Coral reefs are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on earth. They are threatened worldwide by the activities of humans. For reef ecologists, these changes are unprecedented, but there is abundant evidence for rapid ecological change on reef systems in the past from the fossil record.
Past examples of rapid ecological change can be studied from many time intervals and regions. Together they form a set of replicated ‘natural experiments’ in which ancient ecosystems responded to various types of environmental change.
The Museum's reef coral research program aims to study these past experiments to:
Researchers in the Earth Sciences Department have analysed large collections of fossil corals from the Caribbean Basin to clarify the periods during which local coral reef ecosystems underwent rapid development. Learn more about this project and its findings.
Learn about work which aims to provide long-term data that will make it possible to distinguish the natural variability of corals from changes caused by human activities.