Coral reefs have enormous ecosystem value, but are being threatened by both environmental and anthropogenic factors. Coral gardening methodology is a growing technique to replant corals on the coral reef tract and allow them to prosper in suitable environments. A common critique of coral gardening is that if corals cannot thrive in the current conditions, just replanting the same corals will cause them to face the same fate. Different methodologies such as selective outplanting, assisted migration, and in situ stress, have been proposed to allow corals to thrive in future environmental conditions. In one of the first large scale studies of ~30 different genotypes of Acropora cervicornis from coral nurseries used for restoration were used to identify genotypes that are naturally more and less adapted to heat stress. The corals were monitored throughout the experiment using imaging Pulse Amplitude Modulation (I-PAM) and the curves were used to rank thermal tolerance. Coral samples were also taken throughout the heat stress to look at symbiont communities and chlorophyll content. The results were compared with where the corals were collected and suggest that corals from more southern latitudes may be more heat tolerant on a local scale. By outplanting corals that are more heat tolerant and from slightly southern latitudes it could have a large effect on the survivability of these corals in the future. Corals from the Key Biscayne nursery were stressed by using a floating raft near the water’s surface during the August month to see if prior exposure to stress will cause corals to be more adapted to future stressors. A protocol was established to further implement this technique next summer and initial data was collected on a small sample size of stressed corals.
Karp, Richard, "Assessing thermal tolerance of Acropora cervicornis and its implications for coral restoration in south Florida" (2017). Internship Reports (Restricted). 309.
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