of corals and fish, but fail to restore some of the processes necessary for the persistence of reefs. Coral recruitment is a key process that can promote the recovery of coral abundance and diversity after a disturbance event. While there is ample evidence that crustose coralline algae (CCA) are key facilitators for coral recruitment, very little is known about these algae on reefs. Understanding the diversity of CCA has been limited by a taxonomy that relies on an understanding of specialized morphological features that are difficult to see in live plants. We have developed a multi-faceted research program to better understand the diversity of CCA living on Caribbean reefs, how these CCA facilitate or inhibit coral recruitment, and what conditions are necessary to enable the growth and proliferation of CCA. To advance research and restoration of CCA we have built a database of genetic barcodes to identify Caribbean species of CCA. We have also designed a guide book that is available to help researchers identify CCA using the morphology of live plants in situ. These resources should facilitate the study of CCA in an effort to restore the processes that are critical for coral reef persistence.
PROGRESS TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT APPROACH TO CROWN-OF-THORNS STARFISH ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
David Westcott, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Land And Water
Crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) cause widespread loss of hard coral cover on reefs across the Indo-Pacific. CoTS outbreaks are considered to be one of the major threats facing the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and might be expected to have a significant influence on the success of coral restoration programs. Despite a long history of CoTS management and research on the GBR there has been only slow improvement in CoTS control programs since the 1960s. Other than the development of the single-injection culling method and the deployment of a dedicated control program, there has been no significant advance in how control activities are implemented or in their effectiveness. In response to this, we developed a linked management and research strategy that was firmly focussed on improving the design and performance of the CoTS control program. In developing the strategy we applied an integrated pest management approach. We started by asking how CoTS outbreaks arise and spread, what management responses were possible, how they might operate, and from this, what objectives were realistic. The resultant management strategy allowed us to identify key areas where research could best contribute to management by identifying realistic management objectives and providing recommendations to ensure that operations were efficient and effective. This process identified five clear management domains and associated research needs: 1) Control at sites, individual reefs, and local areas and its optimization; 2) Control at regional scales and its optimization; 3) Identifying appropriate management objectives for existing and new outbreaks; 4) developing new control and monitoring approaches; and 5) addressing ultimate causes. In this talk we describe the development of the management and research strategy, the process through which it is being implemented on the GBR, and analysis of the effectiveness of manual control to date relative to other management options.
Ecologically informing reef scale control of crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef
17:15 - 17:30
Presented by :
Cameron Fletcher, Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO
Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (CoTS) population outbreaks are one of the major threats to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). They are also the threat that is most directly and immediately manageable in the short term through active control. The scale of the CoTS problem, however, threatens to dwarf the resources available to combat it. It is therefore vitally important that CoTS control activities are conducted as efficiently and effectively as possible. The effectiveness of current CoTS control activities can be maximised by ensuring that CoTS are removed efficiently from areas of ecological or economic importance, or areas which foster the growth and spread of the population. Identifying and prioritising the areas where the greatest impact can be achieved requires knowledge of the current distribution of CoTS from control and surveillance activities, and a detailed understanding of the ecology that drives the spread of their population. At the same time, it is vital that the effectiveness of control actions is monitored to ensure the desired outcomes are being achieved, and to know when the CoTS population at a site has been successfully controlled and resources can be redirected to another site. The CoTS Control Centre is a tablet-based, ecologically-informed, on-water decision support system. It uses the cull and surveillance data collected by the control program, coupled with detailed ecological and management models, to recommend which sites control program staff should survey and which they should dive at, how often, and at what point they should move to the next priority site in order to achieve the greatest improvement in coral health and resilience on the GBR. It leverages advanced decision science techniques to compartmentalise the data and decisions that need to be made on-water on a daily basis from those made by program managers each month. It uses robust hierarchical decision trees to make optimal decisions under uncertainty and intermittent connectivity. It coordinates decisions across the fleet of control program vessels to optimise control strategies given current knowledge, while also generating the data required to improve our knowledge and decisions in the future.
13:30 - 17:30
Sailfish Room
Youth Leaders Workshop: Reef Restoration and Its Relevance to the Next Generation (*Invite only*)
Format : Workshop
Speakers
Nathan Cook, Marine Scientist, Reef Ecologic
CLOSED MEETING High school students to begin at Coral Restoration Foundation Visitor Center in Tavernier, Florida.   
15:15 - 15:45
Town Hall Patio
BREAK
Format : Break
15:45 - 17:15
Town Hall North
Community Engagement in Restoration Implementation Session 1
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Charley Peebler, Founding Heir, Heirs To Our Oceans
Igo Gari, PhD Candidate, Bond University
Mariana Gnecco, Scientific Assistant, Corales De Paz
Nuphar Charuvi, Director, Fundación Calipso Para El Apoyo A La Conservación De Los Arrecifes
Owen Day, Executive Director, CLEAR Caribbean Ltd
Andy Bruckner , Research Coordinator, NOAA FKNMS
Moderators
Diego Lirman, PI, UM RSMAS
Roxane Boonstra, Dive & Volunteer Coordinator, Coral Restoration Foundation
In this session, speakers are focusing on harnessing communities to engage in restoration activities.
From California To Palau, Youth Activists of the Pacific Study and Talk Coral for Their Generation
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
Charley Peebler, Founding Heir, Heirs To Our Oceans
April Peebler, Executive Director, Heirs To Our Oceans
Heirs To Our Oceans is not just a global movement empowering youth to protect their oceans and waters for their generation, it is a representative of how the education system must change to prepare our kids as they will inherit the problems our oceans face including the coral crisis. 14 year old Charley Peebler, a Founding Heir who focuses on coral outside of brick-and-mortar schools, learning from experts in the field, and speaking publicly nationally and internationally on the subject, both the problems and solutions, will share about how she learns is most effective in creating change for the next generation. Accompanying Charley will be a teen from the Republic of Palau who will share his story in facing the problems corals face and how as an islander the schools have removed him from his waters, the vast ocean laboratory that is not accessible to him in his learning. The challenge is no different in the middle of Kansas as it is in the islands of our oceans -- our youth have been extracted from their waters and oceans due to our education system that is not preparing the next generation to adequately process solutions for ocean challenges. Heirs To Our Oceans is working toward a prototype school where youth partner with coral restoration aquarist such that the kids are not only learning about the real world problems their oceans face but are also learning through an interdisciplinary curriculum in which they are actively attempting to solve the issue.
CORAL RESTORATION IN MARINE PROTECTED AREAS, SUSTAINABILITY FOR WHO? A STAKEHOLDER ANALYSIS OF FACTORS OF SUCCESS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF ‘RECEPIENTS’
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Igo Gari, PhD Candidate, Bond University
CORAL RESTORATION IN MARINE PROTECTED AREAS, SUSTAINABILITY FOR WHO? A STAKEHOLDER ANALYSIS OF FACTORS OF SUCCESS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF ‘RECEPIENTS’ Daryl McPhee, Lynne Armitage, Igo Gari, Faculty of Society and Design, Bond University, 14 University, Robina, Queensland 4226, Australia Sustainability remains a challenge despite significant investments in developing countries and this research aims to examine the factors that contribute to or impede project sustainability from the perspective of ‘recipients’ in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Stakeholders have varied perceptions of what sustainability means and how to achieve it. Understanding sustainability in projects and using that understanding to bring maximum benefit to the recipients of a project would be the ideal option. The best and possibly the only way sustainability can be realised is through relevant projects that transform decision-making, community consultation and participation, and on-ground actions. Importantly, these projects need to demonstratively improve the standard of living for citizens. Furthermore, they should also have a lasting effect or continue beyond the formal completion of the project itself. In January, 2018, the researcher planted 500 coral fragments in a Marine Protected Area in Bootless Bay, PNG as part of his PhD research to test ‘rural livelihood sustainability’. The objective is to promote awareness, conservation, sustainable management of marine ecosystem and create local economic opportunities while ensuring food security and creating a platform for scientific research. This project is the researcher’s way of giving back to his local village. There have been several publications by international development organizations that have contributed to and share a common understanding of sustainability and the key factors that affect project sustainability. However, the focus has been mainly from the perspective of the funding authorities and project teams and not from the beneficiary governments and communities. Thus, there is lack of knowledge on what defines sustainability in rural development projects. The results and findings of this research will increase knowledge on sustainability and assist stakeholders in future decision-making processes and actions in rural development in the Pacific. The study has the potential to influence policy and project management research. igo.gari@student.bond.edu.au
Participatory and large-scale coral reef restoration: from gardening to managing rehabilitated areas
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Mariana Gnecco, Scientific Assistant, Corales De Paz
Colombia’s largest coral rehabilitation project is currently taking place in the Archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia. This Archipelago, a pluri-ethnic territory, is part of the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve and comprises an MPA with the same name. The Archipelago’s predominant income comes from tourism, having almost a million visitors each year, attracted mainly by the white beaches, the clear and warm waters and the vibrant and colorful underwater life. The coral reef ecosystem highly supports the economy, food security and wellbeing of the islands and has experienced severe degradation over the last decades due to anthropogenic impacts. As a response, the first large-scale reef restoration program following the coral gardening concept is being implemented by a group of governmental and non-governmental organizations. Project’s main objective is to intervene selected degraded reef areas to accelerate natural recovery and enhance adaptation to climate change. Additionally, it intends to achieve great social impact by engaging the local community in the decision-making process, building capacity among local leaders and developing a business model that will provide for alternative likelihoods for community members. As for community involvement in decision-making, a program will be carried out with relevant social actors in which a number of workshops and south-south exchanges will result in the selection of the intervention sites and the development of a management plan for the designated rehabilitation areas. This will include managing solutions regarding protection, threat mitigation, law enforcement, research and education. For this, a Conservation Coach will mediate the process using the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, a tool for conservation project planning and executing. We expect a cross-sector participation so the interests of the overall community are metand the intervened area is effectively rehabilitated.
Application of coral gardening concept as a strategy for public participation in reef restoration activities
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Nuphar Charuvi, Director, Fundación Calipso Para El Apoyo A La Conservación De Los Arrecifes
The coral gardening concept which follow terrestrial standards for massive cultivation and transplants had varios scientific applications during the las two decades. Nevertheless, few investigation had tried to establish management tools for its use as an educative tool and a community based plan for citizen conservation. While scientific development of coral nurseries cultivation and transplant as conservation and restoration beneficiary increase, tools for application through the civil community are important to achieve goals of massive, constant "reforestation" work. The Calipso Foundation for Reef Conservation Efforts had worked since 2011 on tools for community participation in reef restoration activities. During that time few SCUBA diving courses were evaluated as promoters of reef conservation and educative tools that can facilitate manpower for long term reef restoration projects, managed by coastal communities. Courses such as Coral Gardener and Coral Reef indicators identification, had derived a lot of attention and received help from dive centers, tourists and the local fishermen community in Taganga. The practical part of the course help to reduce significantly the cost of restoration work and amplify the benefits furthermore than coral coverage and volume gain to a massive local interest in transforming activities in the Taganga bay to a community based management marine area. The data collection and analysis evaluation had focused in standardized work of ecological volume, while measuring the donors colonies (purely corals of opportunity) and comparing it to corals volume in one year cultivation and after transplantation (two years in the natural habitat). The result is an easy control tool of coral gardeners that can be used by local authorities to supervise community based restoration work, as the results suggest SIGNIFICANT increment in ecological volume (including nurseries and transplantation mortalities) and low managing costs through stakeholders participation that can not be ignored as a posible management tool.
Scaling-up Coral Restoration in Saint Lucia and St Vincent in the Grenadines: Strategies for Community Engagement
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Owen Day, Executive Director, CLEAR Caribbean Ltd
CLEAR Caribbean has been implementing coral restoration projects inside marine protected areas in St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines in partnership with local communities and the private sector. Several nurseries were established in 2017 for Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis and outplanting was initiated in early 2018. The focus has been on encouraging community engagement by providing mechanisms and incentives for training and active participation. The paper will outline the main ecological and social achievements to date, as well as the strategies being developed for scaling-up restoration efforts.
Promoting community engagement to increase the spatial scale and species diversity of coral outplanting through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programs
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Andy Bruckner , Research Coordinator, NOAA FKNMS
Coral nurseries have expanded throughout the Caribbean, and many now have the ability to outplant tens of thousands of corals annually. Nevertheless, these efforts are inadequate to address coral losses from bleaching, disease, hurricanes and other stressors due to resource and capacity limitations, and challenges in propagating slower-growing coral species. Dive operators recognize the need to rehabilitate damaged reefs, as it is in their long term marketing interests and they benefit when their customers are aware that they are proactively conserving their reefs. Yet, reef restoration is often seen as prohibitively expensive, technically difficult, and beyond the scope of these businesses. Through adoption of a business model that encourages dive operators to rehabilitate reefs as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR), restoration practitioners can work with these operations to establish coral nurseries adjacent to reefs frequented by tourists, and transfer the knowledge, care and ownership of the nurseries to those businesses. By promoting low-tech, low-cost, “adopt a reef” coral nursery programs, tourism enterprises will be more engaged in coral reef conservation, and can use their marketing and CSR leverage to expand awareness of and support for these efforts, thereby increasing the scale of reef restoration. This approach can transform the marketing benefits of enterprise tourism CSR into a framework to expand reef restoration with mutual benefits to 1) management agencies attempting to optimize resource integrity through active rehabilitation, 2) enterprise partners by ensuring customer satisfaction with their operations, 3) restoration practitioners by increasing the commercial potential of coral restoration outplanting, and 4) local communities and recreational divers through increased awareness and community engagement in restoration work.
15:45 - 17:30
Tarpon Room
Only Time Will Tell: Monitoring results from long-term/large-scale projects
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Ananda Ellis, PI Acropora Demographic Monitoring, FWC/Florida Fish & Wildlife Research Institute
William Precht, Director, Marine And Coastal Programs, Dial Cordy & Assoc., Inc.
Kerry Maxwell, Scientist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Gabriela Nava, Executive Director, Oceanus, A.C.
Craig Dahlgren, Executive Director, Perry Institute For Marine Science
Erik Meesters, Scientist, Wageningen Marine Research
Chloe Shute, Reef Rescuers Technical Coordinator, Nature Seychelles
Moderators
Sean Griffin, Restoration Specialist, NOAA Restoration Center
Alison Moulding, Manager, NOAA Fisheries
Long-term / large scale restoration projects are rare; these presentations will give us a glimpse into the long-term success of certain techniques in specific places. 
Status and Trends of wild Acropora palmata across the Florida Reef Tract
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
Ananda Ellis, PI Acropora Demographic Monitoring, FWC/Florida Fish & Wildlife Research Institute
Populations of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, have declined over 90% in their Caribbean range since the 1980s. Due to their importance as ecosystem engineers and their ability to structurally stabilize reef environments, establishing a regional mapping and monitoring program was crucial to determine the relative importance of various spatial, temporal, and physical factors affecting the survival of wild A. palmata. Starting in 2010, wild A. palmata colonies were monitored along the Florida Reef Tract (FRT) from Southeast Florida to the Dry Tortugas. Results suggest colony fate was influenced by the amount of initial living skeletal area, geographic location, season, year, and the presence of other stressors such as disease, storms, and corallivorous snails. The synergistic interaction between these factors led to extirpation at three sites. The results offer insight into regional variability in survivorship and aid in identifying where remnant populations of A. palmata may persist along the FRT. This in turn can help guide future restoration efforts of this threatened coral.
Survivorship and growth of outplanted staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in the Florida Keys with regard to restoration success criteria in NOAA’s Acropora Recovery Plan
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
William Precht, Director, Marine And Coastal Programs, Dial Cordy & Assoc., Inc.
Population declines of Acropora cervicornis, largely a result of bleaching and disease, led to its 2006 listing as Threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, natural recovery of populations through fragment regeneration and sexual recruitment remains inadequate to offset population losses of over 90 percent. As a result, the Coral Restoration Foundation developed techniques to outplant A. cervicornis colonies to reefs throughout the Florida Keys. The growth, survival, and condition of 2,428 A. cervicornis colonies from 20 transplant projects started between 2007 and 2013 in the upper Keys were evaluated through photogrammetric analysis and in situ monitoring. The average size of A. cervicornis transplants after six years was approximately 50 cm in diameter. Mortality was initially low, but generally increased after approximately two years. Average mortality across all projects approached 90 percent, but there was large variation among projects. Growth rates measured as maximum diameter of colonies averaged 10cm/year during the first two years, then plateaued in subsequent years. Corals outplanted to spur-and-groove habitats generally grew larger than outplants in low-relief hard-bottom habitats. Genotype effects related to growth, survival, and condition were not statistically significant. Size frequency distributions documented that small colonies dominated after four years. Results from the outplant projects were used to estimate the amount of time and effort needed to restore three reefs (Carysfort, Molasses and Conch), using success criteria identified in NOAA’s Acropora Recovery Plan (ARP). Under current conditions, the decadal timeframes to meet ARP success required repetitive (annual) outplanting effort, scaling up capacity to outplant more colonies by at least an order of magnitude, and improved outplanting methods. Alternatively, if stressors are significantly reduced, then repopulation could occur quickly based on existing capacity to outplant corals and typical rates of population growth. In the meantime, current outplant capacity and results contribute significantly to the persistence of the species in locations where they were historically abundant but are currently absent.
Evaluating Acropora cervicornis restoration sites 5 years after outplanting
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Kerry Maxwell, Scientist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is a threatened species that has declined more than 90% throughout the Caribbean since the late 1970s due to mortality from disease, hurricanes, bleaching, and predation. Outplanting of nursery-reared corals has become an established technique to enhance A. cervicornis populations. A growing body of literature documents encouraging results of restoration efforts, but most of these studies have only fate-tracked outplanted colonies for one or two years. During 2017, we revisited A. cervicornis restoration sites established during 2012 as part of an effort supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These sites offered a unique opportunity to evaluate the longer-term fate of A. cervicornis restoration efforts and evaluate potential factors that influence the success of these sites. However, fate tracking A. cervicornis colonies long-term is challenging as individual colonies readily fragment. Consequently, we did not attempt to fate track individual colonies as has been commonly done in short-term surveys, opting to estimate total A. cervicornis biomass by surveying the entire restoration site. We paired these surveys with surveys of benthic flora and fauna and characterized the physical structure of the sites to evaluate how these factors potentially affected site-related differences in A. cervicornis biomass. Hurricane Irma prevented the completion of this study as originally conceived. However, the A. cervicornis surveys we completed revealed substantial variation in coral biomass among the sites. Biomass had increased considerably at two Dry Tortugas sites and at one middle Keys site compared to two lower Keys sites and other middle Keys sites. A post-Irma survey of A. cervicornis biomass at those sites we had previously surveyed found considerable differences in survival. The middle and lower keys sites closest to the storm were heavily impacted, but the two sites in the Dry Tortugas had comparatively minor loss of A. cervicornis biomass.
Coral growth and survival in 5 year-old reef restoration sites in the Mesoamerican Reef.
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Gabriela Nava, Executive Director, Oceanus, A.C.
The Reef Restoration Program initiated by Oceanus, A.C supported by MARFund, SUMMIT Foundation and other partners is focused on strengthening resilience and adaptation potential of coral reefs to promote recovery of associated species of fish and invertebrates. The Program involves the transplant of 10,000 colonies every year and identification of genetic material from healthy donor populations to increase diversity in restoration sites, thereby promoting natural resilience and resistance to climate change and local stressors. Oceanus has initiated and maintained reef restoration actions in no take areas of the Mexican Portion of the Mesoamerican Reef for four years now. To date, the Restoration Program activities are developed in at least 20 sites of 6 different locations in Mexico (Puerto Morelos, Cozumel, Mayakobá at Playa del Carmen, Sian Ka’an, Xcalak and Mahahual) and it has initiated work in Roatán Island in Honduras. After 5 years sites are starting to show visible changes of recovery. Results from monitoring have shown that on average >80% of the transplanted colonies from previous years have survived in the restoration sites. Due to the continuous input of new colonies (small sizes), average of maximum diameter in sites with multiple generations was 30.2 cm(+- 14.5 D.E.), and more than 30% of the trasplants, averaging all sites, are larger than 20cm. Cover of living tissue in each colony ranged from 12.2 cm2 to 3964.8 cm2 with an average of 363.9 cm2. Oldest transplants in Puerto Morelos, Xcalak and Mayakobá are now growing exponentially. In Puerto Morelos, old transplanted colonies are now being part of the landscape in one of the first restoration sites with more than 90% of the colonies being larger than >160cm2. After achieving that size, every additional year of growth, the proportion of the colony that spawns will increase according to maturity. Sexual reproduction of transplanted colonies is the ultimate goal, as it will start the multiplier effect of restoration, sending hundreds or thousands of genetically diverse larvae and recruits to new sites on the reef.
Ten years of monitoring coral restoration in The Bahamas: lessons learned from a hierarchical monitoring approach.
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Craig Dahlgren, Executive Director, Perry Institute For Marine Science
For 10 years we have been conducting experimental coral restoration effort in the Bahamas through direct transplantation and outplanting of from nurseries using Acropora spp. and other species. An important part of these efforts from their start has been the development of a hierarchical monitoring program to assess the success of our coral restoration efforts and to determine what factors can influence success. Within the restoration study system off Abaco, Bahamas, source colonies have been genotyped and fragments from each source colony individually tagged and grown at different depths in line nurseries at two locations. New growth from fragments in the is cut to outplant to reefs annually or biannually. Outplants are then individually tagged and their survival and growth tracked annually. Physical parameters of the site such as temperature are also monitored. In addition to tracking the individual outplants the monitoring program includes assessments of naturally occurring coral populations, benthic cover and fish communities on experimental reefs and controls. Results of monitoring efforts show how growth and survival of colonies varies based on outplant site, source colony, conditions in nurseries and size of the outplanted fragments. Between reef survival varied considerably and could be attributed to differences in coralivorous snails (Coralliophila abbreviata) at sites. The effect of coral outplants on fish and benthic communities at restoration sites on Abaco and other parts of The Bahamas are also discussed. Based on these results, we have developed recommendations for conducting coral restoration in The Bahamas, which may be applicable to other locations. Finally, we touch on experimental outplanting of other species and factors that have influenced their growth and survival.
Contrasting results after one year of growth in a large-scale staghorn restoration project on Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Erik Meesters, Scientist, Wageningen Marine Research
Acropora cervicornis was restored on two sites (Jeff Davis and Playa Lechi) on Bonaire and monitored for 1 year. Playa Lechi is located in front of the main city of Kralendijk while Jeff Davis is 7 km north. On each site 50 one meter quadrats were installed covering approximately an area of 150m2. On each quadrat 25 colonies from one of 11 genotypes grown in the CRFB nurseries were attached and growth in terms of coral cover was monitored during one year. Results show large differences in growth between the two locations. On average coral cover at Jeff Davis increased linearly (0.06% per day or 21.6% per year) and similar in every quadrat from 16% at the start to 38% after one year with very little mortality. Genotype had a very small effect on the net growth rate. In front of the main urbanised area growth was erratic, mostly negative, and often non-linear. On average coral cover had decreased here from 17 to 7.7% after one year; 40 of the 50 quadrats had decreased in coral cover, 7 had increased and 3 ended at the same size they were installed. Environmental conditions in front of Kralendijk are presumed to be responsible for the lack of growth and high mortality of the restored staghorn corals here. Under normal conditions (Jeff Davis) however coral cover increases rapidly and, based on current nursery dimensions, CRFB will be able to restore approximately 1200m2 of staghorn reef each year.
Positive effects of long term, large-scale coral reef restoration prevail beyond natural disturbances
17:15 - 17:30
Presented by :
Paul Anstey, Technical Co-ordniator, Nature Seychelles
Chloe Shute, Reef Rescuers Technical Coordinator, Nature Seychelles
The widespread bleaching event in 1998 caused significant disturbance to coral reefs within the Western Indian Ocean, resulting in up to 95% coral mortality within the Seychelles. In 2011, a large-scale coral reef restoration project was implemented to facilitate reef recovery and enhance ecosystem services within the Cousin Island Special Reserve. Between December 2012 and June 2014, a total of 24,431 nursery-grown coral colonies from 9 different species were transplanted in 5,225 m2 (0.52 ha) of degraded reef at the no-take marine reserve. Coral nubbins, collected from survivors of the 1998 event and corals of opportunity, were raised in in-situ midwater rope and net nurseries. To measure the effects of restoration on natural recovery, ecological monitoring was completed before and after initial transplantation, at the transplanted site and at the adjacent control sites (degraded and healthy). In 2012, before intervention, live coral cover, juvenile coral density (< 5 cm in diameter) and fish density at the transplanted and degraded sites were similar. In 2014, live coral cover, juvenile coral density and fish density at the transplanted site were 5.5, 1.6 and 1.4 times higher than at the degraded control site, respectively. Following a series of natural disturbances throughout 2015 and 2016 (including a severe bleaching event) live coral cover decreased dramatically across all sites. Surviving corals (i.e. thermally resilient) were identified, stocked and transplanted (1,837 colonies between 2017 and 2018) in an ongoing effort to repopulate the reef. Preliminary results from ongoing monitoring show significant signs of reef recovery and the positive effects of transplantation are still apparent, whereby juvenile coral density and fish density at the transplantation site remain higher than at the degraded control site. This work highlights that the positive effects of large-scale reef restoration continue even after the occurrence of natural disturbances, which may be related to prevailing structural complexity following coral mortality. The next phase of the project aims to utilise ex-situ nurseries to microfragment massive and encrusting species and cultivate heat resilient corals based on genetic markers.
16:30 - 17:30
Town Hall South
Nursing Nubbins for Successful Large-scale Outplanting Session 1
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Liz Goergen, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council/NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Matthew Parry, Fisheries Biologist, National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, Restoration Center
Jessica Levy, Restoration Program Manager, Coral Restoration Foundation
Ken Nedimyer, Manager, Reef Renewal
Moderators
Liz Goergen, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council/NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Baruch Rinkevich, Professor And Senior Scientist, National Institute Of Oceanography
This is a collection of talks that focus on ways to improve, or scale-up outplanting using nubbins
Development of best management practices for coral restoration
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Liz Goergen, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council/NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Across the greater Caribbean and Florida there are a growing number of programs aiding in the enhancement of coral reefs through coral propagation. As new programs begin or established programs scale-up their efforts there is a need to provide guidance through best management practices and lessons learned to increase or accelerate a program’s success. A priority for the field-based propagation and monitoring working groups of the Coral Restoration Consortium was to synthesize, update, and develop best management practices for a broad field of restoration practitioners. As this field continues to scale-up through an increase in number of colonies, species or locations it is important to tailor these guides to all levels of a program; from start-up to scale-up. Current guides and practices, published materials, and knowledge from practitioners were gathered to assimilate the most up-to-date best management practices ranging from how to start a nursery program to how to monitor a large-scale restoration effort. Our goal is to provide practitioners with a platform from which they can learn from the successes and failures of others so we can collaboratively work towards restoring our reefs. The best management practices developed herein will be hosted online providing easy access and the ability to update quickly and frequently as the field continues to grow and change. We will present our progress to date including an unveiling of the online platform.
Design, Implementation and Cost of a Novel In-Water Coral Nursery in Hawaii
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Matthew Parry, Fisheries Biologist, National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, Restoration Center
On Febuary 5th 2010, the Vogetrader ship ran aground on a coral reef off the south west shore of O’ahu, HI resulting in a settlement to provide funding for compensatory coral reef restoration projects. Previous successful emergency restoration efforts have focused on the reattachment of corals that have been dislodged during grounding events. These corals of opportunity are also naturally occurring in the environment and can be used as source material for future restoration efforts. In rubble reef areas around O’ahu Hawai’i, coral colonies that settle and grow on unconsolidated substrate can become naturally overturned during surge events, causing tissue loss, bleaching, and eventually mortality. However, if these corals are transferred to a stable coral nursery platform and allowed to recover, the colonies could be used as donor material to restore damaged reefs with minimal impacts to donor areas. The Reef Runway Coral Nursery, deployed in May 2018, was designed to aid in coral restoration efforts in response to reef injuries by harboring corals of opportunity and creating a stock-pile of donor material for future out planting. This presentation will highlight the design, creation and implementation of the nursery structure as well as a cost analysis of the project. Overall, this new coral nursery concept integrates previously used techniques as well as novel methods to face the unique challenges and resources of coral reef restoration in Hawai’i. The Reef Runway Coral Nursery has incredible potential and could prove to be a highly beneficial and cost effective tool for coral restoration.
Lessons Learned for Increased Scalability in Acropora Restoration
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Jessica Levy, Restoration Program Manager, Coral Restoration Foundation
In Florida, coral reefs have experienced up to a 98% loss in the populations of Acropora coral. This decline can be attributed to multiple compounding factors including overfishing, poor water quality, extreme water temperatures, and the loss of herbivores. As these threats continue - and potentially worsen – there is a clear need for innovative methods to help abate stressors on coral reefs. Active coral restoration (or population enhancement) has emerged as the primary method to manage the loss of coral reef habitat and potentially reverse population decline for specific geographic regions. While there are many restoration organizations using diverse of techniques, coral restoration practices remain relatively new, understudied, and poised to benefit from focused attention to improve scalability. For active coral restoration to be impactful at a large scale, restoration techniques must increase the capacity to produce, outplant and track corals through the restoration process. The field of coral restoration will continue to evolve as techniques improve and our collective insight becomes shared amongst managers, restoration practitioners and researchers. It is the purpose of this white paper to share the lessons learned and techniques developed by the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) as we scaled our nursery and outplanting efforts 10-fold over 3 years in order to engage restoration practice at ecologically meaningful scales. In October 2013, CRF was awarded a three-year grant for coral reef restoration from the NOAA Restoration Center, Office of Habitat Conservation (award number NA13NMF4630144). Supported in part by this grant, CRF was able to develop both the techniques and the infrastructure needed to support coral restoration efforts on an order of magnitude higher than previous projects. Herein, we highlight the most significant lessons learned in order to assist other restoration groups in their expansion of techniques for scalable Acropora restoration projects. Our goal is to share what we learned in order to promote the enhancement and success of large-scale coral restoration efforts.
Coral Reef Restoration 2.0: Shifting the Paradigm
17:15 - 17:30
Presented by :
Ken Nedimyer, Manager, Reef Renewal
Restoring coral populations on degraded reefs using nursery grown corals is an evolving science and an art. A variety of in situ coral nursery and outplanting techniques have been developed around the world in an attempt to “restore” degraded reefs. These techniques often employ a larger central nursery array which supplies nursery reared corals for projects meters to kilometers from the production array. Nursery grow-out may take up to a year, involving regular maintenance, including removal of fouling organisms and flotsam. Once grown to a reef-ready state per the programmatic approach, the corals are removed from the nursery structure, in whole or in part, and transported to the restoration site, where they are then secured to the target substrate using adhesives or cements, nails, fishing line, cable ties, or by simply jamming them into reef crevices. Although these techniques are effective, they are often costly and labor intensive, making it difficult to scale them up to have a meaningful restoration impact in many areas. Because the goal of most restoration projects is to return the site to its pre-impacted state, the limited capacity of most programs results in restoration projects have been successful only on relatively small spatial scales. We propose that a new goal for reef restoration programs be to develop the capacity to restore reefs at landscape scales. In this presentation we will outline a new strategy to significantly scale-up restoration activities by streamlining nursery maintenance, coral transport, and outplanting to the reef. A key component of this concept is developing temporary, biodegradable nursery structures that serve as both nursery and outplanting structure in one. Such “pop-up” nurseries will be developed for branching, massive and soft-coral morphologies, and the specific designs can be modified to take into account the physical conditions at the site (currents, tides and sea conditions), and the consolidation, orientation and topographic complexity of the planting substrate. The ultimate goal of these structures is to produce and outplant large numbers of corals at a minimal effort and cost.
18:30 - 21:30
Palm Court/Lagoon Beach
Opening Reception (Dinner Provided)
Format : Reception
Speakers
Julieta Ruiz, Corporate Social Responsibility, Iberostar Group
Presented with the support of Iberostar! Come meet & greet your fellow Coral Restoration Community at Ocean Reef Club's LAGOON BEACH! We will have a live band and a warm welcome to attendees of Reef Futures 2018. Check out our artist, DAVE FEDER on Facebook! Dinner will be provided. There will be a cash bar available.   
Wednesday , Dec 12, 2018
07:00 - 08:00
Town Hall Patio
Breakfast (provided)
Free coffee available daily at 6:30am - 11:00am at the Reef Lounge.  Breakfast will be available on the Town Hall Patio.
08:30 - 08:35
Town Hall Ballroom
Opening Remarks
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Tom Moore, Reef Futures Chair & NOAA Coral Reef Restoration Team Lead, NOAA Restoration Center
08:35 - 08:55
Town Hall Ballroom
Fragments of Hope: A success story - Seeing is Belizeing
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Lisa Carne, Executiver Director/Founder, Fragments Of Hope
08:55 - 09:40
Town Hall Ballroom
Keynote: Insights from Terrestrial Ecology and Conservation Biology for the Conservation and Restoration of Coral Reefs
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Reed Noss, Florida Institute For Conservation Science
09:40 - 10:00
Town Hall Ballroom
Introduction to the Australian Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program
Track : Plenary
Speakers
David Mead, Program Leader, AIMS
10:00 - 10:30
Town Hall Patio
BREAK
Format : Break
10:30 - 11:10
Town Hall Ballroom
Biological and Geoengineering Approaches to Restoration Proposed in Australia
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Line Bay, Research Scientist, Australian Institute Of Marine Science
Daniel Harrison, Research Fellow, University Of Sydney
11:10 - 11:35
Town Hall Ballroom
Scaling-up Restoration to Matter at an Ecosystem Scale
Track : Plenary
Speakers
David Mead, Program Leader, AIMS
11:35 - 12:15
Town Hall Ballroom
The Value of Restoration and Stakeholder Perceptions
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Karen Vella, Associate Professor In Property And Planning, Queensland University Of Technology
Ken Anthony, Principal Research Scientist, AIMS
12:15 - 13:15
Town Hall Patio
Lunch (provided)
12:15 - 14:00
Sailfish Room
Reef Managers Lunch & Special Session
Format : Workshop
Moderators
Elizabeth Shaver, Restoration Lead, The Nature Conservancy/Reef Resilience Network
The CRC's Management Working Group will present on new resources being developed to help managers strategically plan for and design restoration projects that maximize restoration’s contribution to resilience-based management. This session will start with a presentation on draft decision support guidance, followed by open discussion with managers to obtain feedback and input to help inform future progress on this resource.
13:15 - 14:15
Pelican West
Nursing Nubbins for Successful Large-scale Outplanting Session 2
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Deepak Sathyanarayan, Biomedical Research Engineer, Aptima, Inc.
Sarah Frias-Torres, Scientist/Researcher, Vulcan Inc
CLAUDIA REBECA NAVARRETE TORICES, Student-technician, UABCS
Georgia Coward, Coral Reef Ecologist, Coral Reef Advisory Group
Jos Van Oostrum, Director Sustainable Solutions, Mars, Incorporated
Moderators
Liz Goergen, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council/NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Baruch Rinkevich, Professor And Senior Scientist, National Institute Of Oceanography
This is a collection of talks that focus on ways to improve, or scale-up outplanting using nubbins
Rock Lobster: An Aquamedics Solution for Coral Reef Restoration and Outplanting
13:15 - 13:30
Presented by :
Deepak Sathyanarayan, Biomedical Research Engineer, Aptima, Inc.
With the rapid decline of coral reefs across the globe, the pressure is on to make reef restoration scalable. Current outplanting methods confront three main bottlenecks: 1) a turbulent working environment, 2) inefficient multi-step protocols, and 3) time-consuming and physically demanding steps. Improvements in outplanting throughput and reliability can be achieved through reduction and streamlining of diver-coral interaction time. The “Rock Lobster Out-planting System” is a concept that was originally prototyped at the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress. It was developed to provide an end-to-end coral outplanting system that allows for quick attachment and removal of coral fragments: from the nursery to the target reef. Early usability and workflow estimates indicate that the Rock Lobster System could reduce task time from 2 minutes to 15 seconds in the nursery “frag mounting” stage (reducing 5 steps to 3 steps). It could also reduce the “outplanting” stage from 3 minutes to 45 seconds (reducing 9 steps to 4 steps). By minimizing tool switching and incorporating “one-hand-only” operations, the needs for the greater dexterity of experienced divers is reduced. Manufacturing and implementation considerations will be discussed, followed by updates on development and ongoing efforts to improve the size, usability, and scalability. The presented work was conducted with the support of the Conservation X Labs and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
How to choose the nursery type and ouplanting method for your coral reef restoration project
13:30 - 13:45
Presented by :
Sarah Frias-Torres, Scientist/Researcher, Vulcan Inc
Coral reef restoration techniques through coral gardening suffer a founder effect. As in the population genetics concept, a small population of pioneers who initiated restoration at a specific region develop the in situ (ocean) nurseries and outplanting (transplantation) methods. The techniques developed by this “parent population” are perpetuated by their “offspring” resulting in a regional speciation. Today, the coral reef restoration techniques applied in the Tropical Western Atlantic are markedly different from those applied in the Indo-Pacific. As we move towards large scale (hectares) and mega-scale (thousands of hectares) coral reef restoration, we will need to look beyond our region and learn from solutions found in other parts of the world, or develop new ones. Here, I evaluate ocean nurseries and outplanting methods around the world and provide guidelines on how to choose the best methods based on your needs and resources rather than the founder effect in your region. Basic selection criteria include coral growth type (branching/tabular vs massive/encrusting), project scale (area to be restored), projected coral nursery stock, nursery carrying capacity, nursery site footprint, and degraded site conditions.
