Combining agent-based, trait-based and demographic approaches to model coral-community dynamics

Bruno Sylvain Carturan, Jason Pither, Jean-Philippe Maréchal, Corey J.A. Bradshaw, Lael Parrott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


The complexity of coral-reef ecosystems makes it challenging to predict their dynamics and resilience under future disturbance regimes. Models for coral-reef dynamics do not adequately account for the high functional diversity exhibited by corals. Models that are ecologically and mechanistically detailed are therefore required to simulate the ecological processes driving coral reef dynamics. Here we describe a novel model that includes processes at different spatial scales, and the contribution of species’ functional diversity to benthic-community dynamics. We calibrated and validated the model to reproduce observed dynamics using empirical data from Caribbean reefs. The model exhibits realistic community dynamics, and individual population dynamics are ecologically plausible. A global sensitivity analysis revealed that the number of larvae produced locally, and interaction-induced reductions in growth rate are the parameters with the largest influence on community dynamics. The model provides a platform for virtual experiments to explore diversity-functioning relationships in coral reefs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere55993
Number of pages141
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Agent-based model
  • Coral reefs
  • Corals
  • Functional traits
  • Population dynamics
  • Spatial model
  • Stochastic model


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