Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles



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Frontiers in Marine Science



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pillar coral, Dendrogyra cylindrus, coral rescue, stony coral tissue loss disease, gemma, propagation, restoration


As stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) swept through the Florida Reef Tract, one of the most severely impacted species was the iconic pillar coral, Dendrogyra cylindrus. As the species’ population experienced a precipitous decline, a collaborative rescue project collected colony fragments for safekeeping at onshore and offshore nursery facilities. Between 2015 and 2019, a total of 574 fragments representing 128 genotypes were collected. These are currently dispersed among five facilities where they continue to provide opportunities to (1) refine best husbandry practices for D. cylindrus, (2) develop treatment options for SCTLD that have been adapted for use on other species, (3) maximize growth and fragmentation to provide the live tissue needed for eventual restoration, and (4) provide a source of parent colonies for assisted sexual reproduction and new genetic diversity. With the wild pillar coral population in Florida at the end of 2020 at less than 6% of its known 2014 population and continuing to decline, the rescued ex situ colonies represent the entirety of the restoration potential for this species in Florida.





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Substantial funding and resources were provided by all of the agencies and institutions of the authors. This included a National Science Foundation RAPID response research grant (1503483) to M. Rodriguez-Lenetty at Florida International University IMaGeS Lab. Two additional grants from NOAA-CRCP (NA18NOS4820206) and NOAA Office of Protected Resources (NA15NMF4720280) to KLN included funding for field collections and holding facilities.

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© 2021 Neely, Lewis, O’Neil, Woodley, Moore, Ransom, Moura, Nedimyer and Vaughan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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