New Seeding Approach Reduces Costs and Time to Outplant Sexually Propagated Corals for Reef Restoration
The use of sexually propagated corals is gaining popularity as an approach for reef restoration. However, manually attaching substrates with recently settled corals to the reef using binding materials is both time-consuming and expensive, limiting the use of this technique to small spatial scales. We present a novel approach whereby young corals are ‘seeded’ on the reef without the need for manual attachment to the benthos. We tested two tetrapod-shaped concrete substrates (7.9 and 9.8 cm in diameter) on which coral larvae were settled. The tetrapods were e ciently deployed by wedging them in reef crevices, in 1.5 to 7% of the time required for traditional outplanting techniques. Seeding tetrapods was most e ective in reefs with moderately to highly complex topographies, where they rapidly became lodged in crevices or cemented to the benthos by encrusting organisms. After one year, average recruit survival was 9.6% and 67% of tetrapods still harboured at least one coral colony, and overall, this approach resulted in a 5 to 18 fold reduction in outplanting costs compared to common outplanting methods. This seeding approach represents a substantial reduction in costs and time required to introduce sexually propagated corals to reefs, and could possibly enable larger scale reef restoration.