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Project Information

Project Information


Interventions to Increase the Resilience of Coral Reefs


Project Scope:

An ad hoc study committee will be assembled to review the science and assess potential risks and benefits of ecological and genetic interventions that have potential to enhance the recovery and persistence of coral reefs threatened by rapidly deteriorating environmental conditions that are warmer, less favorable for calcification, have impaired water quality, and pose continuing disease threats. Given these environmental conditions, the committee will consider interventions to address near- future (e.g., 5-20 years) and long-term environmental scenarios as part of an overall risk assessment in an ecosystem context. The coral intervention strategies will be assessed with regard to the goal of increasing the long-term persistence and resilience of tropical coral reefs and their ecological functions. Specifically, this review shall:

1. Review and summarize scientific research on a range of intervention strategies, either designed specifically for coral or with the potential to be applied to coral, including evaluation of the state of readiness.  Strategies of interest include, but are not limited to, stress-hardening, translocation of non-native coral stocks or species, manipulation of symbiotic partnerships within the coral holobiont, managed selection, genetic modification, and to the extent possible, proposed engineering solutions to promote reef persistence, such as shading/cooling during bleaching events.

2. Provide an environmental risk assessment framework for evaluating the likelihood of potential ecological benefits and harms of the novel interventions. The framework will include the following elements, as probabilistically as possible, to support decision making.   
-- Assess the likelihood that implementation of particular intervention strategies will substantively improve the persistence and resilience of coral reefs and their ecological functions, including support of reef-associated ecosystems and fisheries, over and above conventional management regimes;
-- Describe  the nature and likelihood of predicted risks (e.g., disease introduction; loss of reefs, ecological functions, or coral species) and potential unintended consequences (e.g., species invasions, loss of genetic diversity) and tradeoffs of specific intervention strategies;
-- Assess the relative harms and benefits of different interventions compared with one another and the status quo of conventional management techniques.  

3. Develop a decision pathway (a conceptual sequence of events) spanning initial research, laboratory and field-based research, to implementation and monitoring of the potential interventions. The pathway will include  identification of specific ecological criteria or thresholds (e.g., population or environmental tipping points such as onset of annual bleaching) that may justify implementation of a more risky intervention strategy depending on the magnitude and urgency of the degradation. Case studies may be used to illustrate how the decision pathway could guide selection of an intervention strategy under different scenarios of near-future conditions for tropical coral reef systems.

4. Identify the research needs to refine the intervention strategies and reduce uncertainties in the environmental risk assessments.  The research should include activities that could increase confidence in predicted net benefits and minimize, avoid, or mitigate risks of implementation.

5. Assess interventions under near- future conditions (e.g., 5-20 years, as projected under the IPCC Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5) for Atlantic/Caribbean coral reef systems based on the risk assessment framework and available information.  Intervention strategies should be assessed relative to the objectives and performance measures, identified by the committee, for sustaining coral reefs and their ecological functions.  Interventions should be characterized, using designations such as "not appropriate," "needs further investigation," "feasible for field testing," "feasible for implementation." Atlantic/Caribbean coral reef systems are specified for this assessment due to their advanced state of coral reef degradation, less complex ecological conditions (e.g., smaller basin, lower diversity), and imperiled status of foundational reef building coral species, compared to the Indo-Pacific. 

Two reports will be produced. The first interim report will address task 1 and second report will address the other elements of the task.

This study is focused on the state-of-the-science of novel intervention strategies to identify and compare potential ecological risks and benefits. Although these interventions also raise societal, policy, legal, and likely ethical implications for decision making, these considerations are beyond the scope of this review.  Effectiveness of reef management and restoration activities currently underway will be considered only to the extent that they set a baseline for use in the risk assessment of the novel interventions.