CORAL RESTORATION WITH DIFFERENT ACTIVE TECHNIQUES IN THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA
13:45 - 13:52
Presented by :
CLAUDIA REBECA NAVARRETE TORICES, Student-technician, UABCS
Coral communities are productive ecosystems and are recognized for their wide distribution. In the Mexican Pacific there is a relatively low diversity of coral species, but they are adapted to thermal anomalies that under normal conditions cause bleaching. Despite having suffered damage from the strong events of El Niño in 1997 and 2015, the corals have maintained a slow but steady recovery and the species of the genus Pocillopora, which are the main reef builders, stand out. For this reason, a restoration based on this type of coral may be a way to improve the ecosystem conditions. In the Espiritu Santo Archipelago National Park, a restoration program was initiated implementing different methods and they were compared to define which is more successful. 200 naturally generated coral fragments of the genus Pocillopora were recovered and fastened to the bottom with plastic and epoxy resin straps. The colonies were followed from November 2017 to July 2018 to estimate their growth and survival rates, and with these data a predictive model was generated to know temporal trends. The average growth of the surface covered by each fragment was 23.57 cm2 per year, with the straps method having the highest growth (28.05 cm2/year vs. 19.89 cm2/year). The survival of the fragments was 73%, and mortality was higher in fixed corals with straps (32%) than in resin (22%), although the daily mortality rates were not significantly different. Because the strapping method proved to be more efficient because the corals showed greater growth, it is suggested as the most suitable method to apply in a large-scale coral restoration. Finally, a model that incorporated the average mortality and growth rates indicates that a theoretical cohort of initial corals would reach the maximum coverage between 3 and 4 years, but then the living surface would decrease until it was the same as the original after 15 years. This indicates that a successful restoration effort should ideally repeat the placement of fragments every 3 years, to maintain the maximum level of recovery.
Coral restoration in American Samoa: Goals and challenges
13:53 - 14:00
Presented by :
Georgia Coward, Coral Reef Ecologist, Coral Reef Advisory Group
The U.S. Territory of American Samoa is located in the Central South Pacific and consists of five high volcanic islands and two atolls, forming the easterly portion of an archipelago shared with independent Samoa. Historically, American Samoa has strong ecological, economical, and cultural reliance on their coral reefs. From a scientific perspective, the corals of American Samoa, particularly those in Ofu (Manu’a Islands), have attracted countless world-renowned scientists for decades due to their high thermal tolerance and low mortality during global bleaching events. In September 2009, the devastating impacts of a tsunami led to the first community-based coral restoration initiatives in Leone Village on Tutuila Island. The aim was to restore 18.3 acres of coastal wetland habitat, which included establishing large coral rope nurseries and smaller cement ‘fales’ on the reef flat. However, ongoing success and expansion of restoration efforts has been challenging in American Samoa. Here, we will present Leone Village as a case study to share our goals, challenges and solutions for future restoration projects from the perspective of a small, developing country with high cultural and traditional values, difficult environmental conditions, and limited capacity and resources. Further, American Samoa hosted the 40th US Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) Meeting in August, 2018 where coral restoration and need to upscale efforts was an important focus. The USCRTF Restoration Working Group drew on lessons from U.S. jurisdictions’ restoration initiatives, their failures and successes, overarching needs, and limitations for increasing restoration efforts. The key gaps and needs highlighted by U.S. jurisdictions will also be presented.
Building Reefs to Build Capacity: The Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System in Indonesia
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Jos Van Oostrum, Director Sustainable Solutions, Mars, Incorporated
In 2011, Mars, Inc. set-up a Coral Reef Restoration Program in the Spermonde Archipelago off the coast of Makassar, Sulawesi. With local communities and scientists we developed a simple, effective and scalable way to rebuild a coral reef – the Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System (MARRS). We rebuild the reef from the bottom-up using uniquely shaped, coated steel structures – called ‘spiders’ – with live coral fragments tied to them. Spiders are connected under water to form a large web on the degraded reef surface and secured to the ocean floor. We believe the real success of the MARRS approach lies in the ability to ‘jump-start’ a degraded reef back to life by providing it with the right platform (spiders) and conditions to speed up its natural recovery to a point where no further human intervention would be required. We have built over 3 hectares of reef, on 3 islands around Sulawesi and Bali, installing in excess of 15,000 spiders with 250,000 coral fragments, which we think makes this the largest coral reef restoration program in the world. Through building reefs we have been able to practice and refine the technique, build capacity and ownership with local communities in developing specialist businesses and skills – such as the production of spiders and tying on coral. Finally we have built capacity by developing an experienced team who are able to ‘build’ a new reef structure consisting of 500 spiders (7,500 coral fragments) in 2 days. We have observed that this approach enables the reef to recover fast, with new coral coverage exceeding 50% in just 2 years. Within 18 months the spiders become incorporated into the reef structure. The spider mosaic provides structural complexity for reef dependent fish, which enable coral fragments to thrive. MARRS is adaptable to different environments and allows deployment of different coral species at scale and speed. It is complementary to existing methods to select, grow and plant out coral. Building on the success in Indonesia, we are now forming partnerships to show MARRS works in different conditions and locations around the world.
13:15 - 14:30
Town Hall North
Community Engagement in Restoration Implementation Session 2
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Samantha Mercado, Biodiversity Conservation Coordinator, Fundacion Grupo Puntacana
Roxane Boonstra, Dive & Volunteer Coordinator, Coral Restoration Foundation
Dalton Hesley, Sr. Research Associate, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Samuel Suleiman, President , Sociedad Ambiente Marino
Jaime González - Cano, RESEARCHER, INAPESCA CRIAP PUERTO MORELOS
Maxine Newlands, Researcher, Senior Lecturer/ Researcher For RRAP/ James Cook University, Australia.
Moderators
Roxane Boonstra, Dive & Volunteer Coordinator, Coral Restoration Foundation
Diego Lirman, PI, UM RSMAS
In this session, speakers are focusing on harnessing communities to engage in restoration activities
DIVERSIFYING FISHERMEN INCOME GENERATION ACTIVITIES IN A CORAL RESTORATION PROGRAM IN PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
13:15 - 13:30
Presented by :
Samantha Mercado, Biodiversity Conservation Coordinator, Fundacion Grupo Puntacana
Coral reefs provide critical services to human communities worldwide such as: fisheries, costal protection and cultural benefits. In Dominical Republic (DR), as in all tropical parts over the world, the coral cover and these services are diminishing due to local and global threats; and now, we know that the local stressors reduce coral resilience to the climate change. In response, place – based strategies involve local communities and resource users in conservation and restoration programs are becoming more frequent. Here, we present an alternative income generation activity for local fishermen into the Fundación Grupo Puntacana's coral restoration project. This alternative has 2 main goal: i) to augmenting coral populations can jumpstart coral reef community recovery; and ii) to combat overfishing of herbivorous fish. Up until now, 5 ex – fishermen have been certified and have helped whit the transplanting of 6,475 m of Acropora cervicornis tissue. Also, the parrotfish fishing has been reduced annually ~14,112 kg. This strategy has proved very effective, so we are replicating it others fishing communities of the DR, and in others countries such as Honduras and Haiti.
Scaling up: Increasing work capacity with volunteers
13:30 - 13:45
Presented by :
Roxane Boonstra, Dive & Volunteer Coordinator, Coral Restoration Foundation
Nonprofits, like all organizations, have goals and deadlines to accomplish; simultaneously, nonprofits are often more limited in their resources, both financially and in personnel. To overcome this daunting but essential challenge, a volunteer force can help increase the capacity of work a nonprofit can achieve by acting as a supplemental workforce. As a result, volunteers are often associated with nonprofits and other charitable organizations and are acknowledged to be invaluable; yet the implementation, coordination, expectation and retention of a healthy, stand-alone volunteer program can be intimidating. With limited staff and a growing internship program, Coral Restoration Foundation is the largest coral reef restoration organization in the world and the only that implements a consistent volunteer program to a unique and considerable degree. Restoration work is supplemented by 1) a three-month internship program that provides consistent support, 2) a volunteer program that incorporates volunteer divers on workboats and on land and 3) a public dive program that helps to advertise and recruit individuals to the volunteer program and for donations. In 2017, Coral Restoration Foundation benefited from nearly 20,000 hours of volunteer assistance, thanks to 10 interns, over 150 volunteers and over 400 dive program participants; 2018 numbers are anticipated to increase significantly. Part of implementing a volunteer program is understanding expectations and motivations. Coral Restoration Foundation volunteer surveys indicate that over 50% of volunteer interest starts with an internet search on “coral restoration”, with word-of-mouth and social media immediately following. Expectations have shifted since 2016, with volunteers focusing on the desire to “make a difference” over “being a better diver”. Volunteer expectations, motivations and needs are as dynamic as an organization’s, and must be well-directed so that it parallels the growth and development of the organization it serves. By accepting that a volunteer force is ever evolving, there are multiple solutions for achieving the single goal of attaining, retaining and managing a robust volunteer program and increasing the capacity of the organization.
Development and Implementation of Rescue a Reef, a Citizen Science Program built around Reef Restoration
13:45 - 14:00
Presented by :
Dalton Hesley, Sr. Research Associate, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
The abundance of corals has declined significantly over past decades, to the point where several reef-building species in the Caribbean are now listed as threatened. Active reef restoration has expanded exponentially to help recover degraded coral populations and the ecological services associated with healthy and complex reefs. While restoration practitioners now grow hundreds of coral genotypes from several species within coral nurseries and 10,000s of corals are outplanted annually, the cost and labor of these activities continues to be limiting factors. We describe a citizen science program, Rescue a Reef (RAR), which trains participants in reef restoration and provides unique, experiential learning opportunities to recover degraded coral reefs by propagating and transplanting threatened coral species. Between 2015-2018, 440 participants outplanted >2,700 staghorn corals, showing that citizen scientists successfully contribute to reef restoration. Importantly, corals outplanted by RAR participants showed the same survivorship as those outplanted by scientific experts. Moreover, post-expedition surveys showed significant improvements in coral reef ecology and restoration knowledge for RAR participants. The direct benefits of using citizen science for restoration are enhanced when the education and outreach opportunities are considered. Over three years, RAR engaged >14,000 individuals through public seminars, events, and activities in collaboration with organizations like the Phillip and Patricia Frost Science Museum, Rock The Ocean, Miami Seaquarium, and more. Thus, the growing field of reef restoration based on the coral gardening method offers a unique opportunity for participatory public engagement. By participating in these programs, citizen scientists can go beyond just data collection to active restoration and conservation of important reef resources.
Community-based scientific citizens: A strategy to manage coastal resources in response to the effects of climate change
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Samuel Suleiman, President , Sociedad Ambiente Marino
Tropical coastal resources in the Anthropocene have shown signs of degradation and a declining ability to naturally recover from disturbance. Multiple human factors, including the increasing demand and misuse of natural resources, have contributed to this trend. Climate change has triggered further decline, with increasing threats to coral reefs and coastal communities, mostly due to coral bleaching and mortality, sea level rise and shoreline erosion. With over 435 km of coastline across 44 municipalities (57%) in Puerto Rico, human coastal communities, hotels, and other private and public infrastructure are under increasing vulnerability, with a threat to its weakened economy. To improve coastal resource protection, it would be necessary to improve the understanding of ecosystem processes and enhance governance and management by incorporating public participation through community-based scientific citizens programs. Sharing scientific information with base communities will empower citizens with the necessary hands on knowledge to support a variety of management strategies, including coral farming, reef restoration, wetland and coastal forest reforestation, etc. This would contribute to restore ecosystems functions and resilience through ecosystem-based, sustainable, participatory management strategies. Non-governmental organization Sociedad Ambiente Marino (SAM) has successfully implemented multiple strategies to achieve a successful integration of traditionally-underserved base communities into coral reef conservation and restoration. This has empowered volunteers with the necessary knowledge, tools, and skills to plan, develop, and implement adaptive management strategies for the conservation and restoration of coastal resources. The symbiosis of ecological knowledge and social participation through SAM has resulted in over 150 presentations in multiple national and international meetings, generating more than 25 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The concern about declining coastal resources and community-based livelihoods, plus the interest, love and passion for the sea shared by volunteers are great sources of motivation to fully understand the pressing problems and protect their backyards.
Effective strategy to redirect visitors to diminish impact to reef formations and enhance restoration projects.
14:15 - 14:22
Presented by :
Jaime González - Cano, RESEARCHER, INAPESCA CRIAP PUERTO MORELOS
Reef restoration efforts are of most importance for those areas of high touristic visitation. Especially when operations occur in great numbers and during peaks hours and holiday seasons. Probability of impacts increases when either compliance level is low or there are surveillance or patrol problems. The National Marine Park of Cancun and Isla Mujeres in the Mexican Caribbean receives nearly 900,000 visitors per year and is one of the most visited marine parks in the world. In 2004-2005 the area was hit by three hurricanes of which one reached category 5, with great devastation to main reef units. Restoration activities involved the nautical community to remove junk entangled in the reefs preventing further damage to corals. It also considered the rescue of fragments, to later incorporate some of them into a marine nurseries and reef restoration project. Due to the slow recovery rate and the incoming of visitors into the reef units, authority had two management options: to estimate carrying capacities per reef unit and implement them or redirect visitors to sandy and rocky bottom areas with artificial habitats. Second option was decided and first attempt using simple artificial reefs were not well accepted. The nautical community and National Marine Park considered a second and very successful attempt. Sculptures made with neutral pH cement became a real option. It was accepted by the nautical community and the advisory committee of the National Park. The value of this project redirecting visitors is analyzed in terms of governance and as a conservation and management strategy. The effectiveness of this alternative in terms of conservation and income is demonstrated and how it has served to lower density of visitors in reef units under restoration processes increasing the impact of reef ecosystem rehabilitation. It is discussed why similar projects are being now been planned in other sites touristic resorts in the world where activities in coral reefs take place.
TWEETING THE REEF REVOLUTION: AN ANALYSIS OF PUBLIC DEBATES ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF RESTORATION.
14:23 - 14:30
Presented by :
Maxine Newlands, Researcher, Senior Lecturer/ Researcher For RRAP/ James Cook University, Australia.
The Great Barrier Reef’s back-to-back bleaching events (2016/17) have seen a shift towards more interventions and restoration project to save the Reef. With traditional media still holding gatekeeper roles, the Twittersphere has become an ideal space to debate the merits of Reef restoration research. From scientists to pollies and the public, opinion is divided over the best approach to restore the Reef’s health. This paper is part of research for the Reef Restoration and Adaption (RRAP) project that is analysing social media to identify key theme in online public debates around social licence and restoration projects. Drawing on public Twitter and Facebook pages, we are measuring social perceptions of restoration and intervention projects. Analysis of Twitter posts over a 12-month period since the last bleaching event, identifies public sentiment and discourse around Reef Restoration projects. Drawing on public tweets from social media and environmental communication literature; this study investigates the public perceptions of interventions via the micro-blogging site Twitter. The data provides insights into the public perception and debates surrounding the feasibility and viability of reef restoration and adaptation interventions. Therefore, this research aims to establish if better understanding of the social perceptions of the Great Barrier Reef can help to find ways of improving the Reef in Australia and around the world.
13:15 - 16:30
Heron Room
Harnessing Environmental Gradients
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Scott Heron, Senior Physical Scientist, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Crawford Drury, Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology
James Price, Ph.D. Student, Ohio State University
Whitney Hoot, Coral Reef Resilience Coordinator, Guam Bureau Of Statistics And Plans
Megan Morikawa, Science Director, Iberostar Group
Colin Howe, Biological Scientist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Ilsa Kuffner, Research Marine Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey
Derek Manzello, NOAA/AOML
Anastasios Stathakopoulos, Oceanographer, U.S. Geological Survey
Jennifer Stein, Biological Scientist II, Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Thinesh Thangadurai, Visiting Post Doctoral Researcher , Florida International University
Moderators
Rebecca Albright, Curator, California Academy Of Sciences
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
This session will be on harnessing phenotypic variability associated with natural environmental gradients (SST, acidification, nutrients, wave exposure, etc.) to guide restoration efforts.
Supporting Coral Reef Restoration Site Selection – Historical and Future Thermal Characteristics
13:15 - 13:30
Presented by :
Scott Heron, Senior Physical Scientist, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Historical temperature variability and past exposure to heat stress have been found in recent studies to be key factors contributing to coral reef resilience. With future heat stress predicted to become more frequent and severe, prioritizing sites with locally higher variability and lower warming trends in historical and predicted temperature may represent the greatest opportunity for success of coral reef restoration activities in the face of climate change. Understanding spatial patterns of thermal history can inform selection of sites for targeted restoration efforts. NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) has recently updated its Thermal History product suite, extending the period for calculating metrics to 1985-2017 and transitioning the source data to use CRW’s CoralTemp dataset. CoralTemp is a global, daily, 0.05° (~5 km) gridded sea surface temperature (SST) product, which has an internally consistent baseline through the entire period and now underpins CRW’s near real-time decision support system for coral bleaching management. The updated Thermal History suite maintains the existing thematic groupings of Stress Frequency, Stress Onset, SST Variability, SST Trend, Climatology, and Annual History, with data and images provided at https://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/thermal_history/. Augmenting historical variability, exposure and trends with downscaled future projections of heat stress (at ~4 km resolution, https://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/climate/projections/downscaled_bleaching_4km/) further provides managers with information to support site selection for restoration efforts. Other physical and anthropogenic site characteristics, such as those recommended in guidance for assessing reef resilience (e.g., light stress, pollution, fishing pressure), will also help guide prioritization of restoration sites.
Landscape scale identification of thermally tolerant corals using imaging spectroscopy
13:30 - 13:45
Presented by :
Crawford Drury, Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology
A major obstacle for reef conservation is the identification of stress tolerant corals and habitats at large scales. We present a novel method to overcome this limitation, detecting tolerant corals using prior information on the natural bleaching response of individual colonies and airborne imaging spectroscopy. The Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) collected high-fidelity spectral data for all hardbottom habitats within Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, an area of approximately 45km2. These data were analyzed via machine learning with prior bleaching observations for Montipora capitata and Porites compressa to classify bleaching phenotype at the coral colony scale. This strategy can discriminate bleaching phenotype using imaging spectroscopy data, even for colonies that show no visual signs of current bleaching or paling. Spectral data can also resolve chlorophyll content and Symbiodinium counts at the organismal level. The capacity to accurately predict species-specific response to thermal stress highlights spatial patterns at landscape scales, including clustering of stress tolerant corals on some reefs and the distribution and margins of species aggregates. These patterns show the importance of the interaction between habitat and the coral holobiont for successful conservation. The capability to detect phenotype from spectral data could be scaled to include entire reef ecosystems or down to hand-held, in situ instruments to achieve similar predictive capabilities where prior data or future monitoring can provide biological context.
Assessment of the coral microbiome and the underlying coral physiology across a natural range of natural temperature and pCO2 environments in Hawaii
13:45 - 14:00
Presented by :
James Price, Ph.D. Student, Ohio State University
Increasing sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification are threatening the long-term survival of corals and the persistence of coral reef ecosystems. The coral microbiome has been identified as a potential factor in the resilience of corals to these changing environmental conditions. Improving our understanding of the relationships between the coral host and their microbial associates under changing ocean conditions could produce innovative approaches to coral reef restoration. Coral reefs surrounding Oahu, Hawai’i, USA exist among a natural gradient of environmental conditions, with some sites experiencing summertime temperature and pCO2 levels not expected to occur in most tropical waters until mid-century. We hypothesize that local variability in seawater temperatures and pCO2 drive coral-associated bacterial community composition, and that these differences are species-specific. To test this, we characterized the bacterial communities of five coral species from six sites around Oahu. Preliminary results from two species suggest that the bacterial community composition differs between Porites compressa and Montipora capitata corals. Additional analyses are underway to determine if differences in the temperature and pCO2 properties among sites further influences the bacterial community composition. The coral microbiome will also be interpreted in the context of physiological parameters of these corals presented in a companion abstract. Overall, characterizing the coral microbiome across a range of environmental conditions can help restoration and protection efforts to target corals better adapted for predicted future ocean conditions.
Potential impacts of water flow on coral restoration efforts using staghorn Acroporids
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Whitney Hoot, Coral Reef Resilience Coordinator, Guam Bureau Of Statistics And Plans
Guam’s coral reefs were impacted by widespread bleaching during four of the last five years, an extreme frequency that may become ubiquitous due to continued ocean warming. About half of the island’s staghorn Acropora spp. died between 2013 and 2015 as a result of bleaching and extreme low tides. From 2013-2017, four of Guam’s 21 known staghorn populations experienced 100% mortality. The severe, sudden decline of these taxa indicates a need for direct, urgent management interventions, including restoration. Recognizing the challenge of maintaining in situ nurseries and outplants in stressful environments, we are developing science-based protocols for restoration site selection, culturing methods, and outplant techniques to guide local management interventions. As part of this effort, we are evaluating the implications of water flow for restoration success, as high water flow may provide refuge from warming. We used Illumina RNAseq to study the effects of high and low flow regimes on gene expression of Acropora pulchra. We found differential expression of genes potentially related to heat stress in an ex situ experiment, then compared these trends to in situ flow-driven transcriptomic responses under naturally occurring heat stress during a bleaching event. We found differential gene expression between low flow and high flow samples in both ambient (ex situ) and heat-stress conditions (in situ). We compared both low and high flow samples against heat stress samples, and found that high flow samples may be up-regulating stress-related genes at baseline conditions, known as “front loading”. Front loading may be characteristic of resilient corals, as they are better able to respond quickly to stressors. This research has important implications for reef restoration, indicating that in situ coral nurseries and outplanted populations may be more likely to withstand stressors if located at sites with high water flow. Fragments collected from high flow sites or cultured in nurseries with high flow regimes may demonstrate front loading and thus be more resilient. Furthermore, flow rates should be considered when designing nursery structures and selecting outplant methods, as water flow may impact coral resilience and restoration success at small scales.
Using naturally occurring climate resilient corals to construct bleaching resistant nurseries
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Megan Morikawa, Science Director, Iberostar Group
Ecological restoration of forests, meadows, reefs or other foundational ecosystems in the face of climate change depends on the discovery and use of individuals able to withstand future conditions. For coral reef restoration, finding climate tolerant colonies does not guarantee clonal progeny will remain tolerant in different environments because of widespread environmental adjustment of coral physiology and contributions from internal symbionts. Here, we test if simple proxies of heat tolerance for parent corals are predictive of nursery growth and bleaching tolerance. Before the 2015 natural bleaching event in American Samoa, we set out 800 coral fragments from 80 colonies of four species that had been selected by prior tests to have a range of intraspecific natural heat tolerance. After the event, clones from heat tolerant parents resisted bleaching 20-85% better across species than clones from less tolerant parents and retained higher clonal diversity through the bleaching event than did less heat tolerant corals. The three simplest proxies for thermal tolerance (response to experimental heat stress, location on the reef, and thermal microclimate) predicted the response of nursery clones of all four species to the bleaching event. Molecular biomarkers were also predictive but were highly species specific. Colony genotype explained the most variance in bleaching response (38%), playing a stronger role than the symbiont and demonstrating a key role for individual variation in the restoration process. Combined, our results show that selecting for host resilience produced a multi-species coral nursery that withstood multiple bleaching events and that proxies for thermal tolerance in restoration efforts can be species independent and inexpensive.
The acclimatization of the Caribbean fused staghorn coral Acropora prolifera to non-natal locations
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Colin Howe, Biological Scientist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Following the decline of the Caribbean Acropora population, recent evidence points toward a natural population increase of a viable reproductive acropora hybrid, Acropora prolifera. To better understand the physiological variability between hybrid genotypes, and its usefulness in restoration ecology, this study aimed to monitor baseline health characteristics between A. prolifera populations and across genotypes within a restoration framework. Reciprocal transplant experiments were conducted between fragments from two geographically distinct offshore islands near St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Within each sampled population, three distinct genotypes were identified using molecular analysis. Every month for nine months, health metrics including growth rates, number of new apical tips, and signs of stress including mortality, predation, temperature, and disease were compared between populations and across genotypes. Furthermore, we analyzed the linear relationship between growth rates and thermal conditions in-situ. Using linear mixed effects models, non-natal genotypes showed no significant differences in growth rates compared to natal genotypes. Non-natal genotypes did however, show higher signs of predation than natal genotypes (generalized linear mixed effects model, z = 2.12, p = 0.033). Using linear regressions we observed a positive linear relationship between vertical (β = 0.121, t(263) = 2.15, p = 0.02) and horizontal (β = 0.204, t(263) = 3.01, p < 0.01) growth axes with temperature. Overall, these results show no reduction in health for transplanted A. prolifera fragments to non-natal locations. Furthermore, we observed growth rate trends that are similar to the parental species within optimal temperature ranges. Despite concerns of genetic incompatibilities associated with this hybrid, our study suggests that A. prolifera can be successfully propagated to distinct reefs. The incorporation of the hybrid in a controlled manner with current and future coral restoration programs may benefit restoring Acropora populations throughout the Caribbean and stimulate genetic diversity.
Determining where and how to restore reefs: Insights from ten years of coral-growth studies
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Ilsa Kuffner, Research Marine Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey
Many factors go into decisions of where and what species to use for restoration, including reef-protection status, presence of live corals, historic coral success, and environmental conditions at sites being considered. We report on a study, started in 2009, measuring coral-calcification rates at six outer-reef tract sites in the Florida Keys, U.S.A. To date, we have measured the growth of Siderastrea siderea, Orbicella sp., Porites astreoides, Acropora cervicornis, and A. palmata by monitoring buoyant weight of corals for two-year periods. Generally, calcification rates were highest at the most remote site in Dry Tortugas National Park compared to the other 5 sites, and partial mortality was highest at sites in the Middle Keys, indicating that local conditions may modulate the success of restoration. Calcification rates on a planar-surface (“canopy”) basis (mg cm-1 day-1) were 1.5 for Orbicella sp., 2.7 for S. siderea, 3.3 for P. astreoides, 4.7 for A. palmata, and 5.8 for A. cervicornis. The estimates for Orbicella sp. and P. astreoides are likely low because of high-temperature stress during the summers of 2014 and 2015, respectively. An additional experiment showed that grow-out methods (“tree” vs. “block”) affect the robustness of A. cervicornis outplants and that there is likely a genetic basis for differential calcification rates. Our study suggests that achieving restoration goals for ecosystem services like shoreline protection and habitat provision requires matching species selection with physical-site considerations, and we suggest shifting more effort to restoring A. palmata.
Bleaching resilient inshore patch reefs of the Florida Keys may provide heat-tolerant coral genotypes for restoration
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Derek Manzello, NOAA/AOML
Florida Keys coral reefs have experienced seven mass bleaching events since 1987. Many reefs have < 5% coral cover, but some inshore patch reefs have maintained significantly higher coral cover. It has been hypothesized that the inshore corals are acclimatized and/or adapted to recurrent heat stress owing to naturally higher and more variable temperatures. The response of Florida Keys coral reefs to back-to-back bleaching events in 2014 and 2015 provided direct evidence of bleaching resilience on the inshore patch reefs. Inshore sites demonstrated better recovery and often higher bleaching resistance than offshore sites. 2015 and 2014 were the two hottest summers on record for the Florida Keys, yet total colony mortality at Cheeca Rocks, an inshore patch reef, was low with 94.7% of > 4000 colonies surviving. There was a reduction in bleaching severity and mortality with the second stronger thermal anomaly in 2015, which suggests that acclimatization may be possible with short recovery. Lab-based experiments have shown that inshore genotypes of the ESA-listed coral Orbicella faveolata exhibit a significantly greater heat tolerance relative to offshore genotypes. This presentation will summarize these findings as well as present preliminary data from a reciprocal transplant experiment that aims to understand if the inshore-offshore dichotomy in heat resistance is due to acclimatization or adaptation. The existence of corals on the inshore patch reefs at temperatures that are +1.0oC warmer than offshore sites in the Florida Keys may be an important source of heat-tolerant genotypes for restoration.
Using the fossil record to inform coral reef restoration: a case study from Dry Tortugas National Park, USA.
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
Anastasios Stathakopoulos, Oceanographer, U.S. Geological Survey
The Elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, was the primary reef builder in the western Atlantic over the last 2 million years, however, because of recent region-wide declines this species is now threatened and has prompted conservation/restoration specialists to take new actions. Despite its historical abundance throughout the western Atlantic, A. palmata was only sporadically observed in one small area of Dry Tortugas National Park (DRTO) and has been reported as absent from fossil reef deposits at DRTO. A better understanding of the history of A. palmata at DRTO could provide critical insights into the environmental controls on its growth and decline. Using diver surveys and radiometric dating, we present the first record of late Holocene-aged (~4,500–2,750 years ago) A. palmata populations from DRTO. Contrary to reports from previous studies, however, we show that A. palmata populations in DRTO created extensive reef crest habitats during the late Holocene that may have existed continuously for ~1,750 years. The beginning of this timeframe corresponds to a period of warmer temperatures compared to the later Holocene, and the termination of A. palmata by 2,750 years ago is coincident with overall declines in reef-building at DRTO. If cold water was limiting A. palmata at DRTO in the recent past, that limitation could be lifted now with continued ocean warming. Given that DRTO possesses some of the healthiest modern reefs throughout the Florida reef tract, and its isolation from mainland Florida and other direct anthropogenic impacts, we suggest this as an optimal target area for A. palmata restoration, especially since modern populations there are so limited.
Florida Reef Resilience Program's Disturbance Response Monitoring: Comparing bleaching prevalence and temperature in the Florida Keys 2008-2016
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Jennifer Stein, Biological Scientist II, Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
The Florida Reef Resilience Program’s Disturbance Response Monitoring program (DRM) was developed to assess stony coral condition on shallow coral reefs from the Dry Tortugas to Martin County during the months of high thermal stress. Results from DRM survey events have shown that bleaching prevalence is variable across time and space. Using in-situ temperature data collected from temperature loggers affixed to the reef, this study will show how bottom water temperature regimes during the thermal stress months from August to October relate to coral bleaching prevalence measured by DRM. This presentation will focus on two subregions of the Florida Keys to pilot a larger study that aims to compare temperature and bleaching prevalence data across the entire Florida reef tract.
Using the world’s deepest coral nursery to examine the influence of genet on survival
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Thinesh Thangadurai, Visiting Post Doctoral Researcher , Florida International University
Worldwide coral transplantation efforts are being undertaken to restore reefs lost to climate change-induced bleaching and disease. Successful reef restoration efforts to date are limited to shallow depths above 10 meters with fast growing corals, despite the loss of many coral species across a wide range of depths. In this study, we constructed Orbicella faveolata and Orbicella annularis restoration nurseries along a depth gradient to test coral survival and growth capacity at different depths, to facilitate restoration activities at greater depths in the future. We assessed 10 genets of each species at 20 m and 30 m (n=15), using a total of 600 fragments. We identified two genets which we found to be highly successful across depths. We did not find significant differences in coral survival between depths. Out of 300 fragments at each depth, 46% (138 fragments) survived at 30 m, while 52% (158 fragments) survived at 20m. This preliminary study identifies favorable genotypes for future transplantation and emphasizes the importance of genotype selection during transplantation.
14:00 - 17:15
Tarpon Room
Innovative science to inform restoration decision-making
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Kathryn Lohr, University Of Florida
Stephanie Green, Assistant Professor, University Of Alberta
Lewis J. Gramer, Asst. Scientist, University Of Miami
Valerie Paul, Head Scientist, Smithsonian Marine Station
Samantha King, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
Rob Brumbaugh, Senior Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Irene Antonina Salinas-Akhmadeeva, Student/Project Technician , Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México / Universidad Autónoma De Baja California Sur
Geoffrey Cook, Assistant Professor, Department Of Biology And National Center For Integrated Coastal Research, University Of Central Florida
Sergio D. Guendulain Garcia, Research Technician, Integrated Reef Conservation Research Lab, ICMyL, UNAM
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Moderators
Stephanie Green, Assistant Professor, University Of Alberta
Kathryn Lohr, University Of Florida
This session focuses on a variety of techniques that can inform the design and evaluation of restoration efforts, ranging from molecular-based techniques such as population genetics to computer modeling and statistical analyses such as meta-analysis.
Applications of metabolomic profiling in Caribbean acroporid restoration
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Kathryn Lohr, University Of Florida
Global threats to coral reefs demand novel strategies for conservation and restoration. In particular, interest in increasing the use of corals with robust phenotypes in restoration and captive breeding programs has grown. Recent work has documented intraspecific variation in phenotype among known genotypes of the threatened staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis in a common garden. Phenotypes identified include those that may be desirable to restoration practitioners, such as rapid growth and high skeletal density. Determining phenotype in A. cervicornis often requires painstaking repeated measures, which can be time-consuming, expensive, and logistically challenging. Metabolomic profiling detects the full set of metabolites in an organism, and, when linked to metabolic pathways, can provide a snapshot of an organism’s physiological state. Identifying metabolites associated with advantageous traits has the potential to streamline selection of corals for use in restoration. However, little information exists to illustrate intraspecific variation in coral metabolite profiles. To address this gap, we applied untargeted 1H-NMR and LC-MS metabolomic profiling to three genotypes of the threatened coral Acropora cervicornis that have been shown to possess unique growth and thermotolerance phenotypes. Both methods revealed distinct metabolite “fingerprints” for each genotype examined. A number of metabolites driving separation among genotypes were putatively identified, including compounds with key osmotic and antioxidant functions. For the first time, these data illustrate intraspecific variation in metabolomic profiles for corals in a common garden. These results contribute to a growing body of work on coral metabolomics and also suggest future work could identify specific links between phenotype and metabolite profile.
Dynamics and recovery in restored coastal ecosystems: harnessing meta-community thinking to connect intervention design and recovery targets with ecological processes
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Stephanie Green, Assistant Professor, University Of Alberta
Precipitous declines in coral reef and mangrove habitats worldwide threaten food security, livelihoods, and infrastructure for coastal societies. Is it possible to restore the ecological functionality of damaged habitats? What factors mediate the success of restoration efforts? Here I describe why meta-community theory, which conceives local biological communities as part of a network of interconnected communities, is the foundation for a promising framework in which to design coastal habitat restoration and set expectations for recovery following intervention. To do this, I will summarize what three decades of research on habitat loss in tropical marine systems globally has revealed about the properties of coral and mangrove meta-communities (e.g. species equivalence, migration rates, habitat heterogeneity) that mediate key ecological processes (e.g., magnitude and stability of species diversity, biomass, and productivity) across space and time. I will then highlight opportunities for incorporating meta-community properties into the spatial and temporal design of in situ coral and mangrove restoration, and evaluating the trajectories and magnitude of ecological change following intervention. Finally, I will discuss the potential for emerging meta-community network modelling techniques—which dynamically incorporate variation in habitat size and spacing, and species’ traits such as home range size, size-based trophic interactions, and ontogenetic migration ability to predict diversity and stability across the system—to serve as tools for restoration design and evaluation.
Where to Restore: Oceanography and Coral Reef Microbiomes under Natural and Human Influences
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Lewis J. Gramer, Asst. Scientist, University Of Miami
Reef habitat microbiomes play a vital role in coral reef ecosystem health and function. Characteristics of the physical habitat of a reef may help drive the evolution of the host organism, its algal symbionts, and associated microbiomes. In southern Florida in particular, reef marine microbiome communities may be influenced by fine-scale patchiness in sea temperature and available light, connectivity patterns in ocean circulation, microbial contaminants from wastewater, coastal inlet discharges, terrestrial runoff, and coastal tidal or storm flooding. We sequenced samples from coral tissue, water, and sediments at both near- and offshore reefs of the Florida reef tract. Sites included both near-urban southeast Florida shelf and more isolated reefs of the Florida Keys. We report on associations between the community structure and biodiversity of these microbiomes, and the observable characteristics of their environment, notably sea temperature variability and seafloor topography, tides, ocean currents, waves, and relative turbidity. The microbiomes were characterized by 16S rDNA amplicon Next-Generation-Sequencing (NGS) of total microbial metagenomic DNA extracts. We investigated connectivity using combined outputs of a quasi-operational ocean-circulation model with data on waves and surface winds. We estimated sea temperature variability from long-term in situ measurements and a reef ocean heat budget based on depth, slope, light, and waves. Relative turbidity change over time was estimated from a multiyear record of high-spatial-resolution satellite ocean-color.
