Online Trainings

Brain coral, Samana Bay, Dominican Republic. Photo © Jeff Yonover

The Reef Resilience Online Courses have been designed to provide easy access to the latest science and strategies for managing coral reefs in a changing climate. Note: some of the courses are available in multiple languages. See course descriptions below to learn more and enroll.

The Coral Reef Resilience Online Course is designed to provide marine managers and practitioners with the necessary background to support coral reef resilience in the face of climate change. The course consists of six lessons that explore the ecology of coral reef ecosystems, threats to reefs, principles and attributes of social-ecological reef resilience, guidance for assessing and monitoring reefs for resilience, concepts and applications of resilience-based management, and strategies available for managing the resilience of reefs. This updated course combines and builds on the original “Introduction to Coral Reef Resilience” and “Advanced Studies in Coral Reef Resilience” courses, first published in 2010. The previous version of this course is available in Spanish and French which can be accessed from the course page. The new version of this course will be available in other languages in the future.

Coral Reef Ecology – provides foundational information on coral reef ecology, including the coral organism, reef habitat (e.g., formation, zonation, and biogeography), reef communities, and connections with other nearby habitats, to support the resilience of reef ecosystems.

Threats to Coral Reefs – describes threats to coral reefs, including climate change threats (e.g., warming seas and ocean acidification), local human threats (like pollution and overfishing), and biotic threats (e.g., disease and invasive species). This lesson also describes the impacts of these threats on reefs, such as how warm temperatures cause mass coral bleaching.

Principles of Reef Resilience – explores the concept of resilience, including the components of resilience; principles of resilience for social-ecological systems; and the attributes of coral reefs and reef-dependent communities that lead to resilience. The lesson also describes key resilience indicators, which are useful for managing reefs for improved resilience.

Assessing and Monitoring Reefs – provides guidance for developing monitoring programs as well as assessing and monitoring reef resilience and socio-economic conditions. This lesson also compiles the latest in-depth guidance documents to assist in the development of resilience assessments.

Resilience-Based Management – introduces key principles of Resilience-Based Management (RBM), which uses ecological and social principles to implement actions to protect or enhance natural processes of resilience. The lesson also describes case study examples from around the world, showcasing how RBM is being applied to address specific threats and challenges.

Management Strategies for Resilience – describes a wide range of management strategies implemented around the world to support reef resilience. Strategies include marine protected areas (MPAs) and resilient MPA design, managing for climate change impacts, reducing land-based sources of pollution, controlling invasive species, managing fisheries, responding to coral disease, and managing for social resilience.

The Remote Sensing and Mapping for Coral Reef Conservation Online Course is designed to help marine managers, conservation practitioners, scientists, decision makers, and GIS professionals decide whether remote sensing products and mapping technologies can help inform their conservation and restoration work, and which tools are best suited to their needs. It prominently features the Allen Coral Atlas, a powerful new tool providing access to high-resolution imagery and global benthic and geomorphic maps of the world’s coral reef habitats. The course also presents fine-scale mapping of live coral cover on small reef areas to guide restoration efforts in the Caribbean, developed by The Nature Conservancy. The course is available in four languages: opens in a new windowEnglish, opens in a new windowSpanish, opens in a new windowFrench, and opens in a new windowBahasa Indonesia.

This course was developed in partnership with the National Geographic Society and is hosted on The Nature Conservancy’s free online course platform Conservation Training. The lessons were developed with additional contributions from Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, Planet, The Nature Conservancy Caribbean Division, the University of Queensland’s Remote Sensing Research Center, and Vulcan Inc.

Introduction to Remote Sensing and Coral Reef Mapping – introduces the key concepts of remote sensing and its applications for marine conservation. The lesson aims to give you a basic understanding of remote sensing and mapping coral reefs from satellite imagery. It will give you the tools to decide if remote sensing can help your conservation work. Lesson 1 provides the core foundation for Lessons 2 and 3, and is designed for managers and practitioners with little background in remote sensing.

Using the Allen Coral Atlas – introduces the Atlas, its content, and applications for coral reef management, conservation, and research. The lesson provides background information and case studies and hands-on exercises that familiarize you with the data in the Atlas, demonstrates how to navigate its interactive mapping tool, and gives you step-by-step guidelines on how to use the data in more advanced applications.

Multi-Scale Mapping of Coral Reefs in the Caribbean – introduces the remote sensing technology to map coral reefs at a fine scale at some locations. Building on the previous two lessons, Lesson 3 is about new technology to address management questions that target live coral cover, reef health, and monitoring changes at the colony level. We provide case studies and hands-on activities that familiarize you with the latest Caribbean coral reef maps, demonstrate how to navigate the different mapping tools, and give you a preview of what remote sensing technology can achieve.

