COS 70-7 - Reef community response to Acropora spp. restoration in the Caribbean

Tuesday, August 8, 2017: 3:40 PM
B115, Oregon Convention Center


Sandra L. Schleier, University of Rhode Island; Katie Nickles, University of Rhode Island; Graham E. Forrester, University of Rhode Island


Coral reef ecosystems are home to ecologically and commercially important species that allow for essential ecosystem services to coastal communities such as coastal protection, food, and tourism. Unfortunately, there has been a worldwide decline in coral cover due to unsustainable human activity. As a response to reef loss, the active supplementation of coral populations unto the reef (outplanting) is currently the most important conservation strategy. In the Caribbean, however, lack of funding and time has not allowed for a proper assessment of the reef community’s response to coral restoration. Thus, the purpose of our study is to: 1) Evaluate the recovery of the focal species Acropora cervicornis across outplanting sites that have been subject to differing levels of restoration efforts in the Caribbean and 2) Examine key reef community groups' response to restoration. We will be using a 30m transect to document benthic community composition every 20cm and measure the width of every hermatypic coral that intercepts the line in restored and unrestored sites. We will assess fish diversity by surveying along the transect line with a span of 0.75m to each side and count coral recruits within 10 0.25mquadrats.


Preliminary data analysis shows that Acropora cervicornis densities were significantly higher in restored sites (p<0.036) than in the unrestored. Other Coral species densities show a non-significant trend (p<0.0594) to be higher in restored sites. Further data analysis will reveal coral, fish, and coral recruit functional diversity response to restoration. This study provides a greater understanding of coral outplanting efficiency in restoring the focal species and thus restoring ecosystem function in reef communities.