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Welcome to the Biodiversity and Reef Coservation (BARCO) Laboratory 

Welcome to the Biodiversity and Reef Conservation (BARCO) Laboratory 


On July 2018 we found a reef near Puerto Morelos, Mexico to have a severe outbreak of coral disease affecting similar species and exhibiting similar patters as those in Florida

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We are a dynamic group with passionate interest in ecology and biodiversity conservation. At BARCO LAB we focus on three main areas of research: (1) describing on-going ecological shifts on reef ecosystems resulting from environmental and climate change, (2) investigating the role of ecological processes such as herbivory and coral recruitment on ecosystem dynamics, and (3) understanding the consequences of reef degradation to biodiversity and humans. We believe that one of the greatest challenges of today is biodiversity and ecosystem conservation and we are increasingly interested in providing fundamental ecological insights while producing policy-relevant science.


Our lab is part of the internationally renowned Reef Systems Unit (RSU). Situated in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, in the northernmost section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the RSU provides excellent opportunities for tropical marine research. It offers a variety of research facilities for faculty, students, and visiting scientists, coupled with convenient access to marine environments – the barrier reef in just few hundred meters from our door!

Anchor People
Dr. Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip
Principal Researcher

I am a marine ecologist and researcher at the Reef Systems Unit, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I have a broad interest in ecology including marine biodiversity, global change biology and conservation ecology.


My research is primarily based on the Caribbean, but I also have interests elsewhere including the Tropical Eastern Pacific and the Indian Ocean. I earned my PhD from the University of East Anglia (UK), and was a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University (Canada). I have also worked in the Mexican agency for protected areas and served as a Science Coordinator for the Healthy Reefs Initiative.


Awards & responsabilities


- World Reef Award and Fellow of the International Society

 for Reef Studies (2017)

- President of the Mexican Society of Coral Reefs (2017-2019)

- Royal Society Newton-Advanced Fellowship (2016-2018)

- Mexican System of Researchers (SNI) Level 1 (2011-2018)


Ongoing research projects


- Effectiveness of  Marine Protected Areas in the Mexican coral reefs (CONACYT , 2015-2017, MXN$ 970,000)


-Building capacity for monitoring  functionality of coral reefs  along the Mesoamerican Reef, with Prof. Chris Perry (University of Exeter). Royal Society Newton-Advanced Fellowship, 2016-2018, £ 87,000

-Long-term ecological changes in habitats dominated by Acropora in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. (CONANP, 2016, MXN$ 500,000)


Ecology, coral reefs, macroecology, conservation, global change


Google Scholar      ResearchGate      Institutional page      Photo gallery

Click on photos for more.....

Past lab members
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Coral cover status, herbivory and Marine Protected Areas


Noemi Espinosa Andrade

Effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas of coral reef fishes

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Eduardo Navarro Espinoza

Effects of coastal development and lad-use change on reef health

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Dr. Alba Gonzalez-Posada

Geochemical tracers of primary productivity in the oceans with O2/Ar and O2 isotopologues.

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Aracely Acevedo Rosas

Effect of habitat quality on coral recruitment

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Caroline Graham

The effects of nutrients additions on the growth of pelagic Sargassum in Caribbean coastal areas


Volunteers and internships

If you are able to support yourself financially and would like to obtain experience working on our projects then we are happy to discuss this.


Undergraduate students

Please contact me to learn about the potential opportunities to develop an undergraduate thesis.


Postgraduate students

Currently we don’t have any funded opportunities. However, if you are interested in joining my lab as an MSc or PhD student please email me a brief (300-500 words) description of your experience and research interests, and if you are pursuing a PhD position please also include a short description of your proposed research. Mexican and international students are eligible to obtain a postgraduate scholarship from CONACYT. You can choose between different postgraduate programs, including Posgrado de Ciencias Biológicas (recommended) and Posgrado de Ciencias del Mar from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).



I am always happy to discuss potential post-doctoral research and collaborations. Possible funding opportunities are the UNAM postdoctoral fellowship (for candidates under 36 years old) and CONACYT.

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