Shifting reef restoration focus from coral survivorship to biodiversity using Reef Carpets

Yael B. Horoszowski-Fridman, Ido Izhaki, Sefano M. Katz, Ronen Barkan, Baruch Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To enhance the practice of farmed-coral transplantation, we conducted a trial of an approach called “Reef Carpets” (RC), which draws inspiration from the commercial turf-grass sod in land-based lawn gardening. Three 8.4m2 RCs were established on a sandy seabed, containing preselected combinations of branching corals (Acropora cf. variabilis, Pocillopora damicornis, Stylophora pistillata) with nursery recruited dwellers, and were monitored for 17-months. Corals within RCs grew, supported coral recruitment and offered ecological habitats for coral-associated organisms. While the unstable sediment underneath the RCs increased corals’ partial mortalities, corals managed to grow and propagate. The extent of fish and gastropods corallivory varied among the coral species and planulation of Stylophora transplants was significantly higher than same-size natal-colonies. The RCs provided conducive environments for fish/invertebrate communities (183 taxa), and each coral species influenced specifically species-diversity and reef-associated communities. Even dead corals played crucial roles as habitats for reef biota, sustaining >80% of the RCs diversity; hence, they should not be considered automatically as indicators of failure. RCs scaled-up reef restoration and generated, in short periods, new reefs in denuded zones with enhanced biodiversity. Yet, RCs employment on soft-beds could be improved by using more structured artificial frameworks, requiring further research efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 31 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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