Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
Coral health surveys in COREMAP: building resilience in climate-impacted coral reefs of Indonesia
PI: Jamaluddin Jompa, Hasanuddin University
US Partner: C. Drew Harvell, Cornell University
Researchers surveying damaged coral in the fall of 2012, photo courtesy of Dr. Jompa.
Project Dates: June 2012 - March 2014
Marine protected areas (no-fish reserves) are the primary mechanism to preserve coral-reef ecosystems and the ecosystem services they provide to coastal communities. However, the ability for marine protected areas to reduce one of the most detrimental impacts to coral reefs, coral disease, is unknown. Coral diseases are often related to colony density and therefore may be more common in protected areas that have high coral cover. Reduced fishing practices within protected areas leads to a more functionally diverse fish community. Herbivorous fishes may reduce algal cover, a potential vector for coral disease transmission, while piscivorous fishes may reduce the populations of corallivores that may spread diseases to corals. This project aims to test the hypothesis that marine protected areas will improve resilience of coral communities and, in particular, reduce the prevalence of coral disease.
Over the last 10 years the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program (COREMAP), initiated by the government of Indonesia and funded by the World Bank, has created different marine protected areas within the country. COREMAP is a long-term program aimed at protecting, rehabilitating, and achieving sustainable use of the Indonesian coral reefs, the most biologically diverse marine ecosystem in the world. COREMAP is currently training scientists to properly identify coral diseases, and the program aspires to quantify the impact of coral diseases within the protected areas it studies. The current PEER-supported project will involve a paired hierarchical sampling design to test the hypothesis that marine protected areas reduce coral disease prevalence. Over the 18 months of this study, three surveys will take place within selected COREMAP protected areas as well as adjacent unprotected areas that are ecologically similar to the paired site. Each site will be surveyed using a nested approach to account for spatial variations and differences in depth profile. By bringing the complementary skills and expertise of the Indonesian and U.S. researchers to bear, this project will evaluate the impact of coral diseases throughout Indonesia, the most coral-diverse region in the world, and will help quantify the efficacy of marine protected areas in reducing coral disease outbreaks.
Summary of Recent Activities
The first quarter of 2013 was full of training activities and field work conducted by Dr. Jompa and his group. On January 13, 2013, they hosted a small workshop, including an intensive discussion session directed by visiting U.S. partner Dr. Harvell. On the day after the workshop, the four students and three scientists involved participated in hands-on field sampling and laboratory-based analytical activities. Another basic training workshop on coral diseases for beginners was held March 4-5 at Hasanuddin University, followed by field training at Barang Lompo Island on March 9. On the research side of the project, several field surveys were carried out in the Spermonde Archipelago in early February to study the seasonality patterns of coral diseases. The group conducted another field survey March 17-20 in Biak, Papua. During the spring and summer, Dr. Jompa plans to organize several activities, such as broader surveys on coral diseases around Indonesia (Bali, Raja Ampat, and Gorontalo), with the microbial samples collected to be identified and analyzed. The results will be presented in symposia and seminars. Beginning in late April 2013, two students and research assistants from his group—Suharto and Awaludinnoer Ahmad—are spending two weeks in Dr. Harvell’s lab primarily for training on data analysis techniques. Dr. Harvell, a postdoc, and students from her lab will also be mentoring the visitors as they write up some of the project’s initial results for publication.
Indonesian and U.S. project participants prepare for another survey dive. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jompa.
Field training on coral diseases at Barang Lompo Island, March 9, 2013. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jompa.