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Small Scale Experimental Systems for Coral Research: Considerations, Planning, and Recommendations

Author(s): Bartlett, T.C.


Publication Type: NOAA Technical Memoranda

Journal Title: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 165 and CRCP 18

Date of Publication: 2013

Reference Information: 68 pages

Keywords: coral husbandry; experimental systems; coral health; disease

Abstract: Only a few decades ago, keeping coral alive and healthy in closed, captive systems proved to be challenging. In the short time since, there has been a surge of interest, knowledge, and technological advances with significant contributions from marine science, the aquarium industry, and aquarium hobbyists. Likewise, the difficulty in keeping coral in captivity has limited their use in well controlled laboratory experimentation. Much of the research on coral health and disease has been observational (vs. manipulative), and until recently, experimentation has been performed in a field setting which is subject to many uncontrollable variables, some measurable and some not. Furthermore, experimentation with infectious agents of coral diseases and toxicant effectors in the wild carries the risk of harming natural populations and raises ethical dilemmas. As a result of these issues, we and others are working to create laboratory life support systems for corals that can be used for experimentation under well controlled and monitored parameters. In the following technical memorandum, techniques and procedures are presented to assist researchers in developing small experimental systems for coral and attempts to identify possible confounding factors to consider when setting up laboratory experiments with coral. The system features presented here are intended for relatively simple experiments when funding, space, and time are limiting.


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