J. Henry, S. Szereday, Chew K.L. , D. Suggett, E. Camp, J. Patterson
26 Jul 2022
Published research article in the journal Restoration Ecology.
Coral reefs in Malaysia have been degraded by environmental and anthropogenic stressors, and enthusiasm for coral propagation aimed at site restoration is rapidly growing as a local management tool. However, coral propagation activities in the region are in their infancy and little data currently exists to guide and inform effective practices. We therefore established the first multi-taxa coral tree nursery (6 species, 300 fragments) in Malaysia and tracked survival and growth to determine the relative return-on-effort (RRE) over a ~14 month monitoring period. We observed differences in growth and survival among six coral species and were successful at benchmarking results against coral restoration operations globally and in the East Asian Seas region. Major findings include 1) overall ranges in species level survivorship of 34-94% and specific growth rate of 0.14-0.29 % day-1, leading to variable RRE scores among species, 2) variable growth rates among coral species based on seasonal changes in environmental conditions, 3) similar RRE scores to other nursery locations worldwide, which suggests effective practice and 4) calculation of RRE scores for species not previously reported in nursery culture (Acropora florida, A. hoeksemai, and Echinopora horrida). Ultimately, our study supports previous findings that RRE is an effective technique for comparing coral nursery performance and offers valuable insight to guide future restoration activities in Malaysia.