Our Lab

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Who we are

The magic, allure, and prosperity of South Florida is intrinsically tied to coral reefs and the ecological, economic, and societal services they provide. Billions of dollars in food, jobs, recreational opportunities, coastal protection, and other important goods stem from coral reef ecosystems.


However, coral reef populations have experienced significant declines over past decades, to the point where several reef-building species in the Caribbean are now listed as threatened. These declines have been driven by both local (i.e., pollution, overfishing) and global stressors (i.e., increasing ocean temperatures, acidification).


Because of this, coral gardening and active reef restoration has expanded exponentially to help recover degraded coral populations and the ecological services associated with healthy and complex reefs.


Dr. Diego Lirman’s Coral Reef Restoration Lab here at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School has been conducting active coral propagation and reef restoration in Florida and the Caribbean for >15 years. The focus of our activities is to propagate stocks of threatened corals like Acropora cervicornis, A. palmata, and Orbicella faveolata within in-water and land-based nurseries for use in research and restoration.

What We Do



Our restoration activities support diverse research projects aimed at developing science-based Best Practices for restoration, understanding patterns of genetic and genomic diversity within restored populations, and factors influencing coral growth and survivorship in the face of local and regional stressors as well as climate change factors. To date, we have planted >50,000 corals in Miami-Dade County, promoting both coral population recovery and the ecological services reefs provide.

Rescue a Reef

In 2015, Dr. Lirman launched the Rescue a Reef program to advance coral conservation and reef restoration through education, outreach, and citizen science. The citizen science program utilizes the coral gardening framework, with participants helping maintain our underwater nursery, collect corals from our standing stock, and transplant onto degraded reefs, aiding in species and habitat recovery.


To date, Rescue a Reef has had >1,000 citizen scientists on board who helped to restore >10,000 threatened corals back onto Florida’s Coral Reef.