Throughout the world coral reefs are being degraded at unprecedented rates. Locally, reefs are damaged by pollution, nutrient overload and sedimentation from out-dated land-use, fishing and mining practices. Globally, increased greenhouse gases are warming and acidifying oceans, making corals more susceptible to stress, bleaching and newly emerging diseases. The coupling of climate change impacts and local anthropogenic stressors has caused a widespread and well-recognized reef crisis. While the establishment and enforcement of marine protected areas and preventing the acceleration of climate change are essential to management of these stressors, the inexorable impacts of climate change will continue to cause declines in genetic diversity and population viability. Gamete cryopreservation has already acted as an effective insurance policy to maintain the genetic diversity of many wildlife species, and has now begun to be explored and applied to coral conservation. Cryopreservation can act to preserve reef biodiversity and genetic diversity. To date, we have had a great deal of success with cryopreserving sperm from ~30 coral species of coral species. Moreover, we are creating the basic science to freeze and thaw coral larvae that can soon be used to help secure and restore reefs. Building on these successes, we have established genetic banks using frozen samples and use those samples to help mitigate threats to the Great Barrier Reef and other areas.
Many oyster species are keystone species that help mitigate shoreline erosion, provide habitats for juvenile fishes, and improve water quality. A number of human-driven factors have led to a decline in their populations worldwide. This article focuses on the chemistry of a novel substrate (nutrient-enriched concrete, or NEC) used to induce settlement and colonization of wild diploid oyster spat and is divided into four sections: (1) composition of the bulk material used for oyster restoration, (2) nutrients added to stimulate growth of bacterial and or algal biofilms, (3) nutrients included for the recently settled oyster spat, and (4) the potential use of natural chemical defense systems to control predators and competing marine life. The goal is to develop a material that can be manufactured and used on a large scale.
Corals and sponges in rocky deep-sea environments are foundation species postulated to enhance local diversity by increasing biogenic habitat heterogeneity and enriching local carbon cycling. These key groups are highly vulnerable to disturbances (e.g., trawling, mining, and pollution) and are threatened by expansive changes in ocean conditions linked to climate change (acidification, warming, and deoxygenation). Once damaged by trawling or other disturbances, recolonization and regrowth may require centuries or longer, highlighting the need for stewardship of these deep-sea coral and sponge communities (DSCSCs). To this end, the sustainability of DSCSCs may be enhanced not only by protecting existing communities, but also repopulating disturbed areas using active restoration methods. Here, we report one of the first studies to explore methods to restore deep-sea coral populations by translocating coral fragments of multiple coral species. Branches of deep-sea corals were collected by ROV from 800 to 1300 m depth off central California and propagated into multiple fragments once at the surface. These fragments were then attached to “coral pots” using two different methods and placed in the same habitat to assess their survivorship (n = 113 total fragments, n = 7 taxa, n = 7 deployment groups). Mean survivorship for all translocated coral fragments observed within the first 365 days was ∼52%, with the highest mortality occurring in the first 3 months. In addition to an initial temporal sensitivity, survival of coral fragments varied by attachment method and among species. All coral fragments attached to coral pots using zip ties died, while those attached by cement resulted in differential survivorship over time. The latter method resulted in 80–100% fragment survivorship after 1 year for Corallium sp., Lillipathes sp., and Swiftia kofoidi, 12–50% for the bamboo corals Keratoisissp. and Isidella tentaculum, and 0–50% for the bubblegum corals Paragorgia arborea and Sibogagorgia cauliflora. These initial results indicate differences in sensitivities to transplanting methods among coral species, but also suggest that repopulation efforts may accelerate the recovery of disturbed DSCSCs.
Globally, coral reefs are degrading rapidly due to the combined impact of wide-scale anthropogenic activities and climate change. Similarly, coral reefs in India are facing an existential threat because of intensified environmental degradation, which challenges reef ecosystem resilience and socio-ecological stability. Recently, Govt. of India has taken up the ‘SagarMala Programme’ aiming to increase its port capacity by the expansion of existing ports, construction of several new ports and allied infrastructure development by 2025. Synergistic impact of coastal development coupled with the on-going environmental changes is deemed to accelerate coral reef degradation in Indian reefs. Therefore, the present article aims to highlight the urgency of positive intervention and initiation of long-term holistic coral reef restoration program as an active reef management tool. Along with conventional management practices, reef restoration program could curtail further reef degradation and will ensure the persistence of Indian coral reefs and the services they provide.
Deep-sea ecosystems are the most extensive on Earth and provide key goods and services for human well-being, such as genetic resources and climate regulation. Maintaining the sustainable functioning of the global biosphere therefore requires protection of deep-sea ecosystems, particularly because these ecosystems face major changes related to human and climate-induced impacts. Although we lack data to evaluate the spatial scale of degraded deep-sea habitats, numerous studies document human impacts on the whole ocean. However, protection alone can be insufficient to reverse habitat degradation in the deep sea. Scientifically, deep-sea restoration actions may be feasible, but whether such actions will achieve sustainability goals when applied at broad spatial scales of impact remain questionable. Successful application of most restoration efforts will first require a deeper understanding of biodiversity and functioning of deep-sea ecosystems, and better knowledge of ecosystem resilience and recovery rates of deep-sea fauna. In addition to limited data availability, expensive technologies (with estimated costs up to millions of dollars ha−1) represent a major obstacle to large-scale deep-sea restoration, but international cooperation (like a stronger collaboration between industry and scientists belonging to the academia) could significantly reduce this operational cost. Future deep-sea ecosystem restoration could offer an important business opportunity for technological development and application and an investment in natural capital for a new and competitive blue-growth sector.
Oil spills are a widespread problem in the marine environment and can have extensive acute and chronic adverse impacts to resident and migratory biota. On 19 January 1996, the North Cape oil tanker caught fire and grounded on the coast of Rhode Island resulting in the spill of 828,000 gal (3134 metric tonnes) of home heating oil. It resulted in the estimated death of nearly 2300 birds, including a projected 402 common loons (Gavia immer) and 12 red-throated loons (Gavia stellata). Based on existing demographic data, a resource equivalency analysis (REA) calculated that the total loss, as measured through dead adults and their foregone young over their expected lifetimes, was 2920 discounted loon-years. To generate compensatory loon years, it was initially estimated that 25 common loon nests would need protection from development for 100 years. Following a $3 million settlement with the parties responsible for the spill, we conducted surveys to identify the highest quality breeding loon habitat for protection. Monitoring efforts included 184 loon territories from 2000 to 2009, representing 866 loon territory-years on 70 lakes in four regions of Maine. To evaluate restoration effectiveness, an updated REA was conducted using productivity data collected from these surveys. Results from the updated REA indicated that were these site-specific data available when the REA was originally generated, 70 nests would have been required to offset the lost loon-years – this project permitted the protection of 119 nests. Future REAs should incorporate site specific productivity data whenever possible to most accurately scale restoration to injury. Ranking lake habitat quality further optimizes restoration effectiveness. Our results indicate breeding success was highest on 24–81 ha lakes and that emphasizing protection of lakes with loon territories in this size class is optimal. Our results demonstrate a need for site-specific restoration plans to achieve the greatest restoration benefits.
The seascape context of coastal ecosystems plays a pivotal role in shaping patterns in fish recruitment, abundance, and diversity. It might also be a principal determinant in structuring the recruitment of fish assemblages to restored habitats, but the trajectories of these relationships require further testing. In this study, we surveyed fish assemblages from 14 restored oyster reefs and 14 control sites in the Noosa River, Queensland, Australia, that differed in the presence or absence of seagrass within 500 m, over four periods using baited cameras. Fish assemblages at oyster reefs differed from those at control sites, with higher species richness (1.4 times) and more individuals of taxa that are harvested by fishers (1.8 times). The presence or absence of seagrass nearby affected the abundance of a key harvestable fish species (yellowfin bream Acanthopagrus australis) on oyster reefs, but not the overall composition of fish assemblages, species richness, or the total abundance of harvestable fishes overall. These findings highlight the importance of considering species-specific patterns in seascape utilization when selecting restoration sites and setting restoration goals, and suggest that the effects of restoration on fish assemblages might be optimized by focusing efforts in prime positions in coastal seascapes.
