Ronald Villanueva
Ronald Villanueva loves his ReefBalls™

A post-doctoral researcher, Ronald Villanueva spends his time talking a lot about concrete balls and pitching tents underwater. It is not the boy scouts but critical work for the Restoration and Remediation Working Group to assess the efficacy and cost effectiveness of using ReefBalls™ to work better in the coral reef restoration process.

ReefBalls™ have been used around the world to encourage the re-growth and formation of coral reefs, but with mixed results. Their advantages include provision of a standard substrate for coral growth and fish refuges. They are robust and can be accurately placed in target areas. However they are relatively expensive and cumbersome. More needs to be understood about how best to use ReefBalls™ in situ, if their potential as a tool in reef restoration is to be realised.

Ronald’s research is examining the use of ReefBalls™ on reefs subject to a range of anthropogenic pressures. He is examining the effect of algal grazing on coral recruitment through introduction of a snail (Trochus niloticus) to the trial ReefBalls™ in the Bolinao reef complex, and working out which species of coral grow best on the ReefBalls™ through transplantation experiments. The project also includes augmentation of coral larval supply at a trail site in Palau where a tent is pitched around the ReefBalls™ to ensure a concentrated supply of larvae is exposed to the ReefBalls™ surface.

Coral laval enhancement, Palau
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