Development of Environmental Assessment, Mitigation and Restoration Techniques for Coral ReefsEPA Grant Number: R825158
Title: Development of Environmental Assessment, Mitigation and Restoration Techniques for Coral Reefs
Investigators: Richmond, Robert H.
Institution: University of Guam
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 19, 1996 through October 20, 1999
Project Amount: $353,724
RFA: Ecological Assessment (1996) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems
Description:Coral reefs are among the most biologically productive and diverse communities on earth, supporting a variety of invertebrate, fish and algal species. These systems provide numerous benefits to human populations, including the formation of islands and coastal land masses, protection from coastal erosion and wave damage, supporting fisheries of economic and cultural value, attracting tourism, providing recreational opportunities, serving as a repository of novel natural products of biomedical interest, and exhibiting unparalleled natural beauty. Natural disturbances, which are typically acute, have been affecting reefs for millions of years and have a recognized role in maintaining species diversity, however the synergistic effects of anthropogenic disturbances are becoming a major concern for the sustainability of coral reefs and related resources.
The purpose of the proposed study is to develop protocols that can be applied to the protection, monitoring and restoration of coral reefs. Results of this study will be applied to developing a set of minimum criteria for performing EIA's and EIS's for projects affecting coral reefs and adjacent ecosystems, for establishing appropriate watershed management practices in tropical coastal areas, and providing guidelines for mitigation when reef damage does occur.
The specific objectives of the proposed research are to improve techniques used for the assessment of coral reef health and sustainability, to develop appropriate coral reef biomonitoring protocols, to develop techniques for coral reef restoration and guidelines for mitigation of anthropogenic disturbance, and to develop a set of criteria for EIA's and EIS's for activities occurring on or adjacent to coral reefs or within watersheds that may affect coastal coral reef ecosystems. The proposed research will focus on three categories of anthropogenic disturbances most relevant to coral reefs: sewage and related eutrophication problems, sedimentation, and coastal pollution from pesticide use and runoff.
The products expected from this research will include a series of standardized protocols for performing coral fertilization, recruitment and survivorship bioassays, data on coral reef responses to the pollutants and activities tested, protocols for the cultivation of corals for experimentation and reef restoration, and a set of recommendations and draft regulations for mitigating anthropogenic disturbances to coral reef ecosystems. While the proposed research is directed at Pacific coral reef ecosystems, the knowledge gained will be applicable to coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.