Marine biodiversity provides valuable benefits for human beings. Some of these benefits, such as the provision of food, are easily recognized, while some, such as climate regulation, are less well-known. People lack direct experience of the economic value of marine biodiversity, since no relevant market exists. This study reports the results of a contingent valuation study to estimate people’s willingness to pay (WTP) for biodiversity restoration and conservation scenarios in some unique coralligenous habitats in the North Adriatic Sea, Italy.
Coralligenous habitat constitutes one of the most important ‘hot spots’ of species diversity in the Mediterranean, notoriously affected by a loss of biodiversity as a consequence of human activities, such as over-fishing and pollution, sediment deposition, recreational fishing, trawling, and diving. A major threat is the increasing frequency of abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear at sea.
A sample of 4000 Italian people was surveyed, and the results show that people’s WTP for interventions aimed at improving biodiversity through the removal and restoration operations in the area is distinctly higher than is the WTP for the preservation and prevention of further biodiversity loss. The findings suggest that respondents perceive prevention and control activities as being embedded in restoration, the benefits of which can be seen within a certain time frame. Positive and significant determinants of respondents’ WTP are family income, knowledge of biodiversity in coralligenous habitat, previous cognizance and awareness of marine biodiversity issues, environmental friendly behavior, and concern for environmental quality.
The accelerating marks of climate change on coral-reef ecosystems, combined with the recognition that traditional management measures are not efficient enough to cope with climate change tempo and human footprints, have raised a need for new approaches to reef restoration. The most widely used approach is the “coral gardening” tenet; an active reef restoration tactic based on principles, concepts, and theories used in silviculture. During the relatively short period since its inception, the gardening approach has been tested globally in a wide range of reef sites, and on about 100 coral species, utilizing hundreds of thousands of nursery-raised coral colonies. While still lacking credibility for simulating restoration scenarios under forecasted climate change impacts, and with a limited adaptation toolkit used in the gardening approach, it is still deficient. Therefore, novel restoration avenues have recently been suggested and devised, and some have already been tested, primarily in the laboratory. Here, I describe seven classes of such novel avenues and tools, which include the improved gardening methodologies, ecological engineering approaches, assisted migration/colonization, assisted genetics/evolution, assisted microbiome, coral epigenetics, and coral chimerism. These are further classified into three operation levels, each dependent on the success of the former level. Altogether, the seven approaches and the three operation levels represent a unified active reef restoration toolbox, under the umbrella of the gardening tenet, focusing on the enhancement of coral resilience and adaptation in a changing world.
- In the Mediterranean Sea, gorgonians are among the main habitat‐forming species of benthic communities on the continental shelf and slope, playing an important ecological role in coral gardens.
- In areas where bottom trawling is restricted, gorgonians represent one of the main components of trammel net bycatch. Since gorgonians are long‐lived and slow‐growing species, impacts derived from fishing activities can have far‐reaching and long‐lasting effects, jeopardizing their long‐term viability. Thus, mitigation and ecological restoration initiatives focusing on gorgonian populations on the continental shelf are necessary to enhance and speed up their natural recovery.
- Bycatch gorgonians from artisanal fishermen were transplanted into artificial structures, which were then deployed at 85 m depth on the outer continental shelf of the marine protected area of Cap de Creus (north‐west Mediterranean Sea, Spain). After 1 year, high survival rates of transplanted colonies (87.5%) were recorded with a hybrid remotely operated vehicle.
- This pilot study shows, for the first time, the survival potential of bycatch gorgonians once returned to their habitat on the continental shelf, and suggests the potential success of future scaled‐up restoration activities.