Newswise — FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE, Fla. – No matter how you look at it, our coral reefs are in serious trouble.
Around the world, coral reefs are under pressure from a host of stressors including global warming, pollution, and disease events. And some of the most threatened coral reefs in the world can be found off the Florida coast. Given that this marine ecosystem underpins a multi-billion-dollar industry in Florida, protecting, preserving and restoring these coral reefs is of paramount importance.
Organizations at home and abroad are working on the problem – identifying threats, advocating for conservation measures and more recently, actively restoring degraded coral reefs. Now, two leading groups are teaming up to establish a new “coral ark” for critically endangered coral species, a place where genetically diverse corals will be housed to bank and protect their important genetic diversity.
For many years, students and researchers at Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Halmos College of Arts and Sciences have been at the forefront of coral reef research efforts. They are now teaming up with Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) – the world’s leading coral restoration non-profit – to take their work to the next level.
Together, CRF™ and NSU will be installing a new coral nursery of 19 “Coral Trees™” – a technology developed by Coral Restoration Foundation™. These new Coral Trees™ will home around 180 unique genotypes of staghorn and elkhorn coral, which will eventually contribute to the restoration of local reefs in Broward County. This new CRF-NSU nursery will be established alongside the current NSU offshore nursery and will provide NSU researchers and students with increasing opportunities for field studies and experiential learning experiences.
“Coral nurseries are one of our most important resources for promoting coral reef conservation and restoration, and NSU and CRF™ have a long and successful history of managing nurseries and supporting coral reef restoration,” said David Gilliam, Ph.D., a researcher and professor at NSU. “Both institutions have been working together for years, and now it is really exciting to be able to officially partner together with the establishment of CRF-NSU nursery offshore Broward County.”
Jessica Levy heads up the restoration program at Coral Restoration Foundation™. She explains why this project is so important for reef restoration efforts: “Genetic diversity is a critical aspect of ecosystem restoration – diversity builds resilience. We are currently banking more than 320 genotypes across 11 species in our Tavernier Coral Tree™ Nursery, many of which are no longer found in the wild. It is vital that we build redundancy into the system. If the Tavernier Nursery were to take a direct hit from a major storm, we would risk losing some of these precious corals. Having a second genetic bank up in Broward means that we can safeguard these genotypes and ensure that we can continue replenishing our reefs with genetically diverse corals for years to come.”
- Images can be found HERE.
About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): At NSU, students don’t just get an education, they get the competitive edge they need for real careers, real contributions and real life. A dynamic, private research university, NSU is providing high-quality educational and research programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree levels. Established in 1964, the university includes 15 colleges, the 215,000-square-foot Center for Collaborative Research, the private JK-12 grade University School, the world-class NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, and the Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center, one of Florida’s largest public libraries. NSU students learn at our campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, and online globally. With nearly 200,000 alumni across the globe, the reach of the NSU community is worldwide. Classified as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit www.nova.edu for more information.
About NSU’s Halmos College of Arts and Sciences and Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center: The college provides high-quality undergraduate and graduate education programs in a broad range of disciplines in the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Halmos College faculty, researchers, staff, and students pursue studies and investigations in all of these fields and in interdisciplinary projects. Excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement are at the forefront of the College's many initiatives. The Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center hosts cutting edge research in the marine sciences focusing on the biology, conservation, and physical aspects of the tropical and subtropical ocean environments. Please visit hcas.nova.edu for more information.
About the Coral Restoration Foundation™: The foundation is a non-profit marine conservation organization dedicated to restoring reefs to a healthy state in Florida and globally. Through large-scale cultivation, out-planting and monitoring of genetically diverse corals, CRF works to support the reefs’ natural recovery processes. CRF engages and empowers others in their mission with dive programs, educational activities, scientific collaborations, and community outreach. Please visit www.coralrestoration.org for more information.