May 16, 2009
Garrison and Ward conducted their study in Virgin Islands National Park, on the island of St. John. They took fragments of coral that had been naturally dislodged from healthy reefs during storms. With plastic zip-ties, they re-attached these fragments to other reefs that had lost corals. After five years, the results were promising: 25% of fragments had living coral colonies, and only 31% had died. The remainder has been knocked off by waves.
Garrison and Ward highlight the significant debate about reef restoration. Some biologists have argued that the extent of reef damage is too vast to make restoration worthwhile. In response, Garrison and Ward note the low cost of their approach: $21 per transplant, two-thirds of which is the salary of workers. Other methods of reef restoration include stabilization of reefs, removal of debris that can choke reefs, and the creation of rock piles to encourage the re-establishment of corals.
Citation: Garrison, Virginia and Greg Ward. 2008. Storm-generated coral fragments – a viable source of transplants for reef rehabilitation. Biological Conservation 141: 3089-2100 (October).
Locations in Virgin Islands National Park, St. John: Trunk Cay, Hawksnest Bay, Whistling Cay, Leinster Bay
Species: Acropora palmata, A. cervicornis, Porites porites
A. palmate at NOAA: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/invertebrates/elkhorncoral.htm
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