Title

Reskinning of large Orbicella faveolata in the wake of SCTLD

Start

2-24-2022 1:30 PM

End

2-24-2022 1:45 PM

Type of Presentation

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Stony corals (Scleractinia spp.) are a critically important group of species that engineered the foundation of Florida’s Coral Reef (FCR) over 10,000 years ago. The FCR serves as a natural breakwater for extreme weather events, an economic well for the South Florida tourism, and an ecological hotspot for marine life. Recently, numerous biotic, abiotic, and anthropogenic stressors have combined to dramatically reduce the health and ecosystem function of these organisms. Currently spreading through the Caribbean, Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) has proved to be especially damaging given its high transmission rate and interspecies lethality since it first appeared off the coast of Miami in 2014.

Southeast Florida is home to over 100 live large (>2m length), reef-building coral that have survived pressures placed on them for up to 320 years However, many have recently lost considerable live tissue from SCTLD since 2014 and 13 have died completely. Once a colony dies, its surface becomes colonized by other organisms and bioerosion of the structure is accelerated. Restoring these large corals with live coral tissue will replace their lost ecosystem function, stave off bioerosion, and allow them to grow and continue providing habitat.

Monthly monitoring of 100 large corals has provided an opportunity to collect loose fragments from these large, resilient individuals that would normally die and use them to restore other structures. Therefore, this study aims to propagate and outplant resilient Orbicella faveolata (OFAV) corals of opportunity on large recently dead OFAV skeletons. In total, Fragments from 10 colonies are planned to create 550 outplants.

These large colonies represent an important genetic stock of SCLTD-resistant donors for future restoration efforts. If successful, the reskinning of bouldering corals could be a gateway to a new generation of disease-resistant colonies better adapted for future stress events.

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Feb 24th, 1:30 PM Feb 24th, 1:45 PM

Reskinning of large Orbicella faveolata in the wake of SCTLD

Stony corals (Scleractinia spp.) are a critically important group of species that engineered the foundation of Florida’s Coral Reef (FCR) over 10,000 years ago. The FCR serves as a natural breakwater for extreme weather events, an economic well for the South Florida tourism, and an ecological hotspot for marine life. Recently, numerous biotic, abiotic, and anthropogenic stressors have combined to dramatically reduce the health and ecosystem function of these organisms. Currently spreading through the Caribbean, Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) has proved to be especially damaging given its high transmission rate and interspecies lethality since it first appeared off the coast of Miami in 2014.

Southeast Florida is home to over 100 live large (>2m length), reef-building coral that have survived pressures placed on them for up to 320 years However, many have recently lost considerable live tissue from SCTLD since 2014 and 13 have died completely. Once a colony dies, its surface becomes colonized by other organisms and bioerosion of the structure is accelerated. Restoring these large corals with live coral tissue will replace their lost ecosystem function, stave off bioerosion, and allow them to grow and continue providing habitat.

Monthly monitoring of 100 large corals has provided an opportunity to collect loose fragments from these large, resilient individuals that would normally die and use them to restore other structures. Therefore, this study aims to propagate and outplant resilient Orbicella faveolata (OFAV) corals of opportunity on large recently dead OFAV skeletons. In total, Fragments from 10 colonies are planned to create 550 outplants.

These large colonies represent an important genetic stock of SCLTD-resistant donors for future restoration efforts. If successful, the reskinning of bouldering corals could be a gateway to a new generation of disease-resistant colonies better adapted for future stress events.