Project Main Details
Corals are the architects of the reef, building the structures that provide nurseries and shelter for millions of animals.
A healthy reef is full of life. Amidst this abundance and variety of life, there are many intimate relationships among different kinds of organisms. If any one of these relationships changes, the whole ecosystem can be affected.
For example, corals need clean, clear and “nutrient poor” waters. But, land-based wastewater and run-off pollution deliver more nutrients than are good for corals. Many seaweeds thrive in these polluted waters, and often grow quickly and overtake the slow-growing corals.
Grazing fish can help keep seaweeds under control. But when the grazers disappear due to overfishing or disease, the ecosystem shifts further in favor of seaweeds. As a result, the abundance and variety of life on these reefs diminishes.
Fortunately, we know how to solve these problems locally, so that corals grow, reproduce, and build the reef for wildlife and people.
But it's not just local threats putting the pressure on corals…
Corals can be incredibly resilient animals and are capable of adapting to changing conditions. Some have adapted over time to withstand higher temperatures. Others have learned to thrive despite poor water quality.
These special corals and their offspring will build the reefs of tomorrow.
When corals spawn, their larvae travel with water currents. Some larvae stay close to home while others travel for many miles before settling on new reefs.
These larvae bring with them combinations of all of their family traits. If they are lucky, they'll find a home where these traits will help them grow and eventually produce larvae of their own.
But what happens when things change? What happens when temperatures rise or when oceans become more acidic? Some corals will be naturally better equipped to handle these changes. We need to make sure that enough of these corals have a chance to grow and reproduce, and that their offspring have places where they can settle, to ensure that the corals of the future can build the reefs of tomorrow.
How can we do this? By working with communities to reduce local threats to reefs, we help create healthy reef environments where adult corals and thrive and young corals can settle. When the environment changes, nature will decide which corals are best suited to these environments and their offspring will repopulate reefs across the region. The result is an adaptive reefscape--a system that allows corals to adapt to changing environments and thrive well into the future.
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