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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Coral health surveys in COREMAP: building resilience in climate-impacted coral reefs of Indonesia  

PI: Jamaluddin Jompa, Hasanuddin University
U.S. Partner: C. Drew Harvell, Cornell University
Project Dates: June 2012 - April 2015

Project Overview 


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
During the first half of 2014, Dr. Jompa and his team conducted several coral disease surveys in the South Sulawesi and West Sumatra. These included coral disease sample collection (mucus) and water quality sampling off Badi, Bonetambung, and Barranglompo Islands; turf alga growth rate monitoring in the Spermonde Archipelago; and surveys of coral diseases and coral cover at Mentawai Sumatra. On April 3, 2014, they conducted a workshop on the potential impacts of diseases on coral reefs. Dr. Jompa also participated as one of the main speakers at World Coral Reef Conference in Manado May 14-16, 2014.

Although this project was originally planned to end in the spring of 2014, a no-cost extension through April 2015 allowed the researchers additional time to analyze their data and draft manuscripts for publication. In the fall of 2014, a supplement from the PEER program gave them the opportunity to produce two videos highlighting their project and its impacts. One video is intended for general audiences and the other includes additional lecture footage appropriate for students.

Indonesia Partnership Picture 2

1-235 Tagging Coral

Indonesian and U.S. project participants prepare for another survey dive (photo courtesy of Dr. Jompa)A project member measures tags and samples coral for black band disease (photo courtesy of Dr. Jompa) .