In-situ coral nurseries and coral gardening methods are increasingly used for the restoration of the threatened staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. To date, > 65,000 staghorn corals have been outplanted in Florida alone and expanding efforts are now having positive impacts at ecologically relevant scales. Here we: 1) outline key findings from regional restoration programs in Florida and Puerto Rico, and 2) propose benchmarks that can be used to evaluate the success of each step of the gardening process. Our combined data establish that the collection of fragments does not negatively impact donor colonies and that the survival of nursery fragments was >90% over the first year. Nursery corals demonstrated healthy growth (10.3-29.5 cm yr-1) with significant variability between genotypes and platform types. Survival of outplanted corals was >80% after 2 years and strong growth was maintained. However, performance of genotypes within nurseries was not always predictive of performance on natural reefs. High survivorship and growth of corals, both within nurseries and after transplantation, demonstrates the effectiveness of nursery and outplanting programs to enhance threatened Acropora populations. The benchmarks of success suggested here, based on the careful tracking of thousands of corals, will ensure restoration projects are meeting acceptable goals and promote the advancement of restoration sciences. Departures from these benchmarks should be assessed and direct the improvement of both nursery and outplanting methodologies and site selection.


Schopmeyer, S. A., University of Miami/RSMAS, USA, sschopmeyer@rsmas.miami.edu

Lirman, D., University of Miami/RSMAS, USA, dlirman@rsmas.miami.edu

Bartels, E., Mote Marine Laboratory, USA, ebartels@mote.org

Griffin, S., NOAA Restoration Center, USA, sean.griffin@noaa.gov

Johnson, M. E., The Nature Conservancy, USA, meaghan_johnson@tnc.org

Levy, J., Coral Restoration Foundation, USA, jessica@coralrestoration.org

Lustic, C., The Nature Conservancy, USA, clustic@tnc.org

Maxwell, K., Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, USA, Kerry.Maxwell@MyFWC.com

Nedimyer, K., Coral Restoration Foundation, USA, ken@coralrestoration.org

Ripple, K., Coral Restoration Foundation, USA, kayla@coralrestoration.org

Walter, C., Mote Marine Laboratory, USA, cwalter@mote.org


Oral presentation

Session #:42B
Date: 06/23/2016
Time: 15:30
Location: 301 B

Presentation is given by student: No