Diego Lirman

diego lirman


My research emphasis is on the disturbance ecology of coastal ecosystems. Over the past 10 years, I have worked on diverse projects to: 1) evaluate the health of seagrasses, macroalgae, and coral reef communities, 2) estimate the impacts of multiple human and natural stressors on these susceptible natural resources, and 3) predict the potential impacts of future disturbances on these systems. My research has included a combination of extensive field monitoring, laboratory experiments, and simulation modelling framed within an ecological risk assessment protocol to document present-day condition of biological endpoints, susceptibility to stressors, and forecast future status based on simulated disturbance scenarios. My research is presently focused on developing a better understanding of the potential effects of changes in hydrology, water quality, and exploitation levels on benthic communities of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.


  • Ryan Syrota
  • Madeleine Kauffman
  • Clinton Stipek 


  • MBE 615. Tropical Marine Ecology
  • MSC 112. Marine Biology Lab
  • MSC 366. Science, Conservation, and Restoration of Tropical Coastal Ecosystems
  • MSC 365. Ecological Sampling of Tropical Coastal Ecosystems 

Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D. Marine Biology. 1997. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami.
  • M.S. Marine Biology. 1992. California State University, Long Beach.
  • B.S. Biology. 1988. University of California, Los Angeles.


2011- Associate Professor, University of Miami

2005-2011 Research Assistant Professor, University of Miami

1997-2005 Assistant Scientist, University of Miami

1993-1997 Research Assistant, University of Miami

Areas of Expertise

Coastal Ecology, Coastal Disturbance, Coral Reef Ecology, Seagrass Ecology, Coral Reef Restoration, Impacts of Climate Change, Science Education and Outreach


Drury, C., C.B. Paris, V.H. Kourafalou, and D. Lirman. 2018. Dispersal capacity and genetic relatedness in Acropora cervicornis on the Florida Reef Tract. Coral Reefs (In Press).

Santos, R., D. Lirman, S. Pittman, and J. Serafy. 2018. Spatial patterns of seagrass and salinity regimes interact to structure marine faunal assemblages in a subtropical bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series (In Press).

Parkinson, J., E. Bartels, M. Durante, C. Lustic, K. Nedymier, S. Schopmeyer, D. Lirman, T. LaJeunesse, and I. Baums. 2018. Extensive transcriptional variation poses a challenge to thermal stress biomarker development for endangered corals. Molecular Ecology (In Press).

Hesley, D, Burdeno, C. Drury, S. Schopmeyer, and D. Lirman. 2017. The benefits of incorporating a citizen science program into coral reef restoration activities. Journal for Nature Conservation, DOI 10.1016/j.jnc.2017.09.001.

Zink, I., J. Browder, D. Lirman, and J. Serafy. 2017. Review of salinity effects on abundance, growth, and survival of nearshore life stages of pink shrimp (Farfantepenaeus duorarum). Ecological Indicators, 81:1-17.

Schopmeyer S., D. Lirman, E. Bartels, D. S. Gilliam, E. A. Goergen, S. P. Griffin, M. E. Johnson, C. Lustic, K. Maxwell, C. S. Walter. 2017. Regional restoration benchmarks for Acropora cervicornis. Coral Reefs, DOI 10.1007/s00338-017-1596-3.

Drury C., S. Schopmeyer, E. Larson, E. Bartels, K. Nedimeyer, M. Johnson, K. Maxwell, V. Galvan, C. Manfrino, and D. Lirman. 2017. Genomic patterns in Acropora cervicornis show extensive population structure and variable genetic diversity. Ecology and Evolution, DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3184.

Drury, C and D. Lirman. 2017. Making biodiversity work for coral reef restoration. Biodiversity, doi.org/10.1080/14888386.2017.1318094.

Drury, C, D. Manzello, and D. Lirman. 2017. Genotype and local environment dynamically influence growth, disturbance response and survivorship in the threatened coral Acropora cervicornis. PloS ONE, doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174000.

Lirman, D. and S. Schopmeyer. 2016. Ecological solutions to reef degradation: optimizing coral restoration in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. PeerJ 4:e2597, DOI 10.7717/peerj.2597.

Drury, C. K. Dale, J. Panlilo, S. Miller, D. Lirman, L. Larson, E. Bartels, D. Crawford, M. Oleksiak. 2016. Genomic variation among populations of threatened coral: Acropora cervicornis. BMC Genomics 17:286, doi/10.1186/s12864-016-2583-8.

Santos, R., D. Lirman, and S. Pittman. 2016. Long-term spatial dynamics in vegetated seascapes: fragmentation and habitat loss in a human-impacted subtropical lagoon. Marine Ecology, doi/10.1111/maec.12259.

Schopmeyer, S., and D. Lirman. 2015. Occupation dynamics and impacts of damselfish territoriality on recovering populations of the threatened staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. PLoS ONE, doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0141302.

Lohr, K., S. Bejarano, D. Lirman, S. Schopmeyer, and C. Manfrino. 2015. Optimizing the productivity of a coral nursery focused on staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis. Endangered Species Research 27:243-250.

Lirman, D., S. Schopmeyer, V. Galvan, C. Drury, A. Baker, and I. Baums. 2014. Growth dynamics of the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis: influence of host genotype, symbiont identity, colony size, and environmental setting. PloS ONE, dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0107253.

Lirman, D., N. Formel, S. Schopmeyer, J. Ault, S. Smith, D. Gilliam, and B. Riegl. 2014. Percent recent mortality as an ecological indicator of disturbance impacts and reef condition. Ecological Indicators 44:120-127.

Lirman, D., T. Thyberg, R. Santos, S. Schopmeyer, C. Drury, L. Collado-Vides, S. Bellmund, and J. Serafy. 2014. SAV communities of western Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida, USA: Human and natural drivers of seagrass and macroalgae abundance and distribution along a continuous shoreline. Estuaries and Coasts 37:1243-1255.

Cooper, W.T., D. Lirman, M. Porter VanGroningen, J.E. Parkinson, J. Herlan, and J.W. McManus. 2014. Assessing techniques to enhance early post-settlement survival of corals in situ for reef restoration. Bulletin of Marine Science 90:651-664.

Enochs, I.C., D.P. Manzello, R. Carlton, S. Schopmeyer, R. van Hooidonk, and D. Lirman. 2014. Effects of light and elevated pCO2 on the growth and photochemical efficiency of Acropora cervicornis. Coral Reefs 33:477-485.

Collado-Vides, L. C. Avila, S. Blair, D. Rodríguez, T. Thyberg, S. Schneider, J. Rojas, P. Sweeney, C. Drury, and D. Lirman. 2013. A persistent bloom of Anadyomene Lamouroux species (Anadyomenaceae, Chlorophyta) in Biscayne Bay, Florida. Aquatic Botany 111:95-103.

Serafy, J.E., P. Gillette, M.W. Miller, D. Lirman, and T.R. Capo. 2013. Incorporating herbivorous sea urchins in ramet culture of staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. Endangered Species Research 22:183-189.

Schopmeyer, S., D. Lirman, E. Bartels, J. Byrne, D. Gilliam, J. Hunt, M. Johnson, E. Larson, K. Maxwell, K. Nedimyer, and C. Walter. 2012. In-situ coral nurseries serve as genetic repositories for coral reef restoration after an extreme cold-water event. Restoration Ecology 20:696-703.

Santos, R. and D. Lirman. 2012. Using habitat suitability models to predict changes in seagrass niche distribution caused by water management practices. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 69:1380-1388.

Huntington, B.E. and D. Lirman. 2012. Coral species richness estimates are sensitive to differences in reef size and regional diversity. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 10:110-116.