Chemical cues for habitat selection by Caribbean coral larvae
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Valerie Paul, Head Scientist, Smithsonian Marine Station
As natural habitats are increasingly lost or degraded, there is a need to determine the mechanisms that organisms use to locate suitable habitats and to identify if adaptation is possible to new or altered locations. The importance of chemical cues during the settlement process is becoming well recognized for many invertebrate larvae, including coral larvae; however, the chemical nature of these cues is poorly understood. Coral settlement studies have mostly focused on surface-bound chemical cues and the role these play once contacted by settling larvae. Although coral larvae do not possess the same chemical detection systems or similar swimming ability as fish larvae, chemical cues can both positively and negatively influence their substrate preferences. We will describe methods developed and used to understand the types of compounds released by coral reef organisms as extracellular metabolites, with an emphasis on those compounds involved in settlement site selection by coral larvae. Understanding these chemical cues could facilitate settlement and recruitment of coral larvae for restoration purposes.
Optimizing placement of restoration projects using coral connectivity models
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
Samantha King, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
The endangered species listing of Acropora cervicornis has prompted the need for restoration. Since resources are limited, sites selected for restoration should not only be suitable for outplant survival, but also contribute larvae to replenish surrounding reefs. However, coral larval dispersal patterns and reef connectivity remain poorly studied. Here, we measured long term larval survival and competency of Acropora cervicornis to calibrate a high resolution (100m) biophysical larval dispersal model of Acropora in the Florida Reef Tract. The resulting connectivity matrix was used to develop a metapopulation model to identify areas of higher interest to restore and protect. Larvae experienced high mortality during early development, but once the planula stage was reached, mortality rates decreased considerably. Larvae reached competency after day 5. The model predicts that most larvae are lost from the system, but the ones that settle are primarily transported from south to north. However, some of the northernmost reefs can still act as sources, with eddies pushing larvae southward. Reefs within the Middle Keys are some of the most important larval sources within the system and thus should be prioritized for restoration. Reefs with high self-recruitment, such as some in the Lower and Upper Keys, should be prioritized for protection, as they are more isolated and thus vulnerable to disturbance. More importantly, this model allows managers to compare the capacity of suitable sites for restoration to recolonize other reefs through sexual recruitment. Taking reef connectivity into account would enhance genetic diversity, hasten coral recovery, and boost resilience across the entire reef system.
Prioritizing sites for coral restoration using ecological parameters and social benefits
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Rob Brumbaugh, Senior Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Coral restoration is gaining momentum globally in response to stressors such as bleaching and disease. Along with restoring threatened species and ecological condition of reefs, there is growing interest from a variety of sectors for restoration that supports specific social benefits (e.g., tourism). This has implications for restoration as site selection will vary substantially as we prioritize different benefits. Ecological parameters such as bathymetry, historic distribution and abundance, temperature and light conditions are important for maximizing the likelihood of survival and growth of out-planted corals. Additional factors come into play when selecting sites specifically to return benefits like wave attenuation, local fisheries, or tourism. Global and regional-scale models that predict the spatial availability of such social benefits have been developed for different geographies through the Mapping Ocean Wealth initiative, an ongoing effort to develop spatially-explicit and quantitative data on a range of ecosystem benefits for a range of habitat types. This information is increasingly high-resolution, and innovative new tools are being developed in tandem to enable environmental managers to predict the changes in societal benefits that could be associated with reef loss or reef recovery in specific locations. Resource constraints in the conservation and management community demand smart investments, and the return on investment is an important consideration for both policy makers and business leaders of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations alike. Spatially-explicit models that link various coral reef attributes (location, vertical relief, coral cover) to social can be used to assess return on investment (ROI) and other socially-relevant metrics under different scales and timeframes of restoration investment. These models can also be used to test assumptions and trade-offs among different management actions. For example, maps of fishing impact and fish biomass in Micronesia allow the comparison of the increases in standing stocks from reducing fishing versus increasing coral cover in any 1 ha reef area in the region, and potentially the ROI of each management action. Looking forward, we suggest that analysis of social benefits and potential tradeoffs can attract new restoration investment that supports multiple objectives and outcomes.
AT WHAT SIZE DOES A POCILLOPORA CORAL FULLFILLS ITS ECOLOGICAL ROLE IN A REEF?
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Irene Antonina Salinas-Akhmadeeva, Student/Project Technician , Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México / Universidad Autónoma De Baja California Sur
The success of restoration efforts is usually measured on the basis of coral survival and growth rates, but that approach may be improved by taking in consideration specific evaluations of the ecological role that transplanted colonies play in the reef. Corals are ecological engineers and offer shelter to numerous species, and also provide food in form of mucus; these functions are in direct relation to the size of the colony, and thus it is relevant to determine the minimum size that a fragment needs to fulfill its role in a reef. The objective of the study was to detect the size that colonies of naturally settled Pocillopora spp. require to host a full set of associated reef fishes, and use that information as a proxy indicator of success for restoration projects. The study was carried out at three locations in the southern Gulf of California, Mexico. We measured the largest diameter, perpendicular diameter and height in cm of 1,144 colonies, and calculated its volume; at the same time, visual censuses of associated fish were conducted observing individuals inside the colonies or in a perimeter of 30 cm around them. From these data, fish richness and abundance were calculated, and these response variables were introduced in non-linear regression models to determine the minimum volume that a colony should have to reach its maximum number of individuals and species richness (considering this as a measure of ecological functionality). The resulting models presented an asymptote, and we estimated that the volume that a Pocillopora colony requires to have its complete fish collection is between 30,000 and 40,000 cm 3, which according to local estimations of growth rate represents an approximate age of 6-7 years. We suggest that managers apply these results to plan more efficient restoration efforts.
Demographic Models as a Tool for Predicting Coral Restoration Success
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Geoffrey Cook, Assistant Professor, Department Of Biology And National Center For Integrated Coastal Research, University Of Central Florida
To predict restoration success requires an understanding of the factors influencing growth and survivorship of coral species. Here we use empirically-derived matrix population models to generate estimates of stage-specific growth, survivorship, and fertility for Acropora palmata, A. cervicornis, and Orbicella annularis inhabiting the wider Caribbean. Growth and survivorship data were generated from repeated benthic transect surveys spanning from 2011-2015, while estimates of fertility were generated with a meta-analysis of the relevant primary literature. Preliminary results suggest that O. annularis in the wider Caribbean is experiencing declines of ~4% per year (lambda = 0.96), and in terms of future population growth, survivorship of individuals within the two smallest size classes (i.e.
Evaluating Acropora palmata restoration sites in the Mexican Caribbean
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Sergio D. Guendulain Garcia, Research Technician, Integrated Reef Conservation Research Lab, ICMyL, UNAM
The goal of restoration programs is to ensure long-term success. In Mexico, coral restoration programs began 12 years ago, nevertheless, there is no reliable information on the location and characteristics of the restoration sites, and no monitoring data post out-planting. To determine if there are any interactions between the characteristics of out-planting sites and the condition of A. palmata recruits, we evaluated 18 sites where restoration had taken place. For sites restored with sexual recruits, we evaluated 50% of the restored area using 1 by 1 m randomly-placed quadrats, whereas for sites restored with fragments, we evaluated 10% of the total area, using 2 by 10 m randomly-placed transects. In both cases, we assessed the condition of the recruits by registering mortality, overgrowth, predation, and out-planting density. Additionally, we recorded benthic composition and water depth. Using these parameters, we developed a restoration status index. The use of coral fragments has been the most common practice (91% of evaluated sites), while restoration utilizing sexual recruits is notably less (6% of evaluated sites), and in one case, a combination of both techniques was used. According to the restoration status index, most of the restoration areas are in poor condition due to high mortality. In most cases, it is unclear whether this is due to the out-planting techniques that were used or due to degradation of the environment after the out-planting. Regardless of the technique that has been applied, all the restoration efforts to date have been applied on a small scale. Given that the actual area of Acropora spp. that has been lost is orders of magnitude higher than the restoration areas, there is an urgency to upscale coral restoration and to increase the success of restoration programs by better understanding the conditions that could favor out-planting of sexual recruits and fragments.
The Coral Cloud: Crowdsourcing the genetic banking of Florida’s imperiled corals
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Florida’s corals have suffered tremendous recent declines from climate change (bleaching) and disease, and there is an urgent need to safeguard remaining genotypic diversity from further loss. Because gametes cannot yet be reliably collected and/or cryopreserved, field gene banks must be created to preserve remaining diversity. Current efforts focus on doing this in coral nurseries or large land-based facilities, but an alternative approach leverages the enormous growth of the reef aquarium industry over the last 25+ years, which has created a highly skilled nationwide community of reef aquarists who can be enrolled to maintain and propagate Florida’s valuable coral genetic resources. Priority coral species and genotypes collected by federal and state agencies can be transported to a National Resource Facility “hub” in Miami that fragments and distributes (“uploads”) these genotypes to the network (the “Coral Cloud”). In turn, using an app-based technology platform, the Cloud shares data and photos on growth rate, wound healing, survivorship, and susceptibility to bleaching/disease, which can then be used to inform subsequent genome-enabled experiments on these curated genotypes at the Miami hub. This approach leverages vast yet unexploited expertise in coral husbandry to help solve the problem of how to conserve genotypes long-term at low cost across a dispersed network of ex situ facilities, and could also be used to crowdsource other problems (such as how to improve the long-term survivorship and grow-out of coral recruits) by challenging the Coral Cloud to identify and test novel solutions. The Coral Cloud represents a radical departure from established coral reef conservation practices, but such approaches are now needed to help confront Florida’s growing crisis. In addition, by enrolling an untapped public resource to help coral reef conservation in a meaningful way, the Coral Cloud represents a tremendous opportunity to engage in outreach, activism, and citizen science nationwide.
14:00 - 17:30
Town Hall South
The Big Picture: Restoration and Management at a System Level
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Nathan Cook, Marine Scientist, Reef Ecologic
Lisa Boström-Einarsson, Research Scientist, TropWATER, James Cook University
Deepak Sathyanarayan, Biomedical Research Engineer, Aptima, Inc.
Daniel Harrison, Research Fellow, University Of Sydney
Lauren Toth, Research Oceanographer, USGS
Linda Wegley Kelly, Researcher, San Diego State University
Mark Ladd, PhD Student, University Of California Santa Barbara
David Vaughan, Manager, Mote /Plant-A-Million-Corals
Ana Giro, Guatemalan Coordinator, Healthy Reefs For Healthy People
Melanie McField, Director, Healthy Reefs For Healthy People, Smithsonian Institution
CLAUDIA PADILLA SOUZA, INAPESCA CRIP PUERTO MORELOS, INAPESCA CRIP PUERTO MORELOS
Les Kaufman, Professor, Program Lead For Coupled Human And Natural Systems, Boston University
Moderators
Melanie McField, Director, Healthy Reefs For Healthy People, Smithsonian Institution
Lauren Toth, Research Oceanographer, USGS
This session will include talks on big-picture ideas for guiding restoration with the goal of restoring ecological functions and ecosystem services.
The history of reef restoration
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Nathan Cook, Marine Scientist, Reef Ecologic
Documenting the history of reef restoration is important because it allows us to understand our past and be more informed to take action in the future. The great men and women in our history were innovators who responded to crisis and went against convention. In the early 1900’s there was pioneering research on oyster transplantation in America. The earliest published research on coral transplantation methods we found was from the 1928-29 Great Barrier Reef Expedition. Research on coral farming methods started again in 1974 and became global by 2000. One of the early pioneers of transplanting corals in the 1980s and most prolific scientists in the academic literature was Dr Austin Bowden-Kerby. In the early 2000’s Tom Moore, NOAA, Ken Nedimyer CRF and Caitlin Lustic, were the prime movers developing Acropora nursery techniques. The Mote Marine Laboratory pioneered new methods including micro fragmentation with claims coral growth up to 50 times natural rates. The early leader in management of reef restoration was NOAA who developed legislation in 1973 to protect and restore habitats. This led to small and large-scale repair of coral reefs damaged by ship accidents. Reef restoration communicators are authors of books, manuals, scientific papers as well as photographs, films, TED talks and underwater art. The notable people in this field include Margos (1974), Jaap (2000), Precht (2006) and Edwards (2010) who wrote manuals for practictioners and scientists. There are several popular (over 1 million views) TED talks by scientists such as Kristen Marhaven and artist Jason deCaires Taylor. The business of reef restoration originated in aquaculture and has also covers insurance, conservation and tourism. The Nature Conservancy, Coral Restoration Foundation and Mars Foundation are international leaders in coral restoration. In 2017 the Reef Restoration Foundation deployed Australia’s first coral nursery at Fitzroy Island. The cumulative global area of reef restoration is unknown and difficult to measure. The costs of reef restoration are estimated at $1.6-6.4M per hectare. The participation, number, area, scale and diversity of reef restoration projects appear to be increasing rapidly.
Coral restoration in a changing world - a comprehensive review of coral restoration methods used by scientists, experts and managers - PART II
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Lisa Boström-Einarsson, Research Scientist, TropWATER, James Cook University
Coral reefs are increasingly under threat from anthropogenic disturbances, and live coral cover has been declining around the globe for the past decades. Halting this trend will require a multi-faceted approach across several scales using a wide variety of responses. Large-scale solutions like curbing climate change, improving water quality and reducing pollutants in oceans are critical for the persistence of coral reefs. However, these tend to be slow to implement and require large-scale commitment at the government level. This has led to a growing interest in direct interventions on coral reefs, in particular outside the scientific community. Citizen scientists, tourism operators and NGO’s have implemented hundreds of small-scale coral restoration projects around the world’s coral reefs, often with very little financial backing or scientific support. This disconnect between the scientific community and coral restoration practitioners represents a lost opportunity for both groups. To mitigate this, we reviewed the current scientific literature describing coral restoration methods, surveyed coral restoration practitioners and scoured the internet for descriptions of methods published in non-traditional channels. Here, we present the results from this comprehensive review of methods, and share technical lessons learned and key issues to look out for concerning each of the main methods. In this talk, we use the online interactive visualisation and database we developed to share that information in a layered approach with scientists, managers and practitioners.
Engineering Approaches to Problem Solving
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Deepak Sathyanarayan, Biomedical Research Engineer, Aptima, Inc.
The environmental crisis faced by scientists and policy makers today is complex, and relentless. Deconstructing these intractable problems into smaller design questions is a common, yet powerful, tool in solving many contemporary, interdisciplinary hurdles. While technological innovation is beneficial, development done in isolation often leads to inoperational or ineffective solutions. Rather, understanding the crossover between stakeholder input and ecosystem needs is critical in creating a workable design space. Only then can engineering-based approaches allow for rapid development of holistic solutions via step-by-step pipelines to dissect, assess, and solve problems. This presentation aims to guide the audience through the analytical processes and lines of questioning used by engineers to take on highly convoluted socio-technical problems and intelligently define design metrics that ultimately guide technology development and the success of an intervention. Through real-world case examples and discussion, attendees will have the opportunity to learn and adapt these problem solving protocols to their own reef conservation efforts. Presentation authors are practicing mechanical and biomedical engineers who have translated these approaches to ongoing reef restoration technology efforts with the support of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Marine Cloud Brightening - A potential bleaching mitigation
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Daniel Harrison, Research Fellow, University Of Sydney
Marine cloud brightening is an intervention which could potentially mitigate bleaching of heat stressed coral reefs. The proposal is that providing additional cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) in the form of nano sized salt crystals derived from evaporated sea water droplets to the marine boundary layer will increase the reflectivity of low lying marine stratocumulus clouds. By increasing the cloud albedo, incoming shortwave solar radiation reaching the sea surface is reduced, with the integrative effect that over some days to months ocean mixed layer temperatures are lowered compared to otherwise. A potential synergistic benefit is decreased irradiance (shading) during times of heat stress. The response of the Great Barrier Reef hydrodynamic heat flux budget and coral biological response to scenarios of various intensities and scales of imposed cloud brightening is considered using the CSIRO developed eReefs biogeochemical ocean model. Reduction to the shortwave radiation input term is partially offset by reductions in longwave radiation, sensible heat flux, and latent heat flux loss terms, resulting in net cooling. The reduction in sea surface temperatures achieved is found to depend on the amount of suitable cloud cover (the first and second indirect aerosol effect), concentration and reflectivity of aerosols (the direct aerosol effect) and is a function of the amount of time a given water parcel spends under ‘brightened cloud’. Thus, there are regional and inter-annual differences in both hydrodynamic and biological response to cloud brightening.
Optimizing coral-reef restoration to balance carbonate budgets: insights from the fossil record
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Lauren Toth, Research Oceanographer, USGS
Over thousands of years, corals build complex geological structures that serve as the foundations for a myriad of critical ecosystem services. Ensuring that both ecological and geological reef functions are maintained is, therefore, critical to designing effective coral-reef management and restoration programs. Using the fossil record captured in reef cores collected throughout the Florida Keys reef tract, we provide a geological perspective on the management of Florida’s coral reefs with respect to processes like carbonate production and reef accretion. We show that reef growth has been negligible throughout the region for at least the last 3000 years, leaving Florida’s reefs balanced at a tipping point between reef accretion and erosion. Unfortunately, the modern declines in coral populations have pushed many reefs past that threshold, triggering reef erosion and the structural decline of Florida’s reefs. Most restoration efforts to date in the western Atlantic have focused on Acropora cervicornis, which provides valuable habitat in the short-term, but contributes minimally to carbonate production and reef building in the long-term. We show that over the last 10,000 years, two corals—Acropora palmata and Orbicella spp.—were the primary reef-building species in south Florida, accounting for ~75% of the reef structure built throughout the Florida Keys reef tract. We suggest that focusing coral-restoration on reef-building taxa like A. palmata, Orbicella spp., and other massive corals, will optimize the outcomes of coral-reef management by mitigating reef erosion and promoting the growth of lasting reef structure.
Invisible engineers: Predicting reef futures by determining microbiome structure at competitive interaction zones
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
Linda Wegley Kelly, Researcher, San Diego State University
The interfaces between coral and algal holobionts represent the battle front of fierce competition for space on the reef. Growth of one holobiont over another at these interaction interfaces determines the benthic community structure on reefs. Coral-algal interaction zones frequently promote higher microbial respiration rates. This enhanced microbial activity and concomitant depletion of oxygen at interfaces creates a microenvironment that often reaches hypoxic levels known to harm corals. This microbial-mediated oxygen depletion provides a competitive advantage to benthic algae at interaction zones. The organic exudates released by fleshy macroalgae have also been shown to select for potential coral pathogens; further implicating microbial processes in algal competition over coral holobionts. Resolving the connection between coral microbiome structure and distinct algal competitors is critical for effective management and restoration of coral reef systems.
Harnessing ecological processes to facilitate coral restoration
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Mark Ladd, PhD Student, University Of California Santa Barbara
Despite widespread increases in coral outplanting around the globe, few studies focus on the effects of coral restoration on reef communities or important ecosystem functions like herbivory and coral predation. Here, we measured the impact of coral restoration at four reefs in the Florida Keys, USA, ranging from 2-11 years of coral outplanting. To move beyond focusing on outplanted corals, we examined differences in three major criteria: diversity, community structure, and ecological processes, via paired surveys of restored sites where corals had been outplanted and unmanipulated control sites. Coral restoration successfully enhanced coral populations, increasing coral cover 4-fold compared to control sites. Surprisingly, there were few changes in the coral and fish communities with restoration. Some restored sites had higher abundance of herbivorous fish, higher rates of herbivory, or more juvenile-sized corals, but these effects were limited to individual reefs. Higher densities of territorial damselfishes in restored sites emerged as the consistent difference in fish communities. Corallivorous snails were 1.6x more abundant on corals in restored sites compared to control sites, and disease and mortality were more prevalent in restored areas. Thus, despite successfully augmenting target populations, coral restoration at these sites does not appear to have facilitated positive feedbacks that help reinforce coral success. Although coral restoration can successfully boost the cover of corals at degraded sites, additional restoration strategies are likely needed to realize community-level benefits of coral restoration and restore key functions like herbivory. We advocate for harnessing ecological processes that drive community dynamics on coral reefs in a way that facilitates the establishment and growth of restored corals. Drawing on decades of coral reef ecology research and lessons learned from the restoration of other ecosystems, we posit that restoration practitioners can control factors such as the density, diversity, and identity of transplanted corals; site selection; and transplant design to restore positive feedback processes – or to disrupt negative feedback processes – in order to improve restoration success. Ultimately, we argue that coral restoration should explicitly incorporate key natural processes to exploit dynamic ecological forces and drive recovery of coral reef ecosystems.
Scaling up coral production for restoration and lowering the costs for out-planting: New technologies and alternatives
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
David Vaughan, Manager, Mote /Plant-A-Million-Corals
Conference Theme: Restoration Operations: best practices, techniques and tools for scaling up Scaling up coral production for restoration and lowering the costs for out-planting: New techniques and alternatives Aquaculture production for marine organisms has always evolved using a three step system of a: Hatchery; Nursery and Field out-planting. Hatcheries have always been land-based, but nursery systems have usually utilized both a land-based system or a field-based system or both. The majority of coral restoration systems have evolved starting with only field-based systems using asexual fragmentation and transporting to field based sites for manual out-planting. Recent successes with land-based nurseries have allowed for implementing more of the massive species thru technologies such as “micro-fragmentation” and have also provided a platform for implementing sexual reproduction into the mix. Increases in the overall production numbers also resulted in a drastic lowering of the costs per unit coral. The use of a land facilities provides also for including sexual reproduction to diversify genotypes plus provide new tissue for asexual reproduction with micro-fragmentation. The utilization of both a land nursery for a shorter period coupled with a field nursery also increases the production capacity and lowers labor costs and the time in the land-based nursery. The hybridization of a first field nursery stage next to the final outplanting site for a “double-cutting” could be the exponential expansion of final out-plants with drastically reducing labor costs. By following these standard methods developed for other marine organism aquaculture production, coral propagation for restoration can optimize both costs and labor to enable production at scale.
Collaborative Monitoring, Adaptive Management and Restoration to Improve Ecosystem Health in the Mesoamerican Reef
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Ana Giro, Guatemalan Coordinator, Healthy Reefs For Healthy People
The Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) is an international collaborative program, involving 73 coral reef-focused research, management and conservation organizations, that has developed and implemented a comprehensive framework for evaluating and improving large-scale reef health, through a science-based adaptive management process in the Mesoamerican Reef. Over the last decade, HRI and partners have produced five Report Cards that summarize reef health -which ranks measured values for: coral cover, macroalgal cover, herbivore and commercial fish biomass at over 300 sampling sites. The HRI/AGRRA database has been instrumental in establishing restoration sites and will help evaluate their efficacy. HRI and AGRRA work actively to promote sharing standardized monitoring data and promptly are launching the MAR Data Explorer. The explorer is helping us better understand large scales processes such as benthic community shifts, herbivory, disease dynamics, as well as structural components like coral species diversity and coral cover. In addition, these data provide important insights to help identify the best sites that have potentially resistant or resilient corals, in order to locate healthy donors colonies for restoration programs. The HRI is an active part of the steering committee of the Restoration Network for the Mesoamerican Reef, this network has been formed mainly to strengthen and advance reef restoration efforts in the region, utilizing a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, following the approach that the HRI has had for the past years. A strategic action plan for 2019-2020 has been finalized with the main goals being to position the network as a regional advisory entity for marine ecosystem restoration, develop an outreach and communication platform and fundraise plan to make the network self-sufficient. The Network is also participating in implementing an insurance model for prioritized reefs in the MAR mainly focusing on hurricane damage. For the model sites are being prioritized based on: ecosystem data (HRI reef indicators), ecosystem services, exposure to hurricanes and environmental threats. Site prioritization is set to finalize in January 2019 and cost and risk assessments have begun.
Restoring Ecosystem Health in the Mesoamerican Reef
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Melanie McField, Director, Healthy Reefs For Healthy People, Smithsonian Institution
The widespread decline of coral reefs stems from a variety of local and global stressors affecting reef structure and function. Much attention has been paid to restoring stony corals as the architects of reef structure. However, in the Mesoamerican Reef coral cover has increased over the last decade, while low herbivory and excess nutrients have led to massive proliferation of macroalgae, which threatens to compromise continued coral growth, recruitment and coral restoration efforts. HRI’s Report Cards include recommended management actions - MPAs, fisheries regulations, pollution controls and restoration efforts. Since 2008 HRI has targeted herbivory as a key ecosystem function in need of restoration, given the doubling of fleshy macroalge measured over the last decade. Initially, our focus was on the protection of parrotfish. Belize was the first to protect parrotfish in 2009, followed by the Bay Islands, Honduras in 2010, Guatemala in 2015 and Quintana Roo, Mexico in 2018, completing protection all the MAR with the exception of coastal Honduras. Despite these efforts the proliferation of fleshy macroalgae continues to increase. In order to achieve a more balanced form of herbivory, we also need to increase populations of Diadema urchins and herbivorous crabs. Therefore, two pilot studies to translocate adult Caribbean king crab into no-take zones of MPAs were recently initiated in Belize, along with Fragments of Hope, and in Mexico, along with the Fisheries Institute. The hypothesized results include a reduction of fleshy macroalgae in the patches where crabs were translocated. A collaboration of NGO researchers and local fisher cooperatives could produce viable income generation venture with ecological benefits from reseeding some crabs onto the reef. Similarly we are planning similar experiments with Diadema in Honduras, in partnership with Tela Marine Station, Operation Wallacea and others. Finally, to remove ecologically ‘stuck’ macroalgal dominated communities, we are also testing the efficacy of human manual reduction of macroalgae in Mexico (with Centro Ecológico Akumal) and in Honduras (with CORAL). The ecological results of these pilot interventions, including time, costs and feasibility will be analyzed in terms of their potential for contributing to larger scale restoration of ecosystem structure and function.
Ten years of coral reef restoration in Mexico: Achievements and perspectives.
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
CLAUDIA PADILLA SOUZA, INAPESCA CRIP PUERTO MORELOS, INAPESCA CRIP PUERTO MORELOS
The National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Mexico (INAPESCA) works on a project for development biotechnology to produce coral colonies and implement actions for reef restoration. The project began in 2009; an aquarium system with controlled conditions (SCC) and small modules of marine nursery (SCM) were installed. An annual production of 350 colonies was maintained by clonal propagation and 1,500 sexual recruits settled until 2011. From 2012 to 2016 a Program for Active Restoration in Mexican Caribbean Coral Reefs was implemented in collaboration with Marine Protected Areas, Academy, and Governmental organizations, with a grant from the National Commission for Biodiversity (CONABIO). A marine nursery was installed in a sandy area with capacity for 1,500 colonies. Outdoor semi-controlled open seawater system and natural light (SCE) was installed within facilities. An annual production of 2,000 colonies by clonal propagation from 8 species (Acropora palmata, A. cervicornis, Orbicella annulata, Orbicella faveolata, Montastraea cavernosa, Undaria agaricites, Porites porites, and Dendrogyra cylindrus) and 10,000 settled Acropora palmata sexual recruits was achieved; the first microfragments production of 2,500 colonies was obtained. Four sites have been successfully restored: coral coverage reached 14%, environmental heterogeneity increased, and the number and biomass of fish community doubled. Colonies of Acropora palmata out-planted in 2011 have been spawning massively since August 2016. Current project (2017-2022), with grant by local government, aim to develop new active restoration programs to: scaling up coral production (goal of 260,000 colonies) through micro-fragmentation techniques, identify successful genotypes for reef restoration and maintain genetic banks, hybrid restoration to build coral colonies that reach both, size and sexual maturity, faster than naturally, and to establish a network of functional restored areas to serve as a source of supply. Finally, a specific monitoring program is being tested to evaluate changes in structure and function during the restoration process
Restoration Goals: How Do We Know When We’re Done?
17:15 - 17:30
Presented by :
Les Kaufman, Professor, Program Lead For Coupled Human And Natural Systems, Boston University
We are working in Belize to restore the full suite of coral reef attributes and services on shallow lagoonal reefs and reef crests. Here, acroporid replacement works at otherwise recalcitrant sites, with results similar to nearby natural regeneration. Success is greatest in shallow waters when coolest and corals are sexually less active, minimizing stress and facilitating colony attachment. Experiments can reveal what works best: (1) single species restoration of fast-growing acroporids or (2) replacement of a suite of preexisting species that trend toward the original hard coral community. Reef habitats vary in depth, location and species composition so restoration should vary accordingly. In Florida framework-building species are essentially on life support while in Belize cover is higher and there is some spontaneous regeneration. Nonetheless, Florida could still restore a valuable veneer reef, whereas in Belize it may be possible to restore entire reefs, re-establishing rugosity, carbonate accretion, upward reef growth and shoreline protection. Restoration goals should match the desired suite of ecosystem services for recovery, for example: single species demographic security (as for endangered species), biodiversity maintenance, aesthetic quality, fish habitat quality, carbonate accretion, current shoreline protection, and upward reef growth keeping pace with sea level. Natural patterns of community recovery may differ from current restoration practices depending on site. The implications of this should be examined, as for example in the outplanting of framework-builders on bare reef rock versus degraded reef rich in persistent non-framework builders such as Porites astreoides, because these could possibly contribute to the natural regeneration of framework-builders. Alternative successional pathways, (e.g. toward Acropora palmata versus Agaricia tenuifolia reef crest on Atlantic Mesoamerican reefs) suggest that we might need to guide succession after outplanting. Coral restoration is most practical in shallow, sheltered, well-grazed waters where biophysical and social factors are favorable and values to people are most readily apparent.
14:30 - 17:15
Pelican West
Size Matters! Advances in Microfragmentation for Reef Restoration
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Christopher Page, Senior Biologist, Mote Marine Laboratory
Brian Reckenbeil, Biologist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
David J Gonzalez Vazquez, Techinician Researcher, INAPESCA CRIAP PUERTO MORELOS
David Gulko, Director, Hawaii Coral Restoration Nursery, Hawaii Dept Of Land & Natural Resources, Division Of Aquatic Resources
Deanna Soper, Assistant Professor, University Of Dallas
Gammon Koval, Undergraduate Research Intern, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
JAIME GONZÁLEZ-CANO, Researcher , Instituto Nacional De Pesca Y Acuacultura
Ken Nedimyer, Manager, Reef Renewal
Lisa Carne, Executiver Director/Founder, Fragments Of Hope
Moderators
David Gulko, Director, Hawaii Coral Restoration Nursery, Hawaii Dept Of Land & Natural Resources, Division Of Aquatic Resources
David Vaughan, Manager, Mote /Plant-A-Million-Corals
These talks all have a focus on using microfragmentation in coral restoration.
Land based coral culture and its role in building resilience in active coral restoration
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Christopher Page, Senior Biologist, Mote Marine Laboratory
To date coral restoration has focused disproportionately on branching species in large scale outplanting projects. These species are chosen because they fragment readily, have fast growth rates, and cover large areas in short periods of time. Unfortunately these traits are linked to species susceptible to thermal stress events. Conversely, massive corals are overlooked because of their slow growth rates, despite many being categorically less susceptible to bleaching stress. Additionally, large scale restoration relies primarily on asexual propagation to produce large clones of few individuals. These clones are established in a diversity of locations but new genetic material is never created during this process. These components are often not included in restoration plans because of difficulty producing such diverse outplants at scale. However, through the use of land based coral nurseries and advancement in methodology including processes such as microfragmentation, unprecedented success with massive species as well as early coral recruits has allowed Mote Marine Laboratory to focus on building resilient reefs rather than replacement alone
Boulder coral propagation: a comparison of in situ nursery techniques
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Brian Reckenbeil, Biologist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
As coral reef communities throughout the Caribbean continue to degrade, in situ coral nurseries have become a common means to support their restoration. Such efforts have predominately focused on the propagation and restoration of the once-prolific elkhorn and staghorn corals (Acropora spp.) and techniques for growing and outplanting these corals have been thoroughly investigated. Here, we evaluated the suitability of incorporating boulder coral species into in situ nursery propagation efforts to support coral reef restoration activities. We compared the effects of different coral mounting and maintenance techniques on the growth and survival of fragments of three boulder coral species, Montastraea cavernosa, Orbicella faveolata, and Pseudodiploria clivosa. Survival at one-year post-fragmentation was >90% and did not differ significantly across treatment combinations. Growth rates of P. clivosa were significantly higher than M. cavernosa and O. faveolata. Coral colonies mounted on concrete modules located on the seafloor grew faster than those mounted on PVC/fiberglass trees suspended in the water column. Removal of the fouling community surrounding each coral did not significantly affect coral growth or survival. Our results show that the three boulder corals tested can be propagated in offshore nurseries and require little maintenance. The continued refinement of boulder coral propagation can provide the information needed to incorporate boulder corals into coral reef restoration programs.
Scaling-up production of massive coral (Orbicella annularis Ellis, 1786) tissue using microfragmentation and fusion techniques for large scale restoration purpose.
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
David J Gonzalez Vazquez, Techinician Researcher, INAPESCA CRIAP PUERTO MORELOS
Microfragmentation is a technique recently developed to accelerate the growth of coral colonies in culture, through cuts of less than 1 cm², with high regenerative capacity. The production of microfragments of the same genotype allows the fusion during their growth, which offers an advantage to increase their size and share resources, which results in greater competitiveness to occupy space and increase their reproductive capacity. The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute of Mexico (INAPESCA) currently maintains a standardized production of 1,000 microfragments per month of the massive coral Orbicella annularis, with an initial size between 1cm² to 4cm² of irregular surface, which reach their sizes of 2cm² to 6cm² in 4 months, achieving an increase of its initial area. In order to maximize tissue production in 8x8 cm plates, an experimental design was implemented to evaluate tissue accumulation based on 3 different arrangements that vary in the number of microfragments, distance between fragments and their distribution. These factors were considered for 2 different genotypes and the effect of the perimeter cut is evaluated as a strategy to enhance their growth. To calculate the area and volume, 3D models were created using photogrammetry, using a Nikon Coolpix W300 camera and the Agisoft photoscan V 1.1.6 software. Initial monitoring was carried out on day 1, at 15 days and subsequently every month. The tissue accumulation curves are obtained to evaluate the coating rates in the different arrangements. The improvement of these techniques will allow to change the way of implementing the restoration actions in the reefs, since it will be possible to produce massive colonies from artificial substrates in a much shorter time than the natural ones, and even accelerate the time of sexual maturation, as well as rescue skeletons that, when covered with fabric, can continue contributing to reef accretion.
The Other Side of Coral Restoration: Slow-Growing Massive Coral Forms and Land-Based Coral Nurseries.
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
David Gulko, Director, Hawaii Coral Restoration Nursery, Hawaii Dept Of Land & Natural Resources, Division Of Aquatic Resources
Most coral nurseries focus on in-water growing of fast-growing branching species to relatively small sizes for outplanting; the State of Hawaii has recently implemented an innovative program which combines collection of small (10 cm) live massive forms of coral colonies (mostly from within public harbors); placing them into the State’s land-based Coral Restoration Nursery where they are micro-fragged and then fast-grown using advanced aquarium husbandry techniques into large-sized (42 cm and 84+ cm) massive colonies in a fraction of the time it would take to occur naturally (in Hawaii, these corals grow 1 -2 cm/year; to grow to 42 cm would take 20+ years in the wild). The resulting large colony modules are then placed onto degraded natural Hawaiian coral reefs in an effort to restore these reefs back towards their earlier ecologically-complex state. The outplanted colonies are evaluated using the State’s Coral Ecological Services and Functions Tool and the resulting offset can be used by developers and Responsible Parties to pay for coral and habitat loss incurred elsewhere in Hawaii. The result is a dynamic program to put out large, live coral colonies, paid for without large expenditures of public monies, and without the extremely long natural recovery rates (one year instead of decades) for large corals normally seen in Hawaii. The program is now expanding to focus on extremely rare coral species to re-introduce them back into the wild using similar mechanisms.
