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Near‐term impacts of coral restoration on target species, coral reef community structure, and ecological processes

Near‐term impacts of coral restoration on target species, coral reef community structure, and... The global decline of corals has created an urgent need for effective, science‐based methods to augment coral populations and restore important ecosystem functions. To meet this challenge, the field of coral restoration has rapidly evolved over the past decade. However, despite widespread efforts to outplant corals and monitor survivorship, there is a shortage of information on the effects of coral restoration on reef communities or important ecosystem functions. To fill this knowledge gap, we examined the effects of restoration on three major criteria: diversity, community structure, and ecological processes. We conducted surveys of four restored sites in the Florida Keys ranging in restoration effort (500–2,300 corals outplanted) paired with surveys of nearby, unmanipulated control sites. Coral restoration successfully enhanced coral populations, increasing coral cover 4‐fold, but manifested in limited differences in coral and fish communities. Some restored sites had higher abundance of herbivorous fish, rates of herbivory, or more juvenile‐sized corals, but these effects were limited to individual reefs. Damselfish were consistently more abundant at restored compared to control sites. Despite augmenting target coral populations, 3 years of coral restoration has not facilitated many of the positive feedbacks that help reinforce coral success. In a time of increasingly frequent disturbances, it is urgent we hasten the speed at which reefs recover important ecological processes, such as herbivory and nutrient cycling, that make reefs more resistant and resilient if we are to achieve long‐term restoration success. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Restoration Ecology Wiley

Near‐term impacts of coral restoration on target species, coral reef community structure, and ecological processes

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References (61)

Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© 2019 Society for Ecological Restoration
ISSN
1061-2971
eISSN
1526-100X
DOI
10.1111/rec.12939
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The global decline of corals has created an urgent need for effective, science‐based methods to augment coral populations and restore important ecosystem functions. To meet this challenge, the field of coral restoration has rapidly evolved over the past decade. However, despite widespread efforts to outplant corals and monitor survivorship, there is a shortage of information on the effects of coral restoration on reef communities or important ecosystem functions. To fill this knowledge gap, we examined the effects of restoration on three major criteria: diversity, community structure, and ecological processes. We conducted surveys of four restored sites in the Florida Keys ranging in restoration effort (500–2,300 corals outplanted) paired with surveys of nearby, unmanipulated control sites. Coral restoration successfully enhanced coral populations, increasing coral cover 4‐fold, but manifested in limited differences in coral and fish communities. Some restored sites had higher abundance of herbivorous fish, rates of herbivory, or more juvenile‐sized corals, but these effects were limited to individual reefs. Damselfish were consistently more abundant at restored compared to control sites. Despite augmenting target coral populations, 3 years of coral restoration has not facilitated many of the positive feedbacks that help reinforce coral success. In a time of increasingly frequent disturbances, it is urgent we hasten the speed at which reefs recover important ecological processes, such as herbivory and nutrient cycling, that make reefs more resistant and resilient if we are to achieve long‐term restoration success.

Journal

Restoration EcologyWiley

Published: Sep 1, 2019

Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;

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