Coral reefs are hotspots for biological diversity and sources of great societal significance and economic value. Unfortunately, anthropogenic and natural processes threaten the continued health of coral reef ecosystems. Thus, new research on population dynamics, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity is critical to the successful management, conservation, and restoration of coral reef ecosystems. Because coral reefs occur throughout the tropics, their restoration and study are vital to many nations. Indeed, coral reefs know no political boundaries, yet cultural and governmental barriers often preclude innovative, collaborative research between scientists from different countries. There is a need for a new generation of scientists, who bridge boundaries between basic and applied research and who seek employment within their countries but move fluidly across borders to forge productive collaborations with other scientists. In this proposal, we aim to develop these bridges.
Research on coral reefs has a particularly long and productive tradition in the US and France, and a large portion of the world’s reefs are under American and French jurisdiction or influence.
Ongoing research focused on coral reefs in French Polynesia provides a natural starting point for the development of a more formal program of collaboration and student exchange between US scientists, from the University of Florida, and French scientists, primarily from the École Pratique des Hautes Études.