Capstone Title

Creating an Index to Predict Successful Coral Reef Restoration: The Restoration Potential Index

Defense Date

7-2013

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Joshua Feingold

Second Advisor

Bernhard Riegl

Abstract

Live coral cover on coral reefs has been declining for many years, and in light of this ecological loss efforts have been made to restore the reefs using numerous strategies and approaches. These strategies are variable and cannot guarantee success with any certainty; what worked in one area with certain species of coral may not work in another area with a different suite of species. The goal of this project is to create the “Restoration Potential Index” (RPI), an index that predicts the likelihood of success at a site based on similarities in parameters gathered from all potential restoration sites and the site chosen as the target area, which is a site that should support successful and healthy corals. When these parameters are put into the model, they generate a “restoration potential” score that, when compared to other scores from the other potential sites, can be used to choose the one most likely to produce the desired outcome of the restoration effort. The function of this process is three-fold; first, to serve as a tool to find the site most likely to produce the desired results. Second, to identify deficiencies at sites that may be corrected in order to make the site more fit for a future effort and third, to evaluate restoration efforts that have already occurred in an attempt to identify what made a site more or less successful. The ultimate goal of the RPI is to increase the efficiency of restoration efforts by weeding out unfit sites before the process even begins so that money, time, and/or man power is not wasted on unsuccessful efforts. This increase in efficiency will allow for more restoration to occur, a necessary step on the road to saving coral reefs.

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