Case studies in coral restoration: assessing life history and longterm survival patterns in restoration outplants of Acropora cervicornis (Staghorn Coral) and Acropora palmata (Elkhorn Coral) in the Florida Keys and Belize
Garfield, Eliza Newell
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This thesis is composed of two articles. The first is an analysis of long-term survival among A. cervicornis outplants in the Florida Keys, from 2007 to the present. The second is a review of literature that informs coral restoration and guides both restoration practitioners and coral researchers towards greater effectiveness in outplant survival and understanding biological processes involved in restoration. In the first article, despite promising initial evidence of outplant survival and health, the long-term results, using Weibull survival analysis, are discouraging with almost all out planted corals over an 8 year long study exhibiting steep declines in percent live tissue and survival between three and five years. Not only is this 3-5 year collapse apparent in all the outplanted cohorts, but the evidence is highly significant that the length of outplant survival is decreasing with each passing year (diminished resilience). These findings suggest that some shared, likely environmental factor, is increasingly impacting all outplants. Further, no cohorts appear to adapt to the environmental conditions in which these declines are occurring (diminished adaptive capacity), a trend that would be evident if their declines slowed or reversed and Weibull beta-parameterization would show. The second article, reviews several areas of recent study which offer avenues for future research: these include, ecological history and biogeography, developmental pathways of colonial form and function, polarity and symmetry, genetics, wound healing, fecundity, reproduction, sexual maturity and community interactions. The thesis concludes with questions for further research and understanding in the field of coral restoration.
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