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Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 172515461

Reversing the Decline of Bahamian Coral Reefs: Bringing back elkhorn coral by increasing reproductive success

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 172515461) - Elkhorn coral - Awarded $12,500 on July 15, 2017

Coral Reefs throughout the Caribbean region, and indeed around the world, are in decline due to global (e.g., climate change) regional (e.g. disease outbreaks) and local (e.g., nutrient runoff and sedimentation) threats. These threats act together to drive rapid declines and the resilience or ability of corals to recover is compromised due to overfishing and other factors that have reduced populations of key species responsible for maintaining the balance of coral reef ecosystems, as well as the fact that many corals may be reduced below thresholds required for reproductive success. In The Bahamas we have launched a 10-year, multi-partner program called Reversing The Decline of Bahamian Coral Reefs. Within this program, specific strategies are being implemented to reduce threats to corals, build reef resilience, and actively restore populations to facilitate the recovery of key species like the endangered Elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata.  As part of this program, our project will address key issues related to the recovery of the Elkhorn coral by implementing new advances in restoration using sexual reproduction.  Specifically, support from the MBZ Species Conservation Fund will allow us to (1) identify spawning populations of Elkhorn coral in key areas, (2) capture gametes from selected colonies, fertilize eggs using selective crosses, and grow out larvae to settlement on up to 5,000 settlement substrates, (3) repopulate reefs with settlement substrates to increase the genetic diversity and number of spawning colonies, (4) evaluate success of these initial efforts to scale up our efforts to as many as 100,000 substrates within 3 years.

Project 172515461 location - Bahamas, North America