Investigation of Coral Growth at the Organismal and Molecular Levels
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Deanna Soper, Assistant Professor, University Of Dallas
Coral growth is a critical aspect to reef health, resiliency under rapidly changing environmental conditions, and restoration efforts. Although fragmenting has been occurring for many years in an effort to restore reefs, recently it was discovered that microfragmenting, the process of cutting one coral into many small pieces (~3-5 polyps), induces exponential growth. In an ongoing project investigating the growth process, two species of stony corals Acropora palmata and Orbicella faveolata microfragments were examined using timelapse photography both in a tank and under a high-powered dissecting microscope to document which tissues begin and continue exponential growth. The tissues identified will be utilized to determine if the HIPPO pathway is involved in the exponential growth process. The HIPPO pathway is a conserved signaling pathway that is known to regulate organ growth in Drosophila and mammals, including humans. We hypothesize that this conservative growth pathway is initiated upon tissue damage during the microfragmenting process. Although this is an ongoing project, available data and in-progress results will be presented.
The Microfragmentation and Outplanting of “Massive” Coral Species in Miami, Florida: Attachment type and predation influence outplant survivorship and growth
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Gammon Koval, Undergraduate Research Intern, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
While the coral gardening framework has previously focused on the propagation and outplanting of fast-growing branching species like Acropora spp, the recently adopted microfragging technique has allowed practitioners to expand the restoration toolbox to include massive and encrusting coral species. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the success of different outplanting techniques for Florida massive corals propagated using the microfragmentation technique. Over 350 corals from three main species (Orbicella faveolata, Pseudodiploria clivosa, Pseudodiploria strigosa) were microfragmented, mounted onto ceramic plugs, and allowed several weeks to recover in an off-shore nursery in Miami prior to outplanting onto three reefs. Corals growing on the ceramic plugs were outplanted using three attachment methods: cement pedestals, dead coral skeletons, and direct attachment to the substrate. Individual photos were taken of the corals at the time of deployment, after one month, and after three months. Coral survivorship varied across sites, species, and outplanting method. Reef 1 had 71% survivorship (all corals combined) over 1 month compared to Reef 2 (74%), and Reef 3 (96%). After 3 months survivorship was 64% for R1, 67% for R2, and 94% for R3, showing clearly that most of the mortality occurs within a short time after transplantation. The highest survivorship after 3 months was observed for O. faveolata, (76%), followed by P. clivosa (71%), and finally P. strigosa (46%). The largest source of mortality to the coral outplants is fish predation. A video camera deployed at the time of outplanting recorded both butterfly fish and parrotfish eating the corals hours after outplanting. In an attempt to alleviate predation, large colonies of Acropora cerviconis were planted around massive plots to provide physical protection to the new outplants by limiting fish access. Outplant method affected coral survivorship. The highest survivorship was recorded for corals mounted on cement pedestals (70%), followed by substrate (42%), and skeleton (41%). Genotype also influenced survivorship. Three genotypes of O. faveolata showed very different survivorship patterns (100%, 72%, and 14% respectively after three months). Future studies will focus on developing efficient methods to maximize coral survivorship and minimize the impacts of coral predation.
Multiple cutting technique: a challenge to the scaling up reef restoration.
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
JAIME GONZÁLEZ-CANO, Researcher , Instituto Nacional De Pesca Y Acuacultura
Reef restoration efforts show successful results in many parts of the ocean. Scale, however, has been very limited. Unfortunately reef degradation and destruction rates are going faster than expected. Scaling up restoration projects are needed to contravene the destruction tendency. The National Institute of Aquaculture and Fisheries in Mexico, together with Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, USA. are developing a new technique to increase areas of restoration in less time and less costly. To be successful, technique should speed up the outplanting of small colonies, provide high survival rates of fragments, while reducing labor and costs to the minimum necessary. Multiple-cutting technique is seeing as one first possibility to bring the outplanting to greater numbers of colonies, increasing the number of areas in less time and costs. Mainly, it consists in subdividing each fragment of live coral, from a colony previously outplanted in the sea, to produce 5 to 10 more fragments of same genotype, increasing coverage, rugosity and hence biodiversity in restoration sites. This technique responds to the need to comply the Mexican Quintana Roo State government´s goal of outplanting 262 thousands live colonies by year 2020, to mitigate the impact of tourist activities, hurricanes, groundings and climate change. The implementation and ongoing results are presented to analyze the feasibility and potential of this technique in more impacted reef areas.
Beyond the Branching Corals, Nursery and Restoration Techniques for the Massive Corals
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Ken Nedimyer, Manager, Reef Renewal
An important objective of any reef restoration program that involves replanting corals onto degraded reefs is developing the ability to not just produce reef competent corals in sufficient quantities to effect change, but to produce enough species diversity and genetic diversity to try to duplicate the diversity found on comparable healthy reefs. To meet this objective, effective techniques need to be developed to collect, propagate, grow, harvest, and outplant a variety of target coral species in close proximity to the restoration reefs. Until recently, most restoration work has focused on growing and replanting various species of branching corals, so the production and outplanting techniques that have been developed tend to be mostly applicable to branching corals. Borrowing from the techniques and lessons learned in the marine aquarium trade, scientists working at land based nurseries such as Mote Marine Lab in Summerland Key Florida have developed effective land based techniques for propagating and growing large numbers of several different species of massive corals, and have subsequently pioneered an outplant strategy that makes it possible to consider restoring these species on a large scale. This presentation will focus on techniques developed by a team at the Coral Restoration Foundation to collect, propagate and grow two species of massive corals (Orbicella annularis and Orbicella faveolata) in open ocean nurseries. The techniques and materials are similar to those developed for land based nurseries, but they have been modified so that after the initial collections are processed, all the subsequent propagation and grow-out processes are done in the field using low cost, low tech methods. The presentation will include a summary history on how the techniques were developed, along with a start to finish look at how these two species are being propagated, grown, and harvested in offshore nurseries. The techniques developed are applicable to any coral species, but are especially relevant to the non-branching coral species.
Eliminating nursery time in Belize by adapting micro-fragmenting for direct outplanting on shallow degraded reefs: Results shared on size class trials and survivorship 5-19 months.
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Lisa Carne, Executiver Director/Founder, Fragments Of Hope
In March 2017, size class experiments for micro-fragments (1-and 5-cm) were set up for two species placed on in situ nurseries (Acropora palmata and Orbicella annularis) and two species directly outplanted to the reef (A. palmata and D. clivosa) in southern Belize. Based on the first month’s initial high survival rate for micro-fragged A. palmata (100%), Fragments of Hope (FoH) also directly outplanted two size classes (1-and 5cm, N= 45 and 16, respectively) of A. palmata onto a shallow fore reef site in South Water Caye Marine Reserve (SWCMR) in April 2017. Since then, additional species have been micro-fragged for in situ nurseries (Dendrogyna cylindrus) and for direct outplanting: A. palmata (Laughing Bird Caye National Park, LBCNP N=118), SWCMR (n=267) and Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR N=954) and O. annularis (TAMR N=55). Here we report on the results to date, and discuss the nuances of calculating survival rate, when directly outplanting micro-fragged corals that are purposely meant to fuse together. FoH is currently using photo-mosaics coupled with CPCe annotation to calculate instead change in coral cover on pre-measured plots in annual surveys. Based on results to date, we are confidant direct outplanting of micro-fragged A. palmata (size classes ≥ 5cm) can rapidly speed up replenishment of large sections of shallow degraded reef in Belize, by eliminating the need for nurseries altogether for this species. We also highlight the need for targeted host genetics diversity using this method and discuss trials planned for other species in Belize and other locations outside of Belize.
14:45 - 17:15
Town Hall North
Spawning a future: assisting coral recruitment though larval propagation
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Mary Hagedorn, Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Kelly Latijnhouwers, Restoration Technician, SECORE International
Amy Wagoner Johnson, Professor, University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Keri ONeil, Coral Nursery Manager, The Florida Aquarium
Sandra Mendoza Quiroz, Restoration Technician México, SECORE International, USA.
Joana Figueiredo, Assistant Professor, Nova Southeaster
Aric Bickel, Operations Manager, SECORE International
Scott Graves, Director Of Center For Conservation, Florida Aquarium
Moderators
Aric Bickel, Operations Manager, SECORE International
Craig Dahlgren, Executive Directot, Perry Institute For Marine Science
This session focuses on various approaches using larvae for coral restoration.
Assisted Gene Flow in Caribbean Corals: 2018 Proof-of-Concept
14:45 - 15:15
Presented by :
Mary Hagedorn, Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
We demonstrated that assisted gene flow between genetically-distinct Caribbean coral populations, using cryopreserved sperm, could be a viable option to help restore coral reefs. We used frozen coral sperm from three genetically-distinct populations of the endangered coral Acropora palmata to fertilize A. palmata eggs collected in Curaçao, producing the first-ever pan-Caribbean coral crosses conducted in a laboratory. The frozen sperm that we used represented three genetically-distinct populations: Western Caribbean (Key Largo, FL), central or mixed Caribbean (Rincon, Puerto Rico) and Eastern Caribbean (Curacao). The Puerto Rico and Florida sperm samples, which had been frozen for up to 10 years, were sent to CARMABI Research Station in Curaçao from the USDA. The experimental crosses with fresh eggs consisted of four treatment groups: CUR (fresh sperm), CUR (frozen sperm), FL (frozen sperm), and PR (frozen sperm). All four categories of crosses were successful. Specifically, fertilization success ranged from 86% to 99% for CUR (fresh sperm), 32% to 88% for CUR (frozen sperm), 1% to 20% for FL (frozen sperm) and 0% to 24% for PR (frozen sperm). Embryos and larvae were reared at CARMABI in 1L polystyrene static bins and 10L conical rearing cones for up to 8 days post-fertilization. Then, thousands of swimming larvae were transported to The Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation and Mote Marine Laboratory for settlement and grow-out. Their respective settlement numbers were approximately 50% to 60%, producing over 10,000 settlers including over 3,500 settlers from CUR (frozen) sperm, 1,247 settlers from FL (frozen sperm), and 233 settlers from PR (frozen sperm). This is the largest living wildlife population ever created from cryopreserved sperm, demonstrating that cryopreservation can be an effective tool for assisted migration, assisted gene flow, and the preservation of genetic diversity to help restore and invigorate coral populations.
Can natural history studies increase the effectiveness of sexual coral restoration efforts?
15:45 - 16:00
Presented by :
Kelly Latijnhouwers, Restoration Technician, SECORE International
Restoration techniques using sexually propagated corals currently allow cost and labor efficient mass production and outplanting of hundreds of thousands of sexual coral recruits. It is becoming clear however that the effectiveness of these restoration efforts is often limited by the fact that many aspects of species’ reproductive biology and early life dynamics are unknown. For example, the reproductive mode and timing of multiple coral species are still undocumented, preventing the sexual propagation of these species. In addition, early life-history traits (e.g., embryogenesis, larval ecology, settlement preferences, post-settlement development) are extremely variable among coral species, and the implications of this interspecific variability for larval culturing are unknown and potentially demand for specie-specific culturing approaches. During the larval stage, larvae of different coral species display different settlement behaviors and prefer different surfaces for settlement. Furthermore, the recruitment success of newly outplanted settlers not only differs widely among species, but also among reef habitats for the same species. Thus, by including these species specific differences in synergy with environmental factors, current coral larval propagation methods could likely be improved. We compiled new and existing data on species-specific traits associated with the reproductive biology and early life ecology of Caribbean corals to exemplify how natural history studies could help widen the number of coral species that can be reared for restoration purposes and increase the long-term survival and growth of recruits after outplanting. We then make species specific recommendations to improve various steps of the larval rearing process, including gamete collection, fertilization, culture maintenance, site selection for outplanting and outplanting techniques. This information will be made available to coral reef researchers and restoration practitioners in the form of Species Fact Sheets, which will be updated as new data becomes available.
How can materials science help coral restoration science?
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Amy Wagoner Johnson, Professor, University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Additional co-authors: Gabriel Juarez, Bruce Fouke, Forest Rower, and Linda Wegley. Materials scientists are engineers who study how synthetic and natural materials interact with their environment, whether that be mechanical, chemical, electrical, thermal, optical, magnetic, or even biological. They design materials to perform some intended function in those environments and are credited for major technological advances in the aerospace, automotive, electronic, defense, and even health care industries. Many of the resulting products we make use of everyday. A field to which materials science has not yet significantly contributed, but has the potential to help make significant advances, is in coral restoration science. Specifically, we propose that materials science and engineering can help to tackle the fundamental problem blocking robust coral reef recovery: recruitment and survival of coral juveniles. Corals suffer from widespread recruitment failure: >98% of juveniles raised for restoration die within two years of outplanting. In this talk, I will present work we have done the past 12 years in engineered scaffolds for bone replacement and repair as a particularly relevant example of how materials research might help coral restoration. I will describe how we design, fabricate, and evaluate materials with different compositions and combine structural features at multiple length scales, from microns to centimeters, that encourage a particular biological response, like bone regeneration. Our team aims to apply these principles not only to larval recruitment and settlement, but also to shifting reef systems back toward desirable organisms (corals, coralline algae, herbivores) and away from harmful competitors (pathogens, macroalgae, turf algae, cyanobacteria). By combining materials engineering and coral restoration science, we aim to describe how substrate characteristics affect critical biological outcomes on reefs, including the factors that promote: 1) growth of photosynthetic, non-pathogenic, and other beneficial microbes, 2) coral attraction, attachment, settlement, and calcification, and 3) coral-facilitating organisms such as coralline algae.
Optimizing culture conditions for ex-situ larval rearing in recirculating aquaculture systems
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Keri ONeil, Coral Nursery Manager, The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium has consistently increased success in larval propagation in several species of Western Atlantic stony corals with approximately 50% survival after one year in the most recent years. Culture conditions were optimized through construction of aquarium systems specifically for this purpose at the Center for Conservation, the use of herbivores, regulating light exposure, and routine feeding of recruits. Ongoing projects include rearing of additional species, construction of aquaria to induce spawning in the laboratory, and rearing of recruits produced via cryofertilization and assisted gene flow. Despite the increased cost of larval rearing ex-situ, the ability to maximize survival and early growth may outweigh these costs in some cases. The addition of land-based spawning will allow genetic crosses to be conducted that would not be possible in the wild in areas where populations are greatly reduced.
Restoration using Acropora palmata sexual recruits: survival, growth and production costs under short-term and long-term nursery care.
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Sandra Mendoza Quiroz, Restoration Technician México, SECORE International, USA.
Acropora palmata is one of the major reef-building species in the Caribbean, however it is considered endangered due to global and local threats. Efforts to remedy its status have recently focused on restoration programs using sexual recruits to maintain or increase genetic diversity. Our objective is to develop low-cost, efficient techniques for upscaling sexual recruit production. We compared the survival, growth and production costs of A. palmata sexual recruits grown under short-term (< one-month) and long-term (1 to 3 years) nursery care. For short-term nursery care, we cultured three successive generations (2015-2017) in ex-situ nurseries, and out-planted them onto a severely degraded reef four-weeks post-settlement on SECORE Seeding Units. For long-term nursery care, we cultured three successive generations in ex-situ nurseries for 1 to 3 years. The colonies were then transferred to in-situ nurseries for one more year to finally be out-planted onto a reef damaged by a ship-grounding. Survival in short-term nursery care was much lower (0.01-0.02%) than for colonies produced under long-term nursery care (95-100%). Nevertheless, coral growth was three times higher after being out-planted onto the reef than under nursery conditions. Additionally, the maintenance costs of corals in long-term nursery care are considerably higher than for those maintained short-term. Upscaling the production of sexual recruits for early-stage seeding holds promise because costs are considerably reduced, however survival rates are extremely low, at least on a degraded reef in the Mexican Caribbean. A combination of ex situ cultivation during the early developmental stages coupled with seeding after the high sea surface temperatures and hurricane seasons are over may improve survival at a moderate cost. Using these techniques, seeding could then be applied at lower costs in remote areas and on a large scale.
Optimizing growth-out of newly settled sexually-produced corals in land-based nurseries
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Joana Figueiredo, Assistant Professor, Nova Southeaster
To increase genetic diversity, coral restoration needs to use sexual reproduction. However, post-settlement mortality of sexually-produced corals in nature and ex situ nurseries is typically high due to macroalgal overgrowth and sensitivity to physical parameters that are optimal for adults, such as light levels. This study aims to optimize the grow-out of sexually-produced corals in land-based nurseries by testing the effect of three easily applicable techniques in large-scale land-based nurseries: cover of corals with coarse sediment to prevent algal overgrowth and provide light protection; shading; and downward orientation. This experiment is being performed in brooders and broadcast spawning coral species. For Porites astreoides, low light levels (20 µmol photons.cm-2s-1) allowed for significantly faster growth and higher coloration during the first 4-5 weeks. After 4-5 weeks, corals grew faster and survived more at higher light levels (180 µmol photons.cm-2s-1). Downward orientation can be used in the first 4-5 weeks to reduce light levels in tanks with light levels more adequate for adult corals. Sediment reduced algal overgrowth, but after 4 weeks it had a negative effect on growth, potentially because it reduced access to food. Results with broadcast spawning species, including Acropora and Orbicella, will be available at the time of the meeting.
REGIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND TOOL DEVELOPMENT FOR LARGE SCALE CORAL RESTORATION VIA LARVAL PROPAGATION
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Aric Bickel, Operations Manager, SECORE International
Current outplanting methods for coral restoration require labor-intensive manual transplantation of each coral-substrate-unit using adhesives, nails or cable-ties. To conduct coral restoration at the needed scale, SECORE is co-leading a collaboration (with TNC and California Academy of Sciences; the Global Coral Restoration Project (GCRP)), to develop technologies and implement partnerships to reduce labor and costs, allow application of techniques in remote areas, and expand the spectrum of species restored. We primarily utilize larval propagules that are settled on designed, self-stabilizing substrates (“seeding units, SU”) that are ‘sowed’ on the reef, without artificial attachment. Based on initial tests with tetrapod-shaped substrates, we are currently testing seven new prototype substrates (3d-printed from ceramic) designed to improve survival of recruits and retention of SUs. Another approach to facilitate large-scale restoration at locations remote from land-based infrastructure aims at transferring the production process to an in situ environment. We have developed floating “pools” that are placed in sheltered sites (e.g. lagoon or dock) prior to a coral spawning event. Fertilized eggs resulting from in-situ gamete collection and in-vitro fertilization are placed directly into the pools containing SUs to complete larval development, settlement, and potentially a post-settlement nursery period with minimal labor. Upscaling of larval restoration is also facilitated by practitioner workshops centered around coral spawning events to provide hands-on experience with these developing tools and techniques and create a community of practice. We are cultivating partnerships with local organizations with commitment and capacity to implement larval restoration at expanded locations.
Video: Project Coral
17:15 - 17:30
Presented by :
Scott Graves, Director Of Center For Conservation, Florida Aquarium
Short video on Project Coral from the Horniman Museum and Gardens.
15:15 - 15:45
Town Hall Patio
BREAK
15:45 - 17:30
Sailfish Room
Monitoring Metrics Interactive Workshop
Format : Workshop
Moderators
Stephanie Schopmeyer, Associate Research Scientist, FWC/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Liz Goergen, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council/NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Patricia Kramer, Program Director, Ocean Research And Education Foundation/AGRRA
Shay Viehman, Research Ecologist, NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Alison Moulding, Manager, NOAA Fisheries
Do you conduct or manage coral restoration? Do you have monitoring data? Are your nursery and outplant data represented within the Coral Restoration Project Database? Would you like to evaluate your restoration success? Restoration practitioners, managers, and scientists are invited to a workshop that will showcase the following products: 1.An interactive Coral Restoration Project Database. Add your project to the database on the spot and try out the interactive map! 2. Evaluate the success of your project or program with a Restoration Evaluation Tool, and learn from the successes of others. 3. Learn about the upcoming Coral Restoration Monitoring Best Management Practices resource, and help us make it useful for you.
16:45 - 17:30
Heron Room
Responding to the FL Reef Tract Disease Outbreak Session 1
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
William Sharp, Research Administrator, Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Blake Ushijima, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Marine Station
Brian Walker, Research Scientist, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
Moderators
William Sharp, Research Administrator, Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Brian Walker, Research Scientist, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
Assessing the small-scale spatial epidemiology of Scleractinian Tissue-Loss Disease in the middle Florida Keys
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
William Sharp, Research Administrator, Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Presently, one of the most widespread and virulent coral disease outbreaks on record is affecting the Florida Reef Tract (FRT), resulting in the mortality of thousands of colonies of at least 20 species of scleractinian coral, including the primary reef building species. First reported near Key Biscayne FL during 2014, this outbreak, recently described as “Scleractinian Tissue-Loss Disease” (TLD), progressed southward along the FRT and by December 2017 had reached the middle Florida Keys. In January 2018, we established experimental “sentinel” plots in the middle Florida Keys that were disease-free, but just south of affected areas, to monitor the disease’s spatial progression, assess size and species-specific disease susceptibility and progression rates, and evaluate its small-scale spatial epidemiology. We established two plots each at four locations ranging from 25m2 to 100m2 in area and in each, measured and mapped the location of each coral colony. In all, we identified and monitored more than 1,350 coral colonies representing 23 species. At two-week intervals, each colony was assessed for the presence of disease and, if diseased, estimated the percentage of the colony affected. TLD was first observed during February 2018 and by March was evident at all sites. Among those species that were sufficiently abundant, a species-specific pattern was evident. M. meandrites initially exhibited the highest prevalence, followed by Dichocoenia stokesii, Colpophyllia natans, and Pseudodiploria strigosa, then followed by Orbicella faveolata and Montastraea cavernosa. No size-specificity in the rate of disease occurrence was evident across the species examined. Additionally, preliminary analyses revealed that coral colonies were randomly distributed at seven of the eight experimental plots, but no intra- or inter-specific spatial patterns in disease progression were evident. We are currently refining this analysis to incorporate possible temporal dynamics, but presently it appears that the spatial dynamics of TLD is occurring at a scale larger than our experimental plots.
Investigation of potential etiological agents and biological controls of a coral disease outbreak on Florida Reefs.
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Blake Ushijima, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Marine Station
Currently, there is a widespread coral disease outbreak occurring on the reefs of Florida that has resulted in significant mortalities of 11 of the 24 species surveyed. This unprecedented outbreak provides a unique but time-sensitive opportunity to address critical questions about coral disease. This project examined potential etiological agents as well as putative probiotic microorganisms that could be used to treat or prevent infections. Transmission occurred during manipulative aquarium studies between diseased Montastraea cavernosa from the Fort Lauderdale area or Colpophyllia natans from the Keys and healthy fragments. Therefore, diseased fragments were treated with antibiotics to determine if a bacterial pathogen is involved. Disease progression was halted in 12 out of 13 diseased M. cavernosa fragments with a combinational amoxicillin/kanamycin treatment. Colpophyllia natans was less tolerant of combinational treatments while disease progression was comparatively faster with this species, however, treatment with nalidixic acid was able to slow or arrest disease progression in five out of eight fragments. Accordingly, bacteria were important for disease progression, so isolates from diseased M. cavernosa, C. natans, and Meandrina meandrites were tested for virulence during laboratory infection experiments. Various Vibrionaceae, Alteromonadales, and Rhodobacteraceae isolates are suspected to be pathogenic and are currently being investigated. In parallel to this work, bacterial isolates were cultured from fragments seemingly resistant to disease and then screened for antibacterial activity to isolate potential protective bacteria (probiotics). When one of these isolates, Pseudoalteromonas tunicata strain McH1#7, was inoculated onto diseased C. natans, disease progression was significantly slowed in three of six fragments. Subsequent NMR analysis of McH1#7 extracts identified the antibiotic korormicin while genome sequencing predicts the production of the antibacterials marinocine and tetrabromopyrrole. Further experiments are planned, which could potentially determine the etiological agent(s) responsible for this disease outbreak and potential biological controls for disease.
Interventions in a coral disease-ravaged area (Disease Condition 1 - Endemic)
17:15 - 17:30
Presented by :
Brian Walker, Research Scientist, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
The Florida Reef Tract (FRT) spans approximately 595 km along the south and southeast Florida (SE FL) coastline from the Dry Tortugas to Martin County. These reefs continue to experience a devastating coral disease event that began in 2014 and altered the population demographics, effectively eliminating several species from certain locales. Southeast Florida reefs were hit first by the outbreak and have been classified as a coral disease endemic zone. In addition, Hurricane Irma caused substantial damage to SE FL reefs and further exacerbated impacts and changes in the coral population brought on by the disease. This talk presents the latest state of the SE FL coral population, and introduces intervention objectives and tools and methodologies, and evaluates the success of real-world in situ applications. Coral disease prevalence remained high after Hurricane Irma at 5.2% in the transects and 11.4% in the roving diver surveys with 15 diseased species surveyed from 62 sites. Irma impact prevalence ranged from 5.8% in the transects to 11.6% in the roving diver surveys. Most impacts were from sediment burial (49%) and dislodging (34%). Disease intervention was prioritized on the largest reef-building corals (> 2m diameter) in the region, predominantly Orbicella faveolata. Intervention entailed covering diseased tissue margins with chlorinated epoxy and creating trenches in the skeleton between diseased and healthy tissue and filling them with chlorinated epoxy. Treatments exhibited a 46.8% success rate at stopping the disease at the margin and a 58.6% success rate at stopping the disease from crossing the trench. Methods were most effective on O. faveolata (62%) and less effective on the limited number of treated M. cavernosa (52.2%) colonies. The number of new treatments on monitored corals spiked in June, were very low in July, increased in August and September, and were low in October. Treatment timing relates to rainy season and warmer temperature onset in May and the warmest periods in late summer. Ongoing work entails monthly monitoring and treatment on priority corals, field-testing antibiotic effectiveness, and collecting gametes to rear and grow into coral recruits in a lab setting.
17:30 - 22:00
Town Hall Patio
Evening Event: Science Social with Posters, Video Storytelling & #Fieldwork Fails (Light Appetizers Provided)
Format : Poster | Reception
Presented with the support of The Henry Foundation & The Ocean Foundation! Join us for an evening of fun with science at this informal Happy Hour event!  There will be an area to explore the POSTER PRESENTATIONS in Carysfort Hall Foyer.  There will be VIDEO PRESENTATIONS in the Townhall Ballroom followed by #Fieldwork Fails: What went wrong and how you fixed it (or didn't fix it)! Light appetizers will be provided. A cash bar will be available. 
Reef restoration in Golfo Dulce, Southern Pacific of Costa Rica: Results from the first 18 months of an underwater nursery and out-planting in the eastern tropical Pacific
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Tatiana Villalobos, Raising Coral Costa Rica, Raising Coral Costa Rica
Active coral reef restoration is a fast-growing area of research around the world. The largest projects emerged from a need to accelerate the repopulation of threatened species in the Caribbean. With the increasing threat of climate change, restoration is rapidly becoming a platform for incorporating recent developments in assisted evolution, assisted migration or gene flow, and assisted fertilization and recruitment. Compared to other reefs worldwide, the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) is a region with low coral biodiversity and less-developed reef frameworks. However, the corals here persist in an environment characterized by wide fluctuations in temperature, pH and salinity. The main goal of this project is to develop sound propagation and restoration practices for the main reef-building corals in the ETP as a basis for restoring reefs with more climate-adapted corals in the future. An underwater nursery was established in Golfo Dulce, Southern Pacific of Costa Rica. A coral tree nursery was established to propagate fragments of Pocillopora spp. (n=171) massive Porites spp. (194) and encrusting Pavona gigantea (103). Survival was highest for Pocillopora spp. (87%) and P. gigantea (98%), and lowest for Porites spp. (39%). Survival and growth rates varied with orientation of the fragments and with length of time in the nursery. Surviving colonies of all species were typically ready for outplanting between 6-9 months. Three test outplantings have so far yielded high survival and growth. We will report further on these results and future research plans for this ETP coral restoration program.
Reskining artificial and natural structures with Orbicella spp. and Acropora palmata for the restoration of degraded areas.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
David J Gonzalez Vazquez, Techinician Researcher, INAPESCA CRIAP PUERTO MORELOS
Coral reefs have degraded drastically in recent decades. The impact of anthropogenic activities, in synergy with the effects of global climate change, has led to the decrease of coral coverage and the loss of roughness of the calcareous matrix, which reduces the three-dimensional structure of the relief with a consequent loss of biodiversity. The natural process of recovering damaged sites seems increasingly uncertain, and for this to happen it could take a long time. With the intention of accelerating the process of recovery of these ecosystems, various restoration strategies have been implemented, which mainly include the planting of corals, either fragments or sexual recruits. These interventions aim to achieve a direct effect on the increase of coral coverage, but the restitution of the roughness of the structure does not occur immediately. The National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Mexico is carrying out a project for the production of corals and reef restoration. In this year a constant production of micro-fragments is being maintained, based on the technique developed by Dr. David Vaughan, researcher of the MOTE Marine Laboratoy and Aquarium, in order to maximize the production of live coral tissue of Orbicella faveolta and Acropora palmata. The tissue plates produced by micro-fragmentation will be used to reskining artificial substrates, specifically designed for each species, in order to simulate larger coral colonies that provide structural complexity in the intervened sites. These new techniques will allow us to generate colonies capable of growing and reaching sexual maturity in less time than in a natural way. The success of these actions will allow the implementation of actions to restore damaged reefs in a more efficient and timely manner.
Significance of Sandcastle reef growth and distribution in the coastal water of Nevis, West Indies – A preliminary study.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Hrishikesh Srinivasan, Student, Charlestown Secondary School, Nevis, St.Kitts And Nevis, WI
Caribbean ecosystem with its diverse habitat is a goldmine for biologists, environmentalists and tourists. While the coral reefs hold extensive value as they are hotspots for diverse species, the Biogenic reefs with the sandcastle worm add to their survival. These are the Sabellariid polychaetes that live in intertidal zones, build reefs in geographically restricted areas as they have a specific limitation for their growth and survival due to the temperature, water circulation and additional external characteristics. While their distribution has been documented in the United Kingdom, Asia, Australia and parts of North and South America, their existence in the Caribbean is seen in parts of the Greater Antilles - Puerto Rico, St.Croix and Virgin Islands. It is the first time; we document and report the growth and distribution of the sandcastle reefs in Nevis, an island of Lesser Antilles. The growth and sustenance of these reefs are directly related to the underlying firm substrates, the continual washing and movement of the intertidal waters with suspended grains. The fringing coral reefs are significant to Nevis; their growth and survival directly related to the climate impact. As the sandcastle reefs in the intertidal zone provide a habitat to numerous marine organisms, their location and existence can be correlated to the coral reefs; give an insight into the climate impact on the island of Nevis. The sandcastle reefs are observed to be located in the North East coastline of Nevis, which is a haven for scuba divers and marine biologists. The aim of this study is to document the type of species in the Nevisian reefs and map their distribution. While this study will provide valuable ecological significance for the benthic and coral habitats, it will add a potential benefit to understand the impact of climate and other human activities in their growth and decline. Further study will help better understand the role of these saberilla in the maintenance of the ecosystem; and study those factors that influence the dynamics of the other reefs to promote conservation.
SmartReefs. Supporting Coral Reef Survival.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Tess Moriarty, PhD Candidate , The University Of Newcastle
Global warming, and the resultant coral bleaching events, are now considered the greatest threat to the long-term sustainability of coral reefs. Alongside the challenge of mitigating globally driven change is the potential for cumulative and synergistic impacts of local stressors such as run-off, pollution, and eutrophication in local areas. These cumulative threats are linked to high coral mortality, emergence of new diseases, reduced coral growth, reproduction, and recruitment. To ensure degraded marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, continue to survive and overcome future environmental challenges, conservation efforts coupled with local-scale restoration efforts need to be prioritised in regions where the organisms they support are identified as having the greatest capacity to continue to deliver important ecosystem goods and services. Australia is currently in the preliminary stages of developing coral reef restoration practices within the world heritage listed Marine Park. It is essential to determine how these efforts can couple with existing conservation and management practices to best ensure the future sustainability of the GBR. Whilst some coral restoration programs have been successful, coral mortality following out-planting remains very high following corals being returned to the reef this rapid loss of coral is one of the greatest constraints to reef restoration success. Understanding the underlying biological causes and environmental drivers of high mortality in restoration programs, and determining the risk they cause to adjacent natural reef systems, provides a means by which to develop optimal strategies that can support coral survival, and improve the feasibility of restoration efforts within Australia’s GBR Marine Park. We are partnering with long-term coral reef restoration world-wide, Australia’s leading coral reef research foundation The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, U.S. based UBIOME affiliated research support program, Bioplatforms Australia, and Opal Reef, to undertake a world-wide coral health assessment following transplantation of corals for restoration. Specifically, we aim to develop an integrated SmartReefs program which will determine the out- planting practices associated with coral mortality in restoration programs, develop a coral health monitoring program, and provide best practice policy advice for minimising risk in reef restoration within the GBR Marine Park.
Post-hurricane rebuilding of multi-specific ESA-listed coral assemblages through low-tech restoration efforts in Culebra Island, Puerto Rico
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Edwin Hernandez, Senior Scientist, Sociedad Ambiente Marino
Category five Hurricanes Irma and María (2017) caused extensive devastation of shallow coral reef assemblages across the Northeast Reserves System Habitat Focus Area (NER-HFA) of Culebra Island, Puerto Rico. These caused coral colony fragmentation and dislodgment across multiple species, and the nearly extirpation of shallow Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and Finger coral (Porites porites) biotopes on locations exposed to extreme wave action (10 m). Extensive fragmentation of Elkhorn coral (A. palmata), partial demolition of spur and groove structures, and the formation of sizeable rubble fields were documented across some of the most exposed reefs. There was also significant colony fragmentation and dislodgment of Pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) and Star corals (Orbicella spp.). Most of the observed damage occurred at depths shallower than 6 m. This resulted in the unprecedented opportunity of obtaining abundant fragments for micro-fragmentation and propagation in situ in low-tech coral farms of multiple Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed species. Approximately 600 colonies of D. cylindrus, 350 colonies of O. annularis and O. faveolata, 400 colonies of A. palmata, and 2,000 of A. cervicornis were initially recovered and grown between March and November 2018. Percent survival rates have remained around 98% for the three massive species, 90% for A. cervicornis, and 60% for A. palmata. Fragments of opportunity with severe sediment sandblasting showed the highest mortality rates. However, fragments with lower impacts showed rapid healing rates (< 2 months), with tissue overgrowing plastic-covered wire used to attach colonies to farming units. Also, about 400 surviving colonies of A. cervicornis grown in coral farms at depths of 13 m have been already out-planted to stabilize deep water rubble fields. These efforts will allow the unique opportunity of reintroducing multiple slow-growing, ESA-listed coral species into depleted coral reefs. It will provide the opportunity to test methods aimed at stabilizing extensive rubble fields, which represent a novel and complex restoration challenge. This will also allow implementing demographic modeling tools to address the success of reef restoration, and its integration to wave numerical models to address the role of shallow reef restoration on wave energy attenuation.
Outplanted staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) stands are similar to natural A. cervicornis stands in terms of structural complexity and fish diversity
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Alexandra Gutting, Graduate Student/Research Assistant, University Of The Virgin Islands
The staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), a branching Caribbean coral, contributes to reef ecosystems by adding structural complexity. Structurally complex reefs provide increased fish habitat and support greater fish diversity compared to reefs with less complex substrate. A. cervicornis has declined by more than 95% in the Caribbean in the last 40 years. To counter the loss of this species, conservationists are using a restoration technique in which coral fragments are grown in nurseries and transplanted (“outplanted”) to suitable reef habitat. While many studies have measured outplant success in terms of outplanted coral survival rates, this study measures success in terms of structural complexity and fish diversity at the outplant site 1-3 years after outplanting. We surveyed four outplant sites off the coast of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, with each site divided into four areas: 1) an outplanted A. cervicornis stand, 2) a natural A. cervicornis stand, 3) a coral community with no A. cervicornis near an outplanted stand, and 4) a coral community with no A. cervicornis near a natural stand. At three 5-m transects in each area, the height of the five tallest hard substrates was measured to quantify structural complexity and a fish survey was conducted to assess fish communities. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed no significant difference in structural complexity among areas. Fish diversity was quantified by calculating species richness, species evenness, the Shannon-Wiener Diversity Index, and Simpson’s Index of Diversity. When compared among areas using two-way ANOVAs and Kruskall-Wallace non-parametric tests, only the Shannon- Wiener Diversity Index showed a significant difference in fish diversity. The similarity of structural complexity and fish diversity in areas with and without A. cervicornis may be due to the high cover of Orbicella annularis, another structurally complex reef-building species, in the coral communities without A. cervicornis. Our results suggest that outplanted A. cervicornis stands provide similar structural complexity to and support similar fish communities as natural A. cervicornis stands and other coral communities with reef-building coral species. Therefore, the outplanting of A. cervicornis may be an effective tool for sustaining structurally complex reefs with diverse fish communities.
