Engaging in Interdisciplinary Coastal Research During a Pandemic

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Coronavirus Pandemic, Online Ethnography Methods, Interdisciplinary Research, Coral Reef Restoration and Monitoring, Online Video Communication Platforms

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Developing a deeper understanding of the human dimensions of coral reef restoration and monitoring is imperative in efforts to sustain and restore the world’s coral reefs, which are experiencing catastrophic declines. This article reports on the methodologies used to conduct interdisciplinary fieldwork that began in June 2020, investigating how coral restoration practitioners navigated the ecological and societal changes impacting reef restoration and monitoring strategies for the Florida Reef Tract. The necessity to limit face-to-face contact due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in shifts in the way the researchers communicated with stakeholders regarding environmental management practices. The research team utilized digital ethnographic methodologies to investigate the challenges in testing and implementing monitoring methods used for coral reef restoration. This paper discusses the impact of conducting interdisciplinary team-based research and community engagement during a pandemic. The challenges and opportunities in conducting virtual ethnographic interviews from multi-leveled stakeholder groups through online communication platforms are explored. This work found that the COVID-19 pandemic restructured the way research can be conducted to reach stakeholders who would be unavailable using traditional in-person data collection strategies.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Human Organization, v. 81, issue 3, p. 271-279