Coral reefs provide habitat for a diverse range of fishes, invertebrates and other organisms; protect shorelines from the damaging effects of extreme weather events; and provide a wide variety of other benefits. However, coral reefs are under threat from local anthropogenic threats such as overfishing, coastal development, and sedimentation in addition to global phenomena such as global warming, sea level rise and ocean acidification.


At BARCO LAB we seek to gain insight into coral reef ecology and place reef perturbations in the context of human activities in order to understand how reef function and dynamics can be maintained under rapid environmental change. We perform research across a broad range of spatial and temporal scales. The majority of our research is focussed in the Caribbean, but we also work in the Gulf of California and other areas further afield including the Indian Ocean. We adopt an open approach to research, adapting our techniques to the problem at hand, combining field-based studies and large-scale data analysis. 










Perry, C. T., L. Alvarez-Filip, N. A. J. Graham, P. J. Mumby, S. K. Wilson, P. S. Kench, et al. 2018. Loss of coral reef growth capacity to track future increases in sea level. Nature. 558. 396-400 DOI:10.1038/s41586-018-0194-z


Suchley, A., & L. Alvarez-Filip. 2018. Local human activities limit marine protection efficacy on Caribbean coral reefs. Conservation Letters DOI: 10.1111/conl.12571


Gonzalez-Barrios, J.F. & L. Alvarez-Filip (2018). Framework for measuring the coral species-specific contribution to reef functioning on the Caribbean. Ecological Indicators.  95, 877 – 886.


Rioja-Nieto R & L. Alvarez-Filip (2018). Coral reef systems of the Mexican Caribbean: status, recent trends and conservation. Marine Pollution Bulletin.


González-Gómez, R., P. Briones-Fourzán, L. Álvarez-Filip, and E. Lozano-Álvarez. 2018. Diversity and abundance of conspicuous macrocrustaceans on coral reefs differing in level of degradation. PeerJ 6:e4922; DOI: 10.7717/peerj.4922


Morillo-Velarde, P.S., Briones-Fourzán, P., Álvarez-Filip, L., Aguíñiga-García, S., Sánchez-González, A., Lozano-Álvarez, E. (2018) Habitat degradation alters trophic pathways but not food chain length on shallow Caribbean coral reefs. Scientific Reports 8:4109. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-22463-x  \

Rioja-Nieto R., Garza-Pérez R., Álvarez-Filip L., Mariño-Tapia I & Enriquez, C. (in press) The Mexican Caribbean: From Xcalak to Holbox. In: World Seas: An Environmental Evaluation, Second Edition, Volume One: Europe, The Americas and West Africa (ed. Charles Sheppard). Academic Press; 2nd edition (September 21, 2018)


Suchley, A. & Alvarez-Filip L (2017) Herbivory facilitates growth of a key reef-building Caribbean coral. Ecology and Evolution  DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3620


Lozano-Álvarez, E., Luviano-Aparicio, N., Negrete-Soto, F., Barradas-Ortiz, C., Aguíñiga-García, S., Morillo-Velarde, P.S., Álvarez-Filip, L., Briones-Fourzán, P., 2017. Does reef architectural complexity influence resource availability for a large reef-dwelling invertebrate? Journal of Sea Research 128, 84–91. 


Pérez-Cervantes E, Navarro-Espinoza E, Estrada-Saldivar NE, Espinosa-Andrade N, Melo-Merino SM, Rivas-Soto M & L Álvarez-Filip (2017) Estado de conservación de los arrecifes de coral de la Península de Yucatán. Greenpeace México. Ciudad de México


Suchley A., McField M.D., Alvarez-Filip L (2016) Rapidly increasing macroalgal cover not related to herbivorous fishes on Mesoamerican reefs. PeerJ 4: e2084.


Alvarez-Filip L, Paddack MJ, Collen B, Robertson DR, Côté IM. 2015. Simplification of Caribbean Reef-Fish Assemblages over Decades of Coral Reef Degradation. PLoS One 10: e0126004.


Bozec Y.M., Alvarez-Filip L. & Mumby P.J. 2015. The dynamics of architectural complexity on coral reefs under climate change. Global Change Biology 21(1): 223-235



Rodríguez-Martínez R.E., Banaszak A.T., McField M.D., Beltrán-Torres A.U. & Alvarez-Filip L. 2014. Assessment of Acropora palmata in the Mesoamerican Reef System. PLoS ONE 9(4): e96140. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096140.


Reyes-Bonilla H., Millet-Encalada, M., & Alvarez-Filip L. 2014 Community structure of scleractinian corals outside protected areas in Cozumel island, México. Atoll Research Bulletin 601: 1-16.



Alvarez-Filip L., Carricart-Ganivet J.P., Horta-Puga G. & Iglesias-Prieto R. 2013. Shifts in coral-assemblage composition do not ensure persistence of reef functionality. Scientific Reports 3, 1-5.