Status: Current

PIN: DELS-OSB-17-01

Project Duration (months): 24 month(s)

RSO: Twigg, Emily

Topic(s):

Biology and Life Sciences
Earth Sciences
Environment and Environmental Studies


Committee Membership

Committee Post Date: 01/17/2018

Stephen R. Palumbi - (Chair)
Stephen R. Palumbi (NAS) serves as the Jane and Marshall Steel Professor in Marine Sciences and Senior Fellow with the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. He is the former director for Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford. His research interests include the use of molecular genetics techniques to study evolution and change within the marine populations. His lab is currently studying the adaptive potential of corals in response to climate change. Dr. Palumbi has contributed to enhancing understanding of speciation patterns in open ocean systems, providing insights for marine reserve design and refuges for thermally sensitive corals. Dr. Palumbi has been awarded the Peter Benchley Award for Excellence in Science and elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, and Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation. He has published three books focusing on science for the general public, co-founded the microdocumentary series Short Attention Span Science Theater, and appeared in numerous ocean documentaries. After receiving his BA in biology from John’s Hopkins University, he attained his PhD in zoology from the University of Washington with a concentration in marine ecology.
Kenneth Anthony
Kenneth Anthony is a principal research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. He is also an adjunct professor for both the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology. His main research focus is currently in the development of tools to support coral reef conservation management strategies and effective decision-making through the use of decision science, risk modeling, and adaptive management. He works with diverse stakeholders and management agencies to design conservation strategies to build resilience in coral reefs. He received a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Marine Biology from the University of Copenhagen, and a PhD in Coral Reef Ecology from James Cook University.
Andrew Baker
Andrew Baker is an associate professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Dr. Baker’s research focus is on the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems, particularly the relationship between reef-building corals and their diverse algal symbionts to understand how corals adapt to warming ocean temperatures and increased acidification. His work involves the study of physiological and molecular ecology, conservation biology, and population genetics. Dr. Baker’s lab currently studies coral bleaching and thermotolerance, the genetic connectivity of corals in the Florida reef tract, and the links between deep and shallow reefs. He has also performed experimental work investigating how inoculating corals with heat tolerant algae may improve temperature resilience. In 2008, he was named a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation for his work with coral reefs and their response to climate change. Dr. Baker received his undergraduate degree from Cambridge University in zoology and his PhD from the University of Miami in marine biology.
Marissa Baskett
Marissa Baskett is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on modeling ecological and evolutionary responses to global environmental change, including understanding potential drivers of resilience in coral reefs. She is particularly interested in evaluating the impact of management options on populations, looking at gene flow and local adaptation, and has initiated a project focusing on the potential for managed relocation of species at risk to climate change. She was selected as an Ecological Society of America Early Career Fellow in 2013. She received her BS in biology from Stanford University and her MA and PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University.
Debashish Bhattacharya
Debashish Bhattacharya is a distinguished professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His research interests lie in the genomics and bioinformatics of algal evolution, symbiosis, and biodiversity. He has been working with collaborators to understand coral genome evolution, biomineralization, and interactions with symbionts. His honors include election as a fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007 and receipt of the Darbarker Prize from the Botanical Society of America in 2008. He received his BS in biology and master’s in environmental studies from Dalhousie University and his PhD in biology from Simon Fraser University.
David Bourne
David Bourne holds a joint appointment as a principal research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science and a senior lecturer in marine biology at James Cook University. His research interests are in microbial diversity and their structure and function in complex ecosystems, and in the past 15 years has focused on symbiotic microbial interactions with coral. He is engaged in research on the microbial communities associated with corals and their contributions toward coral fitness, and in studying pathogens and mechanisms of diseases in coral and the effects these stresses can have on the reef ecosystem resilience to climate change. Dr. Bourne received his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in Biotechnology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane.
Nancy Knowlton
Nancy Knowlton (NAS) is a coral reef biologist and the Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian Institution and senior scientist emeritus at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Previously, she was a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego and founder of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. Her areas of expertise include marine biodiversity and conservation, and evolution, behavior, and systematics of coral reef organisms. Her revolutionary studies of reef bleaching and speciation provide fundamental insights into differentiation and mutualism. Her work has revealed new, unexpected levels of diversity in the marine microbial environment. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2009 she was awarded the Peter Benchley Award for Science in Service of Conservation. She received a BA in biology from Harvard University and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in zoology.
Cheryl Logan
Cheryl Logan is an associate professor in the School of Natural Sciences at California State University, Monterey Bay. She studies the physiological mechanisms marine animals use to survive in their changing environment and how this leads to differential success across species. She is involved in ongoing work modelling corals’ potential adaptive ability to respond to rising temperatures and ocean acidification based on IPCC future climate scenarios. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in Molecular & Cell Biology and Integrative Biology, and she received her Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University.
Kerry Naish
Kerry Naish is a professor and curriculum director for the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. Her research focus is on the genetic diversity and fitness of aquatic populations, and how these respond to natural and anthropogenic influences. She has particularly been involved in efforts to understand the consequences of population enhancement on the fitness of salmon and trout, the spread of disease, and risk to natural populations. She serves on the Science Advisory Panel for the SeaDoc Society and the Seattle Aquarium, and is an Associate Editor of the journal Evolutionary Applications. Dr. Naish received her BS from the University of Cape Town, her MS from Rhodes University and her PhD from the University of Wales, Swansea.
Robert Richmond
Robert Richmond is the Director and a research professor at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He received his doctorate in 1983 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a concentration in biological sciences. His research interests are focused on coral reef ecosystems, with studies including coral reproductive biology, ecotoxicology, coral reef ecology and the impacts of climate change. In 2006, he was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation during which he developed molecular biomarkers of stress in corals as a tool for coral reef conservation. In 2014, he received an award from the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in recognition of advancing scientific research, mentoring and service. He has been awarded a grant from the Hawaii State Department of Health to develop biomarkers of toxicant exposure in corals in Hawaii. Dr. Richmond is currently a member of the Palau International Coral Reef Center’s Board of Directors, as well as a member of the Climate Change and Coral Reefs working group at the Center for Ocean Solutions. He is the past President of the International Society for Reef Studies and served as the convener for the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium held in Hawaii in 2016.
Tyler Smith
Tyler Smith is an research associate professor of marine biology at the Center for Marine and Environmental Studies at the University of the Virgin Islands. His research interests include coral reef refuges and refugia from chronic and acute disturbance, mechanisms of resistance and recovery of coral reef ecosystems to natural and anthropogenic disturbance, coral-algal-herbivore interactions across seascapes, and biophysical processes controlling coral reef ecology. Since 2005, he has been the Coordinator for Research for the U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Reef Monitoring Program. He received his BS in marine biology from Western Washington University and his PhD in coral reef ecology from the University of Miami.
Katherine von Stackelberg
Katherine von Stackelberg is a research scientist at Harvard University and the principal scientist at NEK Associates. At Harvard, she is affiliated with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, the Center for Health and Global Environment, and the Department of Environmental Health. She is an expert in the development of risk-based approaches to support environmental decision-making, with an emphasis on consideration of uncertainties and ecosystem services. She has served as chair of the U.S. EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, and was a member of the Scientific Advisors on Risk Assessment for the European Commission in Brussels. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, she went on to receive a master’s degree in environmental health and health policy and management, as well as a doctoral degree in environmental science and risk management from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Events



