Ecological engineering approaches in coral reef restoration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The combined accelerated footprint of climate change and enhanced anthropogenic pressures and the poor outcomes of many traditional management activities raise the needs for active reef restoration tactics (targeting coral mariculture/transplantation), backed by ecological engineering approaches. These approaches include, among others, the use of ecosystem engineer species, which, through modifications in their physical or biological properties, they create new habitats characterized by novel biodiversity (through either autogeny or allogeny engineering acts). Only a small number of studies on coral reef restoration have discussed/mentioned "ecological engineering"or "coral reef engineering". Examining reef restoration publications (2016-2019; 145 publications) reveals only 39 (26.9%) dealing with ecological engineering aspects, with 10 classes of "applications"(26 publications) and 4 classes of "properties"(n = 13). Ecological engineering "applications"incorporate all aspects of reef restoration, while the ecological engineering "properties"deal with assisted genetics, coral chimerism, aqua-culturing reef-dwelling organisms, and the consideration of life history parameters of maricultured/transplanted key species. Yet, many ecological engineering applications focus on particular coral species, addressing their specific community issues, while only few address the needs of the entire ecosystem/landscape restoration. It is concluded that rather than trying to return ecosystems to historic states, ecological engineering should shift towards creating novel ecosystems not existed before.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-420
Number of pages11
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea 2020. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: [email protected].


  • applications
  • aquaculture
  • climate change
  • gardening
  • novel ecosystem
  • nursery
  • properties
  • reef restoration
  • transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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