Microplastic Concentrations along the Florida Keys
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Tara Plee, Graduate Researcher, University Of West Florida
Plastic production has been continually growing worldwide due to its high durability, low cost, and light weight. Microplastics are either intentionally created, or derived from larger plastic sources via mechanical, photolytic, or chemical degradation. Microplastics can adsorb contaminants and persist in the ocean, often settling in the sediment. This may pose problems for benthic marine organisms that ingest small particles, such as sea cucumbers. Sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Holothuriida/Aspidochirotida) are deposit feeders ingesting sediment in seagrass and sandy habitats. Seagrass health is important due to its linked relationship with other marine environments, such as coral reefs. This study had two goals: first, to examine if microplastics were accumulating in seagrass sediment compared to sandy bottom sediment in the Florida Keys, U.S.A.; second, to determine if sea cucumbers Holothuria floridana, Holothuria mexicana, and Actinopyga agassizi ingested microplastics in two locations along the Florida Keys. On average, there was a higher concentration of microplastics in the seagrass habitat compared the sandy bottom areas. All three species of sea cucumbers ingested microplastics of different sizes and shapes similar to the microplastics extracted from the collected sediment, which may make them useful as a microplastic monitoring tool for marine environments.
Multi-functional systems for Coral Colonies Cultivation towards scaling-up production.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Eloy Ramirez Mata, Techinician Coral Culturing, INAPESCA CRIAP PUERTO MORELOS
Currently the Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Mexico develops the program of reef restoration in Quintana Roo. With 10 years of work in the development of biotechnology, it has been possible to consolidate a multifunctional system for coral cultivation that includes hatcheries and nurseries for coral colonies production to out-planting in damage areas. Multifunctional cropping systems have been designed to specifically address different aspects of the crop. In this way there are systems for the management of sexual recruits that include larval development, the process of settlement of larvae, and their maintenance in the different stages of development during their growth. There are also systems for the production of fragments by clonal propagation, as well as for micro-fragments and the maintenance of donor colonies. Controlled culture systems (SCC) are generally used for the breeding and settlement of Acropora palmata larvae, have temperature control, artificial light of 400 and 1000 wtts and automated 20000 ◦K for photoperiod simulation, a volume of 1100 l (4x1x.35m) and nutrient control with skimmer with capacity to hold up to (40,000) larvae or (20,000) recruits. The external culture systems (SCE) are used to maintain fragments, micro-fragments and donor colonies of different species with 2 different capacities.These systems receive natural light filtered through polycarbonate sheets of glass and smoke colour with UV filter, interleaved for a diffuse reception on the tanks. This culture system has cooling through a chiller , a Skimer and filtration system of 1μm for the main flow. On the other hand, for the marine culture systems, concrete plates were initially installed of .5x.5m and 10 cm. of thickness present in a tube of 35 cm. of height on which a 1"male adapter is assembled, containing 1 coral, and currently they are being replaced by modular PVC structures with union screws to facilitate their removal from the water and cleaning on land. Having this variety of cultivation systems allows an efficient management of production, achieving the protection of successful genotypes, the controlled management of breeding species (seedbed), as well as a control of the origin and destination of each production.
Multi-species coral restoration: Evaluating the impacts of competition from Palythoa and macroalgae on the growth and survivorship of outplanted corals
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Caitlin Lustic, South Florida Marine Conservation Manager, The Nature Conservancy
Coral reefs in Florida and the Caribbean have faced significant declines for the last 30 years. In recent years, coral restoration practices have focused on a limited number of species, chiefly Acropora cervicornis, and there is a growing need to add mounding and boulder corals to a multi-species restoration framework that resembles the natural landscape more closely. Once outplanted, small corals face space competition from faster-growing components of the benthic community like Palythoa caribaeaorum and macroalgae. Here, we quantify the impacts of such competition for space and evaluate whether maintenance (i.e., regular removal of space competitors) can enhance coral survivorship and growth. We outplanted fragments (max diameter 8cm – 18cm) of Montastraea cavernosa and Orbicella faveolata along with colonies of nursery-grown Acropora cervicornis onto a Florida reef. Colonies of each species were divided into four treatments: 1) corals outplanted in contact with macroalgae (no future maintenance), 2) corals outplanted in contact with Palythoa and macroalgae (no future maintenance), 3) corals outplanted without initial contact with Palythoa and macroalgae (15 cm radius area around coral cleaned using a wire brush at the time of deployment only); and 4) corals outplanted without contact with Palythoa and macroalgae (15 cm radius area around coral cleaned monthly). The corals were monitored monthly for 1 year and survivorship and growth determined using photographs and field measurements. Initial analyses indicate that the frequent removal of space competitors showed limited effects on coral growth and survivorship and that physical factors such as temperature may have a larger influence on coral growth than active maintenance.
Natural variability in the contribution of heterotrophic carbon to tissues of Hawaiian corals
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Alexandra Smith, Undergraduate Researcher, The Ohio State University
Coral reefs are threatened by rising seawater temperatures and ocean acidification. However, some populations of coral can cope with relatively high temperature and pCO2 conditions, which may be a function of their heterotrophic capacity. Reefs surrounding Oahu, Hawai'i, USA vary in temperature and pCO2 conditions reflective of those observed on most reefs today to those not typically expected until mid-century. We hypothesize that corals from sites with elevated seawater temperature and pCO2 will incorporate a greater proportion of heterotrophic carbon into their tissues than corals from sites representative of normal reef conditions. We measured the δ13C values in two dominant species (Montipora capitata and Porites compressa) of coral from four sites around Oahu to determine the proportionate contribution of photoautotrophic and heterotrophic carbon to coral tissues. Preliminary results show that the contribution of heterotrophic carbon to coral tissues is higher in corals from sites with elevated summertime temperatures and pCO2 conditions. These preliminary findings support our hypothesis and suggest that corals in more stressful environments have adapted to those conditions by increasing their intake of heterotrophically derived C as a mechanism to supplement nutritional needs in stressful environments. Overall, this study suggests that corals with higher capacity to incorporate heterotrophic carbon into their tissues may be good candidates for coral conservation efforts as they might have greater potential to cope with future ocean conditions.
Sunken worlds: The past and future of anthropogenic reefs in conservation
00:01 - 23:59
Anthropogenic structures submerged in the sea over thousands of years provide hard and longstanding evidence of human influence in the marine environment. Many of these structures were created for purposes such as fishing or tourism, but they may also provide unique opportunities for conservation. This potential can only be fully explored by moving beyond comparisons with "natural" coral or rocky reefs and considering them as ecosystems in their own right. In order to assess the conservation impacts of these structures and manage their future, a broad analysis of their biodiversity and social values is necessary. This requires: (1) collation of information on their number, location, characteristics, and associated biodiversity worldwide, (2) a system for their assessment in conservation, and (3) a move toward a nuanced, integrated understanding of the social and ecological roles they play. This more integrative approach can catalyse positive conversations around management of anthropogenic reefs for conservation benefit, the development of best practice guidelines and exploitation of learning opportunities for researchers and others.
Targeted Drug Delivery Through A Submerged Mucosal Membrane
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Keri ONeil, Coral Nursery Manager, The Florida Aquarium
Researchers were tasked with developing a novel method of antibiotic delivery to a submerged mucosal membrane over an extended release profile between 15-72 hours to be used for field application on scleractinian corals affected by Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Studies were conducted using dissolution vessels commonly used to monitor extended release profiles of pharmaceuticals. This was paired with the Pion UV-Vis Spectrometer which collected measurements taken hourly. ‘Hold-Fast’ studies were co-currently conducted by varying paddle speed within each vessel to simulate ocean current conditions commonly found at treatment locations. Major challenges included achieving a steady 0-order release profile of medication by means of diffusion through the delivery matrix. Successful anchoring of the matrix to the infected site, and transfer of the medication into the ailing organism. A successful ointment was created by combining a moisture sensitive volcanizing silicone matrix with carrageenan and poly ethylene oxide polymers . The resulting matrix could be modified to generate release profiles to deliver treatment to the ailing site between 1 to 3 days.
Two degrees of separation: Vertical transmission as a potential driver of transgenerational acclimation
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Maria Andersen, Student Researcher, Australian Institute Of Marine Science
Microbiota response within reef invertebrates potentially play a critical role in the holobionts environmental acclimation and ultimately the persistence of populations faced with future ocean acidification and warming. This study aimed to establish the microbial communities associated with early developmental stages of the GBR sponge, Carteriospongia foliascens and assess if vertical transmission of microbial symbionts from parents exposed to future climate conditions can be drivers of transgenerational acclimation in the early life history stages. Our results revealed a highly conserved microbial community structure across three critical points of early development of C. foliascens, indicating potential vertical acquisition of their microbial symbionts. In addition, intraspecific variation or ‘genotype effect’ was found to be a critical driver in shaping microbial assemblages present throughout the developmental stages of both ambient and experimental recruits and supports previous findings in which community stability has been seen despite stressful environmental conditions (i.e. salinity, temperature, eutrophication). The microbial similarities between experimental recruits were also found to be heavily influenced by the initial exposure of their parent sponge and highlights the potential implications on sponge population persistence via microbe mediated transgenerational acclimation. Although transplant treatments had a minimal effect on shifting community populations, we report that recruits subjected to high ocean acidification and warming conditions had higher relative abundance of Cyanobacteria than control groups which may mitigate thermal stress through higher energetic contribution to the host. Nevertheless, implications of variation in microbial community structure based on a host genotype effect must be taken into consideration for future conservation efforts and for this reason, our results highlight the necessity of considering genotype effect in which this effect can influence overall host physiology and in turn, its ability to acclimate quickly in the face of changing ocean parameters. With predicted impacts from OA and warming into the future, resolving the role of the microbial communities in facilitating acclimation and potential adaption to future conditions is currently a fundamental research focus and highlights the need for further exploration into host genotype and the implications on the interactions with its symbiotic microbiota.
Understanding priority effects and dynamics in post-restoration coral reef fish communities
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Aneri Garg, MSc Candidate, University Of Alberta
The goal of coral reef restoration is not only to enhance coral populations, but also to recover and sustain the diverse fish communities that rely on reef habitat and ecosystem services. The sequence in which species colonize new habitat is often an important determinant of long-term community structure, with early arriving species either inhibiting or facilitating future colonization; a phenomenon known as priority effects. To date, few studies have focused on understanding the role priority effects play in the long-term assemblage structure of reef dependent species following coral out-planting. By monitoring natural and out-planted coral colonies on reefs in the Upper Florida Keys, our research seeks to answer two key questions related to priority effects and community dynamics of reef-dependent organisms over time: 1) At what rate do fish colonize newly available coral habitat? 2) In what sequence do fish species arrive based on life history stage and functional group? We will address these questions by monitoring natural and out-planted colonies of Acropora cervicornis and tracking the rate and order of colonization over the weeks following out-planting. Here we present our detailed hypotheses and preliminary data from the project, as well as a timeline of research activities over the next year. This research will identify facilitative and inhibitory priority effects in post-restoration coral reef communities, which are applicable to designing future restoration projects to bolster ecosystem recovery.
Using remote sensing and environmental data to create spatial action maps for coral reef restoration.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Madeline Davey, PhD Student , The University Of Queensland
Globally, coral reefs are in decline. The intensity and frequency of disturbances have pushed coral reefs close to their thermal tolerance limit, causing over half of the world’s coral to die (Hughes et al., 2018). Yet, coral reefs form the foundations of the most diverse marine ecosystem on the planet (Hoegh-Guldberg, 1999), and remain invaluable to the world. Given the current global temperature trajectories, a toolbox of options are needed for conservation of coral reefs including coral reef rehabilitation, repair and restoration activities (Van Oppen et al. 2015). While active restoration of coral reefs holds a number of challenges, issues, and uncertainty, the need to identify suitable areas to target restoration is arguably as important as restoration techniques. Marine conservation is traditionally focused on marine protected areas (MPAs), but given the current coral crisis, efforts need to start including active efforts in restoring the reef resources (Rinkevich, 2008). Using remote-sensed high resolution maps of coral reefs in the Cairns region of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef overlayed with historical disturbance data, a spatial action map was created highlighting optimal areas where restoration can be targeted where threats are recognised and risk minimised. The application of this is transferable to reefs globally, and can assist in higher survivorship and better cost benefit outcomes. This is critical, as survivorship of coral reefs is related to inadequate site selection and stochastic events (Bayraktarov et al. 2016).
WORKSHOP #FieldworkFail: What went wrong and how you fixed it, or not
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Sarah Frias-Torres, Scientist/Researcher, Vulcan Inc
In coral reef restoration, we do not publish what failed. Which means, everybody is re-inventing the wheel at some point unaware of failed techniques or mistakes done by others. We need to share failures, so as a community of coral reef scientists and practitioners, we can learn what works and what does not work, and how to fix the problem. The #FieldworkFail tag is very popular on Twitter and a quick Google search reveals dramatic outcomes from zealous fish repositioning GoPro cameras to elephant blood samples exploding in an airplane. This is the first attempt at completing a “FieldworkFail for coral reef restoration. In this informal “tea time” gathering, participants will be invited to share their most embarrassing fieldwork story and what they learned from it: a technique that didn’t work, a mistake done in the field, or even a well-planned project that went nowhere. The aim is to share failures and learn from each other in an informal environment. Participants will be asked to bring photos, or videos of their #FieldworkFail and a certificate will be provided to the winner Fail based on voting from the audience.
The Role of Regulation in Restoration Interventions on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Pedro Fidelman, Senior Research Fellow, Centre For Policy Futures, The University Of Queensland
Coral reef restoration is gaining considerable momentum globally in response to the threat of climate change and associated coral bleaching. In Australia, as part of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP), a range of interventions are currently being investigated to help the Great Barrier Reef resist, repair and recover from climate change. RRAP interventions will be implemented in a complex regulatory environment, comprising multiple pieces of legislation and associated government agencies at federal and state levels. Such a regulatory environment is likely to be critical in determining the feasibility and viability of restoration interventions on the Great Barrier Reef. Drawing on document analysis, case studies and expert elicitation, this study investigates the regulatory implications of RRAP interventions. This includes mapping the existing regulations relating to proposed restoration interventions on the Great Barrier Reef, examining situations where these regulations may support and/or constrain implementation and long-term monitoring and evaluation of interventions, and identifying practical measures to enable the regulatory environment to effectively address restoration interventions – including those based on novel technologies (e.g., synthetic biology and assisted gene flow). Ultimately, this study provides important insights into the role of regulation in enabling effective large-scale reef restoration. These may prove useful to other jurisdictions, where reef restoration has become an imperative under a fast-changing climate.
The role of catastrophic hurricanes in coral reef homogenization: An emergent restoration challenge under climate change across the Caribbean
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Edwin Hernandez, Senior Scientist, Sociedad Ambiente Marino
Hurricanes play a fundamental role in shaping coral reef benthic and fish communities. Long-term degradation and loss of ecosystem persistence and resilience may drive reefs into a permanent state of mediocrity. Mediocre reefs are characterized by slow but progressive homogenization, which may involve declining biodiversity, carbonate budget, accretion rate, and productivity. This may drive the system into often irreversible regime shifts and a compromised ability to recover from disturbance. The increasing recurrence of stochastic events (e.g. coral bleaching, coral mortality events, catastrophic hurricanes, extreme rainfall/runoff) can further drive the system towards homogenization characterized by reef flattening, shrinking food web, collapsing fish assemblages, and declining ecological functions. These factors represent a major management challenge and a threat for coral survival and achieving long-term benefits of ecological restoration. A case study from Culebra Island, Puerto Rico is discussed. Category five Hurricanes Irma and María caused significant devastation of restored assemblages of ESA-listed Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in 2017. Fish censuses were conducted within control and impact sites before and after out-planting for three years, within and outside a no-take reserve. There were highly significant (PERMANOVA, p< 0.05) increases in fish species richness, abundance, and biomass within restored plots, particularly, within the reserve. Restored thickets with larger corals sustained higher fish biomass and abundance. But hurricanes with waves exceeding 6-10 m eliminated 99.9% of out-planted coral cohorts. There was a significant collapse in coral thickets, in benthic spatial relief, and in fish assemblages. This was similar to observations made on collapsed natural reefs, with stochastic coral colony fragmentation dislodging, flattening and formation of extensive rubble fields. This was followed in 2018 by a mid to late summer Acroporid coral mortality event coinciding with sea surface temperature exceeding 29°C, a mesoscale eddy with a 5-fold increase in chlorophyll-a concentration, and with high concentrations of dissolved organic carbon across the eastern Puerto Rico shelf. Changes in the dynamics of hurricanes and mesoscale eddies can significantly influence the benefits of long-term reef restoration and must be accounted in any modeled projection of restoration outcomes and success.
Temperature-based metabolic budget models of Acropora cervicornis to aid reef restoration
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Harmony Martell, PhD Candidate, Old Dominion University
The ability to predict metabolic deficits in coral holobiont metabolism is becoming increasingly important as water temperatures continue to rise. Physiological sensitivities to acute and cumulative thermal stress were compared in Acropora cervicornis from Broward County, Florida. Dark-adapted chlorophyll fluorescence and rates of respiration and photosynthesis were measured in acute and cumulative exposures at five temperatures spanning 25-36˚C. Each exposure revealed differences in metabolic sensitivity, determined by Q10 and critical thermal maximum (CTmax). CTmax was lower with cumulative stress exposure than acute stress. Acutely stressed corals had a drastic metabolic response to thermal stress when exposed to temperatures that exceeded present day naturally-occurring maxima and were nearly two times more sensitive than corals that experienced a more gradual exposure. In contrast, when heated gradually, metabolic rates appeared to be less sensitive to temperature until CTmax was reached. A temperature-based model of the ratio of daily gross photosynthesis to respiration (Pg:R) was derived from these measurements to provide real time metabolism with in situ temperature data. Remarkably, Pg:R model predictions agree with the thermal bleaching threshold for this species. Pg:R models from both exposures suggest acclimation potential in this population may be metabolically limited. Temperature-based metabolic models may be a useful tool to identify other at-risk species, prioritize restoration target regions, and predict the timing of greatest vulnerability to focus restoration efforts.
The art of science communication
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Daniel Stoupin, Creative Director, BioQuest Studios
Corals are one of the most difficult animals to depict for people of non-biological backgrounds. Corals live in time frames different from ours. Their anatomy is much smaller than what we are comfortable resolving with our eyes. They are home to a large microscopic biodiversity that is even harder to picture. Graphic representation of the alien-like world of the coral reef requires a special set of skills. In simple terms, despite the unquestionable importance, the topic of reef restoration can pose immense challenges to communicate publicly. Our mission is to remove the communication and language barriers through blending disciplines, graphic visuals, science digital imaging, and storytelling. We create unique stories that reveal hidden worlds and open minds. In a broad sense, our work can be classified as a form of modern art. Art is an important component of engaging the public with the current issues and inspiring younger generations. Art in all forms of media can touch human hearts and capture imagination like no amount of unambiguous scientific data can. The modern academic environment is generally not friendly towards quality artistic portrayal of scientific topics. That is a stark contrast to the Victorian era, brimming with scientific art that inspired generations of future researchers. Our latest short film was a technological break-through. We crossed the Pacific Ocean with Tara Expedition during the worst coral reef mass die-off events. We developed and utilised techniques that reveal the world of coral in the most spectacular and illuminative way. The film received a Hollywood-like postproduction treatment for maximum cinematic quality and style. Above all, our project demonstrates how bringing disciplines together can inspire understanding and change.
The Coral Restoration Foundation Curaçao
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Victor Jongeneel, Volunteer Diver, Scientist, CRF Curacao
The Coral Restoration Foundation Curaçao (CRFC) was founded in 2015 as a non-profit organization, with missions “(a) to promote awareness of coral reef health and survival and the environmental and social benefits of reef ecosystems; (b) to engage communities in nursery and restoration efforts by encouraging long term involvement, as well as facilitating partnerships for the purpose of research, restoration, and understanding of coastal research; (c) to grow and restore threatened coral species and to enhance reproductive output to stimulate a natural recovery.” CRFC has drawn inspiration from the techniques pioneered by CRF Florida, and has worked closely with its founder, Ken Nedimyer. CRFC currently includes three participating Dive Centers, and is funded primarily by them, by the business community on Curaçao, and by donations from visiting divers. CRFC has trained 60 certified Restoration Divers, runs regular volunteer restoration dives, and hosts intern marine biologists who perform applied research as well as restoration work. CRFC has three nurseries with a total of 30 trees and 1750 pieces of coral, populated from original A. cervicornis and A. palmata stock encompassing ten independent genotypes from each species. Half a dozen outplanting sites have been established along the southwest (leeward) coast of the island, including in the newly created Marine Park that covers its eastern tip. Over 5000 pieces of coral have been outplanted over the three years of CRFC’s existence, with many individual outplanted pieces reaching sizes over 2 m. The health of the outplanted reefs is excellent overall, with a rate of long-term (> 1 yr) survival in excess of 80%. This is due in part to Curaçao being outside the Caribbean hurricane belt. CRFC is thus contributing significantly to the restoration of Curaçao’s once thriving reef-building corals.
The Hippo Growth Pathway in Acropora palmata and Orbicella faveolata
00:01 - 23:59
Coral reefs are in rapid decline around the world, particularly in the two Caribbean species Acropora palmata and Orbicella faveolata. These species are stony corals that have been unable to reproduce and grow fast enough to keep up with the recent bleaching events and outbreaks of disease. Coral microfragments have been observed to grow at a much faster rate, but little is known about the biochemical process behind this rapid growth. The Hippo growth pathway, which is a biochemical process that has been identified in Drosophila and humans, is involved in tissue growth and regeneration. We are examining this pathway to determine if it is involved in the rapid growth found in coral microfragments. First we used timelapse photography to determine which tissue undergoes rapid growth. RNA is extracted from the identified tissues and RT-qPCR is used to investigate if the Hippo growth pathway is expressed during tissue regeneration after microfragmentation. Further research should focus on if the pathway operates in other coral species and whether the pathway can be manipulated to cause increased growth rates. This project is imperative to determining if coral can be induced for faster growth rates so that outplanting can occur quicker to aid reef restoration efforts.
Making marine restoration the tool for people sensitization and leisure: The experience of Underwater Gardens International
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Sergio Rossi, Professor, Universitat Autònoma De Barcelona
The Mediterranean sea is one of the most threatened areas of the world. The rapid transformations that all the planet is witnessing are multiplied in this small but crowded sea, where the rapid decline of ecosystems and resources is a fact. Alien species spreading, overfishing, local urbanistic pressures, pollution and climate change (especially water warming and acidification) are deeply transforming coastal areas at an accelerating path. The loss of complexity and biodiversity is an unquestionable fact that has an uneasy resolution. On the one hand, one of the main problems is the lack of empathy with the marine ecosystems, because we don’t see them and we think that the oceans can absorb the multiple impacts to which they are exposed. On the other hand, a serious restoration plan for the benthic communities, a “reforestation” approach, does not exists in the Mediterranean sea. We need to introduce the “gardening” concept. What we need is making a mix between Ocean Literacy and direct citizen action to make an ambitious restoration plan. The present project presents an applied solution for marine restoration in which the protagonist is the citizen. Families, individuals, leisure collectives, children and teenagers, everybody is directly involved, with the aid of a professional team, to restore damaged coastal ecosystems. The program adapts to the local needs; for example, in the Spanish Northern areas, red coral (Corallium rubrum) sanctuaries are promoted (this precious coral is an endangered species), whilst in the Southern areas the mollusk Pinna nobilis (a long lived bivalve devastated by a parasite) is one of the main restoration targets. Sociology and economic features of the restoration areas are part of our bottom-up plan, being fishermen, tourist operators, SCUBA divers, etc. involved from the beginning, attending their needs in front of such drastic changes.
Long term impacts of two hurricanes on an in situ Acropora cervicornis nursery
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Grace Hanson, Research Assistant, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
Hurricanes are known to cause damage to coral reefs through dislodgement, substrate destabilization, and mortality. The effects of hurricanes on coral nurseries, however, remains poorly understood. As the number of coral restoration projects grows and projected frequency of hurricanes increases across the Caribbean, understanding this relationship is critical. Here we examined damage caused by two hurricanes (Matthew, October 2016; Irma, September 2017) to an in situ Acropora cervicornis nursery. Fragments were grown in a nursery off Fort Lauderdale, Florida on two different structures: 1 m3 concrete modules and coral trees. Data were collected pre and post-storm, documenting survival, fragmentation, disease, and biological interactions. Increased colony mortality on both structures was observed following each storm lasting for multiple monitoring events. Variability between structures and storms were also reported for missing, broken, and diseased colonies. High abundance of missing colonies were reported for both structures following Matthew, but only observed for coral trees following Irma. Additionally, Irma caused widespread physical damage to both structures and a significant increase in disease prevalence. Colony mortality on the modules increased significantly two-months following Irma, indicating delayed storm mortality. These results indicate hurricanes can cause extensive mortality, disease, and damage throughout nurseries that can linger for months after the storm has passed. Practitioners should be prepared for these impacts with short and long term plans in place prior to an incoming storm.
Coral reef restoration finance: surveying practitioners to reduce uncertainty
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Phoebe Stewart-Sinclair, PhD Student, The University Of Queensland
Coral reefs are under serious threat from coastal development, pollution and overfishing, in addition to increasing pressure from the impacts of climate change. As a consequence of climate change-related warming there has been global mass bleaching of coral reefs, and more than 60% of coral reefs worldwide are threatened. “Blue Restoration” (i.e. the restoration of coastal marine environments) is necessary to ensure the provision of benefits from coral reef habitats, via ecosystem services. In order to make efficient decisions on how and where to spend the limited funds allocated to coral reef restoration, managers need accurate estimates of the benefits and costs of restoration interventions. The value of the benefits provided by coral reefs have been measured, but reporting on costs is inconsistent or omitted entirely from published restoration literature. For costs that have been reported, there is a large variation within and between intervention type, location, and study species. This leads to large uncertainty when planning new coral reef restoration projects, which discourages risk-averse investors. If coral reef restoration is to be deployed at the scale necessary to halt deterioration, restoration finance needs to quantify the uncertainty surrounding cost estimates. To this end, we have designed a survey for coral reef restoration practitioners, to investigate accuracy and bias within restoration costs reported in published literature. We sent surveys to 66 coral reef restoration practitioners, researchers, and managers, who had previously indicated a willingness to provide cost data. Here, we present initial results of this survey, and encourage participation in financing of coral reef restoration.
Coral Reef Restoration in the National Park of Cancun and Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Roberto Ibarra-Navarro, Researcher, CONANP
The National Park of Cancún and Isla Mujeres is one of the most visited areas in Mexico, it was established as a marine protected area in 1996 with the purpose of ensuring the conservation of the coral reefs. Some of its greatest threats are storms, hurricans, tourist impacts and ship groundings, so there have been 23 groundings afected 7378 m2 of reefs. In the period of 2004-2005 it was critical because there were 3 different hurricanes, including Wilma, a level 5 in the Saffir-Simpson scale. There were some reefs that were severely impacted and the level of devastation in some of these reefs included not only broken corals, but the destruction of the rocky basement in extent areas. In order to attend the damaged sites, the National Park has implemented two strategies, one was to close the impacted sites for a public use and the second was to implement a coral nursering, transplant and restore damaged reef sites. In 2010 a nursery project started in order to grow coral fragments obtained from broken coral colonies. The project has been working in colaboration with the Fisheries National Institute (INAPESCA) and it has two reef sites where the work has done in order to recover the coral cover, the spatial heterogeneity and some other ecological features. Since 2010 there have been growth 7699 coral fragments of several species in the nurserie and they were trasplanted in two damaged reefs, one of them called Manchones in 2016. Some of the colonies of elkhorn transplanted 6 years ago in Manchones spawned for the first time. Other sites such as "Cuevones" currently present a reef recovery due to the success of the restoration actions and prohibitions for nautical activities promoting their resilience.
Coral Reef Species of Sarawak, Borneo
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
DAUD AWANG, Senior Researcher / PhD Candidate, Department Of Fisheries Malaysia (Fisheries Research Institute)
Sarawak is one of the biggest state in Malaysia, located between the latitude 0º 50'and 5’N and longitude 109º 36' and 115 º 40'E. Sarawak has the second longest coastline 1051km in Malaysia, thus the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Sarawak occupies the southern part of the South China Sea with an area of 160,000 km² (area 124,449.5 sq km). The coral reef biodiversity study was carried out from year 2004 to 2008. The aim was to collect baseline data on the corals and coral associated living resources. Study area were divided into four areas, Kuching, Bintulu to Miri, Luconia and Lawas. A total of 203 species, 66 genera and 13 families of stony coral (198 species and 62 genera of zooxanthellae Scleractinia) was founded in the Sarawak waters, with the species belonging to Acroporidae being dominant. Most of the coral reefs in Sarawak are found offshore, with the depth more than 18m and geographically patchy. With this study, the state authority will come out with a management plan and gazette this area as a marine parks area or multiple use marine parks area. All depends on the dialogue or forum between the management authority and local communities. Beside that, coral restoration should be conducted around Sarawak Waters including awareness.
Coral restoration: more than scientific and technological progress
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Aida Sofia Rivera Sotelo, PhD Candidate Social Anthropology, University Of California Davis
This ethnographic research in the Caribbean Sea off Colombia approaches coral restoration through the mutual dependencies of corals, fish, scientists, and black islanders and fishers. It explores how coral nurseries are also nurseries for fish, scientists, and the marine territories of islanders. It is based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork as a volunteer in various restoration programs and through experiences of daily life in the Rosario archipelago. It argues that the continuation of coral restoration in the Caribbean of Colombia relies not only on the ability of scientists to advance science and technologies of restoration but also on the will of black islanders and fishers to recognize the reefs in process of restoration as their own. It means that restoration cannot continue without taking into account the black islanders’ and fishers’ interests. This research explores the interactions between scientists and islanders and what it has implied in terms of coral reef composition and the practices of fishing, eco-tourism, and restoration in the archipelago.
Community engagement supports the scientific integrity of reef restoration
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Jenny Mallon, Co-ordinator
Expedition Akumal, a community-led reef restoration project in Quintana Roo, Mexico, began in 2014 with the installation of coral nurseries of 35 fragments of Acropora cervicornis collected from the seafloor. Propagation of these fragments developed the nurseries at 2 sites with 350 coral fragments and over 500 transplanted onto the reef substrate. Transplantation showed 90% survival rates within the first 2 months, and an increase in both abundance and diversity of fish within the restoration sites. Experimenting with distinct transplantation protocols has shown mixed results, and motivated the development of novel techniques for out-planting corals. Partnership with Dr Anastazia Banaszak at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, led to the implementation of a coral spawning observation and gamete collection program, achieving the first recorded instance of coral spawning in Akumal in August 2017. The gametes collected were fertilised in our on-site temporary lab, with a high fertilisation rate (80%), producing approx. 3000 primary polyps. Collaboration is the key behind the longevity of the project, with stakeholders such as the local hotel and dive center providing logistical support for researchers and volunteer dive professionals to carry out the nursery work. Involving the local community in reef restoration has supported the integrity of the program, focussing on sustainable rejuvenation of the coral populations, rather than commercial targets. This also facilitates continuation of the restoration project by the Dive Center volunteers, reducing the reliance on small grants and funding. Additionally, the training we provide for dive instructors and snorkel guides benefits each individual’s professional development and has successfully integrated capacity building with community action, increasing ecosystem ownership and raising awareness. Our research direction for this year is incorporate micro-fragmentation using the nursery-reared corals and to increase the survival of juvenile corals generated from assisted fertilisation to diversify the genetics of our restored population. We continue to work with the local community and are planning to formalise training with certification for next year’s volunteers.
Choosing restoration sites: A metabolic view of growth, bleaching and disease
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Harmony Martell, PhD Candidate, Old Dominion University
Site selection can be challenging in restoration, as the relationship of colony fitness and survival between nursery and outplanted coral fragments is not necessarily linear. Nearshore nursery-reared fragments (n=7 genets) were used to derive a cumulative thermal stress model that adequately matched the anecdotal bleaching threshold for A. cervicornis in the region. We examined the relationship between metabolism (see poster by H. A. Martell) and growth, disease prevalence, and bleaching prevalence of both nursery and outplanted corals on the inner, middle, and outer reefs of the Southeast Florida Reef Tract, exploiting several years of in situ temperature and monitoring data. This technique offers the ability to combine a relatively simple lab-based model with real time environmental data to aid managers in site selection. It also can reveal genet-level differences in thermal performance. The efficacy and potential applicability of this model will be presented in the context of growth, bleaching prevalence, and disease prevalence for use in restoration programs.
A Statistical Review of the Effects of Coral Reef Restoration
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Natalie Senini, Northern Arizona University
Coral reefs are dynamic ecosystems that currently face endangerment and extinction from the effects of climate change. Restoration projects aim to assist in the recovery of these fragile ecosystems and enhance their resiliency. Because no formal statistical review of the effects of coral reef restoration on coral reefs exists, and assuming coral restoration has a quantifiable effect on coral reefs, I determined meta-analyses would summarize the overall effects of coral restoration. To test the hypothesis that coral restoration efforts have a significant effect on coral abundance and ecological functionality, I conducted meta-analyses to assess the effects of restoration on specific measures that influence abundance and ecological functionality. The initial literature review produced 603 papers, and after applying exclusion criteria, there were 28 studies applicable for use in the meta-analyses. The effects of coral restoration on these anticipated outcomes were not significant: Coral Growth overall effect size (ES) = 0.14, p = 0.96, n = 17; Coral Recruitment ES = -0.03, p = 0.97, n = 7; Fish Abundance ES = -0.41, p = 0.73, n = 5; Fish Richness ES = -0.14, p = 0.47, n = 5; Benthic Cover ES = 1.44, p = 0.37, n = 3. These overall effect sizes show that coral restoration does not significantly alter the state of coral reefs when compared to their natural counter-parts. Despite these findings, certain trends in restoration location, species used, and methodology employed may advise future restoration projects to improve the outcomes of coral reef restoration efforts.
Baseline Assessment of Marine Debris and Microplastics in the East Mingulay MPA to Determine Good Environmental Status
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Laura La Beur, Masters Student, University Of Edinburgh
As public awareness around the issue of marine litter and microplastics increases, so do public and private sector measures to reduce waste in the ocean. However, the extent of marine litter and microplastic (ranging from 0.2 mm to 0.5 mm) occurrence across ocean biomes and species remains poorly characterized, particularly in remote difficult to access places such as the deep ocean, making it challenging to assess where spatial management is needed and what measures would help achieve this. For example, the United Kingdom declared large knowledge gaps for the seafloor environment and a lack of baseline values to help set targets towards implementing the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MFSD) that sets out to ensure Good Environmental Status (GES) of European waters by 2020. The MFSD establishes 11 descriptors to assess GES, this study focuses on Descriptor 10: that marine litter does not cause harm. The present study is the first assessment of marine litter and microplastics in a continental shelf marine protected area (MPA) in UK waters. Extent of marine litter was quantified at two (Mingulay and Banana) cold-water coral reefs in the East Mingulay MPA (Sea of the Hebrides) through systematic reviews of seven research expedition reports from 2003 to 2012 and annotating 41 hours of video surveys conducted in 2012. Reviews of expedition reports resulted in 6 recorded instances of litter out of 217 benthic stations. In every case the litter was fishing related; nets, rope, gear and plastic tarpaulin. Microscopic analysis of trypsin-digested gut contents from benthic reef macrofauna (n=112) showed 9% had ingested microplastics, all within the 0.2 - 0.5mm size fraction. Ingestion differences in microplastic occurrence were observed across feeding guilds, with microplastics observed more frequently in suspension and filter-feeders. Besides establishing a baseline assessment of marine litter and microplastics in this MPA, the approach demonstrates the utility of using historic data and specimens collected for other purposes to expand the geographic and ecosystem coverage for GES assessments.
Can fin-fish marine aquaculture facilities invest in coral reefs restoration and conservation projects: A case study for Mauritius.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Nadeem Nazurally, Lecturer And PhD Student, University Of Mauritius
The Government of Mauritius is committed to ensuring responsible and sustainable development of the aquaculture industry in the island. Thirty-one sites have been allocated for marine-based aquaculture both lagoonal and offshore exploitation. One of the criticisms normally levied against floating cage aquaculture is the impact on the biodiversity in the surrounding waters. The objectives of this research were to assess in and around each potential and operational aquaculture site: (1) the water quality, as affected by seasonal variation, (2) the biodiversity, (3) the heavy metal in sediment, water and fish, (4) the distribution patterns, biomass estimates and diversity of planktons, and, (5) the survival and growth rates of cultured and natural reef-building corals. Methodologies included line transect intercept (LIT) for coral assessment, a variety of visual census techniques for biodiversity assessment including fish, plankton were sampled using a variety of plankton nets and analysed in laboratory-based microscopy techniques while coral growth were calculated using the scion-image software. Results showed the presence of various species of fishes and nudibranchs on the seabed just below the nets as well as on the ropes, cetaceans (e.g. Tursiops aduncus) and several green sea turtles (e.g. Chelonia mydas). Fluorescence sea light equipment showed the presence of coral recruits of 1-2 cm on the fixed floating buoys and ropes. Most of the parameters were within the acceptable range, except for total suspended solids, nitrates and phosphates which were slightly over the recommended values as per the Mauritius Coastal Water Quality Guidelines. Diatoms dominated the abundance with 33 genera followed by 11 genera of dinoflagellates and 3 genera of cyanobacteria. Coral cultured had a >80% survivorship and they were tested under two conditions with one cleaned for fouling organisms while the second aspect was to allow growth of cultured corals on their own. Result revealed a slight difference in growth performance between both conditions. These data revealed that the current fish farm studied is not causing damage to the surrounding marine environment.
