Multiple stressors and Ecological Complexity

 When it comes to the study of coral reef ecosystems, scientific literature traditionally focussed on one environmental stressor (e.g. ocean acidification, climate change, coastal development, etc.) in order to better understand it. Nevertheless, environmental stressors are multiple and interact in a complex manner. This is what our research is about.

Embrassing complexity through the study of multiple ecological stressors


Ocean acidification, climate change, and other environmental stressors threaten coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend upon them. New science shows that these multiple stressors interact and may affect numerous physiological and ecological processes in complex ways. The interaction of multiple stressors and ecological complexity may mean that the negative affects on coral reef ecosystems will happen sooner and be more severe than previously thought. Yet, most research on the effects of global change on coral reefs focus on one or few stressors and pathways. Based on a critical review of the literature, we call for a regionally targeted strategy of mesocosm-level research to address this complexity and provide more realistic predictions about coral reef impacts in the face of global environmental change. We believe similar approaches are needed for other ecosystems that face global environmental change.

Download the publication

This research falls under our program "Understanding the impacts of ocean acidification and climate change on coral reefs and people". It is funded by the Prince Albert II Foundation, the Agence Nationale de Recherche and the Region of Brittany.

The publication is freely accessible through the following link:

Hack our figures!

Ecological processes and Coral ReefsIn the figures of this article, we propose:

  1. a conceptual framework describing ecological processes that contribute to coral reef growth and maintenance vs. the biological and anthropogenic factors that can work against these processes.
  2. a relationship between ecological sensitivity due to multiple stressors and threshold at which coral reefs are harmed and face acceleration of damage.
  3. the directions science should take in order to be more relevant for policy-making

Like the Journal publication, our figures are open access. In other words, do not hesitate to make them yours, to improve them and to share them with us!

To do so, download the figures by clicking on the picture!



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