Aligned with CLME+ C-SAP – ISER coral reef restoration project in Puerto Rico

The Institute for Socio-Ecological Research (ISER) is a research and education non-profit organization based in Lajas, Puerto Rico. ISER works directly with local communities to help conserve and advocate for responsible stewardship of our ecosystems. ISER utilizes a collaborative approach to develop and manage projects with other public and private entities. Along with our community partners, we have developed participatory programs and workshops that involve capacity building and horizontal knowledge transfer through collective outreach activities. ISER’s research efforts in marine herbivore conservation and fisheries management have produced significant insights into marine ecosystems processes in a changing climate and the role of humans in that process.

ISER is leading a novel restoration project to restock a keystone herbivore, long-spined sea urchin, on the coral reefs of Puerto Rico. Through this on-going initiative, ISER scientists have restocked more than 2,000 sea urchins throughout Puerto Rico.

These sea urchins improve the condition of coral reefs by significantly reducing algae, which would otherwise compete with corals and other organisms. We are also collaborating with NOAA and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez to develop the first land-based coral nursery in Puerto Rico. The overall goal of this project is to advance the natural recovery of reefs by restocking coral populations that are ecologically important and currently threatened.

Sea urchins improve the condition of coral reefs . Photo: ISER

ISER is also in the end phase of a community-based social marketing campaign to educate about and protect parrotfish, an important herbivore on coral reefs.

The project was initially funded by NOAA and a second phase was also supported by Ford Latino America. As part of the campaign we developed survey instruments and conducted research on the impacted communities. Using the collected data, we developed a community based campaign aimed at informing and transforming local behaviors in regards to the parrotfish fisheries.

The campaign was implemented in two areas of the north coast of the Dominican Republic (Puerto Plata-Samaná) and on the island of Eleuthera, The Bahamas. As part of our efforts we developed educational curriculum and other materials in English and Spanish. Amongst those materials, which are available on our site, are informational life cycle posters, a children’s book focusing on parrotfish, and a series of videos and TV commercials that promote its conservation.


Braulio Quintero, PhD

1 787 464 9626