Impacts of remotely sensed environmental drivers on coral outplant survival

Shawna A. Foo, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Globally, coral reefs are degrading due to a variety of stressors including climate change and pollution. Active restoration is an important effort for sustaining coral reefs where, typically, coral fragments are outplanted onto degraded reefs. Coral outplants, however, can experience mortality in response to a range of stressors. We pair results of outplant monitoring observations with satellite-based measurements of multiple oceanographic variables to estimate the relative importance of each driver to coral outplant survival. We find that when considering mean environmental conditions experienced by outplants during the monitoring period, particulate organic carbon (POC) levels are most important in determining outplant survival, with certain levels of POC beneficial for outplants. Sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA) are also important determinants of outplant survival, where survival is greatest in regions with minimal or slightly negative anomalies. Survival also increases with increasing distance to land, likely due to a reduction in negative ridge-to-reef effects on coral outplants. When considering the range (min–max) of environmental conditions experienced during the monitoring period, large fluctuations in photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and POC are most important in determining outplant survival. Increasing outplant depth can help to counter the negative impacts of large fluctuations in environmental variables. We find that a variety of remotely sensed oceanographic variables have significant impacts on survival and should be considered in coral restoration planning to help evaluate potential restoration sites and ultimately maximize coral outplant survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13309
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • coral outplants
  • coral restoration
  • coral survival
  • depth
  • particulate organic carbon
  • photosynthetically active radiation
  • sea surface temperature
  • surface currents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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