Outplanting sexually propagated corals is a recent technique aimed at increasing coral cover on degraded reefs, while preserving genetic variation within recipient populations. While this approach is increasingly successful, several challenges currently prevent its application on large scales. That is foremost due to the high mortality rates of sexually reared recruits after they are outplanted (i.e., typically less than 5% of cultured recruits survive passed the age of one year). Research on processes affecting coral recruits after outplanting is this WG’s top priority. Additional objectives are further integrated to help up-scale larval propagation efforts. The Coral Restoration Consortium steering committee and WG members have defined the following priorities for the group:
- Improve post-settlement survival of outplanted sexual recruits to increase the effectiveness of this approach
- Develop a coordinated breeding program that will set best practices to successfully collect gametes, rear and settle coral larvae, and outplant sexual recruits (sexual coral restoration manual/“stud book”)
- Broaden the number of species targeted for restoration to increase research opportunities throughout the year (e.g., brain corals, brooders), and to address restoration at a coral community level rather than at a species-specific level
- Expand the number of locations that conduct larval propagation work
- Develop new technologies to enable mass rearing and settlement of coral larvae as well as efficient outplanting to increase the cost-effectiveness of this approach (once we have tackled the “post-settlement bottleneck”)
What We’re Working On
- Core WG team members are aligning their research on post-settlement survival and developing more specific research questions and targeted experiments.
- Had successful working group meeting where members shared research and monitoring plans for the 2018 coral spawning season.
- Prepared coral spawning prediction charts which will be online soon!
See the calendar here for call dates. Calls are on Thursdays at 2:00 PM (EST).