Coral Aquaculture and Deployment

Dr Carly Randall conducting spawning research in the National Sea Simulator, AIMS, during coral spawning

Dr Carly Randall conducting spawning research in the National Sea Simulator, AIMS, during coral spawning. Photo: Marie Roman

The RRAP Coral Aquaculture and Deployment R&D Subprogram aims to deliver the means to reliably breed corals in captivity at low cost, at a medium scale using sexual and asexual methods.

The ability to effectively mass-produce corals to high standards will underpin the success of medium- to large-scale reef restoration initiatives and interventions and could help conserve wild populations.

The Coral Aquaculture and Deployment Subprogram aims to optimise methods to rear broodstock in aquaculture facilities and improve the survival rate of corals released into the wild.

This subprogram will also develop the capability for medium-scale aquaculture for a core set of 12 coral species. It will enable the supply of propagated corals to support small- and medium-scale field trials in later parts of the RRAP R&D Program.

The scale of coral production required to meet the objectives of RRAP is still uncertain but likely to be of medium to large scale (10 million –100 million corals per year).

This subprogram aims to deliver a comprehensive understanding of the drivers of growth and survival of young propagated corals in natural populations. It will produce the knowledge to support selective breeding and treatments for adaptation in the Enhanced Corals and Treatments and the Moving Corals Subprograms, as well as key data for ecological and evolutionary modelling by the RRAP Modelling and Decision Support Subprogram.

Scope and expected outcomes

Over four years, the Coral Aquaculture and Deployment Subprogram will undertake an integrated R&D program to develop knowledge and methods to:

  • Breed and asexually propagate corals to reliably produce juveniles or fragments for deployment purposes
  • Enhance growth and survival of coral juveniles and micro fragments post-deployment on the Reef
  • Design an aquaculture facility prototype and test breakthrough technologies and automation.

The total body of research is planned to be delivered in three phases (A to C) over 10 years.

Phase A will run for two to four years and will focus on critical milestones to deliver the high-level outcomes with a focus on performance confirmation and cost breakthrough R&D.

Phase B we will consolidate our efforts on delivering larger scale field trials, step-change innovation and generalisable patterns.

Phase C will deliver the knowledge for implementation including regional-scale field trials.

Research to enhance growth and survival of coral juveniles in the National Sea Simulator, AIMS

Research to enhance growth and survival of coral juveniles in the National Sea Simulator, AIMS. Photo: Christian Miller

Current projects

Coral Propagation and Deployment

This project focuses on developing methodology and technology that optimises coral propagation in an aquaculture setting, as well as enhancing coral larvae settlement survival. The results will inform the design of settlement devices that maximise post-deployment survival across coral species and environments.

Engineering Large Scale Aquaculture

This project focuses on developing automated and high-throughput technologies and workflows that allow for mass production, survival and growth of corals grown in an aquaculture setting.

Project Management, Field Program and Major Field Trials

This project will lead, coordinate, and manage the integrated field program, engagement training and data management for all projects under both the Enhanced Corals and Treatments and Coral Aquaculture and Deployment subprograms.

Subprogram leaders:

Subprogram Team members:

Associate Professor David Bourne

AIMS/JCU

Dr Lone Hoj

AIMS

Dr Saskia Jurriaans

AIMS/JCU

Andrew Negri photo

Dr Andrew Negri

AIMS

Dr Leonie Barner

SCU

CopyrightAIMS_CreditMarieRoman_AIMS_CoralSpawning2021_DrKateQuigley-3

Dr Kate Quigley

AIMS

David-Abrego-720

Dr David Abrego

SCU

Dr Andrew Heyward

AIMS

Dr Elsa Dos Santos Antunes

JCU

Craig Humphrey

Craig Humphrey

AIMS

Josh Ames

AIMS

Dr Paul O'Brien

Postdoc, UQ

Dr Lalehvash Mogahddam

Postdoc, QUT

OceanImageBank_BethWatson_06 846

Dr Ateek Rehman

Postdoc, JCU

Dr Pirjo Haikola

RMIT

Dr Agnes Le Port

Project Manager, AIMS