The UA Biosphere 2 Ocean (B2O) is well into the first phase of an exciting new three-phase project that will investigate key processes and novel solutions for restoring resilient coral reefs from a degraded state. These resilient reefs can maintain critical reef structure, function, and diversity in the face of continuing climate change. The controlled environment of the B2O is a perfect test bed for novel, even radical, techniques of reef restoration, selective breeding, and assisted evolution that are too difficult or risky to test in the wild. The algae-dominated reef state of the current B2O — similar to that of a degraded reef after disturbance(s) — also presents a unique opportunity to investigate recovery processes and explore solutions for rebuilding resilient coral reefs.
During this critical first phase, we are closely monitoring the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the B2O to document the transition from algae to coral reef as we re-engineer the system to support a “super reef” of the future. In the coming months, we will populate the ocean with key species (coral, symbionts, herbivores, etc.) expected to contribute to a functional and resilient coral reef, and test recent advances in materials and techniques for coral restoration. Capitalizing on the range of controlled environments in the B2O and adjacent experimental raceways, we will also conduct experiments to explore novel ways to increase corals’ resilience to stress (e.g. by selective breeding and/or by manipulating depth, feeding, symbionts, or stress exposure). In the final phase of this project, this “super reef” will be exposed to environmental conditions of future reefs (i.e., high temperature, low pH, frequent extreme events) to examine the adaptive potential of coral reef ecosystems to projected climate change.
- Joaquin Ruiz, Director, Biosphere 2
- John Adams, Deputy Director, Biosphere 2
- Katie Morgan, Manager of Marine Systems, Biosphere 2
- Franklin Lane, Project Technician, Biosphere 2
- Ty Roach, Postdoctoral Scholar, Biosphere 2 & Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
- Kara Lachapelle, Assistant Project Technician, Biosphere 2
- Elizabeth Nielsen, Director of Development, Biosphere 2
- Kevin Bonine, Director of Education & Outreach, Biosphere 2