News & Information


The International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) was founded in 1980.  It is the principal learned society to which reef scientists and managers from across the world belong.

The principal objective of the Society is to promote the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge and understanding of coral reefs, both living and fossil.

To achieve its objectives the Society:

  • publishes and distributes the well-regarded scientific  coral-reefsreef-encounterjournal Coral Reefs (ISRS members click here to get on-line access)
  • coordinates the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS), a major scientific congress held every four years, typically attended by some 2000 delegates
  • promotes or supports smaller regional conferences or inter-congresses, in years between successive ICRS
  • publishes Briefing Papers and Statements on emerging issues related to coral reefs 
  • distributes twice yearly a news journal / newsletter called Reef Encounter
  • acknowledges the scholarship and work of its members with Society awards and honors.

Currently coral reefs are under threat globally, with perhaps half the world's reefs impacted or degraded as a direct or indirect effect of human activities (see the pages About Coral Reefs).

Anyone working on or interested in or concerned for coral reefs is WELCOME to join the society: please see the Membership Page, where you can join on-line. For membership and subscription queries please email membership services (which are provided by SG group) at:



Society's on-line PETITION  - number of signees passes 1,500

The latest number of signatures received by the ipetitions website is:


As of 25th November 2015. For more details see:


New Issue of Society's Journal CORAL REEFS Published

The latest issue (Vol. 34, Issue 4) of the Society's Scientific Journal CORAL REEFS has just been published.

You can check out the contents by following this link to the CORAL REEFS pages of the Springer website:

CORAL REEFS Springer's website

Members of the Society have free on-line access to this and all past issues of the journal. These can be accessed via the CORAL REEFS page of this website.

16th November 2015



On-line PETITION in support of the Society's Consensus Statement  - number of signatures passes 1,000

Over 1,000 members and other supporters have signed the on-line petition in support of the Society's Consensus Statement on Coral Bleaching and Climate Change in the just 5 days since the petition was launched. We are so grateful for the response.

If you have NOT yet signed please GO TO:

Both members and non-members  are welcome to sign. Please if relevant include in the comments section a note of your professional affiliation and also state if you are a member of  ISRS. (Ignore the suggestion to donate)

Members and supporters are encouraged to also email etc. friends and contacts informing them of the petition and urging them to do likewise.

12th November 2015


El Cambio Climático Amenaza la Sobrevivencia de los Arrecifes de Coral

A Spanish language version of the Society's Consensus Statement on Coral Bleaching and Climate Change has been prepared and is now available here for downloading as a high resolution version (HR) suitable for printing and a lower resolution version (LR) suitable for emailing.

ISRS Consensus Statement on Coral Bleaching & Climate Change Spanish FINAL 15Nov15 LR

ISRS Consensus Statement on Coral Bleaching & Climate Change Spanish FINAL 15Nov15 HR

The Statement concludes:

Por lo tanto, la Sociedad Internacional para los Estudios de los Arrecifes (“International Society for Reef Studies”) hace un llamado a todas las naciones y negociadores en la Conferencia sobre Cambio Climático en París, a comprometerse a limitar las concentraciones de dióxido de carbono atmosférico (CO2) a no más de 450 partes por millón (ppm) en el corto plazo, y a reducirlas a 350 ppm a largo plazo.

Esto debe mantener el promedio del incremento de la temperatura global por debajo de 2°C (o 3.6°F) en el corto plazo y menos de 1.5°C (o 2.7°F) en el largo plazo en relación al período preindustrial, lo que evitaría el colapso mundial de los ecosistemas arrecifales y permitiría que los arrecifes de coral sobrevivan a perpetuidad.

The English version is available to download here:


10th November 2015


ISRS launches on-line PETITION in support of the Society's Consensus Statement on Coral Bleaching and Climate Change.

