The new Coral Sample Registry solves critical issues for the coral restoration and conservation community

TAVERNIER, FLORIDA, USA, August 3, 2021 / — – Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) has published the world’s first database to enable integration of coral restoration and research data sets, solving several critical issues for restoration managers, practitioners, and researchers.  

– The novel Coral Sample Registry was developed in collaboration with academics, management agencies, and restoration practitioners in the South Florida area. 

The registry is open-source and freely available to users, designed to be suitable for all coral species in all geographic regions.

In the last decade, the field of coral reef restoration has generated a huge proliferation of data around corals used in reef restoration and research. This information covers the source of coral samples, their genetics, and the performance of these diverse species and genotypes in research and restoration practice. Until now, these data sets have been siloed, giving managers, practitioners, and researchers limited ability to cross-mine this information. But Coral Restoration Foundation™ has now launched a new open-source Coral Sample Registry that enables researchers, managers, and restoration practitioners to access all these data. 

Resource managers track the multitude of permits, species, restoration locations, and performance across multiple stakeholders while researchers generate large data sets and data pipelines detailing the genetic, genomic, and phenotypic variants of corals. Restoration practitioners, in turn, maintain records on fragment collection, genet performance, outplanting location, and survivorship. While each individual data set is important, collectively they can provide far deeper insights and better guide coral restoration efforts. 

Born out of a critical conversation at the Reef Futures symposium in 2018, the Coral Sample Registry offers a key for agencies to contribute to and access the full picture of corals being used in reef restoration and research. It is appropriate for all species, can be used for tracking both sexual and asexual harvests, and establishes a link between collection information for any subsequent sample and all phenotypic data collected. The Registry solves several problems: it avoids naming confusion within and between stakeholder groups and it removes the burden of sorting through reported information making it easier to understand which groups are working with which species and genotypes. 

The Coral Sample Registry assigns a unique “Accession Number” to each sample, corresponding to a specific collection event of coral tissue, whether for research, archiving, or restoration purposes. It essentially unlocks the diversity of information related to that sample’s provenance and characteristics across any and all data structures that include the accession number field. The registry has been detailed in the peer-reviewed paper, “Integrating Coral Restoration Data With a Novel Coral Sample Registry”, published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Marine Science. 

Amelia Moura, Coral Restoration Foundation™ Science Program Manager, led the development of the Registry. She says, “Not only does the Coral Sample Registry set the baseline for the minimum standard collection information required to treat a coral as an individual sample, but it also gives us an accurate picture of how many fragments have been harvested or created for use in restoration efforts. The goal is that this resource will be adopted by researchers, restoration practitioners, and managers to efficiently track coral samples through all data structures and unlock of a broader array of insights, saving all of us time and resources at this critical juncture for our planet’s coral reefs. We are grateful to all the authors for their contributions; together we have developed a powerful tool that will shape the near future of coral restoration science.” 

The Coral Sample Registry was developed by Coral Restoration Foundation™ in collaboration with the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, SECORE International, and the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service.

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