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Coral Reef Restoration Analysis

By: Daisy Wischmeyer and Olivia Wogan

As the Anthropocene continues, scientists have seen the increasingly devastating effects of human activity on our environment. One of the major concerns at hand is the issue of global warming and ocean acidification. As we release more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and continue to degrade our natural ecosystems, the ocean is absorbing most of the carbon dioxide, leading to a drop in pH called acidification. These anthropogenic effects have caused mass coral bleaching events worldwide. Scientists are quickly trying to find solutions to save these vital habitats.

One of the major concerns at hand is the issue of global warming and ocean acidification."

Coral restoration can look different based on techniques and processes, but the general idea is to create healthier reefs before it is too late. However, scientists are still working to determine the best methods of doing this. In the articles examined, scientists studied where the most effective reef locations were for successful restoration, as well as determining the methods for collecting and producing large amounts of coral larvae.

Photo credit: Fran la Reina 

Acquiring and cultivating coral larvae is essential to restoration; however, it can be expensive, time-consuming, and if done in the wrong place, without significant results. Therefore, being spatially strategic on where restoration efforts should be focused is the best way to ensure effective outcomes.

"The topic of restoration, as it pertains to our dwindling coral reef populations, is an aspect of crucial importance."
Figure 1 (Suzuki et al., 2020): 
This image depicts the final product of the wide scaled oriented bundle collection system or “coral larval cradle.

This newly developed restoration strategy is crucial in its practice as it will allow restoration efforts to upscale their efficiency significantly. Unlike other restoration methods, the bundle collection system (coral larval cradle) is not inhibited by the strict depth and area restrictions from which larva may be collected. This model included three crucial features that contributed to its success in wide-scale larval recruitment restoration. The study's model concluded with a cylindrically designed structure constructed of nylon mesh and was suspended vertically facing the seabed.

"... these papers' relevance stems from their attention to the demands of science for more effective, cost-friendly, and realistic methods"

As it pertains to our dwindling coral reef populations, the topic of restoration is an aspect of crucial importance. While there are various methods to approaching restoration practices, the following research papers focus on adapting and improving current techniques. Therefore, these papers' relevance stems from their attention to the demands of science for more effective, cost-friendly, and realistic methods. The research provided by these papers accentuates and lays out potential next steps for our society as we pursue the goal of sustaining coral reef ecosystems for the future. The two research papers emphasized in this blog revolve around this concept of developing more strategic restoration practices, explicitly speaking to the need for methods that can be implemented on a large-scale base to conform to and combat the accelerating degradation of coral reefs worldwide.

Within both studies, mannerisms for developing strategic and practical restoration of corals are the main focus, demonstrating how integral they are towards saving our coral reefs. The focus on methodology clarifies how important it is to be well informed before attempting to restore these fragile ecosystems. The papers prove that there are, in fact, specific reefs and environments that are more likely to be successful in restoration. With that information, scientists can utilize their findings to use their money and efforts effectively.

Photo credit: Fran la Reina

Learn More (Citations)

Suzuki, G., Okada, W., Yasutake, Y., Yamamoto, H., Tanita, I., Yamashita, H., ... & Yamazaki, M. (2020). Enhancing coral larval supply and seedling production using a special bundle collection system “coral larval cradle” for large‐scale coral restoration. Restoration Ecology, 28(5), 1172-1182.

Beyer, H. L., Kennedy, E. V., Beger, M., Chen, C. A., Cinner, J. E., Darling, E. S., ... & Hoegh‐Guldberg, O. (2018). Risk‐sensitive planning for conserving coral reefs under rapid climate change. Conservation Letters, 11(6), e12587.

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