How to restore a coral reef

Photo Credit: Ilsa Kuffner, USGS

By Pennsylvania State University

New guidelines drafted by a consortium of concerned experts could enable corals to adapt to changing environments and help restore declining coral populations in the Caribbean. The guidelines provide a definitive plan for collecting, raising, and replanting corals that maximizes their potential for adaptation. 

A new paper outlining the guidelines, authored by the restoration genetics working group of the Coral Restoration Consortium, a group of scientists, restoration practitioners, educators, and concerned members of the public, appears online July 22, 2019 in the journal Ecological Applications.

“The Caribbean has experienced tremendous coral loss over the last few decades, and coral restoration has become an urgent issue in the region,” said Iliana Baums, professor of biology at Penn State and chair of the Coral Restoration Consortium restoration genetics working group. “But few of the traditional guidelines for conservation, which tend to focus on vertebrates or plants, apply to corals. In this paper, we provide concrete guidelines for restoring coral populations, using the best available data.”

Corals serve as the foundation for reefs, which protect coastal communities, provide food and medicinal compounds, and lead to an estimated $9.9 trillion per year in goods and services around the globe. But reefs worldwide face a variety of threats—foremost among them rising ocean temperatures—and are declining, particularly in the Caribbean.

Read more here: