MANACO Symposium in Noumea on coral reefs conservation (Dec. 4-6)

© 2019 EPFL

© 2019 EPFL

The degradation of the ocean conditions worldwide is threatening the persistence of coral reefs, the most biodiverse ecosystem in our oceans. The Laboratory of Geographic Information Systems (LASIG) at EPFL participates in the co-organization of the MANACO symposium to take place in Noumea (December 4-6, 2019), a conference dedicated to the use of seascape genomics in coral reefs conservation.

In 2016, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and the United Nations Program (UNEP) called for innovative projects to counter the global crisis that is striking coral reefs worldwide. In this context, IRD and EPFL conceived the SABLE project. SABLE stands for “A Seascape genomics Approach to improve coral reefs conservation strategies against BLEaching”, a method based on the fundamental evolutionary principle of adaptation. In fact, corals already persisting in extreme environmental conditions might survive climate change, and this specific rare kind of corals is likely to exist anywhere around the world. The SABLE project aims at identifying these rare genetic variants making it possible for corals to resist to hot water temperatures and to favor their dissemination among a maximum number of populations. A study constituting the proof of concept was carried out in New Caledonia by Oliver Selmoni, PhD student at LASIG, with colleagues of the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD, France) and of the UMR “Ecologie Marine Tropicale des Océans Pacifique et Indien (ENTROPIE)”.

However, a practical application of the concept to conservation strategies is necessary. The goal of the MANACO symposium is to discuss innovation in reef conservation strategies. However, innovation in coral reef conservation can be considered under different perspectives: the methods used in Australia, Japan and in the Red Sea will be presented by three eminent keynote speakers, Prof. Madeleine van Oppen (University of Melbourne, Australia), Prof. Nori Satoh (Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan), Prof. Anders Meibom (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland).

But innovation also relies in cooperation strategies, and SABLE together with the MANACO initiative constitute evidences highlighting the synergistic advantages of international collaboration integrating a wide range of key competences.

The MANACO symposium welcomes coral reefs stakeholders and scientists from all around the world. The organizers of the symposium hope to set the foundations for future collaborations between the participants and their institutions. Indeed, global challenges like coral bleaching require global responses and the three days of the MANACO symposium constitute an opportunity to define ours.


The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI)

The United Nations Program (UNEP)