ISRS have launched an on-line petition on the iPetitions website for those wishing to sign in support of the Society's recent call to nations and negotiators at the Paris Climate Change Conference, taking place at the end of this month, to commit to limiting atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels that will result in a no more than 2 degrees C increase in global temperatures in the short-term, and 1.5 degrees C increase in the long-term, in order to prevent the global collapse of coral reef ecosystems.
The petition can be found at
Members and non-members  are welcome to sign. Please if relevant include in the comments section a note of your professional affiliation and also state if you are a member of  ISRS.
Members and supporters are encouraged to also email etc. friends and contacts informing them of the petition and urging them to do likewise.

 7th November 2015


Le changement climatique menace la survie des récifs coralliens

A French language version of the Society's Consensus Statement on Coral Bleaching and Climate Change has been prepared and is now available here for downloading as a high resolution version (HR) suitable for printing and a lower resolution version (LR) suitable for emailing.

Déclaration consensuelle de l'ISRS 10nov2015b HR

Déclaration consensuelle de l'ISRS 10nov2015b LR

La Déclaration conclut:

La Société Internationale d’étude des Récifs appelle donc toutes les nations et tous les négociateurs à la Conférence de Paris sur le Changement Climatique à s’engager à limiter les concentrations de dioxyde de carbone atmosphérique (CO2) à 450 ppm à court terme et à les réduire à 350 ppm à long terme.

Ceci devrait contenir l’augmentation de la température moyenne globale à moins de 2°C (ou 3,6°F) à court terme et moins de 1,5°C (ou 2,7°F) à long terme, par rapport à la période préindustrielle. Ceci devrait éviter l’effondrement global des écosystèmes récifaux et assurer la survie des récifs coralliens sur le long terme.

The English version is available to download here:


3rd November 2015


New Issue of REEF ENCOUNTER Published

Reef Encounter 42 Sept 2015 cover image c (567x800)The latest edition of the Society's News Journal "REEF ENCOUNTER" has been distributed to members and is also available here to download, either as a lower resolution pdf file (smaller file, but less suitable for quality printing) or as a higher version pdf (larger file, suitable for high quality printing).



Downloads are free to members and non-members alike, although members are given priority in having articles or other items accepted for publication.

30th October 2015 



ISRS Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Bleaching

Bleaching coral reefs in American Samoa, 2015 (XL Catlin Seaview Survey)
Bleaching coral reefs in American Samoa, 2015 (photo courtesy of XL Catlin Seaview Survey)

The Society is today releasing a Consensus Statement highlighting the role of climate change as the ultimate cause of coral bleaching that is now threatening a global loss of coral reef ecosystems. The Consensus Statement was drawn up by a team led by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland and reviewed by a wider panel of society members. The team concluded that even the cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions being proposed at the forthcoming Climate Change Conference in Paris will not be enough to prevent widespread degradation of coral reefs over the next few decades. The Society is therefore calling on all nations and negotiators at the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) to commit to limiting atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations to no more than 450 ppm in the short-term, and reducing them to 350ppm in the long-term. This, the authors conclude, should keep average global temperature increase to less than 2°C (or 3.6oF) in the short-term, and less than 1.5oC (or 2.7oF) in the long-term, relative to the pre-industrial period, and be sufficient to prevent global collapse of coral reef ecosystems and allow coral reefs to survive in to the future.

Bleaching coral reef near Phi Phi Islands, Thailand (Nalinee Thongtham)
Bleaching coral reef near Phi Phi Islands, Thailand (photo by Nalinee Thongtham)

The Consensus Statement can be downloaded here, as can a Press Release that has been distributed to selected media. The statement is also being sent directly to all society members, together with a request for members to distribute the statement as widely as they can to colleagues, students, political representatives, and relevant government ministers and non-governmental organisations. The Society also intends, so far as it can, to distribute the statement to governments and delegates attending the Paris Conference. Members able to assist with this task (directly or indirectly) are encouraged to contact society officers.

The issue will also be covered in the forthcoming issue of Reef Encounter, expected to be published by the beginning of next week, and a Town Hall Meeting is planned for ICRS13 in Hawaii, where members and other attendees will be able to discuss what other action the Society or its members can take.