Characterization of the microbiome of Orbicella corals from the highly turbid and dynamic Varadero Reef
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Sofia Roitman, Pennsylvania State University
Varadero reef is located in the Bay of Cartagena, Colombia, adjacent to the Canal del Dique, which carries turbid water into the bay. Despite the highly turbid water column and proximity to shore, Varadero is flourishing; it is about 1km2 in size, with 80% coral cover and containing mostly coral species in the genus Orbicella. This reef has only recently been discovered due to the fact that the environmental conditions of the bay have long been perceived as incompatible with reef survival. As a result, much of its biology remains unstudied and unknown. Varadero reef’s survival in undesirable conditions makes it an excellent study site to answer questions on the relationship between the coral microbiome and coral resiliency. The aim of this study is to determine whether the microbiomes in Varadero differ from microbiomes and corals in other regions of the Caribbean that have been unaffected by pollution and a turbid water column. This study will be the first to characterize the microbiome of the water column and sediment of Varadero Reef. Preliminary results from a reciprocal transplant done with corals from Varadero and Rosario (a more “pristine” site) show that survivorship rate was highest in Varadero compared to Rosario and a highly polluted site by the mouth of the bay, suggesting key differences in the biology of Varadero reef.
Early Warning and Immediate Response Protocol to the Impact of Tropical Cyclones in Coral Reefs.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Calina Zepeda, Climate Risk And Resilience Restoration Specialist For Mexico And Northern Central America, The Nature Conservancy
Tropical cyclones can cause a wide variety of damage to the reef ranging from mild, partial damage and even total damage that includes death of many organisms. Hard corals most affected by hurricanes and tropical storms in the Mexican Caribbean are Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis, and some boulder species. These species are key in coastal protection. Without any intervention, broken coral colonies can be dragged by the current and swell, and buried under the sediment, suffer tissue loss, abrasion and further damage. If rehabilitation response actions are performed immediately after a cyclone, the risk of subsequent damage to the impacted corals is reduced. These actions include removing debris from disaster generated by the cyclone; right and secure overturned and dislodged boulders; reattach broken fragments; stabilize structural fractures; unearth buried colonies; and secure loose rubble. The success of the timely response to such event is essential to initiate the process of restoring the function and structure in the reef and to enhance subsequent restoration efforts. Given that Puerto Morelos Reef National Park, located in Quintana Roo, Mexico, is an area with a high incidence of tropical cyclones, a practical protocol has been designed to respond immediately to these events. The Early Warning and Immediate Response Protocol aims to guide park managers and response brigades on the actions that must be considered before, during and after a tropical cyclone, in order to minimize the impact on coral reefs.
Emergency salvage and restoration of the pillar coral, Dendrogyra cylindrus (Ehrenberg, 1834) in response to a catastrophic disease outbreak in Grand Cayman, B.W.I.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
William Precht, Director, Marine And Coastal Programs, Dial Cordy & Assoc., Inc.
In February 2018, an outbreak of coral disease with multiple pathologies was observed at the Killer Pillar dive site in the West Bay Marine Park off Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman. By June 2018, seven individual colonies of Dendrogyra cylindrus were infected by a combination of black-band and white-plague coral disease. Within a few months, the disease had spread rapidly both within and between colonies of D. cylindrus leading to high levels of partial mortality and morbidity of the infected colonies. Because this charismatic coral is rare and based on the rapid and catastrophic losses of D. cylindrus in Florida from 2014-2017 to a similar combination of diseases, it was determined that rapid intervention was warranted. An emergency triage plan was initiated and included using a combination of methods. These included: (1) placing silicon tape around the pillar directly above the active disease band to halt the progression of the disease, (2) the application of quick-setting underwater epoxy directly to the active disease band to smother the active disease, (3) removal of healthy tissue fragments for propagation at local coral nurseries, and (4) the salvage of whole pillars from the diseased colonies. To accomplish the latter, the healthy portions of the upright pillars were sawed off above the active disease band by science officers of the Department of Environment, Cayman Islands. These pillars were then relocated to a new location away from the disease site and reattached directly to the reef using Portland cement. In total, 16 individual pillars were relocated in the restoration effort. Based upon preliminary results, it appears that active intervention and rapid relocation of the pillars has been successful (100% initial survivorship with no active disease signs). Due to the initial success of the operation, additional pillars are slated to be relocated within the next few weeks (August 2018). If longer-term monitoring results prove equally successful, the salvage, relocation and restoration of actively diseased coral colonies could become an everyday tool in the restoration toolbox for coral reef managers.
Impacts of external disturbances on the coral restoration at St. Martin Island, Bangladesh.
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Mohammad Islam, Science & Management, Marinelife Alliance
St. Martin island is the only coral habitat in Bangladesh although the status is not good due to heavy anthropological impact, mostly from tourism in recent years. other than the climatic factors locally man-made factors posing the biggest threats to coral habitat and also making coral conservation difficult. Several Factors affecting the coral frame currently in St. Martin Island, viz., trash Plastic over the frame on coral colony, ghost net including mono-filament threads, beverage can, sedimentation, anchor damage, dragging and displacing. The physical disturbances are also intense along the whole north and east nearshore habitat due to fishing boats and tourist vessel interventions in the area. Corals have been recorded to have lower growth rate and in some cases destroyed. Out of 9 frames all have records of sedimentation and plastics or any other human induces garbage’s. There is still safe coral frame area not allocated by the government as the activity is still not within government restoration program. MLA is conducting restoration program and with the Department of Environment partnership the program is being slowly scaling up in 2018-19. The mooring buoy for the island fishing boats and small tourist vessels are not yet developed although only piloting has been completed by Marinelife Alliance(MLA) during 2015-16 with local technology. Everyday during peak tourist season large number of direct anchoring happened causing severe damage to coral colonies. Trash management is totally absent in the island, although several Gob project completed during the last 2 decade. Activities essential for the coral island protection lacking in the project program are the major causes of such impediments. The development of protected area systems also not in place and still no proper MPA has been developed. The MLA researchers convinced the islanders to keep the western zone as no take areas and named it as locally managed marine area (LMMA). Other legislation and enforcement needed to protect coral habitat through reduction of threats from multidimensional sources, viz., sedimentation from large tourist vessel, direct anchor damage, recreational activities over rocky coral intertidal habitat, littering garbage and other sewage based pollution.
Influence of genotype and environmental factors on coral fragment survival
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Eduardo Antonio Avila Pech, Technical Research, Integrated Reef Conservation Research Lab, ICMyL, UNAM
In the Mexican Caribbean, reef restoration using coral fragments is extremely popular. Nevertheless, the short- and long-term performance of coral fragments in in situ nurseries and in the reef environment is under-reported. To determine the importance of genotype in the long-term survival of Acropora palmata fragments in nurseries, we selected eight colonies of distinct genotypes. Nine fragments were obtained from each colony and acclimated in an in-situ nursery for one month. During this acclimation period, we recorded a reduction (44-55%) in the survival of fragments from three genotypes, suggesting that some genotypes are more susceptible to fragmentation than others. After the acclimation period, the fragments were transplanted to two environments (reef crest and reef lagoon) and periodically monitored to evaluate growth, light absorptance and survivorship. Eight months after being transplanted, there were no statistically significant differences in growth or light absorptance. However, we observed a 25% reduction in the survival of fragments from three genotypes in the reef crest nursery compared with the fragments transplanted to the nursery in the reef lagoon. To determine the effect of environmental characteristics on fragment survivorship, we evaluated the condition of A. palmata fragments in 35 nurseries at 7 sites that had been established along the Mexican Caribbean. In two of the sites, the fragment survival was greater than 80%. However, in the rest of the nurseries fragment survival was extremely low, ranging between 0 and 3%. It was not possible to establish a relationship between the environmental conditions at the sites with fragment status. Although the genotypic component is underestimated in most of the restauration projects in the Mexican Caribbean, our results suggest that both in the short- and long-term, the genotype of the mother colony could be a factor that affects fragment survival in coral nurseries and after being out planted.
Lessons learned from coral restoration projects in Thailand over the past three decades
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Thamasak Yeemin, Academic, Ramkhamhaeng University
Several government and private organizations have expended much effort to restore degraded coral reefs in many locations in Thai waters over the past three decades. The projects had a range of objectives, at various scales and different methods. We reanalyzed coral reef restoration projects in Thailand in the last decade, particularly after the severe coral bleaching event in the year 2010. Our objectives were to examine the long-term achievements of selected coral reef restoration projects and propose future restoration initiatives to cope with global change impacts. The high cost and limited scale of restoration projects are still main factors that governments and communities have to prevent damage to coral reefs in the first place. Therefore, the coral reef restoration plans in Thailand highlighted on using passive restoration to reduce negative impacts of tourism, water pollution, sedimentation and fisheries. Provision of designed artificial substrates for natural coral recruitment and attaching coral fragments to PVC pipe frames in the coral nursery area are active restoration methods which have been widely applied in Thailand. The Mu Koh Chang Coral Reef Demonstration Site in Trat Province, Thailand under the UNEP/GEF Project on Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand established a demonstration site for coral restoration for the benefit of tourism, education, public awareness, and research. Natural coral fragments were used and the restoration techniques and methods were simple, using cheap materials available from local communities. The stable hard substrates were also provided for coral recruitment. The coral reef management and restoration project in tourist hot spots in the Gulf of Thailand was initiated and funded by the network of provinces in the eastern Thailand following the 2010 coral bleaching event. The major concerns for future active coral restoration projects are transplantation of high genetic diversity populations, high tolerant species to climate change induced bleaching from shallow reef flats and multi-species. The innovative methods for protection of corals from bleaching, enhancing coral survival rates in the nursery areas and appropriate management plans of resilient sites are also urgently needed.
Life on the Downline: Effectiveness of Passive Protection in Preventing Coral Loss
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Benjamin DAvanzo, Marine Operations Tech Buoy Team And Science Team, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Mooring and boundary buoys, semi-permanent anchoring devices, prevent anchor damage while controlling activities and access to coral reefs. This system of passive protection can be utilized by commercial and recreational boaters/divers in place of anchoring near or on coral reefs and associated sensitive habitats. Within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) there are approximately 800 buoys with 29,000 feet of downline, and over 500 of those buoys are available for public use as moorings. Mooring buoys, white 18” and 24” diameter buoys with a blue stripe, are installed on sites identified by public interest, high usage, and ecological or historical significance. These buoys are installed to provide enough bottom clearance and swing radius for most vessels in normal conditions. In addition to preventing anchor damage, mooring buoys can aid divers in ascents/descents, support distressed swimmers/snorkelers, act as aids to navigation, and serve as reference points for research. Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs), marked by large 36” diameter yellow buoys, protect distinct, biologically important areas that assist in sustaining critical marine species and habitats. Regulations for SPAs are designed to limit consumptive activities and separate users with differing activities, while creating a visual boundary aiding in navigation and supporting law enforcement. RFKNMS resource managers are responsible for not only the preservation and conservation of the marine environment, but also accommodating use by the public. Through dynamic a process of management plan review and draft environmental impact statements, FKNMS periodically reevaluates its mooring sites and boundaries in order to balance these two seemingly contradictory responsibilities. Given the thousands of recreational boaters that visit the sanctuary annually, the importance of the mooring and boundary buoys as passive protection to prevent coral loss is incalculable. ***Note: the 1st choice (oral presentation) would be a video. the 2nd choice would be an oral presentation.
Houston we have a problem: Forecasting coral disease outbreaks in the Pacific Ocean
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Tess Moriarty, PhD Candidate , The University Of Newcastle
Coral reefs are declining throughout our global oceans. These declines can be attributed to local drivers (sedimentation, pollution, overfishing, tourism and development) and global drivers (climate change, ocean acidification). Both local and global drivers have profound implications for coral communities, which have experienced increased prevalence of coral disease and higher levels of mortality. Coral diseases in the Indo-Pacific have recently been identified as one of the 15 most globally important environmental issues that require conservation attention. Diseases lead to reduced coral growth, fitness, fecundity and/or colony mortality. Coral colonies undergo a series of biological stress responses starting at the subcellular level and ending with macroscopic lesions or death. This response cascade includes changes to immune function, cellular structure, metabolite profiles, internal and surface microbial communities, and behaviour, and, ultimately, to loss of tissue integrity and tissue death. The strength and speed of coral immune response reflect their capacity to resist infection and their ability to recover. There is an urgent need for tools that address how climate change and human activities affect coral reefs. This NASA-funded project will refine and expand previous coral disease prediction models to a wider range of coral species, diseases, and geographic regions. With the use of satellite imagery, in-water coral monitoring, and assays of coral microbiome, metabolite profiles, and cell structure, we are investigating visible and pre-visible coral responses to infection to inform and refine predictive models at the ecosystem scale. This project aims to develop better models of coral disease outbreak and embed these improved forecasts into the NOAA Coral Reef Watch decision support system (DSS) with increased spatial resolution of SST predictions (5 km), newly available coastal coral color metrics, and expanded application to several different coral diseases, host species, and regions. Improved prediction of coral disease outbreaks can provide the opportunity to proactively manage at-risk areas – including in areas where coral restoration activities occur. Proactive management by reef managers may limit other synergistic anthropogenic impacts, such as dredging, when models predict high disease incidence.
Growth and survival of two acroporid species and their hybrid as part of restoration efforts at Great Stirrup Cay, the Bahamas
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Cassie VanWynen, Graduate Student, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
Coral reef ecosystems have been in decline in recent decades due to several stressors, both natural and anthropogenic. Due to these significant declines, there has been a need for restoration of many coral species, particularly within the Caribbean genus Acropora. As part of restoration efforts for acroporid species present in the Caribbean, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in conjunction with Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), is establishing a coral nursery at Great Stirrup Cay, an island owned by NCL in the Bahamas. The goal of this project is to determine which acroporid species performs best in a nursery setting, and whether species, genotype and/or fragment type affects the growth and survival of acroporid corals. To test these variables, two acroporid species, Acropora cervicornis, Acropora palmata, and their hybrid, Acropora prolifera, will be used in the study. A pilot study will be conducted to test the efficiency of the new nursery. Experimental fragments of corals will be placed in the nursery after the pilot study, and will be differentiated by species, genotype (six genotypes per species), and fragment type (apical, middle, or basal). Linear growth and percent mortality data for each fragment will be collected on monthly maintenance trips. Overall, this data will allow us to examine what species, genotype, and fragment type performs best in a nursery setting, which will have implications for future nurseries. For this poster, preliminary data from the pilot study and the experimental corals will be presented.
Evaluation of ex situ culture of massive Porites spp. and branching Pocillopora spp., Pacific coast of northern Costa Rica
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Jose Andres Marin Moraga, Research Assistant, UNA/PMP
The worldwide decrease in coral cover often reflects the impact of accelerated and poorly planned development of coastal human communities. This is the case of the Pacific coast of northern Costa Rica, which 20 years ago was considered one of the sites with the greatest reef development in the country. Today the reef is significantly deteriorated, due to a combination of both natural phenomena, such as El Niño, and anthropogenic disturbances such as water eutrophication and over fishing. There is much interest in assisting the recovery of these reefs, which will require a combination of coastal management and active reef restoration. We are evaluating ex-situ coral culture for its utility in active restoration of the two main reef building species of this region: massive Porites spp. and branching Pocillopora spp. The controlled conditions allow us to evaluate factors affecting their survival and growth in culture. Preliminary results suggest high survival for both species (Porites spp. = 77% and Pocillopora spp. = 83%) as well as rapid growth rates (Porites spp. = 1.62 cm2/month and Pocillopora spp. = 0.30 cm2/month). The survival and growth rates of Porites spp., in particular, are higher than those for the same species cultivated in underwater nurseries on the Pacific coast of southern Costa Rica (Villalobos et al. in prep.). We hypothesize that ex situ cultivation eliminates competition of Porites microfragments with algae and other organisms that settle on the ceramic discs. We also observe that growth rates of Pocillopora spp. mounted on ceramic discs are slower than those suspended by monofilament. We present the pros and cons of in situ versus ex situ culture for these important Pacific species of Latin America.
Funding Coral Restoration: The Hawaii Model
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
David Gulko, Director, Hawaii Coral Restoration Nursery, Hawaii Dept Of Land & Natural Resources, Division Of Aquatic Resources
In Hawaii, much of the State’s Coral Restoration Nursery’s activities and its out-planting of large coral colony modules is currently being funded through either settlements from Responsible Parties for unplanned coral reef impact cases in State waters, or through cooperatively-derived mitigation or offsets for impacts to coastal and nearshore marine habitats for planned activities such as dredging, coastal development, submerged habitat modification, etc. This is accomplished through an innovative coral ecological services and function tool developed by the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources and used to evaluate both planned and unplanned impact sites relative to coral colony size, form, rarity and endemism; along with subhabitat-type substrates that the colonies occur on. In a similar fashion, the same tool can be used to plan the amount of restoration required to be outplanted to offset the planned loss or to compensate for the lost services and functions from an unplanned event. The complete annual costs of running the Coral Restoration Nursery (along with coral acquisition, baseline survey costs of both determined impact and outplant sites, outplanting costs and monitoring costs) are then divided by the total number of coral colony modules that can be annually produced to get a per-colony module cost. The sum costs of the total modules required to be outplanted determines the mitigation project costs; such a method is easily transferable to other jurisdictions looking to fund both restoration and mitigation activities. This poster presentation will walk you through the process and show how the restoration targets are derived based on the impacts incurred.
Good practices in the coral culture produced by microfragmentation for control the damage caused by ciliates
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
ASTRID DANIELA SANTANA CISNEROS, Technician Researcher, INAPESCA
The National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Mexico is working on a reef restoration project where techniques are developed to optimize the production of coral colonies. In this year, the production of corals has been made by microfragmentation, technique developed by Dr. David Vaughan of the MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, in order to optimize the production of coral tissue. However, the application of new techniques implies new problems that have to be solved. In the microfragmentation process, the injury that is produced by the cut leaves exposed the coral skeleton making it susceptible to infections caused mainly by ciliates. These infections have been treated with a germicidal and fungicidal iodine solution, in concentrations and time already tested, obtaining favorable results in almost all cases. There are antibiotic-resistant ciliates, such as the ciliate Halofolliculina sp., which represented a potential problem during the March to May, 2018 causing significant losses in the production. To eradicate this ciliate, good practices in aquaculture were implemented, such as: to improve the input water quality in the systems, to supply minerals and vitamins for cultivate corals, and to install a temperature control. As a result of these actions, at the moment this ciliate is controlled (not eradicated) and work is being carried out to improve the facilities to prevent the entry of any pathogen that causes losses to the corals in cultivation.
Growth Analysis of Multiple Genotypes From Two Species of Boulder Corals (Orbicella faveolata and O. annularis) Using an Image-Based Analysis System
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Kristin Anderson, Coral Restoration Foundation
With the decline of hard coral coverage in the Florida Reef Tract, the Coral Restoration Foundation TM (CRF) has been working to integrate the non-Acroporid corals, mainly Orbicella favelota and O. annularis into the restoration program for several years. This process seeks to develop an image-based monitoring system for the boulder coral species that are housed within CRF’s genetic bank. There are six representative fragments of each genotype across the two species that are placed on cards and left to grow on a horizontal plane on modified nursery-tree structures. Images are segmented using Adobe Photoshop by outlining the individual coral and filling in each outlined area. These images are then exported from Photoshop and analyzed in an ImageJ software system to extract growth metrics, such as coral area coverage. These metrics are used to calculate the growth standards and trends for each genotype of Orbicella, which creates a baseline of nursery performance data, which can eventually add into outplant monitoring and tracking. The growth results provide information on the performance of the different genotypes, as well as document the success of our nursery production methods, which will help develop and implement the most efficient process for restoration techniques. This is a future step to understand how nursery performance predicts coral performance.
Costs, feasibilities and motivations for coral reef restoration
00:01 - 23:59
Presented by :
Elisa Bayraktarov, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University Of Queensland
Restoration or assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed, may become critical in areas without enough intact coral reef habitat left to protect due to climate change, coastal development, pollution, and overfishing. However, restoration decisions are often impeded by the lack of information about cost and feasibility and the specific reasons why to restore. Here, we synthesise data from the restoration literature to evaluate restoration cost, survival of restored organisms, project duration, area, and techniques which have been employed on coral reefs around the world. Findings showed that restoration cost had an overall global median of 471,621 US$ ha-1 (2010 US$). Grouped by techniques, the median cost ranged between 5,616 US$ ha-1 for the nursery phase of the coral gardening approach and 3,911,240 US$ ha-1 for substrate addition to build an artificial reef. Restoration projects were mostly short-lived (1-2 years), carried out over small experimental scales (0.01 ha), and reported 60.9% as the median survival of restored corals. The main motivations to restore coral reefs were to further our knowledge and improve the methodological approach while growth and survival were the main variables monitored. Most studies reported an ecological outcome, seldom joined with social or socio- economic results. The findings and database may support practitioners tasked to make decisions on whether, what, how, where, how much, and why to restore. The current challenge for coral reef restoration is to scale-up restoration efforts to reasonable ecological, social and economic scales and over longer time periods.
Thursday , Dec 13, 2018
07:00 - 08:00
Town Hall Patio
Breakfast (provided)
Free coffee available daily at 6:30am - 11:00am at the Reef Lounge.  Breakfast will be available on the Town Hall Patio.
08:30 - 09:30
Town Hall North
Responding to the FL Reef Tract Disease Outbreak Session 2
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Karen Neely, Research Scientist, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
Jennifer Moore, Protected Coral Recovery Program Manager, NOAA Fisheries
Michael Tringali, Research Scientist, Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
Abigail Clark, Staff Biologist, Mote Marine Laboratory
Moderators
William Sharp, Research Administrator, Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission/Fish And Wildlife Research Institute
Brian Walker, Research Scientist, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
Collection of talks on the coordinated response to the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease event affecting the FL Reef Tract.
Treatment of coral diseases: historical perspectives, modern efforts, and future directions
08:30 - 08:45
Presented by :
Karen Neely, Research Scientist, Nova Southeastern University Halmos College Of Natural Sciences And Oceanography
As stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) leaves extensive mortality in its wake across the Florida Reef Tract, a slew of intervention techniques have been trialed in efforts to protect infected colonies. Laboratory and field tests have explored traditional treatment options (smothering and chlorinated firebreaks) as well as more innovative techniques (amputation and relocation, antibiotic delivery mechanisms, removal for treatment and safe housing in aquaria). Success of treatments has varied with environmental conditions, size of lesions, and species. Though some treatments show short-term success, all intervention actions are currently being conducted at the level of individual lesions. Ideas for scaling up to colony or potentially reef-level treatments are considered in a cost-benefit and risk management scenario, balancing the known outcome of doing nothing with the unknown outcomes of novel treatment effects.
Multi-species Coral Rescue in Response to the Major Disease Event on the Florida Reef Tract
08:45 - 09:00
Presented by :
Jennifer Moore, Protected Coral Recovery Program Manager, NOAA Fisheries
Since 2014, the Florida Reef Tract has been experiencing a major disease event affecting over 20 species, with up to 80% mortality, that spans from Martin County to the northern extent of the Lower Keys. A multi-agency collaboration is responding to the event. One intervention is to "rescue" fragments or small colonies of still-healthy individuals of susceptible species to provide genetic preservation and a stock source for future restoration activities. Beginning in August 2018, the rescue will include collection of fragments or colonies of putative unique genets of priority species from multiple habitat strata across the reef tract. When possible, replicates of each genet will be collected or subdivided for distribution to multiple housing facilities to spread risk. Collections will be transported to a network of land-based and in-water nurseries for gene banking and propagation, for future reintroduction back to the Florida Reef Tract. Since a goal of the project is the maintenance of genetic diversity of the affected species, an additional component may include the development of genetic markers for genotyping and tracking genets. This unique effort builds off a similar rescue effort for the threatened Pillar coral, but is precedent setting in its scope and scale, given the large number of species being rescued.
Targeted Amplicon Sequencing for Genet Profiling: A Versatile, Cost-effective Laboratory Approach for Quantifying, Managing and Preserving Natural Diversity in Florida’s Coral Rescue Plan
09:00 - 09:15
Presented by :
Michael Tringali, Research Scientist, Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Florida Reef Tract (FRT) is the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world, extending from the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County to the Dry Tortugas. In 2014, an unidentified coral ‘tissue-loss’ disease was first observed in Miami-Dade County and quickly spread throughout the northern areas of the FRT. The outbreak has since progressed slowly and persistently south of Miami and through the Upper and Middle Keys, reaching the Lower Keys by April 2018. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is partnering with NOAA Fisheries, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection to design and implement the Florida Coral Rescue Plan (FCRP), in order to prevent the ecological extinction of the most susceptible coral species along the Florida Reef Tract and to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible for all rescued species in preparation for restoration and future disturbances. FWC geneticists, adopting a targeted amplicon sequencing (TAS) approach, intend to develop robust panels of SNP-based genomic markers for approximately 25 prioritized species and to conduct TAS genotyping assays of collected corals in furtherance of FCRP activities. Genet status will be genetically determined for all rescued colonies and a relational Genet Registry database (FWC-hosted and managed) will be established, allowing for diversity assessment and facilitating colony tracking, propagation, and outplanting. To inform subsequent restorations in Florida, additional collections will be performed throughout the FRT for all ‘brooder’ species on the priority list and their natural levels of genetic connectivity will be determined. Lastly, FWC will develop, maintain, and make available ‘DNA banks’ of cryopreserved genomic DNA and surplus tissues for all species collected. Legacy data products from the work (i.e., whole-genome reference libraries and annotated SNP accession data) will be of tremendous value to other Caribbean coral conservation efforts.
Effect of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease on restoration of massive corals in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
09:15 - 09:30
Presented by :
Abigail Clark, Staff Biologist, Mote Marine Laboratory
The health and resilience of coral reefs are dwindling as reefs are confronted by a suite of stressors: elevated seawater temperatures, eutrophication, overfishing, pollution, and disease. In 2014, a new coral disease was first reported off South Florida (USA) and has since spread across the Florida Reef Tract. This disease, known as Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), is characterized by significant and rapid tissue loss and can infect more than 20 species of coral. Among the most susceptible corals are slow-growing massive corals, though levels of susceptibility are species-specific and vary. Given the susceptibility of massive corals to SCTLD infection, a major concern among management agencies is the effect of SCTLD on massive corals outplanted along the leading edge of the disease front (i.e., invasion zone). The goals of this proposed study are to determine the vulnerability of land-grown massive corals to SCTLD within the invasion zone and to measure the utility of time-lapse remote underwater video (TRUV) systems in monitoring the corals post-outplant. The experimental design will be implemented in two regions of the Lower Florida Keys, one area within the disease front (invasion zone) and one area not yet affected (vulnerable zone). Leveraging existing coral restoration efforts will allow for the outplanting of corals through time, while monitoring of the outplanted corals will be accomplished by activities proposed in the study. Study results will directly inform coral reef restoration by clarifying the role and potential risks of outplanting massive corals in the face of the disease outbreak.
08:30 - 10:15
Heron Room
Mobilizing Political and Societal Support for Restoration
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Maxine Newlands, Researcher, Senior Lecturer/ Researcher For RRAP/ James Cook University, Australia.
Margaux Hein, PhD Candidate, James Cook University
Hayley Jo Carr, Reef Rescue Network Coordinator, Perry Institute For Marine Science
Jim Ritterhoff, Executive Director, FORCE BLUE, INC
Megan Morikawa, Science Director, Iberostar Group
Stephen Ranson, Chief Science Officer, Coral Vita
Val Brown, Fishery Biologist, NOAA Fisheries
Moderators
Maxine Newlands, Researcher, Senior Lecturer/ Researcher For RRAP/ James Cook University, Australia.
Karen Vella, Associate Professor In Property And Planning, Queensland University Of Technology
This session is a series of talks that approach the human dimension at a level of perceptions and how to mobilise support at a political and societal level for restoration. 
Reef Restoration and Environmental Non-governmental Organizations: Framing the public debate
08:30 - 08:45
Presented by :
Maxine Newlands, Researcher, Senior Lecturer/ Researcher For RRAP/ James Cook University, Australia.
Patrick Silvey, Managing Director, VenturePro
The Great Barrier Reef is a global icon facing unprecedented pressure from climate change, back-to-back bleaching and Australia’s historical attachment to coal. Securing the public debate over the long-term health of the reef is a battle between environmental advocacy groups and industrial growth. In a polarised public debate between environmental non-government organizations (ENGO), leading scientists, industry representative, and liberal governments, reef restoration is emerging as a middle ground. However, Reef Restoration is also a polarizing and contested area of marine science, drawing both admiration and criticism from many sectors. The tradeoff between ‘doing nothing’ and ‘meddling’ is a fine line, and one that many Reef managers face on a daily basis. From politicians, to philanthropists, marine park managers, geo-engineers, citizen scientists, professional ENGO, and stakeholders, each of them plays a role in shaping public discourse and ultimately un/acceptability of a restoration projects. Getting ‘buy-in’ from ENGO’s often requires a strategic battle over public support. Media coverage and political comments influence public and political debate. ENGO’s such as Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd and WWF, can mobilize public and media discourse as either positive or negative. Through transnational networks, lobbying, a cast of millions, supported by philanthropic organizations and donors, an ENGO can be a powerful broker in shaping the restoration discourse. This paper will examine the role of ENGO's groups in Reef restoration debates; and asks if large-scale Marine Park (LSMP) managers can learn from activists and advocacy groups in public engagement practices? Drawing on transnational literature, new social movement studies, interviews and survey data, this paper will explore the role of ENGO's in the Reef Restoration space. We test how influential an ENGO can be in the debate, and if there can be lessons for the Great Barrier Reef restoration projects.
Coral restoration effectiveness: Socio-ecological perspectives from around the world
08:45 - 09:00
Presented by :
Margaux Hein, PhD Candidate, James Cook University
Coral restoration is gaining increasing attention as a reef management strategy to address dramatic declines in coral cover worldwide. However, there is often a mismatch between the objectives of coral restoration programs and measures used to assess their effectiveness. Here, we used ten indicators to characterize and compare the potential of coral restoration efforts to improve reef resilience at both ecological and socio-cultural and economic scales. Surveys were conducted at four well-established coral restoration programs in Thailand, the Maldives, Florida Keys, and US Virgin Islands. Hard coral cover and structural complexity were systematically increased in restored compared to non-restored (degraded sites). Other ecological indicators varied inconsistently among locations, highlighting differences in methodologies among restoration programs (generic diversity metric) or in the overall health state of local reefs (density of coral juveniles, coral health, fish biomass and diversity). Interviews with local stakeholders at all locations revealed that perceptions of coral restoration effectiveness encompass far more than ecological considerations suggesting that coral restoration can be used as a powerful conservation education tool to provide hope, enhance agency, promote stewardship and strengthen coral reef conservation strategies. Respondents revealed some key points likely to improve the outcomes of coral restoration efforts such as the need to better embrace socio-cultural dimensions in goal setting, evaluate ecological outcomes more broadly, secure long-term funding and improve management and logistics of day to day practices. We suggest that long-term objectives for coral restoration and measures of their effectiveness be better integrated into the design of restoration programs in order to maximise the resilience potential of restored reefs. Authors: Margaux Hein1,2, Naomi Gardiner1, Nadine Marshall3, Roger Beeden4, Alastair Birtles1, Bette Willis1,2 1 College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville QLD 4811 Australia 2 ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville QLD 4814 Australia 3 CSIRO Land and Water, ATSIP Building #145 based at James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, 4811 Australia 4 Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority, Townsville QLD 4810 Australia
The Reef Rescue Network – Scaling up Coral Restoration through Innovative Partnerships
09:00 - 09:15
Presented by :
Hayley Jo Carr, Reef Rescue Network Coordinator, Perry Institute For Marine Science
Craig Dahlgren, Executive Director, Perry Institute For Marine Science
In The Bahamas, effective restoration of coral populations to achieve species recovery is likely to require restoration efforts on large scales at multiple sites. While scientists and conservation NGOs are conducting experimental coral restoration at a number of sites and have demonstrated the effectiveness of these efforts, the scale and geographic scope of efforts is limited and likely insufficient to promote recovery of key coral species. To increase capacity for coral restoration The Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) has created the Reef Rescue Network, a partnership between coral reef scientists and local partners including community organizations, NGOs and dive operators. This approach takes advantage of scientific advances in reef restoration that increase the likelihood of successful restoration, as well as an increase in interest in coral restoration from a large stakeholder base. Within the network, PIMS technical staff and other scientists guide restoration, including selecting sites using available scientific data, conducting population genetics, training local partners to manage nurseries, providing guidance for outplanting, and conducting monitoring to evaluate success and adapt restoration strategies. Local partners, take ownership of their nurseries and restoration sites, including care for and maintain nurseries and conduct outplanting under the guidance of scientific staff. PIMS has also developed a PADI Reef Rescue Diver Specialty Course for local partners to offer to guests to increase capacity for reef restoration efforts and build support for these efforts among key stakeholder groups. To offset costs incurred by local partners for maintaining coral nurseries, the Reef Rescue Network is working with partners to develop revenue streams based on their coral restoration activities, including promoting local partners through the Reef Rescue Network Website and social media, developing marketing materials to promote local partners, training dive instructors to offer the PADI Reef Rescue Diver Specialty Course, and organizing and promoting coral restoration events run by local partners. Through this model, we hope to raise awareness of issues related to coral reefs and how restoration can be used with other strategies to address them, as well as build capacity for conducting widespread coral restoration throughout The Bahamas and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
ONE TEAM. ONE FIGHT. (Redefining Cooperation & Communication in a hyper-partisan climate)
09:15 - 09:30
Presented by :
Jim Ritterhoff, Executive Director, FORCE BLUE, INC
The challenges we face are evident. What’s happening to our planet is real. There are facts to convince, figures to corroborate and stories to compel. Yet the message is still getting lost. Why? The easy answer is “People don’t want to hear it.” Which begs the follow-up question, are we doing everything in our power, as leaders in this fight, to make them WANT to hear it? Jim Ritterhoff, Executive Director and Co-Founder of FORCE BLUE, a 501c3 non-profit initiative that retrains, retools and redeploys Special Operations veterans and military-trained combat divers on marine conservations missions, will discuss the unique problems his organization was built to address – namely, the difficultly our returning combat veterans have in adjusting to civilian life and the rapidly declining health of our planet’s marine resources. He’ll share how, in uniting two seemingly unrelated worlds, FORCE BLUE is creating a model of caring, cooperation and positive change with the power to restore, not only coral reefs, but human lives as well. And he’ll talk about FORCE BLUE’s philosophy -- that it doesn’t matter whether you get on the boat from the left side or the right side; we’re all in the same boat – and how the organization is using the Veterans’ megaphone to preach beyond the traditional environmental choir.
Constructing novel resources and alliances through tourism for reef restoration: A case study with Iberostar’s Wave of Change
09:30 - 09:45
Iberostar is a Spanish based luxury hotel group with over 100 hotels focused in Europe and the Caribbean. With more than 80% of our hotels on the beachfront, we have always applied a policy of sustainable and responsible management with the environments in which we develop our activity, because we understand the valuable and invaluable exchange of resources that seas and oceans They offer us. But today we take a step forward and launch a new project that we have called "Wave of Change" with three lines of action that are complementary but clearly differentiated: the reduction of the consumption of single-use plastics, the promotion of sustainable fishing and the improvement of coastal health. In the Dominican Republic, Iberostar proposes to contribute directly to the solution by facilitating reef restoration scientific research, collaborating with and contributing to the reef restoration community locally and in broader Caribbean, and establishing a model for integrating ocean conservation & sustainability directly into the hotel industry. The five Iberostar hotels in Bávaro & Bayahibe will establish coral nurseries through peer-reviewed scientific research conducted by Iberostar employee Dr. Megan Morikawa (affiliate of University of California at Santa Barbara). With nursery efforts focused on building diversity within species, between species, and across geographic locations utilizing the unique resources of the hotel resorts, Iberostar aims to directly support scalability in reef restoration.
