Micro-fragmentation as an effective and applied tool to restore remote reefs in the eastern tropical pacific

J. J.Adolfo Tortolero-Langarica, Alma P. Rodríguez-Troncoso, Amílcar L. Cupul-Magaña, Baruch Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coral reef ecosystems are continuously degraded by anthropogenic and climate change drivers, causing a widespread decline in reef biodiversity and associated goods and services. In response, active restoration methodologies and practices have been developed globally to compensate for losses due to reef degradation. Yet, most activities employ the gardening concept that uses coral nurseries, and are centered in easily-accessible reefs, with existing infrastructure, and impractical for coral reefs in remote locations. Here we evaluate the effectiveness of direct outplanting of coral micro-fragments (Pavona clavus and Pocillopora spp.) as a novel approach to restore remote reefs in the Islas Marías archipelago in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Coral growth (height-width-tissue cover), survival percentage, extension rates (cm year−1), skeletal density (g cm−3) and calcification rates (g cm−2 year−1) were assessed over 13 months of restoration. In spite of detrimental effects of Hurricane Willa, transplants showed a greater-than-twofold increase in all growth metrics, with ~58–61% survival rate and fast self-attachment (within ~3.9 months) for studied species, with Pocilloporids exhibiting higher extension, skeletal density, and calcification rates than Pavona. While comprehensive long-term studies are required, direct transplantation methodologies of coral micro-fragments are emerging as time-effective and affordable restoration tools to mitigate anthropogenic and climate change impacts in remote and marginal reefs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6574
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number18
StatePublished - 9 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Calcification rates
  • Climate change
  • Coral growth
  • Coral restoration
  • Marginal reef
  • Mexican Pacific
  • Nubbins
  • Pavona clavus
  • Pocillopora

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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