Optimizing industrial‐scale coral reef restoration: Comparing harvesting wild coral spawn slicks and transplanting gravid adult colonies

Christopher Doropoulos, Jesper Elzinga, Remment ter Hofstede, Mark van Koningsveld, Russell C Babcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Accelerating coral reef restoration is a global challenge that has been attempted around the world. Previous attempts show varying levels of success at localized‐scales, but comparisons of cost and benefits to evaluate large‐scale reef restoration approaches are lacking. Here, we compare two large‐scale restoration approaches: the harvesting, development, and release of wild coral spawn slicks onto a target reef, with the transplantation of gravid coral colonies to provide a seed population and local source of larvae. Comparisons incorporate the best available information on demographic rates to estimate population growth, beginning at embryo production to colony maturity four years following deployment. Cost effectiveness is considered in a coarse manner. The harvesting, development, and controlled release of coral spawn slicks is anticipated to achieve large‐scale restoration of coral communities with low impact technology at low cost per colony. Harvesting wild spawn slicks has the potential to (1) transport billions of larvae up to 1000s of kms that (2) are relevant to coral restoration efforts at vast geographical scales while (3) benefitting from the use of technology with extremely low impact on wild populations and (4) retaining natural genetic and species diversity needed to enhance the resilience of restored communities. Transplanting colonies is most useful from reefs designated to be impacted by infrastructural development by providing an opportunity for transfer to high value zones, from dedicated nurseries, and for brooding species. Our contribution provides insights into critical elements of both concepts, and we highlight information gaps in parameter uncertainties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-767
Number of pages26
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume27 (2019
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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