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Graduate student Annick Cros conducting coral reef research.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology has been awarded a $24,200 grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to support the Connecting Coral Reefs Worldwide project.

Coral reefs are at a critical stage with threats from human activities, climate change and ocean acidification. A fifth of all corals reefs have been destroyed and a further 15 percent are under immediate threat.

“The grant from Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for Connecting Coral Reefs Worldwide will provide essential support to better understand the coral reefs around Palau,” said Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology Director Jo-Ann Leong. “The findings of this research will immediately and significantly contribute to the government of Palau’s efforts to protect their reefs as well as provide management recommendations for the rest of Micronesia, which is facing similar challenges.”

Scientific research using the latest methods in population genetics will be conducted on the reefs of Palau to understand how reefs recover from catastrophic disturbances such as mass bleaching events. The results will provide guidance in the design of marine protected areas in Micronesia and globally to help restore and preserve the reefs and their incredible biodiversity for future generations.

Project partners include The Nature Conservancy’s Micronesia Program and Reef Resilience Network and Palau International Coral Reef Center.

The grant will be used to cover the costs of the lab work as well as to disseminate management recommendations and provide support to education programs that are already in place through The Nature Conservancy and Palau International Coral Reef Center.

A UH Foundation news release

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