Location:

Honolulu, HI
Event Type :  
-

Registration for Online Attendance :   
NA

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
NA


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Trent Cummings
Contact Email:  tcummings@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  -

Is it a Closed Session Event?
No



Location:

Online (Zoom Meeting)
Event Type :  
-

Registration for Online Attendance :   
NA

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
NA


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Trent Cummings
Contact Email:  tcummings@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  -

Agenda
Zoom call, 4-5:30 pm EDT
Is it a Closed Session Event?
Yes



Location:

Online (Zoom Meeting)
Event Type :  
-

Registration for Online Attendance :   
NA

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
NA


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Trent Cummings
Contact Email:  tcummings@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  -

Agenda
Agenda coming soon.
Zoom Meeting
4 - 5:30 pm EDT
Is it a Closed Session Event?
No



Location:

Zoom
Event Type :  
-

Registration for Online Attendance :   
NA

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
NA


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Trent Cummings
Contact Email:  tcummings@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  -

Agenda
July 5, 2018 - July 5, 2018
Zoom call, 4 - 5:30 pm EDT
Is it a Closed Session Event?
Yes



Location:

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
4600 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, FL
Seminar Room
Event Type :  
-

Registration for Online Attendance :   
NA

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
NA


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Trent Cummings
Contact Email:  tcummings@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-3361

Agenda
Public Coral Workshop Agenda

8:00 AM Breakfast

8:30 AM Introduction
Stephen Palumbi, Committee Chair

8:45 AM Opportunities and challenges for coral restoration in the Caribbean--perspectives from science and management
• What are the current and expected future conditions in the Caribbean and the expected effect on coral reefs? What are the uncertainties in predicting the condition of coral reefs in the future?
• What information is needed to weigh the risk and benefit of implementing new coral reef restoration and management approaches?
• What are the regulatory and scientific needs for permitting research and deployment of new approaches in the water?

