We are a leader in coral reef conservation science.

Our proactive research has shown how coral reefs can successfully adapt to the effects of climate change, if humans create the conditions that help reefs evolve naturally.

We believe that strong science, key alliances, and community engagement are essential to saving and supporting reefs.

Our current scientific work includes:

Spearheading new research into coral adaptation

We are launching, supporting, and interpreting scientific research to better understand how coral reefs adapt to climate change and the conditions that help encourage that evolutionary process.

Groundtruthing datasets

We are galvanizing a global team of scientists and conservationists to “ground truth” coral reef data that is detected by satellites through the Allen Coral Atlas partnership.

Assessing adaptation potential

We are leveraging the groundbreaking Allen Coral Atlas, plus other available datasets, to identify networks of reefs that have a higher potential of adapting to climate change so they can be prioritized in conservation efforts.

Engaging with partners

We are working with a network of experts and thought leaders in coral reef conservation to integrate the results of our scientific research into conservation interventions and policies.

Regional field work

We are incorporating adaptation science into regional conservation efforts in the Hawaiian Islands and Mesoamerican region, and building local datasets about coral reef health and water quality to inform “on the ground” conservation efforts.

Photo by Allen Coral Atlas
Photo by Antonio Busiello
Featured Science Program

Coral Bleaching Program

We’re working with the Allen Coral Atlas to unite a global network of scientists who can get into the water and confirm coral bleaching data that satellites are detecting from space.

Read our latest scientific articles.

Evolution reverses the effect of network structure on metapopulation persistence

Current ecological theory predicts that random networks with dispersal shortcuts connecting distant sites can promote persistence when there is no capacity for evolution. This paper demonstrates that incorporating evolution and environmental heterogeneity fundamentally alters theoretical predictions regarding persistence in ecological networks.

Transitioning to co‑management in Caribbean reef fisheries: Tela Bay case study

We analyzed the 5-year transition process of a Caribbean reef fishery from top-down management to co-management. Despite previous research stating that the Caribbean in general, and Honduras in particular, are not ready for collaborative management approaches we saw that the Tela Bay was able to successfully implement a co-management system.

Ecomorphological analyses reveal impact of land-based stressors on stock structure of two commercially important fish species in the Caribbean

Many Caribbean nations lack information on the ecology and biology of marine species, which are essential for food security and livelihoods in the region. This study aimed to advance the knowledge of two commercially important fish species, lane snapper (Lutjanus synagris) and white grunt (Haemulon plumierii), using cost-efficient techniques.

Management for network diversity speeds evolutionary adaptation to climate change

This pioneering study is one of the first to demonstrate that management that takes evolution and adaptation into account can help rescue coral reefs from climate change. The results show that smart decisions to protect reefs today lead to the conditions that can help corals adapt to rising temperatures.

Who Should Pick the Winners of Climate Change?

(Webster et al. 2017) Conservation strategies that focus on predicted winners risk undervaluing the balance of biological diversity from which climate change winners could otherwise emerge. Drawing on ecology, evolutionary biology, and portfolio theory, we propose a conservation approach designed to promote adaptation that is less dependent on uncertain predictions.

Science Videos

Our scientific work is built around collaborations. It unifies academics, nonprofits, corporate partners, and conservationists, and it bridges the gap between science and communities. Our work at the local level involves communities in science that typically occurs behind closed doors—our coral reefs are better off when we are all empowered with more information.

Restoring Native Forest Ecosystems in Maui, Hawaii

In the Wahikuli Watershed in Maui, Hawai‘i, the CORAL field team restores native forest ecosystems to protect coral reefs. In this location, extra sediment often moves down from the mountains and onto nearby reefs, causing stress to the corals. By adding native plant rows, the team is able to trap sediment and prevent it from… Continue Reading →

#CORALVoices: Ana Valdez Martinez

As the first community scientist in Trujillo, Honduras, Ana Valdez Martinez works closely with fishers to monitor their catch and help them understand what’s happening to their coral reefs and their fisheries. It’s the first time the community has had such an in-depth understanding of what’s happening underwater, and the data she collects will allow… Continue Reading →

Science Stories
allen coral atlas coral reefs

The Allen Coral Atlas Introduces the First Comprehensive Map of Shallow Water Coral Reefs

On September 8, 2021, it was officially announced that a comprehensive map and monitoring system of the world’s shallow water coral reefs, the Allen Coral Atlas, was completed. This tremendous effort was led by Arizona State University in collaboration with scientists, universities, private entities, and NGOs across the globe—including the Coral Reef Alliance. The tool… Continue Reading →

Coral bleaching in Hawaii

Uniting A Global Coral Bleaching Response Network

Coral bleaching events make headlines every year. And each year, bleaching events have become more frequent and severe. Take Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, for example: In the last five years, the reef has been hit by three record-breaking coral bleaching events—one in 2016, one in 2017 and another in 2020.   But the Allen Coral Atlas… Continue Reading →

Roatan coastline

Could Cleaner Water Mean Farewell for Coral Disease?

Lea esto en español When improperly treated sewage enters the marine environment, it can have devastating effects on a coral reef. Not only does it bring bacteria that can pose a threat to human health, but it also brings nutrients that fuel the growth of algae—a fierce competitor in the coral reef ecosystem. Algae compete… Continue Reading →

Honduras coastline

Making the Case for a Biological Corridor

In 2018, a law passed that opened up parts of the Honduran North Coast to commercial fishing—prior, only artisanal fishers were able to fish within certain areas. While some of the coastline lies within marine protected areas (MPAs), we suspected that fish populations along the coastline were all connected. If the MPAs weren’t somehow connected,… Continue Reading →

Could satellite-based technology save coral reefs?

Atlases and maps are helpful for planning trips and exploring geography, but researchers believe they may also serve another, more important purpose: Identifying priority coral reef conservation areas. With a new three-year $300,000 grant from Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) and partners can begin to test their hypothesis that satellite-based imagery and… Continue Reading →

Screen shot of the Allen Coral Atlas

CORAL Partners with Allen Coral Atlas

We’re incredibly excited to announce that we just received a new $850,000, three-year grant from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation to support facilitating a global network to monitor coral bleaching and water quality threat alerts from the Allen Coral Atlas. A new partner of ours, the Atlas is a collaboration of scientists and researchers… Continue Reading →

Paola Urrutia tests water samples in Tela Bay

The Women Behind the Science

It’s 6:45 a.m. when Paola Urrutia arrives at Tela Bay. She makes her way down to the water, finds the spot where the fishermen will disembark after their morning catch, and sits down to wait. On the northern Caribbean coast of Honduras, Tela Bay sits at the bottom of a gently sloping tropical forest, marked… Continue Reading →

CORAL Wins The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award

The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) was honored to be recognized by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Meeting as one of six organizations and individuals to receive The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources (CALA) on September 9, 2020. The CALA was established in 2016 to recognize exemplary leadership in the field… Continue Reading →

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