20th October 2015


Third Global Coral Bleaching Event Declared

As members may have been anticipating, after bleaching reports from as far apart as Hawaii, Australia and the Northern Caribbean, the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and collaborating organisations have formally declared that the third Global Coral Bleaching Event is underway. Modelling forecasts suggest that the event will last well into 2016 and that temperature anomalies may be greater and last longer than in the 1998 Bleaching Event, during which 16% of the world coral communities are estimated to have been seriously affected.

Details can be found on the NOAA Coral Reef Watch website at:

The full NOAA Press Release can be downloaded here.

10th October 2015

 Coral Bleaching  - ISRS Response

In the past week or two there have been growing numbers of reports of coral bleaching from locations as far apart as Hawai'i, the Great Barrier Reef and the northern Caribbean. ISRS is preparing a Consensus Statement reflecting the Society's concern. We hope this may influence decision makers in the run up to the Conference of the Parties (CoP21) to the Convention on Climate Change due to take place in Paris at the end of November. The Society is also working on Recommended Actions for members to promote public awareness of this issue. More information on these will be posted in the near future.

Meanwhile members are encouraged to visit the excellent Catlin Seaview Survey Site at which has numerous superb photographs and other materials which can be downloaded without charge.

The NOAA Coral Reef Watch ( site is of course the place to visit for the latest overview of the situation. Members are asked to report observations of local bleaching to this site.

3rd October 2015


ISRS Logo Competition

The International Society for Reef Studies announces a competition to design a new logo for use by the society. The logo should reflect the society’s mission, “… to promote the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge and understanding of coral reefs, both living and fossil.”
Guidelines & Rules

  1. The competition: Participants will submit logo designs to represent the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS). The logo should capture the iconic nature of coral reefs wherever those reefs occur. The winning design will be used as the official logo for the Society. The competition opens on September 1 and closes on December 20, 2015.
  2. Who is eligible: This contest is open to all members of ISRS and each member may submit up to three entries to the competition.
  3. Judging panel: The winning entry will be selected by a panel that comprises executive members and councilors of the ISRS.  Their decision will be final and no further correspondence shall be entered into.
  4. Prizes:13th ICRS (2016) registration fees will be waived for the designer of the winning logo. In addition, the designer of  the logo that receives the most “likes” on the ISRS Facebook page will receive a 50% discount on registration for the 13th ICRS. Should the winning logo also be the most “liked” logo on Facebook, this prize will be given to the second most “liked” logo. Prizes will be announced Jan 15, 2016.
  5. When & how to submit: The competition opens on September 1 and closes December 20, 2015. Submit your entry via email to Kiho Kim ( with “ISRS Logo Competition” in the subject line.
  6. Requirements for entries: There are no limitations on colors; however, the logo must look good in both color (if any) and black and white. The logo should be approximately 10 x 10 cm (~4 x 4 inches), 300 dpi or higher, and submitted as a JPG or PDF. Both color and black and white versions should be included. Entries must be free of signatures or any personal signals.
  7. Other Terms and Conditions: The logo must be original and must not have received any previous awards and must be created and signed by the artist him/herself. Logo design for this competition cannot give rise to any claim for financial compensation. The award–winning works become the property of the ISRS from the date they are received. The designer waives any copyright in their design and the ISRS may adapt, edit, modify, or otherwise use the winning submission in part or in its entirety in whatever manner it deems appropriate. The ISRS reserves the right to not use the winning entry as described in these contest guidelines. Any person submitting a logo proposal for the competition certifies that he/she is the designer. He/she also certifies that the logo does not infringe the rights of any third party and is not in violation of any copyright. If the winner is determined to have violated any rules, he/she will be required to forfeit or return the prize, even if the determination is made after the prize has been awarded. The winner will be informed directly by the ISRS by email. By participating in the competition, participants accept all competition rules and agree to be bound by them.

 Best Paper Award for Coral Reefs

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the Best Paper Award for Coral Reefs Vol 33, is the paper by Scott Wooldridge of AIMS entitled , "Differential thermal bleaching susceptibilities amongst coral taxa: re-posing the role of the host". His thought-provoking analysis is based on a masterly synthesis of findings and ideas of the many who work on the coral bleaching phenomenon from many different perspectives.

Scott receives a glass trophy and 1000 Euros from Springer, the publishers of Coral Reefs.

Scott's paper was chosen by the Editors and Editorial Board from 29 Reports that were initially nominated for the award. The number of nominees underscores the high quality of the Reports that were published.

Congratulations to Scott and to all of the authors of Volume 33.


Howard R. Lasker
Editor-in-Chief, Coral Reefs

ISRS Council Proposes Revised Constitution and Bylaws: Referendum of Membership to Take Place in September

At its last conference call, on 16th/17th July (2015), the society’s Council unanimously approved a revised Constitution and set of Bylaws for consideration by the membership.

The original ISRS Constitution and Bylaws were written 35 years ago, in 1980, long before modern digital means of communication had been conceived of, let alone become common place. At the same time, given increasing costs of postage and travel, many of the existing provisions, as currently worded, have become impracticable. In consequence, last year, the ISRS Council asked a sub-committee (John Ware and Donald Potts) to review and recommend revisions to both documents, in order to make them more appropriate to the modern age, and more consistent with current practice. After detailed consideration by the Council and officers at previous meetings of a series of drafts, these final versions were approved unanimously by the Council, and now need, according to the existing constitution, to be put to a vote of the entire Membership.

To become effective the revised Constitution needs (according to the existing Constitution) to be approved by a two-thirds majority of at least 40% of the existing membership. Accordingly a referendum of members will be launched on or about September 1st (when 2016 memberships become payable) and run until October 15th or such later date on which 40% of the membership will have voted. Members will be invited to vote by email once the referendum page becomes operational.

Meanwhile the proposed revised Constitution and Bylaws are available in the Constitution Section of this website, where an explanation of the nature of the changes proposed is also provided.

13th International Coral Reef Symposium, Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii (USA), 19-24 June, 2016: Dedicated web pages go live

The Linked Dedicated Website for the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) is now live! Please take time at intervals to check the relevant pages in order to obtain updated details of all aspects of the Symposium. Please also note the dedicated Symposium Facebook Page and dedicated Conference Twitter Account. Key details are as follows:

Registration and Call for Papers

Early registration and Call for Papers for the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium will open 31 August 2015. Abstract and registration fees are due at the time of submission and are payable in U.S. Dollars. Your abstract will be considered for an oral or poster presentation by the scientific committee and co-chairs of the session to which you submit. Membership in ISRS (new and renewal) can also be completed with your registration and abstract submission. We hope that you will join ISRS and take advantage of the discounted registration fees for members!

Key Dates

(as amended August, 2015)

  • September 2015 – Session Proposers Notified, Early Registration Opens, Exhibitor Registration Opens and Ancillary Meeting Application Site Opens
  • October 2015 – Call for Abstracts Posted
  • 15 January 2016 – Abstract Submission and Early Registration Close
  • February 2016 - Authors Notified of Acceptance
  • March 2016 - Session Schedule Posted and Presenters Notified of Session Assignments
  • April 2016 - Full Scientific Program Schedule Posted
  • 16 May 2016 - Registration Cancellation Deadline (Last Day to Receive a Refund)
  • 19-24 June 2016 - Meeting

Sponsorship and Exhibit Opportunities

Exhibitor applications are now being accepted. Several opportunities also are available for sponsorship of breaks, receptions and other functions throughout the meeting. If you are interested, please contact the exhibit coordinator, Sue Rulla, for more information.


For other information about the meeting including questions and suggestions about the content of session proposals:
Dr. Robert Richmond, Convener, 13th ICRS

For registration and logistical information:
Lynda West, Project Manager, 13th ICRS

July Council Meeting: Growth in Membership & Planning for ICRS13

The most recent meeting of the Society's Council took place by conference call over 16th/17th July 2015. Council members heard reports on and discussed a series of items including: a) Society Financial Report, b) Progress in organising the International Coral Reef  Symposium to be held in Hawaii, June 2013, c)  Final recommendations for amending the constitution, d) Proposed minor changes to procedures for awarding Society Awards and Honors, and e) Report on membership trends and details of the on-going membership drive. Among the good news it was noted that Society membership for 2015 has already increased by some 15% over that for 2014, and that over the last 2-3 years Society reserves have slowly recovered to a point comparable to that 6 or 7 years ago.

Recipients of ISRS Graduate Fellowships Announced

This year 24 applications were received, and the selection panel commented that the overall standard of applications was very high, with several applications being scored as outstanding.The recipients of the two ISRS Graduate Fellowships for 2015 have been announced: They are

  • Giverny Rodgers of the College of Marine & Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, for a project entitled "The potential for biochemical and whole-organism developmental acclimation to global warming in a low-latitude population of coral reef fish", and
  • Benjamin Titus of the Museum of Biological diversity, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA, for a project entitled "Comparative phylogeography of a multi-level sea anemone symbiosis on Caribbean coral reefs."

Congratulations to the successful applicants!

Recipients of Society Awards & Honors Announced

Last year, the Council of the Society agreed to establish an expanded system of awards and recognitions as a means by which the Society can acknowledge exceptional achievement or commitment by a larger number of members ranging from students, through early- and mid-career researchers, to the most senior or eminent scientists. The first recipients of these awards have now been announced (25th March 2015) and are:

  • Young Scientist Award (awarded each year to a scientist under the age of 35) – Erinn Muller.
  • Mid-Career Scientist Award (awarded each year in recognition of excellence in research by a mid-career scientist) – Pete Mumby.
  • Eminence in Research Award (awarded each year in recognition of an outstanding body of research over an extended period of time) – Barbara Brown.
  • ISRS Fellows (awarded to up to 15% of members in recognition of scientific achievement and / or service to reef conservation or management and / or service to ISRS over a significant period of time) – Andrew Baird, John Pandolfi, Robert van Woesik.

Congratulations to the successful nominees! Past awardees and honourees can be found here.

ISRS Facebook Group 

Facebook Group Screenshot

We now have a group established on Facebook, as well as a Facebook page. The group is a closed group, open to members only, and intended to promote networking and discussion among society members.  An advantage over email discussion lists is that members can post photos and video clips, and even see a face. The group address is

Reef Encounter 41New Issue of REEF ENCOUNTER published

The latest issue of the the Society's News Journal "Reef Encounter" was published on 25th March, 2015. Both a low-resolution (2 mb) and a high-resolution (7 mb) version are available. Other issues can be downloaded from the Reef Encounter web-page.


13th International Coral Reef Symposium, Hawaii

The 13th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) will be held at the Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii on 19- 24 June 2016.

The ICRS, sanctioned by the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) and held every four years, is the primary international meeting focused on coral reef science and management. The Symposium will bring together an anticipated 2,500 coral reef scientists, policy makers and managers from 70 different nations in a forum to present the latest research findings, case histories and management activities, and to discuss the application of scientific knowledge to achieving coral reef sustainability.

The scientific planning committee now invites proposals for sessions and panels of interest to researchers, resource managers, economists, policy makers, educators and students. Themes will address coral reef science, management, conservation and policy. Multidisciplinary/cross-disciplinary, solution-oriented sessions are particularly encouraged in which a range of participants can interact with a goal of producing concrete outputs leading to positive coral reef outcomes. For further details about the procedure for proposing a session or panel, please see the dedicated 13th ICRS PageHonolulu Conference Centre

Every effort is being made to make this meeting as accessible and affordable as possible. Based on projected budgets at this point, we anticipate the following likely levels of fees (as amended August, 2015):

  • ISRS members > 2 years – $520 (US)
  • ISRS members < 2 years – $570 (US)
  • Non-ISRS members - $780 (US)
  • ISRS student members - $370 (US)
  • Students (non-ISRS members) - $480 (US)

For further details and contact information,  please see the 13th ICRS  Page.

Other recent news and society information is summarised on the next page (Click Here)