Since the mid 1960s, coral reefs in Singapore have been impacted by a variety of anthropogenic disturbances such as coastal development, land reclamation and dredging. While the supply of coral larvae in Singapore is non-limiting, the survival of new recruits is challenged in an environment of chronically high sediment loads and unconsolidated rubble that is frequently moved about by currents. Up to 60% of reefs have since been lost, and current estimates place the total reef area at approximately 10km2. However, hard coral diversity remains high with 255 species recorded, representing 30% of the world's scleractinian diversity. In recent years, increasing efforts at restoring and rehabilitating Singapore's reefs are evident. Reef restoration approaches broadly include: mitigation measures, substrate modification, optimising methods for rearing scleractinian larvae and fragments in ex situ coral nurseries, rearing asexually propagated nubbins or corals of opportunity (i.e. naturally fragmented corals and coral juveniles that have recruited on loose rubble) in in situ nurseries, as well as transplantation of nursery-grown nubbins and fragments to natural reefs and on seawalls. Reef restoration strategies and endeavours in Singapore appear to be gaining support from the management agencies. The mass bleaching event in 2010 hindered restoration efforts slightly but offered insights into the bleaching susceptibility of certain species as well as their suitability for rearing in nurseries and transplantation to other environments.
Chin Soon Lionel Ng, National University of Singapore, Singapore
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