New study uses satellites and field studies to improve coral reef restoration

November 10, 2020

Our planet’s coral reef ecosystems are in peril from multiple threats. Anthropogenic CO2 has sparked a rise in global average sea surface temperatures, pushing reef survival beyond its upper thermal limits.

Coastal development from industry, aquaculture and infrastructure generates sedimentation and increased turbidity in coastal waters, which raises particulate organic carbon (POC) levels. Additionally, sedimentation reduces photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), the much-needed sunlight soaked up by the symbiotic algae corals rely on for food.  Coral Outplanting “Coral gardening” or “outplanting” has become a popular and promising solution for restoration. Download Full Image

With most of the world’s reefs under stress, “coral gardening” or “outplanting” has become a popular and promising solution for restoration.

Outplanting involves transplanting nursery-grown coral fragments onto degraded reefs. When successful, outplanting helps build coral biomass and restore reef function; but even with thousands of corals outplanted each year, the results are mixed. Newly settled corals are particularly vulnerable to stressors such as pollution, unfavorable light conditions and temperature fluctuations.

Therefore, identifying which stressors have the greatest bearing on coral health and survival is crucial for ensuring successful reef restoration.

A new study published in Restoration Ecology by researchers from Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science found evidence that POC levels are one of the most important factors in determining coral outplant survival. This finding suggests that potential coral outplanting sites should be selected in areas where sedimentation levels are low, away from coastal development, or where coastal development is carefully managed for reef conservation.

“New restoration protocols can use remotely sensed data of multiple oceanographic variables to assess the environmental history of a site. This will help evaluate and optimize site selection and give their outplants the best chance of survival,” said Shawna Foo, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at the ASU center.

The study was based on an analysis of coral outplanting projects worldwide between 1987 and 2019. The team assessed satellite-based data on multiple oceanographic variables including POC, PAR, salinity, sea surface temperature and surface currents to quantify and assess each environmental driver’s relative importance to and influence on coral outplant survival. 

"Our results provide, for the first time, a clear set of conditions needed to maximize the success of coral restoration efforts. The findings are based on a vast global dataset and provide a critically needed compass to improving the performance of coral outplants in the future," said Greg Asner, co-author of the study and director of the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science.

Notably, the researchers observed better survival rates for corals outplanted farther away from the coast than 6 kilometers. This finding has implications for many restoration projections, which are often located near land for accessibility purposes, such as diving operations.

The researchers also found better coral recovery in water deeper than 6 meters; corals outplanted in shallow waters showed elevated vulnerability to disturbance and bleaching. Overall, coral outplants had the greatest chance of survival in regions with stable PAR, lower levels of POC, minimal temperature anomalies, and increased water depth and distance away from land. The researchers note that finding restoration sites with all of these characteristics could pose a challenge in some areas, but a consideration of all drivers in combination will greatly help the chances of outplant survival.

The study was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, OceanX and the Avatar Alliance Foundation.

Heather D'Angelo

Communications director, Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science

ASU's REMOTE K12 Connected Teacher Summit to share best practices for online and blended learning

Free virtual summit on Jan. 9, 2021, to spotlight innovative approaches

November 10, 2020

Arizona State University has announced the REMOTE K12: The Connected Teacher Summit, a free, one-day immersive program coming on Jan. 9, 2021, to help K-12 teachers nationwide deliver better online and blended learning experiences.

REMOTE K12 will bring outstanding educators from across the country together to share effective and efficient virtual learning techniques and offer insights on pedagogy, course design, equity, wellness, accessibility, assessment, collaboration, engagement and more. Click here to register to attend for free. A masked teacher speaks at the front of a classroom to masked elementary school children Download Full Image

ASU Learning Enterprise and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College will provide an “ASU K12 Remote Teaching Skills Certificate” free of charge for qualifying teachers who attend and complete post-event coursework and verification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards will utilize educator expertise to partner on content development and speaker selection.

The virtual summit, focused on K-12, will replicate the format of July’s successful REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit for Higher Ed. More than 25,000 faculty members from 2,000 institutions attended that event, which included 84 fully interactive short presentations on distance learning and pedagogy, and moderated discussions in 30 live chat rooms.

“Following our REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit, we were overwhelmed with positive feedback, and hundreds of K-12 teachers asked us to extend the REMOTE event format to school teachers across the U.S.,” said David Levin, executive producer of REMOTE. “Today, with online and blended learning fast becoming an essential part of every educator’s tool kit, we are thrilled to announce REMOTE K12. It will provide an essential source of intelligence on how to teach in schools across the country in our new world.”

Peggy Brookins, NBCT and CEO/president of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, mentioned: "Our experience makes it clear that teachers everywhere are demanding high-quality professional development to help guide them through this unique school year. Events such as REMOTE K12: The Connected Teacher Summit share best practices, through which teachers can enhance their skill set and enable them to provide what their students need most — engaging, effective, high-quality instruction."

The upcoming REMOTE K12 summit will feature 140 sessions during six hours of programming spread over 15 content tracks. Live Q&As will allow attendees to ask direct questions of speakers and receive answers in real time. Sessions will be divided into three categories: Discipline will focus on tips and pedagogy by content area; Topic will focus on common subjects across all disciplines, including assessment, engagement, equity and wellness; Surgery will give participants a real-time, 30-minute Q&A environment with experts on selected topics and disciplines.

REMOTE K12 will also feature more than 30 moderated chat rooms with a mix of environments, inviting structured discussions around disciplines and topics and grade bands. In addition, it will offer sessions to support principals, superintendents and EdTech professionals.

Registration for REMOTE K12 is free for those involved in K-12 education. Click here to register to attend. Video recordings of the sessions will be available free online through the end of June 2021.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a founding partner and will engage accomplished educators to deliver an experience that elevates the instructional capacity of all participants. Host ASU will provide moderators, subject experts and continuing education certificates. REMOTE is organized by the ASU Foundation. ASU’s Prep Digital team and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College are contributing content and planning and insights about their innovation experience.