Abstract: Incorporating ecological processes into restoration planning is increasingly recognized as a fundamental component of successful restoration strategies. We outline a scientific framework to advance the emerging field of coral restoration. We advocate for harnessing ecological processes that drive community dynamics on coral reefs in a way that facilitates the establishment and growth of restored corals. Drawing on decades of coral reef ecology research and lessons learned from the restoration of other ecosystems, we posit that restoration practitioners can control factors such as the density, diversity, and identity of transplanted corals; site selection; and transplant design to restore positive feedback processes – or to disrupt negative feedback processes – in order to improve restoration success. Ultimately, we argue that coral restoration should explicitly incorporate key natural processes to exploit dynamic ecological forces and drive recovery of coral reef ecosystems.
Ecological Society of America 16(4): doi:10.1002/fee.1792