The Coral Sea: physical environment, ecosystem status and biodiversity assets

Daniela M. Ceccarelli*, A. David McKinnon, Serge Andréfouët, Valerie Allain, Jock Young, Daniel C. Gledhill, Adrian Flynn, Nicholas J. Bax, Robin Beaman, Philippe Borsa, Richard Brinkman, Rodrigo H. Bustamante, Robert Campbell, Mike Cappo, Sophie Cravatte, Stéphanie D'Agata, Catherine M. Dichmont, Piers K. Dunstan, Cécile Dupouy, Graham EdgarRichard Farman, Miles Furnas, Claire Garrigue, Trevor Hutton, Michel Kulbicki, Yves Letourneur, Dhugal Lindsay, Christophe Menkes, David Mouillot, Valeriano Parravicini, Claude Payri, Bernard Pelletier, Bertrand Richer de Forges, Ken Ridgway, Martine Rodier, Sarah Samadi, David Schoeman, Tim Skewes, Steven Swearer, Laurent Vigliola, Laurent Wantiez, Alan Williams, Ashley Williams, Anthony J. Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The Coral Sea, located at the southwestern rim of the Pacific Ocean, is the only tropical marginal sea where human impacts remain relatively minor. Patterns and processes identified within the region have global relevance as a baseline for understanding impacts in more disturbed tropical locations. Despite 70 years of documented research, the Coral Sea has been relatively neglected, with a slower rate of increase in publications over the past 20 years than total marine research globally. We review current knowledge of the Coral Sea to provide an overview of regional geology, oceanography, ecology and fisheries. Interactions between physical features and biological assemblages influence ecological processes and the direction and strength of connectivity among Coral Sea ecosystems. To inform management effectively, we will need to fill some major knowledge gaps, including geographic gaps in sampling and a lack of integration of research themes, which hinder the understanding of most ecosystem processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-290
Number of pages78
JournalAdvances in Marine Biology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaborative research
  • Connectivity
  • Ecosystem function
  • Food web
  • Pristine ecosystems
  • Tropical sea


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