Coral restoration effectiveness: multiregional snapshots of the long-term responses of coral assemblages to restoration

Hein, Margaux Y., Beeden, Roger, Birtles, Alastair, Gardiner, Naomi M., Le Berre, Thomas, Levy, Jessica, Marshall, Nadine, Scott, Chad M., Terry, Lisa, and Willis, Bette L. (2020) Coral restoration effectiveness: multiregional snapshots of the long-term responses of coral assemblages to restoration. Diversity, 12 (4). 153.

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Abstract

Coral restoration is rapidly becoming a mainstream strategic reef management response to address dramatic declines in coral cover worldwide. Restoration success can be defined as enhanced reef functions leading to improved ecosystem services, with multiple benefits at socio-ecological scales. However, there is often a mismatch between the objectives of coral restoration programs and the metrics used to assess their effectiveness. In particular, the scales of ecological benefits currently assessed are typically limited in both time and space, often being limited to short-term monitoring of the growth and survival of transplanted corals. In this paper, we explore reef-scale responses of coral assemblages to restoration practices applied in four well-established coral restoration programs. We found that hard coral cover and structural complexity were consistently greater at restored compared to unrestored (degraded) sites. However, patterns in coral diversity, coral recruitment, and coral health among restored, unrestored, and reference sites varied across locations, highlighting differences in methodologies among restoration programs. Altogether, differences in program objectives, methodologies, and the state of nearby coral communities were key drivers of variability in the responses of coral assemblages to restoration. The framework presented here provides guidance to improve qualitative and quantitative assessments of coral restoration efforts and can be applied to further understanding of the role of restoration within resilience-based reef management.

Item ID: 66850
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1424-2818
Keywords: Coral assemblages; Coral restoration; Effectiveness; Monitoring
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Copyright Information: ©2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CE)
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2021 04:51
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410405 Environmental rehabilitation and restoration @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180507 Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments @ 100%
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