Derek Manzello, NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory
Erinn Muller, Mote Marine Laboratory

Reef Management Panel:
Sarah Fangman, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Lisa Gregg, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Ernesto Díaz, Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management Program

10:45 AM Break


11:00 AM Restoring coral reefs through artificial propagation and enhancing sexual recruitment
• What are the challenges for restoring coral reefs and how are they addressed through artificial propagation and recruitment? What gaps remain?
• What are appropriate metrics of success to evaluate restoration success in a stressed and changing environment?
• How can restoration practices be integrated with ecological and genetic interventions implemented in the wild? What scale can be targeted?

Diego Lirman, University of Miami
Margaret Miller, SECORE

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM The genomic basis for coral adaptability and resilience
• What is known about the genetic (genome to population scale) considerations and risks for artificial selection of resilient coral?
• What is the possibility of manipulating the coral genome to improve resilience? What advancements are needed to achieve this at scale?

Iliana Baums, Pennsylvania State University (remote)
Manuel Aranda, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (remote)
Phil Cleves, Stanford University
Mikhail Matz, University of Texas Austin

2:40 PM Break

2:50 PM Manipulating the coral-algal symbiont
• What is the specificity of algal symbionts to host coral? How does this influence holobiont resilience?
• What is known about the feasibility and risk (e.g., failure, ecological changes) to manipulating symbiotic relationships? Can this be done at scale?

Todd LaJeunesse, Pennsylvania State University
Ross Cunning, University of Miami
Hollie Putnam, University of Rhode Island (remote)
Kate Quigley, Australian Institute of Marine Science (remote)

4:30 PM The coral microbiome influence on coral resilience
• What is known about the influence of the microbiome on coral (e.g., health, adaptability, reproduction, energetics)?
• What is the feasibility and potential benefit of applying a probiotic approach to managing resilience? Can this be done at scale?

Rebecca Vega Thurber, Oregon State University (remote)
Raquel Peixoto, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

5:30 PM Adjourn
Is it a Closed Session Event?
Yes



Location:

Zoom Call
Event Type :  
-

Registration for Online Attendance :   
NA

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
NA


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Trent Cummings
Contact Email:  tcummings@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  -

Is it a Closed Session Event?
Yes



Location:

(Conference call, 3:30 - 5 pm EDT)
Event Type :  
-

Registration for Online Attendance :   
NA

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
NA


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Trent Cummings
Contact Email:  tcummings@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-3361

Is it a Closed Session Event?
Yes

Closed Session Summary Posted After the Event

The following committee members were present at the closed sessions of the event:

Stephen R. Palumbi
Ken Anthony
Andrew Baker
Marissa Baskett
Debashish Bhattacharya
David Bourne
Cheryl Logan
Kerry Naish
Robert Richmond
Tyler Smith
Katherine von Stackelberg

The following topics were discussed in the closed sessions:

Workshop and interim report planning

Date of posting of Closed Session Summary:
March 22, 2018


Location:

National Academy of Sciences Building
2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20418
Event Type :  
-

Registration for Online Attendance :   
NA

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
NA


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Trent Cummings
Contact Email:  tcummings@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-3361

Agenda
Open Meeting Agenda

1:00 PM Introduction
Stephen Palumbi, Committee Chair

1:15 PM Briefing from Study Sponsor
Ned Cyr, Director, NOAA Fisheries Office of Science & Technology
Tali Vardi, NOAA Fisheries Office of Science & Technology
Jen Koss, Director, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
Mark Eakin, Coordinator, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Tom Moore, NOAA Restoration Center

3:15 PM Break

3:30 PM Coral Reef Management—Perspectives from Florida
Joanna Walczak, Southeast Regional Administrator, Florida Coastal Office, FDEP (remote)

4:15 PM Great Barrier Reef Resilience Research and Management
Britta Schaffelke, Research Program Leader, Australian Institute of Marine Science (remote)

5:00 PM Adjourn
Is it a Closed Session Event?
Yes


Publications

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Publications

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