Ship groundings cause extensive physical destruction to coral reefs, and subsequent recovery can be complicated and prolonged. In this project, we specifically address how coral recruitment and survival interact with waves and dislodged sediment and rubble from groundings to either inhibit or enable reef recovery following physical injury.
Why We Care
Vessel groundings cause extensive physical destruction to coral reefs, and subsequent recovery can be prolonged and complicated. Recovery trajectories of injuries to coral and reef structure are necessary for determination of lost ecosystem services for legal case support; however, these trajectories can be challenging to predict and methodologies are currently limited.
What We Are Doing
In this project, we specifically address how coral recruitment and survival interact with physical processes to constrain or enable reef recovery following physical injury. We use wave energy models and sediment transport mechanics to determine the wave conditions needed to mobilize rubble substrate to constrain coral survival and growth within the injury and determine the physical limitations on recovery of injured reefs. Through field-validation of our wave models, we compare the historical wave climate with levels of physical forcing that mobilize unconsolidated rubble, and we compare these data to the survival of coral recruits. We are also developing an ecological model using coral recruitment and survival data to project recovery horizons for these coral reef injuries.
Products and activities will include:
- Field data on waves, currents, and water temperature for estimating the accuracy of our wave energy model.
- An ecological model that projects the survival and growth of juvenile corals and incorporates wave energy and seascape-scale demographics.
- Publications in the scientific literature to validate methodology for use in future restoration cases.
This project will result in data support and restoration planning for current and future coral reef injuries and cases.
Partners on this project include NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration.