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Coral Breeding Reference Sheets

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In the intricate world of coral reproduction, understanding the unique characteristics of each species is crucial for successful breeding and restoration efforts.

Thus, the Coral Breeding Reference Sheets represent a milestone in coral reproduction and restoration efforts; a resource that focuses on the reproductive intricacies of four key Caribbean coral species: Acropora palmataOrbicella faveolataDiploria labyrinthiformis, and Porites porites.

Acropora palmata, commonly known as elkhorn coral, is a critical reef-building species. Orbicella faveolata, or mountainous star coral, plays a vital role in reef structure and biodiversity. Diploria labyrinthiformis, also known as grooved brain coral, contributes to the three-dimensional complexity of coral reefs. Porites porites, a branching coral, plays a foundational role in reef structure and resilience. 

The meticulously compiled Coral Breeding Reference Sheets offer a comprehensive understanding of the reproductive biology and early-life history of these species, providing a resource for coral breeding and restoration practitioners dedicated to safeguarding and revitalizing these essential coral species. They illustrate data on the individual species’ traits such as egg size, larval behavior, settlement preferences, timing of larval release, etc.

Designed to be dynamic documents, they are subject to updates as new data becomes available.

Elvira Alvarado, Dr.Sc., from ECOMARES, expresses the importance of the information, saying, "When working from different and distant sites, knowing timing of gamete duration is clearly very important as there is a possible waiting window before rushing with fertilization of colonies of just one site. On the other hand, for the September spawning event, when we have at least 4 working species, knowing the times for the different phases, especially gastrulation, larvae competency and peak settlement is crucial when cleaning inland crates and moving the embryo/larvae"

Dr. Valérie Chamberland's pivotal role in the development of the Coral Breeding Reference Sheets cannot be overstated. As a research scientist at SECORE International, the former co-chair of the Coral Restoration Consortium's Larval Propagation Working Group and having just completed a PhD degree on coral reproduction and larval propagation, Dr. Chamberland conceived the Coral Breeding Reference Sheets in 2018.

Leveraging her extensive expertise she initiated and led the collaborative effort, inviting contributions from core members and ensuring the inclusion of valuable unpublished data, ultimately culminating in the joint release of these invaluable resources between SECORE International and the Coral Restoration Consortium.

Dr. Valérie Chamberland emphasizes, „Not one coral species is the same when it comes to reproduction and early-life ecology. The Coral Breeding Reference Sheets not only highlight a coral’s unique characteristics, but they also provide guidance tailored to each species’ needs to achieve the highest success in coral breeding and propagation."

The Coral Breeding Reference Sheets are a result of collaboration among 26 coral reproductive biology experts from 13 different organizations and was spearheaded by the Larval Propagation Working Group, a team of dedicated experts, including Dr. Valérie Chamberland, Dr. Margaret Miller, Dr. Anastazia Banaszak, Kristen Marhaver, and Sandra Mendoza Quiroz.

 „The Coral Breeding Fact Sheets are a comprehensive and effective resource for anyone involved in larval propagation. The concise information serves as a solid foundation for understanding the process and acts as a support and training tool for technicians as they navigate the challenges of the related lab work. I particularly appreciate the inclusion of images illustrating each stage of larval development, providing clear and immediate insights through visualization- indeed, an image is worth a thousand words,” says Francesca Virdis, Chief Operating Officer at Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire

Three more species are currently in the pipeline, expected to be released in the summer of 2024.

While the initial focus is on Caribbean coral species, the we encourage practitioners in other regions to use the provided templates and create reference sheets for their own species. 

As the Coral Breeding Reference Sheets continue to evolve and expand, they stand as a beacon of hope for the preservation and restoration of coral ecosystems worldwide.

Find all the Coral Breeding Reference Sheets here.

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