SUSTAINABLE RESTORATION: USING GRAND BAHAMA AS A CASE STUDY FOR LARGE-SCALE CORAL RESTORATION
09:45 - 10:00
Presented by :
Stephen Ranson, Chief Science Officer, Coral Vita
Scientists and reef practitioners have been scrambling to discover new techniques to combat global coral degradation. Coral restoration is still a developing field, and many innovations and improvements are necessary for long-term success and conservation. The growing attention towards restoration has led to a number of successful scientific and non-profit ventures, however many of these are limited to small, grant-based projects with constraints on size, scale, and longevity. Coral Vita is developing a new for-profit, for-good business model that can address these issues by creating a network of commercial land-based farms, each supported by a range of revenue streams. As a mission-driven company, Coral Vita is incorporating the latest coral farming techniques developed by marine institutes, including the Mote Marine Laboratory and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. Coral Vita’s pilot project on Grand Bahama Island will be the first reef restoration facility of its kind, growing a diverse range of species in various size ranges, while acclimating out-plants to localized changing ocean conditions. This land-based farm will serve as an ecotourism destination, where visitors can pay to tour the farm, sponsor corals, plant corals, or receive restoration dive certifications from SCUBA agencies, while also serving as an education/conservation center for the local community and schools to learn more about coral reefs and ocean conservation. The farm, and its proximity to offshore reefs, will provide an excellent platform to test new aquaculture, monitoring, out-planting, and breeding techniques needed to advance the field of restoration. The company can also sell the service of reef restoration to interested parties that may include: coastal developers, beachfront resorts, cruise ship operators, governments, international development agencies, fisheries associations, the re-insurance industry, coastal property owners, mitigation banks, and high net worth/corporate sponsors. Without having to rely solely upon donations and grants, Coral Vita will be able to inject much needed private capital into reef restoration, benefiting all practitioners. Coral Vita will use this Grand Bahama site to demonstrate the efficacy of establishing large land-based restoration farms that are crucial to preserving coral reefs.
Incorporating Restoration into a Social-Ecological Systems Framework for Reef Management: A Case Study from the Manell-Geus Habitat Focus Area in Guam
10:00 - 10:15
Presented by :
Val Brown, Fishery Biologist, NOAA Fisheries
Coral reef social-ecological systems (SES) frameworks can provide an important tool for managers as they develop and implement restoration actions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed an SES framework and integrated monitoring (IM) program to inform management and restoration efforts in the Manell-Geus Habitat Focus Area (HFA) in Guam. As one of ten HFAs included in NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint, the project seeks to improve habitat conditions for fisheries and improve the resilience of coastal communities. Reefs provide valuable ecosystem services to coastal communities and have direct impacts on human well-being through provisioning, coastal protection, and cultural values. Yet, resource managers often focus solely on biophysical conditions, missing important social conditions that could improve or impair restoration outcomes. To avoid this, both social and biophysical data from baseline monitoring efforts informed the SES framework for the HFA; and managers have used the framework to develop reef and watershed restoration strategies that should improve both reef ecosystem health and support human well-being. We’ll review the SES framework and IM program, restoration strategies, challenges, and recommendations.
08:30 - 12:00
Pelican West
Creating a regional vision for urban reef restoration: A case study from the Biscayne Marine Ecosystem, FL
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Crawford Drury, Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology
Diego Lirman, PI, UM RSMAS
Stephen Palumbi, Stanford University
Iliana Baums, Assoc Prof, Penn State University
Michael Beck, Lead Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Robert Richmond, Research Professor And Director, Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University Of Hawaii At Manoa
Sucharita Gopal, Professor, Department Of Earth And Environment & Center For Remote Sensing, Boston University
Jerry Ault, Chair And Professor, Department Of Marine Ecosystem And Society, Rosenstiel School Of Marine And Atmospheric Science, University Of Miami RSMAS
Amanda Bourque , Ecologist, National Park Service Biscayne National Park
Moderators
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
This session challenges the paradigm that coral restoration efforts are best undertaken in undisturbed areas relatively far from human influence. The Biscayne marine ecosystem provides a unique opportunity for investing in local urban restoration that will directly benefit metropolitan communities that are most at-risk of losing valuable marine resources in a changing climate. The ecological fabric of the wider Biscayne landscape and seascape—from Miami to Key Largo, and from the Everglades to the Gulf Stream—is an untapped asset ripe for developing a systems approach that leverages natural temperature variation, genetic resilience, ecosystem services, and a marine-urban gradient to reimagine the conventional framework of coral restoration. 
Biscayne Case Study Overview and Introductions
08:30 - 08:45
Presented by :
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Introduction to the session: Creating a Regional Vision for Urban Reef Restoration: A Case Study from Biscayne, FL
Brief History of Reef Restoration Activities in the Biscayne Region
08:45 - 09:00
Presented by :
Diego Lirman, PI, UM RSMAS
Crawford Drury, Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology
In our presentation, we will describe the development and achievements of the coral propagation and restoration program started by the University of Miami in Biscayne National Park in 2007. We will describe our research on the growth and survivorship of different genotypes of staghorn coral both in the nursery and once outplanted onto different reefs, the impacts of damselfish occupation, bleaching and disease outbreaks, the genotypic and genetic structure of staghorn populations, and the physical and genetic connectivity of staghorn populations across the Florida Reef Tract.
Local Managed Relocation (LMR) as a Minimal-Risk Approach to Building Climate Resilience in a Coral Restoration Program: A Case Study from Florida’s Biscayne Region
09:00 - 09:15
Presented by :
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Assisted migration of corals over latitudinal gradients has been proposed as a strategy for increasing coral thermotolerance, but is currently considered high-risk, due to the potential for the unwanted introduction of pathogens or invasive species, and genetic risks such as outbreeding depression. A pragmatic way of minimizing these risks is to identify thermal heterogeneity in seascapes over much smaller scales and use corals from locally warmer conditions as source populations for restoration. We investigated this approach in Miami, Florida, by testing whether corals collected from different sites spanning a natural thermal break in Biscayne Bay varied significantly in their thermotolerance. Thirty genotypes of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) were collected from sites spanning this break and maintained in common-garden conditions in three nurseries for 2-10 years. We then used a laboratory heat stress experiment to test the thermotolerance of these genotypes, based on reductions in symbiont density (measured as cell counts and as symbiont-to-host cell ratios), photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm), and chlorophyll. We grouped genotypes by thermotolerance and found higher thermotolerance was associated with the southern collection locations, with an increase of just 0.25oC in maximum monthly mean (MMM) temperature selecting for genotypes that were twice as thermotolerant (measured as time spent at 32.5oC for a similar decline in response variable) compared to susceptible genotypes. However, thermotolerant genotypes also grew ~25% more slowly at nursery sites compared to susceptible genotypes. When interpreted using high-resolution climate models, these data indicate that assisted translocation of genotypes from southern sites to northern sites – a distance of < 15km – could extend bleaching horizons (measured as time to annual severe bleaching) by >20 years compared to outplanting nursery corals at their original collection sites. Assisted translocation within local restoration areas may help restore reefs which grow more slowly but are more climate resilient, and help buy time for the development of additional interventions.
Lessons for Restoration from the Genetics of Heat Tolerance
09:15 - 09:30
Presented by :
Stephen Palumbi, Stanford University
Current research has shown strong differences within species between coral colonies in their resistance to bleaching temperatures. Sources of variation range from the symbiont, acclimation by the host, adaptation by the host and microbiome. New efforts in the Pacific show that choosing heat resistant colonies on reefs can lead to more heat resistance in coral nurseries made from fragments of these colonies. Genome and transcriptome and selective breeding experiments in Pacific species of the genus Acropora suggest that many coral genes affect heat resistance. In the Caribbean, Acropora colonies also show strong differences in heat resistance in the field and in lab common garden settings. High genetic diversity still exists even in threatened populations, but new experiments show that multiple stressors such as heat and disease can potentially erode this diversity. Standing genetic diversity can be a source for heat tolerant corals and thus conservation strategies that promote the conservation of coral genetic diversity are recommended.
Nature-Based Coastal Protection in Southeast Florida and the Biscayne Region
09:30 - 09:45
Presented by :
Michael Beck, Lead Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
The risk of flooding is increasing for coastal cities around the world and there is great interest in identifying effective solutions that reduce it. It is increasingly clear that natural defenses such as mangroves and reefs can play significant roles in coastal protection and these are particularly critical in south Florida and the Biscayne region. There are significant opportunities to support restoration of these critical habitats for flood defense. But to be able to access these funds, we must be able to rigorously value their flood protection benefits; the good news is that we can. In this presentation, we will show some of the critical values of reef and mangrove habitats in the Biscayne Bay region.
Assessing Anthropogenic Stressors Affecting Coral Reefs in the Biscayne Marine Ecosystem
09:45 - 10:00
Presented by :
Robert Richmond, Research Professor And Director, Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University Of Hawaii At Manoa
Interventions to save coral reefs are deemed critical and urgent to protect these exceptional ecosystems and those who depend on them. Increasing losses in ecosystem services including coastal protection, fisheries resources, and support for tourism and cultural practices have demonstrated the need for well designed and implemented restoration programs. New molecular tools in the disciplines of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and transcriptomics can help guide restoration activities and provide a basis for evaluating program efficacy. Criteria for the selection of wild and brood stock and the cultivation of resistant variants that can survive anthropogenic stressors is essential for the success of restoration efforts and associated interventions. Protein expression is a valuable tool for diagnosing specific local stressors of highest concern, and the genotypes of corals most likely to survive. The Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) and Gene Ontology (GO) databases are now usable to help guide interventions for corals. Genetic analyses can determine those genotypes with inherent resistance to individual and multiple stressors, and transcriptomic data can provide critical information on gene expression in response to changing environmental conditions. The Florida Keys and Biscayne Bay provide an appropriate set of sites for the testing and application of techniques. To make the most of limited financial, institutional and human resources that can be devoted to coral reef restoration, the application of emerging molecular tools can be foundational in the design, implementation and evaluation of such activities.
Panel Discussion on Research opportunities and unique challenges in the Biscayne marine ecosystem
10:00 - 10:15
Presented by :
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Panel discussion.
Landscape Ecology And Reef Restoration in Miami-Dade
10:45 - 11:00
Presented by :
Sucharita Gopal, Professor, Department Of Earth And Environment & Center For Remote Sensing, Boston University
The Miami-Dade portion of the Florida Reef Tract consists mostly of non-accretionary hard bottom coral communities organized into patchy platform and shelf edge reefs. Live hard coral cover is very low in the wake of coral disease, thermal shocks and hurricanes. However, the reefs are high value due to dense nearby user populations, ready accessibility, and presence of a national park. The situation is suitable for coral reef restoration, with good potential for enhancing biodiversity maintenance and the provisioning of food, recreation and tourism opportunities. This portion of the reef estate is proximal to major impactors including human population expansion, rapid urbanization, and sacrifice of habitat destruction that have together severely compromised ecological landscape function. We have begun to examine the key factors bearing on the risk-benefit for reef restoration in the Biscayne marine ecosystem, using a combination of remote sensing, GIS, long-term habitat monitoring, and dynamic modeling of ecosystem service flows and tradeoffs. Early results suggest that if coral reefs and adjacent seagrass and estuarine environments are to be restored, there is need to adopt a landscape view with plans for aggressive and comprehensive stewardship, extensive restoration interventions, and close attention to the amelioration of enabling conditions for coral survival. This is particularly true within Biscayne National Park.
Importance of Reef Restoration in Supporting Reef Fisheries in the Biscayne Region
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Jerry Ault, Chair And Professor, Department Of Marine Ecosystem And Society, Rosenstiel School Of Marine And Atmospheric Science, University Of Miami RSMAS
The coastal bays and coral reefs of Biscayne support diverse natural resources, and lucrative tourism and fishing industries that generate billions of dollars in regional economic activity. Biscayne, the nation’s largest marine National Park, is visited by more than 250,000 persons annually due to its proximity to south Florida’s burgeoning 6 million-person population. A host of consumptive and sport fisheries target fish and shellfish across the seascape, most intensively the snapper-grouper complex. Other directed commercial fisheries capture primary prey species (pink shrimp, baitfish) that deleteriously affects food availability for reef fishes and elite sportsfishes like tarpon, bonefish, and permit. Overfishing, prey reduction, and habitat degradation are principal threats. Ecological persistence and economic sustainability is a key conservation concern as resource demand continues to escalate. “Sustainability” in this context is the ability of an exploited fish population to produce goods and services (including yields) at suitable levels in the short-term, while maintaining sufficient stock reproductive capacity to continue providing these goods and services at similar levels into the indefinite future. This talk explores fishery sustainability risks and provides strategic advice to enhance reef restoration activities that will improve management decision-making capacity for the National Parks and State of Florida.
Fifteen years of coral reef restoration in Biscayne National Park
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Amanda Bourque , Ecologist, National Park Service Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park, located in Miami’s back yard, protects extensive mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, the northernmost Florida Keys, and a portion of the Florida Keys Reef Tract. Status as a national park offers a level of protection from some local stressors, yet the park’s proximity to the Miami metropolitan area provides its own set of challenges. Over the past fifteen years, the National Park Service has engaged in sustained intensive reef restoration efforts, with support from damage assessment case settlements and grants and through key partnerships. Most visitors enjoy the park by boat, and park waters support active trap fisheries. The park’s Habitat Restoration Program addresses direct impacts to reef resources from vessel strikes, vessel debris, derelict fishing gear, and storms, as well as indirect effects that have drastically reduced coral populations. The scale, complexity, and ecological benefit of reef restoration efforts in the park continue to grow in parallel with advances in the field. Examples of substrate stabilization, reef habitat reconstruction, debris removal, and coral population enhancement through nursery collaborations and larval propagation will be presented. This body of work has helped to advance restoration concepts from the research realm to practical and ecological meaningful scales. Active restoration measures that conserve the park’s existing reef resources and build diverse coral populations are critical to their continued existence in a changing future.
Panel Discussion on Management opportunities and challenges in the Biscayne marine ecosystem
11:30 - 12:00
Presented by :
Andrew Baker, Associate Professor, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Panel discussion.
08:30 - 12:00
Town Hall South
Assisted Evolution
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Andrea Grottoli, Professor, The Ohio State University
Matz Indergard, Graduate Student, University Of North Florida
Ana M. Palacio Castro, PhD Student, RSMAS University Of Miami
Olivia Williamson, Ph.D. Student, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Kerri Dobson, Graduate Student, The Ohio State University
Harmony Martell, PhD Candidate, Old Dominion University
Sarah Solomon, Student, The Ohio State University
Gabrielle Cabral, Graduate Student, RSMAS University Of Miami
Rivah Winter, Inventor In Residence And Curator Of Aquarium Content & Marine Science, Phillip And Patricia Frost Museum Of Science
Kylie Smith, Graduate Student, Clemson University
Carlos Prada, URI, URI
Kira Hughes, Research Project Manager, Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology
Moderators
Andrea Grottoli, Professor, The Ohio State University
Carlos Prada, URI, URI
This session will be on human-assisted evolution techniques to enhance environmental stress tolerance, such as preconditioning or epigenetic programming, modification of coral-associated symbionts and microbes, targeting of physiologically resilient corals for transplantation, and selective breeding.
Physiological and Biogeochemical Responses of Super-Corals to Thermal Stress from the Northern Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea
08:30 - 08:45
Presented by :
Andrea Grottoli, Professor, The Ohio State University
Mass coral bleaching is increasing in frequency and severity, leading to the loss of coral abundance and diversity. However, some corals are less susceptible to bleaching than others and can provide a model for identifying the physiological and biogeochemical traits that underlie coral resilience to thermal stress. Corals from Eilat in the northern Red Sea do not bleach unless seawater temperatures are sustained at +6⁰C above their average summer maximum. This extreme thermal tolerance qualifies these as super-corals, as most corals bleach when exposed to temperatures that are only +1-2⁰C above their thermal maximum. Here, we conducted a controlled bleaching experiment (+6°C) for 37 days (equivalent to 32-degree heating weeks) on three species of corals from Eilat: Stylophora pistillata, Pocillopora damicornis, and Favia favus. While all three species appeared visibly bleached, their physiological and biogeochemical responses were species-specific. S. pistillata catabolized lipids but still maintained total energy reserves and biomass, while calcification declined. P. damicornis was the least affected by bleaching. It maintained its total energy reserves, biomass, and calcification independent of heterotrophy. Finally, F. favus suffered losses in energy reserves and biomass but still maintained photosynthesis and calcification most likely because of its high baseline heterotrophic capacity. Thus, just like their non-super-coral counterparts, maintaining energy reserves and biomass, and heterotrophic capacity appear to be traits that underlie the thermal tolerance of these super-corals from Eilat. Thus, these super-coral populations could provide viable seed stock for repopulating coral losses on other reefs.
Identifying the Phenotypic Plasticity of Thermal Tolerance in Endangered Caribbean Coral
08:45 - 09:00
Presented by :
Matz Indergard, Graduate Student, University Of North Florida
As climate change decimates coral communities on a global scale, effective outplanting of resilient corals will become an increasingly important management tool. This study examined endangered Caribbean coral Acropora cervicornis with three objectives. 1) Determine if there is significant phenotypic plasticity in thermal tolerance, 2) determine if genotypes differ in their degree of plasticity of thermal tolerance, and 3) Identify if acclimatization to higher temperatures affects survival of outplanted coral depending on the environment they are transferred into. To conduct this study, we partnered with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) to acquire fragments of A. cervicornis for both outplanting and land-based tests. To examine the degree of plasticity, fragments of 20 genotypes were exposed to either ambient or elevated temperatures (32o C) after a short acclimation period at either ambient or elevated temperatures. A comparison of lifespan of fragments exposed to different temperatures shows a significant amount of plasticity exists in A. cervicornis and that genotype is a significant factor in determining the degree of plasticity. To test the survivability of treated coral, 10 coral genotypes were outplanted on two reef sites offshore of Key Largo, FL. These corals are being monitored to determine if heat-treated corals have a higher survivability than corals kept at ambient temperature when planted at different reef depths. Identification of plastic genotypes in regard to thermal stress could be used for stocking programs to contribute easily-acclimatized colonies to exposed locations, such as shallow reef crests. Furthermore, an accurate estimation of the limit of phenotypic plasticity within corals will further the understanding of acclimation capacity of coral communities under the changing climate. Prior heat exposure may increase outplant survivability and aid local managers in reef recovery projects, ultimately bolstering active restoration of decimated reef sites.
Multiple bleaching events in Siderastrea siderea increase the abundance and persistence of thermotolerant algal symbionts (Symbiodinium trenchii), with positive effects on subsequent bleaching response
09:00 - 09:15
Presented by :
Ana M. Palacio Castro, PhD Student, RSMAS University Of Miami
There is increasing interest in developing interventions that enhance thermotolerance of restored corals in anticipation of continued climate change. One such method involves controlled bleaching and recovery to manipulate corals algal symbionts in favor of more thermotolerant types. Data from natural bleaching events suggest that disturbed symbiont communities return to their original symbionts over months-years, but the factors influencing the long-term persistence of these symbionts are not well understood. Using real-time PCR, we assessed the longevity of symbiont communities dominated by thermotolerant Symbiodinium trenchii (initially type D1a) in 24 replicate cores from each of 6 colonies of the massive starlet coral (Siderastrea siderea) collected from Emerald Reef, FL following a natural bleaching event. We monitored the symbiont community for three years, including an initial period at control temperatures (7 months at 25-28°C), followed by a thermal challenge applied to a subset of cores (4 weeks at 32-33°C), recovery at control temperatures (1 year), a second thermal challenge applied to all cores (4 weeks at 31-32°C) and a final recovery period (1 year). We found that, under control temperatures, corals containing >1% Symbiodinium clade C rapidly became dominated by these clade (< 4 months). However, corals containing < 1% clade C remained dominated by S. trenchii for >1 year and bleached less severely (measured as declines in symbiont abundance and function [Fv/Fm]) when exposed to heat stress. During both bleaching events, cores with mixed communities experienced shifts in favor of S. trenchii dominance, and cores already dominated by S. trenchii became virtually exclusive on S. trenchii, thereby increasing the long-term persistence of these thermotolerant symbionts. These data suggest that the longevity of S. trenchii communities increases if competing symbionts are reduced below 1%, which may be unlikely to occur across entire colonies because sensitive symbionts likely persist in coral microhabitats (e.g., shaded vertical colony edges) during bleaching events. Instead, these dynamics indicate that the symbiont communities of S. siderea likely persist long-term as complex mosaics whose specific composition in any particular polyp is governed by its history of disturbance and that of its neighbors.
Temperature and local symbiont availability impact symbiosis establishment in Caribbean coral recruits
09:15 - 09:30
Presented by :
Olivia Williamson, Ph.D. Student, University Of Miami, Rosenstiel School Of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Intervention strategies to create “climate smart” corals for restoration include manipulating the association between corals and their algal symbionts. In adult corals, “stress-hardening” through controlled bleaching and recovery can shift symbiont assemblages in favor of thermally-tolerant Durusdinium (formerly Symbiodinium clade D) and increase thermal tolerance by 1-2°C. We tested methods for manipulating symbiosis in coral recruits using elevated temperature and proximity to adult colonies containing thermally-tolerant Durusdinium to increase symbiont acquisition rates or abundance of Durusdinium. Aposymbiotic Diploria labyrinthiformis recruits from Curaçao were exposed to four experimental treatments: (1) ambient temperature (27°C) and proximity to adult corals predominantly hosting Durusdinium; (2) ambient temperature and proximity to adult corals predominantly hosting Cladocopium (formerly Symbiodinium clade C); (3) elevated temperature (30°C) and proximity to Durusdinium-dominated adults and (4) elevated temperature and proximity to Cladocopium-dominated adults. On average, recruits reared at 30°C experienced a >30% reduction in survivorship compared with those at 27°C. Of the surviving recruits, those exposed to 30°C hosted a greater proportion of Durusdinium (20% of their symbionts) but had fewer symbionts (0.13 per host cell) than those exposed to 27°C, which hosted an average of 11% Durusdinium and 0.27 symbionts per host cell. In addition, at 27°C recruits reared in proximity to Durusdinium-dominated adults hosted three times as many Durusdinium (~17.5%) as those reared with Cladocopium-dominated adults (~5.5%), but there was no significant difference in proportion of Durusdinium based on adult symbiont type at 30°C. This is the first study to investigate how temperature and symbiont availability impacts symbiont acquisition in Caribbean scleractinian coral recruits. Future studies will test the applicability of these findings for different scleractinian species from different source locations. If elevated temperatures and/or proximity to Durusdinium-dominated adults increases the proportion of Durusdinium in recruits, restoration practitioners may choose to rear recruits under these conditions in order to boost their thermal tolerance prior to releasing them onto reefs.
Interactive effects of elevated temperature, pCO2, and moderate nutrients on the physiology and biogeochemistry of two species of Indo-Pacific coral
09:30 - 09:45
Presented by :
Kerri Dobson, Graduate Student, The Ohio State University
Under predicted future ocean conditions, elevated seawater temperatures and ocean acidification (OA) will affect coral simultaneously. Many studies have shown that these conditions can be detrimental to the physiology of both the coral host and its endosymbiotic algae. Moderate nutrient additions, however, may offer some physiological benefits and aid in mitigating elevated temperature and OA stress in corals. We predict that moderate increases in nutrient concentrations will reduce the negative effects of elevated temperature and pCO2 on coral physiology, but that these effects will be species specific. If true, some coastal marine environments may provide refuge to corals in the future. To investigate this, fragments of the two Indo-Pacific corals Acropora millepora and Turbinaria reniformis were grown for 33 days under 8 treatments of a fully factorial experimental design including two seawater temperatures (26.5°C, and 31.5°C), two pCO2 levels (401 μatm, and 760 μatm), and two nutrient levels (low nutrients at 0.4 μmol/L NO3/NO2 and 0.2 μmol/L PO4-3, and moderate nutrients at 3.5 μmol/L NO3/NO2 and 0.3 μmol/L PO4-3). Preliminary results suggest that T. reniformis is resilient under all temperature and pCO2 conditions, with no additional effect of the moderate nutrient addition observed on either the host or the endosymbiont physiology. In contrast, moderate nutrients stimulated the productivity of A. millepora endosymbionts when exposed to the dual stress of elevated temperature and pCO2, but at a cost to host calcification. In addition, isotopic evidence shows that inorganic nitrogen additions are incorporated and recycled between the endosymbiont and the host, and that the N incorporation diminishes under temperature and/or pCO2 stress. Overall, these results suggest that coastal environments with moderate nutrient additions may provide a refuge to the more susceptible A. millepora under predicted future ocean conditions and that the more tolerant T. reniformis is already adapted to future ocean conditions. Therefore, it is important to consider nutrient composition of reefs when developing conservation strategies for Acropora corals.
Goldilocks Principle & the role of thermal stress memory in restoration: Do priming temperatures have to be ‘just right’ for corals?
09:45 - 10:00
Presented by :
Harmony Martell, PhD Candidate, Old Dominion University
Cellular stress memory is an important and conserved feature across the tree of life. A growing body of evidence in the literature suggests corals may have a thermal stress memory. Indeed, knowledge of coral stress memory could improve restoration outcomes. To elicit thermal stress memory in the lab, nearshore nursery-reared Acropora cervicornis fragments (n=8 genets) from Broward County, Florida were primed with five distinct thermal exposures, allowed to recover for 8 days, then exposed to a bleaching assay. Symbiont density, chlorophyll, dark-adapted chlorophyll fluorescence, and algal protein content were measured immediately after priming, after the 8-day recovery period, and after bleaching to determine whether priming conferred any bleaching resistance. Our results revealed an increase in bleaching resistance in two priming treatments, however only one treatment was not significantly different from the control group. Perhaps thermal priming of corals may require a priming exposure that is ‘just right’ to confer the maximum benefit to new fragments or outplants. Implications for restoration are discussed.
Lipid class profiles of annually bleached Caribbean corals inform coral selection for restoration
10:00 - 10:15
Presented by :
Sarah Solomon, Student, The Ohio State University
Rising seawater temperatures are a major threat to coral reefs worldwide, causing coral bleaching events that are occurring annually in some locations and are expected to be annual events globally this century. Corals with high levels of stored energy reserves are known to have increased survival and resilience potential to annual bleaching stress. In this study, we hypothesize that corals that catabolize storage lipids (i.e., triacyglycerols and wax esters) in response to thermal bleaching, but then quickly reassimilate them during recovery will be more resilent to annual bleaching events compared to those that do not. We experimentally bleached three species of Caribbean corals (Porites astreoides, Porites divaricata, and Orbicella faveolata) two years in a row (summer 2009 and 2010) by gradually elevating seawater temperature to 31.5C. We measured concentrations of the following lipid classes using thin layer chromatography: wax esters, triacylglycerols, free fatty acids, cholesterol, and phospholipids. Preliminary results suggest that species had different strategies to respond to environmental change. Overall, O. faveolata and P. divaricata had higher concentrations of storage lipids such as wax esters and triacylglycerols than P. astreoides, in agreement with other studies which show that P. astreoides is the least resilient to repeat bleaching stress of the three species examined. We support prioritization of conservation efforts for O. faveolata and P. divaricata for stock colonies and restoration projects as they are the most likely to survive annual bleaching events of the future. We also found that 1) lipid class composition of O. faveolata was affected by single bleaching, but not repeat bleaching, and those differences were determined by storage lipids; 2) lipid class composition in P. astreoides only changed with repeat bleaching, but not single bleaching with differences also driven by storage lipids; and 3) lipid class composition in P. divaricata was unaffected by single or repeat bleaching. These findings show a complex pattern of acclimation of different species of coral to climate change, which might have important implications for colony assessment and adoption of restoration policies .
Testing in situ stress hardening techniques to increase the climate resilience of a coral restoration program in South Florida
10:45 - 11:00
Presented by :
Gabrielle Cabral, Graduate Student, RSMAS University Of Miami
Recent back-to-back episodes of heat-induced coral bleaching in Florida and elsewhere have driven the need to test interventions that increase the resilience of restored corals to anticipated future warming. One potential intervention is the application of sublethal doses of bleaching stress to induce compensatory responses in reef corals during recovery that would increase their resistance to subsequent thermal stress (“stress hardening”). We trialed different methods for stress-hardening corals as part of a restoration program in Miami, FL, and used quantitative PCR (qPCR) and chlorophyll fluorometry (I-PAM) to assess changes in the structure and function of algal symbiont communities (Symbiodinium spp.). We tested the effect of high irradiance and the herbicide Diuron (DCMU: 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea) on the bleaching and recovery of 8 genotypes of the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis. For high light stress, we exposed corals to ~2,000 umol photons/m2/s PAR, which decreased photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) and resulted in visible bleaching within 3 weeks. These corals were then allowed to recover in the field and further changes monitored using qPCR. We also tested the effect of short-term exposure (1h, 2h and 6h) to three concentrations of DCMU (0.45mg/L, 4.5mg/L and 41.85mg/L) on coral bleaching and recovery. All concentrations resulted in rapid (< 1 h) decreases in Fv/Fm in A. cervicornis, but these values returned to normal after one day of recovery, suggesting longer exposure times are needed to induce symbiont expulsion. We will report on continued trials using longer DCMU exposure times and the use of subsurface rafts to expose corals to high light in the field. Continued efforts are needed to quickly test the efficacy of low-technology methods of stress hardening corals that can be scaled and incorporated into restoration efforts.
A bright future: testing stress hardening using high light for improved thermal tolerance
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Rivah Winter, Inventor In Residence And Curator Of Aquarium Content & Marine Science, Phillip And Patricia Frost Museum Of Science
Stress hardening, a technique using controlled stress to induce net positive physiological change, has been proposed as a scalable tool to improve the heat tolerance of nursery-grown corals through bleaching and recovery. Public-facing experiments in the Inventors in Residence Lab at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami, FL, are testing various stress hardening methods using nursery-grown Acropora cervicornis while showcasing coral restoration science to thousands of visitors. These iterative studies include assessing the feasibility of stress hardening using high irradiance while testing which stress and recovery conditions minimize tradeoffs. 165 coral fragments from eight genotypes of A. cervicornis were haphazardly assigned to either a control or a high light treatment (250 or 2000 umol photon m-2s-1) at one of two temperatures (25 or 29.5°C). Following the light stress, bleached corals were allowed to recover at either 25 or 29.5°C in a fully crossed design. Tissue samples, photochemical efficiency, and buoyant weight measurements were taken to assess changes in symbiont community structure (qPCR) and function (I-PAM) and to quantify coral growth. Bleached corals lost approximately 95% of their algal symbionts, with symbiont community function declining more severely at 25 than at 29.5°C. Control corals at 25°C had slower growth rates and lower symbiont abundance and function compared to controls at 29.5°C. While light-stressed corals held at 25°C throughout the study also showed lower total growth and reduced symbiont community function, corals that were light-stressed and recovered at 29.5°C did not show the same significant declines in growth or photochemical efficiency. These results indicate that recovery environment can mitigate potential tradeoffs caused by hormetic approaches such as stress hardening. Exposure of naïve controls and recovered fragments to subsequent stress will elucidate whether stress hardening improves resistance to, or recovery from, bleaching. This pilot study highlights the importance of seasonally timing potential interventions to maximize their net benefit and to maintain restoration efficiency by preserving key physiological functions such as coral growth rate.
Ecological conditions that influence the resiliency of coral transplants in the middle Florida Keys
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Kylie Smith, Graduate Student, Clemson University
The severe loss of hard coral cover over the past 30 years has prompted an interest in reef restoration by transplanting coral fragments. However, not all coral transplants are equally successful and the ecological conditions necessary for transplant resiliency in the face of disturbances are not well understood. To address this lack of knowledge, we combined a long-term reef community census with a longitudinal study of coral transplant survival on fifteen reefs in the middle Florida Keys. A total of 276 coral fragments of five species were transplanted along permanent transects and photographed quarterly from June 2013 to June 2018. During this period, two species of coral transplants were exposed to two acute thermal stress events (2014, 2015) and four species endured a category four hurricane (2017). In general, Siderastrea siderea showed higher resiliency to bleaching compared to Porites asteroides. Of all the abiotic and biotic factors measured, the amount of Dictyota spp. algae present was the factor that best explained individual variance in the propensity for bleaching. Porites asteroides, Siderastrea radians, and Orbicella faveolata had the highest survival after a physical disturbance with more than 50% of transplants surviving. Acropora cervicornis transplants were most susceptible to physical disturbance with only 16% survival. The complexity of the reef directly surrounding the coral transplant influenced the survival of A. cervicornis and O. faveolata corals, but not P. asteroides or S. radians transplants. Local topography and species composition rather than regional characteristics, such as depth, distance to shore, and visibility, explained more variation in coral resiliency. These results suggest some species are more resilient to thermal stress while others are more resilient to physical disturbance and local conditions may be the best predictors of transplant success.
Matching habitat profiles of the donor and transplanted sites enhance coral restoration.
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Carlos Prada, URI, URI
Coral reefs are being severely damaged worldwide. Coral restoration has been implemented to ameliorate such degradation and increase coral cover. In the last decade restoration of branching corals have been widely implemented and popularized that even non-expert citizens do it globally. Yet there are still scientific gaps that may accelerate the restoration process and increase the probability of success in the long-term. We tested whether coral populations are locally adapted, so that when transplanted to different habitats incur in increased mortality rates. We found that in the ESA threated Orbicella species, populations are adapted across depths and an increased in depth of just 5 meters sparks an increased mortality of 25% for O. annularis. O. franksi when transplanted shallower (3 m) does however remarkably well with no-mortality. We also found that the robustness of O. franksi in shallow environments is related to a faster photo-physiological adjustment to brighter environments. On the contrary, O. annularis in deep areas reaches extremely low excitation pressures that compromise algal photosynthesis and the coral-algal symbiosis. Our compilation of studies using reciprocal transplants suggests adaptation in reef anthozoans is a common phenomenon. Even under similar survivorship rates, the physiological compensation of being in a new foreign habitat decreases coral performance. Our results highlight the need to match donor and transplanted sites to increase coral yield during coral restoration. In slow growing species (< 3 cm/yr) such in Orbicella incorporating habitat information to increase the likelihood of restoration success is of greatest importance as measuring the effects of restoration may take as long as couple of decades.
First Steps to Implementing the Coral Assisted Evolution Project in Hawai’i
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Kira Hughes, Research Project Manager, Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology
Over the past 30 years we have lost 50% of corals worldwide. With climate change projections increasing over time, it is estimated that only 10% of corals will survive past 2050. Therefore, we must intervene to establish a foundation of resilient corals that allow our reefs to have a future. In 2015, we spearheaded novel research aimed at accelerating natural selection to enhance stress tolerance in corals (i.e. human- assisted evolution). Starting with the most thermal stress resistant corals, we tested emerging methods such as 1) selective breeding, 2) inducing acclimatization and 3) modifying symbioses. We selectively bred and sequenced the genomes of two of the main reef-building coral species in Kane’ohe Bay (Montipora capitata and Porites compressa), induced acclimatization in three coral species, and inoculated corals with thermal tolerant symbionts. Now we are taking the first steps to incorporate resilient coral stocks into restoration efforts to enhance long-term effectiveness, thereby increasing return on investment and offsetting the risk of losing important ecosystem services. We will identify coral stocks that are more resilient to thermal stress, grow them in in situ nurseries, and propagate them at three locations near O’ahu, Hawaii. Partners include National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (federal), Hawai’i State Department of Land and Natural Resources (state) and Malama Maunalua (non-profit). We will restore at least 5 acres (0.6 acres of live coral) using experimental plots to directly enhance coastal protection while determining whether restoration with resilient corals enhances future outcomes. The ultimate goal is to develop a best practices model for effective restoration that can be scaled up for greatest impact.
09:00 - 12:00
Tarpon Room
Restoring for Planned and Unplanned Physical Impacts
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Joanne Delaney, Resource Protection And Permit Coordinator, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Jamie Monty, Senior Project Manager, Coastal Systems International, Inc.
Isabel Silva, Director CICA, University Lurio
Lisa Symons, Regional Response Coordinator, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Bill Goodwin, Injury Assessment, Restoration And Monitoring Of Coral Reef And Seagrass Resources Within FKNMS, NOAA/ONMS/Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
William Precht, Director, Marine And Coastal Programs, Dial Cordy & Assoc., Inc.
Adrián Andrés Morales Guadarrama, Coral Production, INAPESCA
Sean Griffin, Restoration Specialist, NOAA Restoration Center
Marilyn Brandt, Research Associate Professor, University Of The Virgin Islands
Caitlin Lustic, South Florida Marine Conservation Manager, The Nature Conservancy
Moderators
Isabel Silva, Director CICA, University Lurio
Lisa Symons, Regional Response Coordinator, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
This session is for presenting on restoration in the aftermath of physical impacts to reefs (vessel groundings, storms, dynamite fishing) and mitigation of reef impacts associatated with coastal construction.
