[Coral-List] New manuscript in Ecological Engineering describes a novel ecological engineering tool that could be used for coral-algae phase shifts reversals

Elad N. Rachmilovitz r.elad.n at gmail.com
Sun May 28 05:07:03 EDT 2017

Dear fellow coral-listers,

We would like to draw your attention to our new manuscript titled "Tiling
the reef – Exploring the first step of an ecological engineering tool that
may promote phase-shift reversals in coral reefs"


"Phase shifts from coral- to algal-dominated reefs have grave effects on
reef biodiversity and key ecosystem functions, further influencing
management approaches that have generated fewer returns than desired.
Harnessing the ability of corals to ‘self-anchor’ to substrates and of
tissue fusions between isogeneic fragments, we develop here a novel
ecological engineering approach based on the 2D Coral Preparative (2D-CP)
tool. Using this tool we propose to create flat, two dimensional coral
units that are first grown in a mid-water coral nursery and then
transplanted to overlay phase-shifted coral reef surfaces as floor tiles.
Here, we assess the feasibility of the 2D-CP’s first stage- growth in the
nursery. Ten coral colonies from each of the species: Stylophora
pistillata, Pocillopora damicornis and Cyphastrea spp. were collected from
localities at the northern Gulf of Eilat (Red Sea, Israel), fragmented into
nubbins and glued onto flat surfaces (CDs) to create 235 2D-CP units (32
nubbins/unit). All 2D-CPs were hung in a mid-water coral nursery, in both
horizontal and vertical positions, and were digitally photographed once a
month for a year. Images of each 2D-CP were used to determine the
percentages of live coral tissue coverage on the substrates and the
nubbins’ survival percentage. Results revealed high survival rates, with
>80% of the 2D-CPs possessing live coral tissues at 12 months post setup
(mps). The nubbins of all three species displayed an extensive 2D growth on
the substrates, and as of 6–7 months (species and genotype specific) many
of the 2D-CPs were completely covered with coral tissue (20% of all the
2D-CPs showed >100% coral coverage at 12 mps). The coral coverage of S.
pistillata and P. damicornis 2D-CPs was significantly higher in the
vertical placement position, 1.5 and 3 times, respectively.
Overall, these results imply that the 2D-CP units can be successfully grown
in a coral nursery for the purpose of creating ‘live tiles’ that can be
placed directly over a denuded reef covered by turf algae, a novel
ecological engineering tool to be used for coral-algae phase shifts
reversals. We further anticipate that even in completely/partially dead
2D-CP units, newly exposed calcium carbonates would be expended as
preferable substrates for either coral larval recruitment or coralline
algae growth, boosting reef rehabilitation."


Elad N. Rachmilovitz, Ph.D student
The Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences
University of Haifa, Mount Carmel
IOLR coral lab
Haifa, Israel

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