Member Type Country




Denis Allemand
Scientific Director
Scientific Centre of Monaco (CSM)

Wilfrid Deri
Senior Officer
Département des Relations Extérieures et de la Coopération
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation)

Between July 2018 and October 2021, the ICRI Secretariat was jointly co-chaired by the Governments of Monaco, Australia and Indonesia.

The Principality of Monaco and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation have been co-funding the ICRI/UN Environment Small Grants Programme which is a joint initiative designed to support projects that demonstrate and catalyse enhanced protection and management of coral reefs and related ecosystems, in particular by promoting resilience of ecosystems, dependent people and economic sectors.

Related websites:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
Centre Scientifique de Monaco
Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
Centre Scientifique de Monaco (CSM)

Research in Monaco on the biology of coral environments, the Centre Scientifique de Monaco

The Centre Scientifique de Monaco (CSM, “Monegasc Scientific Center”) is the Monegasque research agency. Created in 1960 by Prince Rainier III, the CSM has been developing important work on coral physiology and ecophysiology since the early 1990s. In addition to this biological work, an environmental economics theme has been added, studying the impact of climate change on ecosystem services provided by coral reefs.

One of the major features of the Monegasque center of research has been to develop coral culture and propagation methods under controlled conditions. It is now home to more than 60 species of tropical, temperate and cold-water corals that are cultured in the lab for experimental purposes since 1990. The coral cultures at the Monaco Scientific Centre are thus the oldest cultures in controlled conditions in the world.

Tropical coral species are maintained in an aquarium room containing 5 large-10000 liter aquaria, whereas the temperate and deep-sea coral species are kept in two other rooms supplied with cold water (5000 liters). In addition, five experimental rooms containing a total of 78-thirty liter aquaria, allow testing the effects of various environmental parameters on coral biology. All aquaria are equipped with pH, temperature and oxygen sensors and are supplied with fresh seawater (about 10m3/h) supplied by a pumping system drawing water from 50 meters deep in the sea in front of Monaco-Ville. After circulating through the aquaria, the seawater is UV-sterilized before being returned to the sea. The sensors are connected to a central alarm to signal problems in their regulation and are remotely monitored via the web. In total, the aquaria hold more than 20 tonnes of seawater on the top floor of the building! Among species cultured in the aquaria, the CSM regularly champions the use of the tropical coral, Stylophora pistillata, which has become the “coral lab rat” model species since used by many other research teams.

Research at CSM aims to determine, in normal conditions or during environmental stresses, the biological mechanisms underlying coral biomineralization and symbiosis, two key processes supporting tropical and Mediterranean coral ecosystems. The research performed in Monaco on coral biology are then mainly done under controlled lab conditions using unique methods of coral culturing and to the use of modern scientific equipment in the field of Ecology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Molecular biology or Genomics. To achieve these missions, the department of Marine Biology has two teams of marine biology research whose skills are complementary and a topic in Environmental economy.

  • Team Physiology and Biochemistry: using molecular and cellular approaches. This team is studying physiological and molecular processes involved in coral calcification and symbiosis from the gene to the organism. The study of the effects of environmental parameters such as ocean acidification on these processes complements the fundamental component of this research. The team has expertise in fields ranging from molecular biology and physiology to microscopy, biochemistry and bioinformatics.
  • Team Ecophysiology and Ecology: using an environmental approach. This team is studying the impact of global change (global warming, acidification, increased UV radiation) on the functioning of coral reef ecosystems and coral growth. The importance of the energetic status of corals, as well as their relationships with microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi), is also considered.
  • Environmental economy. Due to societal concerns related to ocean acidification, the CSM has developed a program of environmental economy in order to help decision-makers and international organizations since 2009. In particular, studies are carried out on the socio-economic impacts of climate change, particularly on ocean acidification in coastal environments. This topic aims to stimulate multidisciplinary research between scientists and economists, to better understand socio-economical impacts of ocean acidification on coastal ecosystems.

For more information see:

Contact: Prof. Denis Allemand, Scientific Director [email protected]

World Coral Conservatory

The World Coral Conservatory, a Monegasque initiative supported by the Scientific Centre of Monaco, the Oceanographic Museum and the Prince Albert II Foundation

Global change is causing a widespread decline in coral reefs. In order to counteract the predicted disappearance of coral reefs by the end of the century, many initiatives are emerging, including the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs), reef restoration projects, and assisted evolution initiatives. These efforts, while critically important, are locally limited and will lead to the inevitable loss of coral reefs with the loss of species biodiversity. Our solution is to preserve corals in an environment where the parameters are controlled. Thus, we will be able to work on all coral species to make them more resistant/resilient to climate change using assisted evolution methods. Currently, less than 250 species are grown in aquariums, which means that if nothing is done, 85% of coral diversity will disappear. More importantly, coral reefs are a complex ecosystem that comprises more than 30% of marine biodiversity. Thus, a significant number of marine invertebrates but also fish would also become extinct if nothing is done to preserve biodiversity.

Our solution is to build a “Noah’s Ark” biorepository for corals that taps into the network of public and private aquariums and coral reef institutes around the world. The public aquaria will serve not only as a reservoir for conservation, restoration, and research on reef-building corals, but also as a laboratory for the implementation of breeding operations for stress and non-stress resistant genotypes. The proposed project will give a global dimension to the knowledge and protection of coral reefs with the final goal of restoration of degraded reefs.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Didier Zoccola: [email protected]

Dr Nadia Ounais : [email protected]

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Last Updated: 19 June 2024