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SPCMSC scientist co-authors article helping to guide coral-reef restoration

Ilsa B. Kuffner, research marine biologist, is one of 12 authors of a journal article written by a consortium of experts proposing new guidelines to help corals adapt to a changing environment. These guidelines are intended to help optimize the restoration of declining coral populations in the Caribbean.

Corals around the world are suffering die-offs from warming oceans, diseases, and other sources of stress. To combat the high mortality rates, efforts to restore reefs have been initiated in locations around the world, particularly in Florida and other areas of the western Atlantic. To restore reefs, tiny fragments of live coral are collected, cultivated in off-shore nurseries until they are 10 to 100 times their original size, and then transplanted to degraded reefs. The authors of the paper, entitled “Considerations for maximizing the adaptive potential of restored coral populations in the western Atlantic,” are members of the Genetics Working Group of the Coral Restoration Consortium, a group of scientists, restoration practitioners, educators, and concerned members of the public that are collaborating to increase the efficacy of coral-reef restoration efforts. The guidelines they propose provide a definitive plan for collecting, raising and replanting corals that maximizes their potential for adaptation to changing ocean conditions. The authors provide advice to optimize the genetic diversity of corals that are propagated for restoration to increase the chances for sexual reproduction and genetic mixing of individual corals, thereby allowing restored populations a greater chance at persistence.

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