Darling E., Alvarez-Filip L., Oliver, T., McClanahan T.R. & Côté I.M. 2012. Evaluating life-history strategies of reef corals from species traits. Ecology Letters 15: 1378-1386.



Alvarez-Filip L., Gill J.A., & Dulvy N.K. 2011. Complex reef architecture supports more small-bodied fishes and longer food chains on Caribbean reefs. Ecosphere, 2: art118.


Alvarez-Filip L.,Dulvy N.K., Gill J.A., Perry A.L., Watkinson A.R. & Côté I.M. 2011. Drivers of region-wide declines in architectural complexity on Caribbean reefs. Coral Reefs 30: 1051-1060.


Alvarez-Filip L., Dulvy N.K., Côté I.M., Watkinson A.R. & Gill J.A. 2011. Coral identity underpins reef complexity on Caribbean reefs. Ecological Applications 21: 2223-2231.


Alvarez-Filip L., Côté I.M., Gill J.A., Watkinson A.R & Dulvy N.K. 2011. Region-wide temporal and spatial variation in Caribbean reef architecture: is coral cover the whole story? Global Change Biology 17: 2470-2477.



Reyes-Bonilla H., Alvarez-Filip L. & Sánchez-Alcántara I. 2010. New records of the Townsend angelfish (Holacanthus bermudensis X H. ciliaris hybrid) and range extension of the Blue angelfish (H. bermudensis) in the Caribbean Sea. Caribb. J. Sci. 46: 339-345.


Eakin C.M., Morgan J.A., Heron S.F., Smith T.B., Liu G., Alvarez-Filip L., et al. 2010. Caribbean corals in crisis: record thermal stress, bleaching, and mortality in 2005. PLoS ONE 5: e13969.


Lozano-Álvarez E., Briones-Fourzán P., Alvarez-Filip L., Weiss H.M., Negrete-Soto F. & Barradas-Ortiz C. 2010. Influence of shelter availability on interactions between Caribbean spiny lobsters and moray eels: implications for artificial lobster enhancement. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 400: 175-185.



Alvarez-Filip L., Dulvy N.K., Gill J.A., Côté I.M. & Watkinson A.R. 2009. Flattening of Caribbean coral reefs: region-wide declines in architectural complexity. Proc. R. Soc. B. 276: 3019-3025.


Alvarez-Filip L., Millet-Encalada M. & Reyes-Bonilla H. 2009. Impact of Hurricanes Emily and Wilma on the coral community of Cozumel Island, Mexico. Bull. Mar. Sci 84: 295-306.



Alvarez del Castillo-Cárdenas PA, Reyes-Bonilla H, Alvarez-Filip L, Millet-Encalada M, Escobosa-González L (2008) Cozumel Island, México: A disturbance history. Proc. 11th Coral Reef Int. Symp. pp. 701–705


Reyes-Bonilla H, Alvarez-Filip L (2008) Long-term changes in taxonomic distinctness and trophic structure of reef fishes at Cabo Pulmo reef, Gulf Of California. Proc. 11th Coral Reef Int. Symp. pp. 790–794.




Alvarez-Filip L (2007) Efecto de los huracanes emily y wilma en el parque nacional arrecifes de cozumel. In Biodiversidad acuatica de la isla de Cozumel (Mejia-Ortiz ed), UQROO


Millet-Encalada M, Alvarez-Filip L (2007) Peces arrecifales. In Biodiversidad acuatica de la isla de Cozumel (Mejia-Ortiz ed), UQROO


Millet-encalada M, Alvarez-Filip L, Reyes-Bonilla H (2007) Estructura comunitaria de corales escleractinios en el parque nacional arrecifes de cozumel. In Biodiversidad acuatica de la isla de Cozumel (Mejia-Ortiz ed), UQROO


Alvarez-Filip L (2007) Arrecifes de coral y areas marinas protegidas. Ciencia y Desarrollo: 9–13.


Alvarez-Filip L, Bonilla-Moheno M (2007) Arrecifes coralinos, selvas tropicales y huracanes. Ciencias: 14–17.



Alvarez-Filip L. & Gil I. 2006. Effects of Hurricanes Emily and Wilma on Coral Reefs in Cozumel, Mexico. Coral Reefs. 25: 583.


Alvarez-Filip L., Reyes-Bonilla H. & Calderón-Aguilera L. 2006. Community structure of fishes in Cabo Pulmo Reef, Gulf of California. Marine Ecology 27: 253-262.


Alvarez-Filip L, Reyes-Bonilla H (2006) Comparison of community structure and functional diversity of fishes at Cabo Pulmo coral reef, western Mexico, between 1987 and 2003.  Proc. 12th Coral Reef Int. Symp. pp. 216–225.





Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales, ICML, UNAM
Prol. Av. Niños Héroes S/N. C.P. 77580, Puerto Morelos, Q. Roo, México