Our research activities on this field mainly focus on the coral health and diseases assessment of the Republic of Maldives.
Currently, it has been documented that coral reefs are in severe decline with coral diseases representing a significant factor contributing to this deterioration. However, despite an increasing number of reports of diseases affecting corals and other marine taxa worldwide, and further increases predicted as a consequence of climate change, there has been comparatively little research focused on diseases of the Republic of Maldives.
This work aims to fill this gap in knowledge through the identification of the diseases affecting reef-building corals and assessing their distribution, host range and prevalence in the Maldivian Archipelago. Our principal findings demonstrated that biotic threats identifiable in corals diseases and algal overgrowth represent a serious risk for the coral community and associated organisms in the Maldivian reefs ecosystem.
At the same time, the limited nature of knowledge of the aetiology of the Maldivian coral diseases is a major impediment to management of this threat. For this reason, to improve knowledge about the causes, the mechanisms by which most diseases kill their hosts, their rates of spread and host mortality, how these parameters vary within and across host species, their original sources, vectors and/or reservoirs, or how they are transmitted across colonies of the same species and of different species are considered a priority.
Thus, even though the understanding of coral diseases is still in its infancy in the Maldivian, our findings have provided for the first time baseline information on the status of coral diseases affecting coral reefs in the Republic of Maldives. Coral diseases are documented to be widespread and they can become prevalent on coral reefs, driving changes in coral reef structure and biodiversity of this archipelago. The recognized decline in coral reef cover in this area and the future pressure to coral reef health from ocean warming, acidification and anthropogenic pollution, pose an imminent need to study the role of coral diseases in coral reef deterioration, resilience and recovery. Furthermore, given that levels of coral diseases are important indicators of coral reef health our estimated level of diseases prevalence should be used as gauge for future change.
Given that this country is geographically very large and specious in terms of marine biodiversity, knowledge of “how to restore” the coral reefs in this region has considerable ecological importance. In order to fill this gap in knowledge the University of Milano-Bicocca and Corales de Paz have joint efforts to propose a timely coral restoration projects in Maldives.