Using resource equivalency analysis to mitigate coastal construction impacts and promote coral restoration
09:00 - 09:15
Presented by :
Joanne Delaney, Resource Protection And Permit Coordinator, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
When significant marine habitats such as coral reefs are damaged by vessels, a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) is typically performed to enumerate the extent of the injury and determine the appropriate scale of primary and compensatory restoration. Resource Equivalency Analysis (REA) is one tool that may be used to scale a compensatory restoration or mitigation actions from injury events. REA utilizes service-to-service scaling to estimate lost ecological services. Scaling is especially important in complex habitats such as hardbottom, which are highly variable in structure, rugosity, core species, species assemblages, and species diversity. Recovery from injury can be equally variable, with some individual resources recovering relatively quickly (years) while others may have very long recovery horizons (decades to centuries) or may never recover at all. While the benefits of REA in the damage assessment domain is well known, REA can also be a useful instrument to address known, quantifiable impacts that are expected to occur from permitted or authorized coastal construction activities. FKNMS evaluated a large transportation infrastructure project in 2015 whose methods involved impacts to the seabed from equipment and vessels across a 16-acre work corridor. The potential injury to coral and hardbottom species was calculated from the estimated footprint of impacts and species density within the construction area. Using REA, FKNMS considered the extent of injuries to and recovery characteristics of each core hardbottom component to determine the restoration needed to provide comparable resources and services to compensate for the construction losses. The resulting compensatory restoration project featured restoration using a “high-value” coral species (Acropora cervicornis) in exchange for the loss of a wide variety of hardbottom coral species. In this manner, REA can be applied in non-traditional scenarios to compensate for unavoidable resource losses and promote habitat restoration when “species for species” restoration is not an option.
Data In The Age Of Information-Overload: A New Role For Private Industry in Coral Reef Restoration
09:15 - 09:30
Presented by :
Jamie Monty, Senior Project Manager, Coastal Systems International, Inc.
Southeast Florida has no shortage of coastal construction projects with permit-required avoidance and minimization efforts to move scleractinian corals out of harm’s way, and mitigation for anticipated project impacts. The authors propose a novel data organization and visualization tool for use with coral minimization/mitigation data to help inform, plan, and implement the most successful coral reef restoration activities possible. Successful restoration projects require the issue that caused the need for restoration to be ameliorated. As such, existing private sector-collected minimization/mitigation data can be used to help inform coral reef management agencies about location and species specific coral health conditions prior to conducting restoration activities. These already-existing datasets can be crucial to making the best informed decision regarding a restoration project, particularly in light of the current coral disease outbreak in southeast Florida, current coral bleaching plight in Australia, and similar coral issues occurring worldwide. This presentation will provide concrete examples of coastal construction projects requiring coral minimization/mitigation, and the potential for use of those and similar data sources, to help inform the planning and successful implementation of coral reef restoration projects. It will also touch on restoration projects that, had they been informed by available minimization/mitigation data, could have avoided issues and perhaps have been deemed more successful. This presentation will serve as a call-out to other environmental consulting firms to join efforts to provide existing minimization/mitigation datasets, and will propose a process, without reinventing the wheel, to share such data for the benefit of coral reef restoration practitioners and managers. The authors hope that the presentation results in a side-bar meeting during the conference to garner feedback on the proposed process, as well as conversations with coral reef management agencies that perform restoration activities regarding their desired functionality for a data visualization tool for informing coral reef restoration projects. We hope to forge a new public-private partnership within the Coral Reef Consortium and start the conversation of how existing information can be better utilized to inform logistical applications and decision-making to conserve these natural resources from their current dire state.
Gas Mega-projects, coral restoration, communities and Lúrio University
09:30 - 09:45
Presented by :
Isabel Silva, Director CICA, University Lurio
The north of Mozambique is famous for the biodiversity of coral, specially Acropora genera. Despite climate change the region recovered well for the el Ninõ 1998 and after that was not hit. Meanwhile the 3th biggest reserves of gas where discover in deep sea, and a big LNG plant is going to be built in the mainland. The only way to bring the pipeline of gas from the ocean to mainland is across the coral barrier. This means to cut an area of coral barrier of 80m by 500-1000m to lay the pipe and cover with suitable material for the re-growing of the coral. The Lurio University was award a grant to pilot a project to grow coral for the restoration of coral reefs on top of the pipeline impact zones. The project will be run in an island (Vamizi) near the LNG plant and the research station of the university, and a village with whom the University is been working. The project consists of two phases: one, testing several culture systems with the community; the other, scaling up the culture for high production to the restoration project. We hope a third phase of restructuring the cultivation systems for aquarium business could be possible, so communities can continue to have income from the activity. All project will be accompanied by capacity building of Mozambican students in diving, coral reef studies and community working.
Exploring the Efficacy of Coral Restoration in NOAA Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Cases
09:45 - 10:00
Presented by :
Lisa Symons, Regional Response Coordinator, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has used a range of coral restoration techniques over the last 25 years. Restoration efforts have focused on injuries associated with ship groundings and anchoring incidents. Lessons learned have helped refine both the technical aspects and the aesthetic and ecological values of various methods. These refinements, as well as the efforts by many others in the region have helped to advance the value and efficacy of coral restoration methodologies in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Vessel groundings and anchoring injuries can create impacts that are much larger than a vessel hull or anchor. The size of injuries incurred can vary depending on where on the reef the vessel rests, continued ground force reaction of the hull, impacts from debris, propwash, or the swing of anchor chain along the bottom. Inappropriate salvage techniques when a vessel is removed perpendicular to the incoming path or when non-floating lines are used is also problematic. Under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA), 16 U.S.C. §1443, NOAA has the authority to seek monetary damages which include: the costs to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the resources injured, lost use value, assessment, monitoring, response and enforcement costs. With those recoveries, NOAA implements primary and compensatory restoration and monitoring. NOAA has implemented a wide range of restoration techniques from replication of existing reef framework, stabilization and/or removal of rubble, to stabilization and reattachment of corals. Mid-course corrections have been needed to address larger restoration sites. Monitoring has identified more effective techniques and helped improve restoration success. The tests of time, severe weather, coral bleaching and disease often take an unforeseen toll on restoration sites as well as the uninjured areas of the reef tract. Designing restorations to fit all environmental conditions is challenging.
A low-tech, scalable approach to recreate habitat and restore functions after physical injuries to reef structure
10:00 - 10:15
Presented by :
Bill Goodwin, Injury Assessment, Restoration And Monitoring Of Coral Reef And Seagrass Resources Within FKNMS, NOAA/ONMS/Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
The counter-balancing factors of value of coral reef habitat and threats to the habitat serve to emphasize the need to address injuries to coral reefs whenever possible at whatever scale necessary. For the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), this is as much of a driver for action as the legal requirements for addressing injuries to natural resources. However, it is the inherent variability and complexity of coral reef structure that can present challenges to the approaches used to address injuries and restore ecological services following grounding incidents. One such incident involved the impacts caused by a large steel Aid To Navigation (ATON)buoy that broke loose from its mooring and drifted across a patch reef near Cheeca Rocks Reef. Through abrading, fracturing, and dislodging, the dragging of its anchor chain caused numerous and variable injuries to coral along its 65-meter track, including dislocating entire colonies and breaking others into pieces. To avoid further tissue loss and mortality, a stabilization or re-attachment restoration alternative was a preferred alternative. However, given the diversity, the rugosity, and the complex structural nature of the reef, there was a very high likelihood of secondary injuries associated with cementing colonies within the injury track. Therefore, the alternative chosen was to use coral fragments from the injury area to extend the reef area by creating new habitat in an adjacent hard-bottom area. Using a variety of techniques, this approach was aimed at recreating an approximation of the physical variability and rugosity, to the extent practicable, of the habitat and structure that was injured. Structure with vertical variability was created in as natural a looking fashion as feasible. This was accomplished using only products that would be available from a typical building supply store. This approach for restoration is fairly low technology, scalable, economical, and could be applied equally in developed or developing areas.
Rapid Response Increases Success of Emergency Coral Restoration Efforts: Lessons Learned from Repairing a Significant Anchor Injury in Grand Cayman, B.W.I.
10:45 - 11:00
Presented by :
William Precht, Director, Marine And Coastal Programs, Dial Cordy & Assoc., Inc.
On or around January 12-14, 2016 the M/V Tatoosh, a Cayman Island Flagged 303 ft. pleasure craft, caused extensive injury to coral reef habitat in shallow water 13-17 m depth in the West Bay Coral Reef Replenishment Zone off Seven-Mile Beach, Grand Cayman. The injury was caused by the deployed anchor chain of the vessel coming into direct contact with the reef. The total estimated area of impact (injury to both reef structure and biotic components) from the anchor chain of the M/V Tatoosh is 1,156 m2. These impacts were caused by repeated contact of the anchor chain with the living reef and substrate. Level I injuries (highly impacted) were areas where the reef structure has been lost or severely diminished and where most biota was crushed, fractured, dislodged, or buried. Level II injuries included areas of reef where devastation was not complete and consisted of toppled, dislodged, fractured, and overturned colonies, minimal structural injury, and abundant striations and abrasions to reef building organisms and/or reef framework. More than 1,000 dislodged and fractured colonies were located and salvaged by divers in the days and weeks following the incident. With the help of volunteers these corals were cached in crates adjacent to the injury. In total, 1,290 corals were subsequently reattached to the injured reef during emergency restoration operations. During the baseline post-restoration construction surveys 75 experimental (relocated) corals and 75 control corals on an adjacent, uninjured reef-spur were tagged for follow-up, long-term efficacy monitoring of the restoration effort. The six-month monitoring event revealed that 96% of the experimental corals survived the incident and subsequent relocation and reattachment. These results were invariant with the control corals which showed a 97% survivorship during the same period. We just completed in 2018, the second year of follow-up monitoring. These results show that 89% of the transplanted corals are still alive compared to 93% of the controls. These high survivorship rates are directly related to the rapid injury response performed by both the trustee and responsible party in the wake of the incident.
Primary and secondary restoration actions applied on a damage coral reef by ship grounding at Tanchacte Reef in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Adrián Andrés Morales Guadarrama, Coral Production, INAPESCA
Primary and secondary restoration actions applied on a damage coral reef by ship grounding at Tanchacte Reef in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Coral reefs damaged by ship grounding reduces the resilience of these ecosystems and their natural recovery can take several decades if direct, active and immediate response actions are not applied. In 2016 an area of approximately 300m2 in the Tanchacte reef (Arrecifes de Puerto Morelos National Park, northern part of Quintana Roo State, Mexico) was damaged by ship grounding.The National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Mexico implemented primary restoration actions such as the rescue of still alive coral fragments of Acropora palmata, their selection by diameter (small < 10 cm, medium < 50 cm, large >50cm), the return to the original position of colonies of massive coral (Pseudodiploria and Orbicella genus) turned around by the impact, fixation in the reef matrix, keeping the branches on their original position, of large fragments of A. palmata, the small and medium fragments were sheltered in plastic crates and placed in weak tidal current sites for their later handling and finally the stabilization of rubble that represented a potential danger for contiguous colonies not damaged by the accident. The secondary actions included: cementing the massive coral colonies secured during the primary actions with the use of concrete and the surrounding rubble, sealing of tissue lesions with epoxy plasticine to avoid possible diseases, infection of parasites or colonization of algae in the exposed skeleton, building a welded mesh nursery in order to fix the small and medium fragments of A. palmata allowing the fragments to grow protected from the sediment. Two years after the incident the colonies from the nursery grew enough to be outplanted to the impacted site starting the recovery process of the lost structure. Monitoring the site will allow to evaluate the efficiency of these restoration techniques.
Results from a large scale restoration effort using storm generated fragments from Hurricane Matthew transplanted to multiple reef sites in Southwest Puerto Rico
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Sean Griffin, Restoration Specialist, NOAA Restoration Center
Coral reefs are frequently impacted by storms and vessel groundings. As a result of these impacts, thousands of corals are often broken, dislodged, and flipped over. These loose fragments and corals are subject to continual abrasion, scour, and sedimentation, which ultimately result in death. Unchecked, these damages can result in additional reef loss and instability. However, if dislodged fragments can be collected and stabilized shortly after physical impacts then the probability of survival increases substantially. Restoration efforts can be performed in situ where impacts occurred or at-risk corals can be transported to other sites to promote coral recovery on degraded reefs. Results will be presented 2 years after over 8,500 corals were transplanted from one damaged reef to multiple reef sites in Southwest Puerto Rico after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. These types of impacts create thousands of at-risk corals that can be used for restoration.
The success of small island coral restoration and restoration operations in the face of catastrophic hurricanes
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Marilyn Brandt, Research Associate Professor, University Of The Virgin Islands
In 2017, two devastating hurricanes, Irma and Maria, impacted St. Thomas island, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the northeastern Caribbean. These hurricanes had enormous impacts on the two coral nurseries operating on the island as well as on outplanted coral communities. Overseen by UVI faculty, graduate students in the University of the Virgin Islands Master of Marine and Environmental Science (MMES) program had become the primary caretakers of the nurseries and had performed a scientific evaluation of outplanted coral communities nine months prior to the hurricane landings. Following the storms, graduate students also became the primary re-builders of the nursery and conducted a follow-up evaluation of the same outplanted coral communities. A summary of the impacts of the hurricane on the nurseries and outplant communities is presented, along with lessons-learned about small-island coral restoration operations in the face of changing reef environments and increasing storm frequency.
Impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Reef Restoration Programs: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Caitlin Lustic, South Florida Marine Conservation Manager, The Nature Conservancy
The impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms on coral reef organisms have been well documented. Impacts of storms on reefs have ranged from minor to devastating, with extreme cases resulting in the destruction of the reef framework. Taxa with shallow distributions and branching morphologies like the Caribbean Acropora palmata and A.cervicornis have been shown to be especially susceptible to strong storms and experience severe fragmentation. Coral reef restoration, using both sexually and asexually produced corals, has undergone a dramatic increase in both the number of projects and the number of corals being propagated and outplanted in recent years. Presently, programs around the Caribbean outplant tens of thousands of coral colonies grown in in situ and ex situ nurseries on a yearly basis. Here, we document the impacts of three major storms, Hurricane Matthew (Sept 28-Oct 10, 2016; max sustained winds = 165 mph), Hurricane Irma (Aug 30-Sept 12, 2017; max sustained winds = 180 mph), Hurricane Maria (Sept 17-Sept 25, 2017); max sustained winds = 175 mph) on reef restoration programs found along the path of these destructive storms. The data evaluated include impacts on different coral species, nursery types, and outplanted corals. The impacts on outplanted coral were also compared to impacts on wild colonies found in the same habitats. The goal of this collaborative effort was not only to document impacts of the storms on restoration resources and corals, but also to highlight the lessons learned from these disturbances and suggest ways in which restoration programs prepare better and mitigate the impacts of storms in the future.
09:45 - 12:00
Town Hall North
Reef Restoration for Coastal Protection
Format : Concurrent Session
Track : Concurrent Sessions
Speakers
Shay Viehman, Research Ecologist, NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Boze Hancock, Science, The Nature Conservancy
Calina Zepeda, Climate Risk And Resilience Restoration Specialist For Mexico And Northern Central America, The Nature Conservancy
Edwin Hernandez, Senior Scientist, Sociedad Ambiente Marino
Jane Carrick, Research Associate, UM
Sarah Groves, Marine Ecologist, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS
Michael Beck, Lead Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Moderators
Shay Viehman, Research Ecologist, NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Michael Beck, Lead Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Topics in this session will inlcude building/restoring coral reefs to serve as wave breaks, as well as talks on modeling and monitoring the expected results.
Coral restoration for coastal resilience: Incorporating hydrodynamics into restoration planning and implementation
00:45 - 10:00
Presented by :
Shay Viehman, Research Ecologist, NOAA National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
Recent major hurricanes in the Caribbean have emphasized the vulnerability of coastal communities to wave energy from extreme events. Episodic extreme wave energy can not only damage corals (e.g., breakage, overturning) and reef structure (e.g., fractures to reef framework), but also can impact coastal infrastructure near degraded reefs. As coral populations have declined and reef structural complexity has degraded, efforts to implementation and scale-up coral restorations have gained in momentum. Many coral restoration efforts have focused on ecological goals, but few to date have also included the quantitative bio-physical and coastal engineering approaches needed for coastal hazard risk reduction. Successful efforts towards this goal will not only address the normal range of abiotic conditions (e.g., hydrodynamics, temperature), but also need to realistically accommodate some extent of extreme events, particularly in the context of a changing climate. A grey-green infrastructure approach may also need to be considered for implementation. We address potential applications of fluid mechanics, hydrodynamics, and multi-dimensional hydrodynamic models. Here, we provide a decision support framework to increase the potential for successful coral restorations at scales large enough to reduce risk from coastal hazards. Finally, we recommend future directions for scaling-up coral restoration efforts for coastal resilience.
ENHANCING AND RESTORING CORAL REEFS FOR COASTAL DEFENSE: A CASE EXAMPLE FROM GRENADA
10:00 - 10:15
Presented by :
Boze Hancock, Science, The Nature Conservancy
Coral reefs naturally protect coasts from erosion and flooding by attenuating wave energy and supplying sediment to the adjacent beaches. Declines in reef condition coupled with increasing rates of global sea level rise are jeopardizing communities and coastal infrastructure. The typical hard engineering solution to this problem is to construct breakwaters or groins to protect high value shorelines, even in places where shallow reef crests occur. Softer solutions such as coral restoration may offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional engineered solutions in some places. It should be feasible to structurally restore degraded reefs using both biological and physical techniques including the use of structural materials. However, few reef restoration projects have been designed with coastal protection as a primary objective and guidelines are lacking. Here we discuss the process of designing a low crested breakwater structure to restore the wave breaking properties of a degraded reef crest in Grenada. Structures were designed to withstand hurricane wave forces, have a minimum 30 year lifespan, and promote coralline algae and coral growth. A total of 30 meters of pilot structures were constructed in 2015 and installed on a high energy back reef environment using local materials, community labour, and a specially built shallow water barge. Monitoring results of the pilot structures suggest they perform similar to traditional submerged breakwaters but have significantly greater ecological benefits including the potential to enhance natural reef accretionary processes.
Reef management and restoration to improve coastal protection for risk reduction.
10:45 - 11:00
Presented by :
Calina Zepeda, Climate Risk And Resilience Restoration Specialist For Mexico And Northern Central America, The Nature Conservancy
Coral reefs play an important role in coastal protection and reduction of risks derived from climate events. Reefs dissipate wave energy, reduce storm surge and maintain shoreline elevation, protecting coasts from erosion and flooding. Several ecological, geological, and oceanographic factors contribute to the coastal protection capacity of reefs. Nevertheless, the combined impacts of climate change and some anthropogenic factors reduce this capacity. Coral reef restoration can be employed to restore key ecosystem services, such as coastal protection, especially if the physical structure of the reef has been degraded and can serve as a risk reduction solution when it is combined with a series of management approaches that can boost coastal protection values. This type of restoration can meet conservation, resource management and disaster risk reduction objectives simultaneously, and provide multiple socio-economic benefits to coastal communities. A series of recommendations for global application based on lessons learned from Mexico are presented to assess when, where, and how to apply reef restoration for risk reduction.
The role of demographic and wave numerical models as tools to address coral reef rehabilitation success under a climate of change and ecological mediocrity
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Edwin Hernandez, Senior Scientist, Sociedad Ambiente Marino
Long-term coral reef degradation leads to a significant coral loss and to a net decline in reef accretion, resulting in a permanent state of mediocrity. Such altered reefs have evolved into de facto novel ecosystems characterized by declining biodiversity, impaired ecological functions and services, and reef flattening, reducing its wave buffering and essential fish habitat roles. Cross-reef wave power reduction was preliminarily modeled to quantify restored reef performance and to analyze the effectiveness of idealized reef configurations in dissipating wave energy and reducing the wave power reaching the nearshore region. Preliminary analyses suggest that under highly flattened conditions wave energy and height attenuation can barely reach 14% and 3%, respectively, across reefs with a sparse fringe of Acropora palmata. But, coastal reefs with higher physical structuration can reduce more than 80% of wave power. Optimal reef centroid positioning has important implications for the design of coral reef restoration projects. If the goal is to optimize the degree of coastal protection provided by a restored reef, without seabed modification (e.g. excluding a submerged structure that decreases effective water depth), then the ideal restoration location may not be at the existing reef crest, but closer to shore, highlighting the importance of shallow coastal reefs rehabilitation. The integration of long-term projections generated by stochastic demographic models for A. palmata, A. cervicornis, and Orbicella annularis parameterized with long-term data under present environmental conditions in Puerto Rico suggests that these species might face a high extinction risk under projected climate change-related stress. Recurrent coral mortality events associated to multiple stressors result in negative population growth rates (λ) and in a threat to the long-term success of reef rehabilitation. Regardless of small spatial scale success, reef rehabilitation strategies can have very limited impacts on wave attenuation and enhancing coastal resilience unless a significant increase in the magnitude, spatial and temporal scale of interventions is achieved, and unless sources of mortality are curtailed. The integrated role of wave numerical models and demographic models is discussed as a tool to address the simulated impacts of multiple spatial designs of reef rehabilitation interventions.
Using wave-tank experiments to evaluate the influence of coral reefs on wave dynamics
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Jane Carrick, Research Associate, UM
Healthy coral reefs provide coastal protection and natural defenses against climatic extremes. Coral reefs provide up to $30 billion to the global economy, with $9 billion made up by the coastal protection benefits they afford. Recent numerical modelling studies have shown that reefs can reduce wave energy by 97% and wave height by 84%, limiting physical impacts to the shoreline and reducing flooding. However, as reefs decline due to disease, pollution, increased ocean temperature, and acidification, coral propagation and reef restoration have become common intervention tools to mitigate impacts and recover lost services. As restoration efforts have now expanded to ecologically meaningful scales, it is important to ascertain whether restored reefs can offer meaningful coastal protection. In this project, we validate large-scale hydrodynamic models using experiments conducted at the University of Miami’s SUSTAIN wave tank using realistic coral models and provide field validation tests using floating wave sensors deployed over healthy and degraded Florida reefs. Through these experiments, we address scale and data gaps and potential parameters of importance, such as reef height, coral density, coral community structure, and coral spatial arrangement, which may influence wave height and energy. The information gathered will help guide future reef restoration efforts aimed at providing coastal protection benefits an enhancing coastal resilience.
Post-disturbance assessment to maximize long-term restoration success: Lessons learned from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Irma and Maria
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Sarah Groves, Marine Ecologist, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS
Near shore coral reef ecosystems provide coastal protection from storm surge and flooding, and in a changing climate with predicted increases in storm frequency and intensity, as well as rising sea levels, this protection of coastal infrastructure becomes more critical. Increased storm frequency and intensity raises the ecosystem value of these natural structures, while simultaneously increasing the threat of disturbance to them. To track changes in ecosystems services, post-disturbance assessment and triage has become a crucial component of long term restoration monitoring efforts and their success. In 2017, two category 5 hurricanes hit the islands of Puerto Rico within 2 weeks. Following that disturbance, in 2018, a large scale impact assessment was launched by FEMA with the support of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Protected Resources, the NMFS Restoration Center and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) to facilitate the National Disaster Recovery Framework Natural and Cultural Resources Recovery Support Function. In 39 field days, the field team visited 153 sites and assessed 80,000 corals for damage, covering an area of 414,354 m2 of coral habitat. Overall, 11% of Puerto Rico’s coral reefs sustained damage with the ESA listed species Dendrogyra cylindrus, Acropora palmata, Orbicella annularis, and Acropora cervicornis sustaining the majority of the damage. This information was used to direct triage efforts and identify 12 potential areas covering 465 km2 for large scale restoration and long term monitoring. This effort is one of the first of its kind to formally recognize corals reefs as natural infrastructure in need of federal support in the wake of disturbance. These efforts will not only increase the populations of threatened coral species in Puerto Rico, but will bolster the coastal protection ecosystem services by restoring the natural infrastructure these corals provide.
The Role of Reefs as Natural Defense: Catalyzing Large-scale Restoration Efforts
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Michael Beck, Lead Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Reefs and associated ecosystems serve as barriers, buffers, and breakwaters from rising seas, swell, and storm surge. Until recently, it was not possible to put a value on the flood protection benefits from these nature based solutions. This is changing rapidly, however, and recent studies are showing surprising results. Mangroves can reduce annual flood damages to people and property by 20% percent. Without coral reefs damages from storms would double; they avert billions of dollars in flood in flood damages every year. We use insurance industry-based models to show the restoration of reefs and wetlands is cost-effective as well for reducing impacts from storms, particularly when compared to built or gray infrastructure such as seawalls or dikes. This talk will summarize high-level findings from the latest research on the ecology, engineering, and economics of nature based defenses and identify where these can inform innovative tools in insurance and policy.
10:15 - 10:45
Town Hall Patio
BREAK
Format : Break
10:45 - 12:00
Sailfish Room
Designing Grand Challenges to Save Coral Reefs
Format : Panel Discussion
Track : Concurrent Sessions
In order to develop new scalable innovations that will help restore and recover coral reefs globally we are considering the role that global competitions and prizes can play. Join us to discuss prize design options ways to challenge teams to combine engineering and biology to achieve reef recovery a scale that is several orders of magnitude more efficient than exists today, for no more than the cost of traditional methods. 
12:15 - 13:15
Town Hall Patio
Lunch (provided)
13:15 - 13:45
Town Hall Ballroom
Success stories in reef restoration
Track : Plenary
13:45 - 14:00
Town Hall Ballroom
Manager's Perspective
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Sarah Fangman, Superintendent, NOAA/Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
14:00 - 14:30
Town Hall Ballroom
National Academies of Science Interim Report on Coral Intervention Science
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Stephen Palumbi, Stanford University
14:30 - 15:15
Town Hall Ballroom
Panel on the Future of Reef Restoration
Track : Plenary
15:15 - 15:45
Town Hall Patio
BREAK
Format : Break
15:45 - 16:00
Town Hall Ballroom
Awards
Track : Plenary
16:00 - 16:15
Town Hall Ballroom
Wave of Change - Iberostar's Restoration Program
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Megan Morikawa, Science Director, Iberostar Group
16:15 - 17:00
Town Hall Ballroom
Keynote: Messaging Reef Restoration and Conservation
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Richard Vevers, CEO And Founder, The Ocean Agency
17:00 - 17:30
Town Hall Ballroom
Closing Remarks
Track : Plenary
Speakers
Ilsa Kuffner, Research Marine Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey
Jennifer Moore, Protected Coral Recovery Program Manager, NOAA Fisheries
18:00 - 21:30
Caribbean Club (offsite)
Closing Reception, Exhibits & Award Ceremony (offsite - ticket includes dinner and transportation)
Format : Reception
Presented with support from Coral Restoration Foundation! Come on out for the closing ceremony at Key Largo's Historic Caribbean Club! Rub elbows with the locals in true Florida Keys fashion at this laid back island venue.  Meals will be provided by Chef Drew's Food Truck. Please stay tuned for information on drink specials.  Transportation Information: please stay tuned for shuttle information. Exhibitors: NGOs and Non-profits! Learn more about your environmental organizations and iniatives! Stop by a table, sign up to help, or join a newsletter to find out more about what people are doing to restore our natural resources. 
Friday , Dec 14, 2018
06:30 - 11:00
Reef Lounge/The Islander
Free Coffee (Breakfast & Lunch not provided Friday Onsite )
Free coffee available daily at 6:30am - 11:00am at the Reef Lounge.   
07:30 - 17:30
Mote Marine Lab (Summerland Key, FL)
Mote Marine Lab Facilities and Science Tour
Format : Site Visit
Come along to Mote Marine Laboratory's Elizabeth Moore International Center of Coral Reef Research and Restoration on Summerland Key for an insiders’ tour of their land-based nursery, that compliments their field based-nursery efforts. Learn about the various coral reef research programs Mote is facilitating at the lab, and enjoy small breakout sessions for hands-on learning about Mote’s molecular/microbiology lab, microfragmentation process of massive species, and community ecology and ocean acidification effects/impacts on restoration.https://mote.org/locations/details/international-center-for-coral-reef-research-and-restoration                 
08:00 - 12:00
Carysfort Reef (DIVE)
AM TRIP: Dive Carysfort Reef (Half Day)
Format : Site Visit
View our nearest restoration site at Reef Futures- The iconic Carysfort Reef. The reef sits a stone's throw away from the Ocean Reef Club! This is the perfect activity if you're looking to dive but can not take up your whole day! Enjoy a half day, 2-tank trip (choice of AM or PM) with Crystal Clear Charters. The first dive will be at Coral Restoration Foundation Carysfort Nursery where participants can tour the nursery and help to maintain the Coral Trees™ structures. Then, a pleasant, short boat ride will bring participants to Carysfort Reef for a chance to view this popular reef site and restoration area. Carysfort as been an active, focused, site for CRF since 2014. There are over 100 trees in the Carysfort nursery that are filled with both staghorn and elkhorn coral in abundances needed to support restoration activities on the reef. We'll spend one dive (~30-45mins) touring the nursery before heading to Carysfort Reef to view the long-time restoration sites for our second dive (~1hr). On the reef you'll see areas of loss, balanced by areas of hope, with newly outplanted corals plus a glimpse at one of the oldest restoration sites where corals are thriving! This field trip is offered both in the morning (8am-12pm) and afternoon (1pm-5pm). A light snack is expected to be provided by XXX. Snorkelers are welcome to join us!
08:00 - 12:00
Carysfort Reef (SNORKEL)
AM TRIP: Snorkel Carysfort Reef (Half Day)
Format : Site Visit
View our nearest restoration site at Reef Futures- The iconic Carysfort Reef. The reef sits a stone's throw away from the Ocean Reef Club! This is the perfect activity if you're looking to dive but can not take up your whole day! Enjoy a half day, 2-tank trip (choice of AM or PM) with Crystal Clear Charters. The first dive will be at Coral Restoration Foundation Carysfort Nursery where participants can tour the nursery and help to maintain the Coral Trees™ structures. Then, a pleasant, short boat ride will bring participants to Carysfort Reef for a chance to view this popular reef site and restoration area. Carysfort as been an active, focused, site for CRF since 2014. There are over 100 trees in the Carysfort nursery that are filled with both staghorn and elkhorn coral in abundances needed to support restoration activities on the reef. We'll spend one dive (~30-45mins) touring the nursery before heading to Carysfort Reef to view the long-time restoration sites for our second dive (~1hr). On the reef you'll see areas of loss, balanced by areas of hope, with newly outplanted corals plus a glimpse at one of the oldest restoration sites where corals are thriving! This field trip is offered both in the morning (8am-12pm) and afternoon (1pm-5pm). A light snack is expected to be provided by. Snorkelers are welcome to join us!
08:00 - 18:00
Coral Restoration Foundation (Tavernier, FL)
Dive/Snorkel Coral Restoration Foundation Coral Nursery Tavernier (full day)
Format : Site Visit
Join the Coral Restoration Foundation expert team for a fun day of coral restoration work. This field trip departs from Ocean Reef Club at 8:00am on December 14th and is expected to be a full day activity, returning to Ocean Reef by 6:00pm Friday evening. CRF's recreational dive program is designed to suit all levels of divers (snorkeling is also available)! This opportunity will include an educational morning, with presentations and hand-on practice at CRF's Exploration Center in preparation for the day's activities. Your first stop will be at the Coral Restoration Foundation Exploration Center for a presentation on the plight of coral reefs, CRF's history and restoration program, plus hands on training for the afternoon's dives! Following the presentation, your group will travel to Rainbow Reef dive center where lunch will be provided along the dock. Dive check-in and gear rental will start at 12:30pm for a 1:00pm departure. Our first dive site will be CRF's Tavernier Coral Nursery-the first and largest nursery established in the Florida Keys! Here your team of expert coral crew with guide you through the nursery where you'll participate hand-on with the corals and nursery structures. We'll then likely have our second dive at a nearby restoration site to either outplant new corals on site or monitor existing ones. Please note all activities are weather dependent (and short-notice cancellations may occur). Find our more about Coral Restoration Foundation's dive program.     
09:00 - 13:00
Windley Key Coral Reef State Park
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park Walking Tour (Half Day)
Format : Site Visit
Did you know that the Florida Keys are built on the fossils of coral reefs of the past? Come and enjoy a walking tour through the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park and see for yourself what lies beneath. This Ranger lead nature walk will take you through some of Key Largo's geologic history where you can test yourself on how many ancestral corals you can identify. You'll also get a glimpse into history with elements that helped build Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad in the early 1900s. This is the perfect field trip to stretch your legs and take a stroll through history.       
09:00 - 16:00
Key Largo State Parks
Key Largo State Parks Walking Tour (Full Day)
Format : Site Visit
Enjoy spending your day at some of the best State Parks Key Largo has to offer! The tour meets at 9:00am with departure from Ocean Reef Club expected to be about 9:30am. Come and appreciate the natural beauty of Key Largo with a day of local outdoor exploration! Your first stop will be at the nearby Dagny Johnson State park where the morning will start with a walking trip though Dagny Johnson. Learn about local flora during this guided tour through a variety of landscapes, including woods, mangroves, and coastline. You will embark on a nature walk led by one of the Park's Rangers. This interpretive walking tour will include information on the terrestrial habitat restoration efforts active in the park as well as an introduction to the wildlife commonly seen. The tour will last approximately 1-1.5 hours. After which you'll depart Dagny Johnson and head to the renowned John Pennekamp State Park- America's FIRST underwater State Park! After arriving at Pennekamp you'll take a break on one of the many picnic areas for a brief lunch provided by XXX. After lunch you'll visit the Park's concessions to rent a Kayak then join in in a Ranger-lead Kayak tour and a second nature walk along the Tamarind Trail. After the tours there will be some time to freely enjoy the Park on your own time before departing to return back to Ocean Reef Club at 3:00pm. To learn more about Dagny Johnson and Pennekamp State parks before your visit please check out their websites at: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/Dagny-Johnson-key-largo-hammock-botanical-state-park and http://pennekamppark.com
13:00 - 17:00
Carysfort Reef (DIVE)
PM Trip: Dive Carysfort Reef (Half Day)
Format : Site Visit
View our nearest restoration site at Reef Futures- The iconic Carysfort Reef. The reef sits a stone's throw away from the Ocean Reef Club! This is the perfect activity if you're looking to dive but can not take up your whole day! Enjoy a half day, 2-tank trip (choice of AM or PM) with Crystal Clear Charters. The first dive will be at Coral Restoration Foundation Carysfort Nursery where participants can tour the nursery and help to maintain the Coral Trees™ structures. Then, a pleasant, short boat ride will bring participants to Carysfort Reef for a chance to view this popular reef site and restoration area. Carysfort as been an active, focused, site for CRF since 2014. There are over 100 trees in the Carysfort nursery that are filled with both staghorn and elkhorn coral in abundances needed to support restoration activities on the reef. We'll spend one dive (~30-45mins) touring the nursery before heading to Carysfort Reef to view the long-time restoration sites for our second dive (~1hr). On the reef you'll see areas of loss, balanced by areas of hope, with newly outplanted corals plus a glimpse at one of the oldest restoration sites where corals are thriving! This field trip is offered both in the morning (8am-12pm) and afternoon (1pm-5pm). A light snack is expected to be provided by XXX. Snorkelers are welcome to join us!  
13:00 - 17:00
Carysfort Reef (SNORKEL)
PM Trip: Snorkel Carysfort Reef (Half Day)
Format : Site Visit
View our nearest restoration site at Reef Futures- The iconic Carysfort Reef. The reef sits a stone's throw away from the Ocean Reef Club! This is the perfect activity if you're looking to dive but can not take up your whole day! Enjoy a half day, 2-tank trip (choice of AM or PM) with Crystal Clear Charters. The first dive will be at Coral Restoration Foundation Carysfort Nursery where participants can tour the nursery and help to maintain the Coral Trees™ structures. Then, a pleasant, short boat ride will bring participants to Carysfort Reef for a chance to view this popular reef site and restoration area. Carysfort as been an active, focused, site for CRF since 2014. There are over 100 trees in the Carysfort nursery that are filled with both staghorn and elkhorn coral in abundances needed to support restoration activities on the reef. We'll spend one dive (~30-45mins) touring the nursery before heading to Carysfort Reef to view the long-time restoration sites for our second dive (~1hr). On the reef you'll see areas of loss, balanced by areas of hope, with newly outplanted corals plus a glimpse at one of the oldest restoration sites where corals are thriving! This field trip is offered both in the morning (8am-12pm) and afternoon (1pm-5pm). A light snack is expected to be provided by XXX. Snorkelers are welcome to join us!