Marine Ecology

STRI researchers are within 100 kilometers of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which offers excellent opportunities for marine studies. Our research continues to document an apparently catastrophic regional decline in coral reef cover and structure along the Caribbean coast of Panama ; coral reefs are threatened approximately to the same degree as tropical forests. Researchers at STRI are studying how modern reef species and communities respond to changing environmental conditions (such as  LinkEl Niño), outbreaks of disease in marine organisms, oil spills, and other natural and human disturbances. STRI is expanding its environmental program to include sites in Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean coast in western Panama .

STRI researchers also aim to understand the evolution of marine organisms and the evolution of ecological relationships, work that is enhanced by the rich fossil record of certain marine organisms. We use this fossil record to document historical changes in community composition and patterns of speciation. Recent molecular studies have shown that the evolution of corals is even more complicated than previously believed because different corals may have different symbiotic algae.

Staff scientists researching Marine Ecology