Coral Restoration Foundation™ is a science-centered organization, at the forefront of the world’s coral restoration community.
Research and innovation are at the heart of all we do, with data driving the evolution of our restoration techniques.
We work with individual researchers, as well as groups including the U.S. government agencies, universities, NGOs, and others.
RESTORATION SITE MONITORING RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS GENETIC DATABASE INNOVATION
MONITORING OUR IMPACT
Understanding the survivorship of our coral outplants and their impact on the ecosystem is of paramount importance.
We use traditional research methodologies as well as cutting-edge photomosaic techniques to get a better understanding of the spatial impact of our field work.
Our Science Program facilitates scientific collaborations with a wide range of researchers to answer questions that inform our work.
Our Coral Tree Nurseries™, corals, and restoration sites provide scientists with a unique resource for research into coral reefs.
We have been collecting and collating detailed genetic information on every coral that passes through our nurseries.
We now manage the world's largest genetic ark and database of coral genotypes.
Research & development
We are constantly working on improving our techniques.
Our team is currently investigating novel outplanting methods to enable us to outplant corals more efficiently.
Our methodologies develop as a result of rigorous research and data collection.
We work with leading researchers, universities, scientists, and other organizations to help answer questions that will advance our coral restoration goals.
We are also in a unique position to provide investigators with corals from our nurseries—as well as limited field support—for experimental work that aligns itself with our research priorities.
Decisions are based on a list of research priorities established by our Scientific Advisory Committee. These allow us to: focus how we spend limited research funding; determine which projects receive nursery-raised corals for experimental purposes; and assign staff and boats to support external projects.
Data we collect around our coral propagation methodologies for the nine species we work with helps us increase our efficiency and the number of nursery-raised corals that can be successfully outplanted.
We are currently involved in research and development to allow us to move the overabundance of corals we are cultivating into the wild
Ongoing research seeks to better understand why some sites exhibit
a higher survival rate for outplanted corals than others. Identifying increasingly suitable restoration sites is a research priority.
Our research tracks how different coral genotypes (and their associated microbes and symbionts) correlate with growth and condition, and the success of different outplant methodologies.
The monitoring of our outplanting sites demonstrates how ecology impacts restoration success. Specifically, we can assess how other organisms and reef topography affect the condition of outplanted corals.
DISEASE & BLEACHING
Projects that address coral disease or coral bleaching, that have direct application to coral restoration ecology, are considered high priority.
Recent advances in imaging and image processing technology are now being applied to underwater data collection.
Using specialized computer software and basic underwater cameras, we are beginning to map reef sites throughout the Florida Keys into “photomosaics”.
These mosaics encompass several thousand square meters of reef area and can be used to compare the growth and health of outplanted corals over time, while also documenting changes to the reefscape.
Photomosaics can reduce the number of man-hours needed on-site, collect the same monitoring metrics collected by previous monitoring methods, and offer the potential for the collection of new information previously unobtainable underwater.
These improvements translate
to demonstrable increases in the efficiency of CRF's™ data collection and breadth of scientific knowledge.
We are currently working with 1,305 putative coral genotypes across 20 species.
In order for restoration efforts to be successful in the long-term, it is essential that the corals we outplant are genetically diverse.
Our nurseries have now become a vital repository of genetic diversity for corals whose populations are in a spiral of decline - our genetic ark comprises the world's largest genetic "bank" of corals. Some of these genotypes can now only be found within our genetic bank, as they have unfortunately been lost in the wild.
We have exhaustive information on all of our coral species including genotypes, collection location, phenotypic observations from within our nurseries, locations within nurseries, and genetic sequencing data.
In the coming years, it is our goal to sequence every coral and make this information publicly accessible through a genetic database that will be used as the focal point for all genetically-conscious coral restoration.
We work with leading researchers, universities, scientists, and other organizations to help answer the questions that will advance our coral restoration goals.
We are also in the unique position of being able to provide investigators with corals from our nurseries, as well as limited field support, for experimental work that aligns itself with our research priorities.
In the past year, we have worked to facilitate collaborations with these 11 research partners:
Iliana Baums was involved with spawning studies in 2017. Her lab has developed 2,294 highquality SNP loci that resolve genotypes, populations, and hybrid status of Caribbean Acroporids - helping inform selection of genetically diverse genotypes for nursery and outplanting. She is also working on chromosome-level sequencing and assembly of the Acropora palmata genome.
GRADUATE RESEARCH PROJECTS
Collaborations with graduate and post-graduate students are mutually beneficial partnerships; our infrastructure supports their research, and in turn Coral Restoration Foundation™ gains valuable data and insight.
Our current graduate research collaborations are listed below.
Contact us if you would like to work with Coral Restoration Foundation™ on a research project.
Translocation of A. cervicornis to coral nurseries of differing geographic regions in south Florida
Cody is currently earning his graduate degree from NSU in Marine Biology and Coastal Zone Management. He is studying how coral fragments of staghorn coral grow in two geographically separated coral nurseries in southeast Florida. A reciprocal transport experiment was conducted using fragments from the NSU Coral Reef Restoration Assessment and Monitoring coral nursery located in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County) and CRF’s nursery in Tavernier (Monroe County). The primary objective of this on-going research is to determine if staghorn fragments derived from different geographic regions can survive at multiple locations on the reef tract. Measurements used in the experiment include growth rates and zooxanthellae densities (the single-celled algae that live inside coral tissues).