14th Symposium of the International Fossil Coral and Reef Society (IFCRS)
Poland, 10-16 September 2023

The aim of the conference is to promote the latest results of coral reef research conducted from a unique paleontological perspective.

The IFCRS conferences (13 editions to date) are the most important global forum for scientists studying fossil corals, reefs and reef organisms in the contexts of climate change and the evolution of coral reef biodiversity.

Introduction:

Today’s reef environments are some of the most vulnerable marine ecosystems to changing climatic conditions. Climate change models assuming an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 560 ppm by the end of the 21st century predict the extinction of most of today’s known shallow-water reef environments due to acidification and increased surface water temperatures that cause a disruption of the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae (known as coral bleaching). However, recent research suggests that not all corals have the same potential to survive change, and the key to understanding these differences lies in their geological and evolutionary past. These organisms, representing three major phylogenetic lineages, evolved over at least 400 million years in seas with drastically changing pH, geochemical composition, temperature, and oxygenation of seawater resulting in a multitude of adaptations. Information on conditions of ancient seas can be read with extreme precision by measuring biogeochemical and isotopic signals from fossil coral skeletons as well as modern corals grown experimentally under simulations of past geological conditions.

The leading theme of the conference will be the study of corals from mesophotic and deep-water environments (motto: Going deeper), as these environments are now potential coral refugia in the event of extinction of shallow-water reefs. The fossil mesophotic reef environments in Poland are well understood and represent the first preserved reefs of modern type in the world.