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How will coral reefs look like in the future? Adaptive mechanisms and sublethal effects in corals under global change

Project description

Can coral reefs survive in a changing environment?

Coral reefs are being threatened by ongoing global environmental pressures. The EU-funded CoralChange project will explore the effects of global changes on coral species across multiple generations to see how their population dynamics and viability are compromised in the long term. Using demographic predictive models, it will identify how adaptation to ocean warming and acidification may undermine young corals. The project’s results will help in developing effective management and conservation strategies, as well as identifying coral species more likely to survive in the future.


Coral reefs are among the most diverse, spectacular and productive ecosystems on the planet. However, coral reefs are also among the marine ecosystems more susceptible to the adverse effects of the on-going global change. The frequency and severity of coral bleaching and mass mortality events increases every year, with serious consequences on the long-term viability of coral populations. However, during the last years, few studies have investigated the future of coral populations under different global change scenarios using demographic models. Moreover, these studies have not considered the capacity of corals to adjust their physiology to maintain performance despite environmental change (acclimatization) with the additional energetic cost of this adaptive mechanisms and their consequent transgenerational effects on the viability of future offspring. The CoralChange project will investigate, for the first time, the transgenerational effects induced by global change in stony coral and octocoral species in order to determine how their population dynamics and viability is compromised in the long-term. To achieve this goal, I will develop demographic predictive models combining field and experimental data that include coral physiological condition, trophic plasticity, reproductive success and larval viability. This new approach will identify the possible energetic costs of adaptive mechanisms to ocean warming and acidification that may undermine the early, and most vulnerable, life stages of corals. The results of this study will be essential to develop effective management and conservation strategies to safeguard coral reefs under multiple stressors, as well as identify coral species and populations with higher probability to survive in future conditions.


Net EU contribution
€ 245 732,16
08007 Barcelona

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 245 732,16

Partners (1)