National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and Coral Reef Targeted Research

Program or topic

  • National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCAES)
  • Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR)

Department(s) or unit(s)

  • Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Contact information

Drew Harvell
Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Faculty Curator, Malacology Collection

Program goals

  • National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCAES): To model systems for climate and disease reactions with a focus on pathogen growth and immune compromise. Recent studies have introduced new concepts on the role of climate and environmental factors with respect to the spread of the Aspergillus-Gorgonian coral epizootic.
  • Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR): To predict disease dynamics under climate change scenarios with the use of computer models so that reef managers can make better management decisions.

Brief Description

With oceans absorbing about 22 million tons of carbon dioxide each day combined with warming temperatures, coral reefs are facing unprecedented new threats. It is now believed that increases in sea water acidity and temperature will lead to mass extinctions within the next fifty years if carbon dioxide emissions are not drastically reduced. Now more than ever, marine researchers and reef managers must work together on all levels to solve issues relevant to their specific needs while evaluating the impacts of a changing climate on coral reef ecosystems. Using a variety of approaches, including field studies, molecular techniques, chemical analyses, and mathematical modeling, research in the Harvell lab attempts to answer questions such as how does coral disease affect fish and invertebrate populations, how does disease alter the reef’s ability to support diverse fish populations, and are there correlations between water quality and disease prevalence? Dr. Harvell’s work has led to the now widespread acceptance that diseases in marine ecosystems are important, particularly in the very climate-sensitive coral reef ecosystems.

For more information


Key publications:

  • Harvell, C. D. et al. 2002. Climate warming and disease risks for terrestrial and marine biota. Science. 296, 2158–2162.
  • Harvell, C.D., E. Jordan-Dahlgren, S. Merkel, E. Rosenberg, L. Raymundo, G. Smith, E. Weil and B. Willis. 2007. Coral Disease, Environmental Drivers and the Balance Between Coral and Microbial Associates. Oceanography. 20:58-81

Category: Ecosystems, Marine

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