The need for comprehensive and effective coral restoration projects, as part of a broader conservation management strategy, is accelerating in the face of coral reef ecosystem decline. This study aims to expand the currently limited knowledge base for restoration techniques in the Maldives by testing the performance of mid-water rope nurseries in a lagoon and a reef habitat. We examined whether different coral farming habitats impacted fragment survival, health and growth of two coral genera and how the occurrence of mutualistic fauna, predation and disease influenced coral rearing success. Two nurseries were stocked with a total of 448 Pocillopora verrucosa and 96 Acropora spp. fragments, divided into different groups (four Pocillopora groups: lagoon nursery at 5 m; reef nursery at 5, 10 and 15 m; two Acropora groups: lagoon nursery at 5 m and reef nursery at 5 m). Eight fragment replicates from the same donor colony (Pocillopora genets: N = 14, Acropora genets N = 6) were used in each group and monitored for one year. Our results show that fragment survival was high in both farming habitats (>90%), with P. verrucosa surviving significantly better in the lagoon and Acropora spp. surviving and growing significantly faster in the reef nursery. P. verrucosa growth rates were similar between reef and lagoon habitat. Different rearing depths in the reef nursery had no impact on the survival of P. verrucosa but coral growth decreased considerably with depth, reducing fragments’ ecological volume augmentation and growth rates by almost half from 5 to 15 m depth. Further, higher fish predation rates on fragments were recorded on the reef, which did not impact overall nursery performance. Mutualistic fauna, which correlated positively with fragment survival, was more frequently observed in the lagoon nursery. The occurrence of disease was noted in both habitats, even though implications for fragment health were more severe in the lagoon. Overall, our study demonstrates that lagoon and reef nurseries are suitable for rearing large numbers of coral fragments for transplantation. Nevertheless, we recommend considering the specific environmental conditions of the farming habitat, in particular water quality and year-round accessibility, in each case and to adjust the coral farming strategy accordingly. We hope that this novel research encourages the increased application of mid-water rope nurseries for ‘coral gardening’ to advance coral reef recovery and climate resilience in the Maldives.

Dehnert, I., Saponari, L., Galli, P., Montano, S. (2022). Comparing different farming habitats for mid-water rope nurseries to advance coral restoration efforts in the Maldives. PEERJ, 10 [10.7717/peerj.12874].

Comparing different farming habitats for mid-water rope nurseries to advance coral restoration efforts in the Maldives

Dehnert I.
;
Saponari L.;Galli P.;Montano S.
2022

Abstract

The need for comprehensive and effective coral restoration projects, as part of a broader conservation management strategy, is accelerating in the face of coral reef ecosystem decline. This study aims to expand the currently limited knowledge base for restoration techniques in the Maldives by testing the performance of mid-water rope nurseries in a lagoon and a reef habitat. We examined whether different coral farming habitats impacted fragment survival, health and growth of two coral genera and how the occurrence of mutualistic fauna, predation and disease influenced coral rearing success. Two nurseries were stocked with a total of 448 Pocillopora verrucosa and 96 Acropora spp. fragments, divided into different groups (four Pocillopora groups: lagoon nursery at 5 m; reef nursery at 5, 10 and 15 m; two Acropora groups: lagoon nursery at 5 m and reef nursery at 5 m). Eight fragment replicates from the same donor colony (Pocillopora genets: N = 14, Acropora genets N = 6) were used in each group and monitored for one year. Our results show that fragment survival was high in both farming habitats (>90%), with P. verrucosa surviving significantly better in the lagoon and Acropora spp. surviving and growing significantly faster in the reef nursery. P. verrucosa growth rates were similar between reef and lagoon habitat. Different rearing depths in the reef nursery had no impact on the survival of P. verrucosa but coral growth decreased considerably with depth, reducing fragments’ ecological volume augmentation and growth rates by almost half from 5 to 15 m depth. Further, higher fish predation rates on fragments were recorded on the reef, which did not impact overall nursery performance. Mutualistic fauna, which correlated positively with fragment survival, was more frequently observed in the lagoon nursery. The occurrence of disease was noted in both habitats, even though implications for fragment health were more severe in the lagoon. Overall, our study demonstrates that lagoon and reef nurseries are suitable for rearing large numbers of coral fragments for transplantation. Nevertheless, we recommend considering the specific environmental conditions of the farming habitat, in particular water quality and year-round accessibility, in each case and to adjust the coral farming strategy accordingly. We hope that this novel research encourages the increased application of mid-water rope nurseries for ‘coral gardening’ to advance coral reef recovery and climate resilience in the Maldives.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Scientifica
Acropora; Coral gardening; Coral growth rate; Coral reef; Corallivory; Monitoring; Mutualism; Pocillopora; Rehabilitation; Survivorship;
English
Dehnert, I., Saponari, L., Galli, P., Montano, S. (2022). Comparing different farming habitats for mid-water rope nurseries to advance coral restoration efforts in the Maldives. PEERJ, 10 [10.7717/peerj.12874].
Dehnert, I; Saponari, L; Galli, P; Montano, S
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10281/387093
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