14th In­ter­na­tio­nal Co­ral Reef Sym­po­si­um (Online)

19.07 - 23.07.2021  
Contact person:
Dr. Malik Naumann, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The 14th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS 2021) will be held online from 19-23 July 2021.

The overarching theme of ICRS 2021 is "Tackling the Challenging Future of Coral Reefs".

Update January 2021

Due to continued infection risks and travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the 14th ICRS will be entirely virtual this summer from 19 - 23 July 2021. This meeting combines asynchronous (pre-recorded submissions) with synchronous (interactive real-time discussions) elements. Organizers feel it is important for the coral reef community to have the opportunity to share their research findings already this summer.

More details about registration and program for this summer's 14th ICRS to follow soon.

Information below was for the in-person hybrid meeting. New details to come


ICRS 2021 is the primary international conference on coral reef science, conservation and management, bringing together leading scientists, early-career researchers, conservationists, ocean experts, policy makers, managers, and the public.

ICRS 2021 will be the key event to develop science-based solutions addressing the present and future challenges of coral reefs, which are globally exposed to unprecedented anthropogenic pressures.

The five-day program will present the latest scientific findings and ideas, provide a platform to build the essential bridges between coral reef science, conservation, politics, management and the public, and will promote public and political outreach.


ICRS 2021 aims to address key scientific questions, such as:

- What can we learn from the past in order to understand future reefs and their functioning?
- Which are the underlying processes driving present changes including coral bleaching, diseases, resilience, and community shift patterns in reefs?
- With increasing dominance of other functional groups, how do we renew our understanding of reef systems?
- Which novel data and observations must we capture from reefs at a wide-scale to improve our predictive understanding?
- What kinds of adaptive management, conservation, and restoration measures need to be developed for future reefs?

Primary goals

- Showcase significant work, latest findings and new ideas from all disciplines.
- Provide a platform for the international coral reef community to build bridges between science, conservation, politics, management and public awareness.
- Review existing knowledge for a comprehensive outlook on the future distribution and function of coral reef ecosystems.
- Explore new insights and technologies to develop science-based and sustainable solutions to tackle the global coral reef crisis.
- Promote public and political outreach in order to disseminate the key symposium outcomes at the local and international level.
- Create awareness by involving the public through accompanying lectures and exhibitions.  


01: Reef environments and climate of the past
02: Species and their populations
03: Ecosystem functions and services
04: Microbial ecology, holobionts and model organisms
05: Cold-water and temperate reefs
06: Unexplored and unexpected reefs
07: Scalable observations and technologies
08: Human relations to reefs
09: Global and local impacts
10: Organismal physiology, adaptation and acclimation
11: Resilience, phase shifts and novel ecosystems
12: Conservation and management
13: Interventions and restoration
14: Outreach and education
15: New theories and future projections

More detailed information can be found at:

Workshop program

The ICRS 2021 program will include a series of specialised workshops covering a wide range of topics and disciplines. ICRS 2021 delegates may express their interest in participating in one or more of these workshops during the registration process. There will be pre- and post-symposium workshops.

More detailed information can be found at:

Abstract submission

The call for abstracts has been extended to 15 October 2020:

Abstracts are now particularly invited from people who want to join online only, but of course also abstracts from people who want to join on-site can be submitted until the new deadline.

During the submission process, you will be asked to indicate if your submission should be presented online only. This is to get more quantitative information about the interest for the online component of ICRS 2021 Hybrid.

As with the on-site submissions, all new abstracts will be evaluated for quality in a double-blind mode, and abstract submitters will be notified of acceptance by the end of 2020.


Only during registration (opens in early 2021) can participants decide whether they want to present and register for the on-site event, online only, or both components of ICRS 2021 Hybrid.

This means that participants who have already submitted their abstracts can switch to the online presentation later during registration, if the development of the pandemic makes this necessary.

Registration fees for the online only option will be approximately 50 % of the rate for the on-site event:

Further information

Go to the official website:

Follow ICRS 2021 on social media:

PAGES session

CoralHydro2k: Theme 1: Can large-scale ocean and climate reconstructions from corals improve our understanding of past, present, and future extremes?
Convenors: Kristine DeLong, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA; Diane Thompson, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA; Thomas Felis, MARUM, University of Bremen, Germany; and Hali Kilbourne, University of Maryland, College Park, USA

The tropical oceans are uniquely positioned to serve as the pulse of climate change and climate variability since they contain warm pools that feed vast amounts of evaporation to the atmosphere driving the climate system. The lack of instrumental observations in the tropical oceans, both spatially and temporally, is a major hindrance to understanding climate variability and resolving climate model biases in the tropics. Long-lived massive corals contain records of past ocean conditions in their skeletons that can be used to understand climate variability in the recent past and in other warm periods, such as the Last Interglacial (125 ka) and Mid-Holocene (5-6 ka).

One of the largest sources of climate variability is El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that occurs in the Tropical Pacific Ocean and impacts far flung regions. El Niño events during past 30 years have also driven higher reef temperatures leading to coral bleaching for large number of coral reefs. The Inter-American Seas (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea) is another prominent HotSpot for future climate change impacts including more intense tropical cyclones and droughts. Therefore, it is of foremost importance to expand our observational record, using corals as climate archives, to understand climate variability and extreme events so we can better predict future impacts of climate extremes on coral reefs. There is a strong need for a more comprehensive, end-to-end approach for climate assessments at a basin scale including better integration of paleoclimatic evidence, atmospheric and oceanic observations, physical understanding, model evaluation, and future projections. This session seeks contributions to increase our understanding of tropical climate variability in the past, present, and future using observations, coral and other marine paleoclimate proxies, and model simulations.