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Nearly $1 Million in NOAA Funding Recommended for Ruth Gates Coral Restoration Innovation Grants Projects

July 31, 2020

Four multi-year projects will develop novel coral restoration and intervention methods to restore resilient coral ecosystems.


To support our efforts to restore resilient coral ecosystems, NOAA is recommending nearly $1 million in funding for four projects through the Ruth Gates Coral Restoration Innovation Grants opportunity. The funded projects aim to enhance coral resilience and improve the long-term success and efficiency of shallow-water coral reef restoration in a changing climate.

Globally, coral reefs are rapidly declining in health. While coral restoration efforts have been successful at a local level, the development of innovative interventions are needed to improve the efficiency and long-term effectiveness of coral restoration activities in order to restore resilient, genetically diverse, and reproductively viable coral populations at a larger scale.

The funded projects will support research and development of interventions to improve coral resilience to environmental stressors, and novel techniques to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of coral population enhancement.

In fiscal year 2020, we’re recommending nearly $1 million in funding for the following four projects.

  • The University of Hawaii will address a knowledge gap in coral assisted evolution by assessing how selectively bred corals can increase adaptation in natural reproduction by improving the temperature tolerance of future coral populations.
  • The University of Miami will assess the feasibility of increasing the genetic diversity to restore elkhorn coral populations in Florida by cross breeding corals with Northwest Bahamas corals.
  • Johnston Applied Marine Sciences will test a new settlement substrate for coral larvae in order to scale up coral restoration efforts through the outplanting of sexually derived juvenile corals. The project will also build capacity in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to implement coral sexual propagation.
  • The Pennsylvania State University will analyze four coral species in the U.S. Virgin Islands to understand genetic and molecular mechanisms related to thermal tolerance and resilience.

Dr. Ruth Gates explains the benefits of using an advanced microscope to image corals.

This is the first competition under the new Ruth Gates Coral Restoration Innovation Grants. The competition is in direct response to the recently completed National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study on Interventions to Increase the Resilience of Coral Reefs.

Last updated by Office of Habitat Conservation on July 31, 2020