Coral reef managers are increasingly turning to restoration as a strategy to combat reef degradation and promote reef recovery. As a result, different techniques are being used across the globe, making it difficult to choose the right approach for your location’s specific needs and capabilities. The Reef Resilience Network Restoration Online Course is designed to provide managers and practitioners with information on the latest restoration best practices for coral reef ecosystems, including guidance on restoration planning and program design and descriptions of a diversity of restoration approaches currently being employed. The course includes 6 lessons in English and Spanish with assessments:

Introduction to Restoration & Project Planning – introduces the general theory and practice of ecological restoration and its use in coral reef ecosystems and provides a guided process for planning and designing a coral reef restoration program, from setting objectives through determining on-the-ground restoration actions, which is based on the Manager’s Guide to Coral Reef Restoration Planning & Design (The Nature Conservancy).  

Restoring Coral Populations with Coral Gardening – describes the steps involved in restoring populations of hard corals using the techniques and approaches known as ‘coral gardening’. These techniques include collection of coral fragments from reefs, types of coral nurseries, the propagation and growth of colonies in field-based nurseries, and transplantation (or outplanting) of corals back onto reefs.

Restoring Coral Populations with Larval Propagation – describes the steps involved in enhancing coral populations using the techniques and approaches known as larval propagation. This lesson includes information on coral’s natural sexual reproduction process, and describes methods for collecting and fertilizing coral gametes, rearing new coral larvae and promoting settlement onto the reef or artificial structures, and outplanting corals back onto reefs.

Restoring Reef Structure for Coastal Resilience – describes restoring the physical structure of coral reef ecosystems, an important intervention for habitats that have been damaged, degraded, or become unsuitable for coral larval settlement. This lesson is based on the Guidance Document for Reef Management and Restoration to Improve Coastal Protection: Recommendations for Global Applications Based on Lessons Learned in Mexico (The Nature Conservancy).

Rapid Response and Emergency Restoration – describes how to prepare for, respond to, and then repair coral reef ecosystems after disturbance events. Recommendations in this lesson focus on responding to three major causes of damage: tropical cyclones, vessel groundings, and disease epidemics. The hurricane response section is based on the Early Warning and Immediate Response Protocol for Tropical Cyclone Reef Impact in Puerto Morelos Reef National Park (The Nature Conservancy).

Monitoring for Restoration – describes approaches for monitoring coral reef restoration projects in order to evaluate their success and development. This lesson discusses current practices for monitoring, including methods and metrics that assess individual coral colonies and the broader ecological effects of restoration on reef sites. This lesson also provides recommendations for standard monitoring metrics that can be used to help compare across projects.

This course is designed to help coral reef managers incorporate climate-smart design into their management activities by considering the effects of climate change on ecosystem stressors and implications for effective management. It describes the process of incorporating climate change adaptation into management plans using existing planned actions as a starting point, and also guides development of additional climate-smart strategies as needed. The course takes about 2 hours to complete and includes the following lessons:

Principles of Climate-Smart Planning (20 minutes) - key concepts of Climate-Smart Conservation, including why and how to brainstorm and design management actions to account for the effects of climate change.

Introduction to the Adaptation Design Tool (20 minutes) - overview of the Adaptation Design Tool, how it works, and best practices for using it effectively.

Applying Climate-Smart Design Considerations to Existing Conservation & Management Actions (45 minutes) - demonstrates Activity 1 of the Adaptation Design Tool, which applies climate-smart design considerations to (1) identify climate change impacts on the effectiveness of your management actions and (2) consider what changes should be made to the actions based on those impacts.

Expanding the List of Adaptation Options & Course Conclusion (30 minutes) - demonstrates Activity 2 of the Adaptation Design Tool, which identifies gaps in your existing plan, helps you brainstorm new actions to fill those gaps, and concludes with next steps on how the tool results can be used to inform other steps of the Climate-Smart Conservation Cycle.

Looking to influence behavior or raise awareness about an issue to advance your conservation efforts? The new Strategic Communication Online Course can help you communicate effectively to reach your conservation goal! This training features hands-on exercises, tips and resources, and quizzes to test your understanding of the material. We’ve demystified strategic communication and simplified the planning process so you can work on your own project as you learn. This course is free and open to anyone, but is geared toward coral reef managers and practitioners. The course content covers the communication planning processgoal & objectivescontext, target audience(s)messages, messengers and tactics, measurement, and summary plan.

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