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Title: Differential incorporation of scientific advances affects coastal habitat restoration practice

Understanding the diffusion of innovative ideas, behaviors, and technologies could reduce disconnects between conservation science and management, such as the science‐practice gap between biodiversity research and restoration practice. To assess knowledge uptake as an indicator of diffusion of innovation in restoration practice, we conducted an online survey of two organizations focused on coastal habitat restoration: Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) and International Coral Reef Society (ICRS). We evaluated experience restoring particular habitats, along with perceptions of the purpose of restoration, the metrics used to evaluate restoration success, and the challenges to successful restoration. We then examined the perceived importance of genetic diversity for restoration success as an indicator of knowledge‐practice transfer in conservation strategy. The practice of coastal habitat restoration diverged by organization and habitat: a higher percentage of CERF members had restored oysters, marshes, and seagrasses compared to ICRS, whereas the reverse was true for corals. Views of the purpose of restoration, the site selection process, and the challenges to successful restoration were similar. Despite similarities in perceptions of the restoration process, the two organizations had variable indications of knowledge‐practice transfer: ICRS respondents ranked the importance of genetic diversity as a restoration strategy higher than did CERF respondents. The perceived importance of genetic diversity also differed by habitat, with both CERF and ICRS respondents ranking diversity as more important for corals. The more successful transfer of knowledge to practice in the coral community indicates that the disconnect between genetic diversity research and restoration practice is surmountable. In addition, it serves as a potential strategy for promoting the spread of innovative restoration practices to achieve long‐term recovery of ecosystems.

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Conservation Science and Practice
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National Science Foundation
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