Huntington, B.E. and D. Lirman. 2012. Species-area relationships in coral communities evaluating mechanisms for a commonly observed pattern. Coral Reefs 31:929-938.

Young, C., S. Schopmeyer, and D. Lirman. 2012. A review of reef restoration and coral propagation using the threatened genus Acropora in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. Bulletin of Marine Science 84:1075-1098.

Lirman, D., S. Schopmeyer, D. Manzello, L. J. Gramer, W. F. Precht, F. Muller-Karger, K. Banks, B. Barnes, E. Bartels, A. Bourque, J. Byrne, S. Donahue, J. Duquesnel, L. Fisher, D. Gilliam, J. Hendee, M. Johnson, K. Maxwell, E. McDevitt, J. Monty, D. Rueda, R. Ruzicka, and S. Thanner. 2011. Severe 2010 cold-water event caused unprecedented mortality to corals of the Florida Reef Tract and reversed previous survivorship patterns. PloS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0023047.

Santos, R., D. Lirman, and J. Serafy. 2011. Quantifying freshwater induced fragmentation of submerged aquatic vegetation communities using a multi-scale landscape ecology approach. Marine Ecology Progress Series 427:233-246.

Teece, M.A., B. Estes, E. Gelsleichter, and D. Lirman. 2011. Heterotrophic and autotrophic assimilation of fatty acids by two Scleractinian corals, Montastraea faveolata and Porites astreoides. Limnology and Oceanography 56:1285-1296.

Karnauskas, M., B.E. Huntington, E. Babcock, and D. Lirman. 2011. Pre-existing spatial patterns in fish abundances influence species-specific responses in a Caribbean marine reserve. Marine Ecology Progress Series 432:235-246.

Avellaneda, P., J. Englehardt, J. Olascoaga, E. Babcock, L. Brand, D. Lirman, W. Rogge, H. Solo-Gabriele, and G. Tchobanoglous. 2011. Relative risk assessment of cruise ships biosolids disposal alternatives. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62:2157-2169.

Collado-Vides, L., V. Mazzei, T. Thyberg, and D. Lirman. 2011. Spatio-temporal patterns and nutrient status of macroalgae in a strongly managed region of Biscayne Bay, Florida, USA. Botanica Marina 54:377-390.

Huntington, B.E., Karnauskas, M., and D. Lirman. 2011. Coral declines at a Caribbean marine reserve despite ten years of reserve designation. Coral Reefs 30:1077-1085.

Johnson, M. E., C. Lustic, E. Bartels, I. B. Baums, D. S. Gilliam, L. Larson, D. Lirman, M. W. Miller, K. Nedimyer, S. Schopmeyer. 2011. Caribbean Acropora Restoration Guide: Best

Practices for Propagation and Population Enhancement. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA, 64 p.

Lirman, D., N. Gracias, B. Gintert, A. Gleason, G. Deangelo, M. Dick, E. Martinez, and R. P. Reid. 2010. Damage and recovery assessment of vessel grounding injuries on coral reef habitats using georeferenced landscape video mosaics. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 8:88-97.

Lirman, D., T. Thyberg, J. Herlan, C. Hill, C. Young-Lahiff, S. Schopmeyer, B. Huntington, R. Santos, and C. Drury. 2010. Propagation of the threatened staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis: methods to minimize the impacts of fragment collection and maximize production. Coral Reefs 29:729-735.

Lirman, D., A. Bowden-Kerby, S. Schopmeyer, B. Huntington, T. Thyberg, M. Gough, T. Gough, R. Gough, Y. Gough. 2010. A window to the past: documenting the status of one of the last remaining “megapopulations” of the threatened staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis in the Dominican Republic. Aquatic Conservation: Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems 20:773-781.

Huntington, B., M. Karnauskas, E. Babcock, and D. Lirman. 2010. Untangling natural seascape variation from marine reserve effects using a landscape approach. PloS ONE 5:1-9.

Gleason, A.R., N. Gracias, D. Lirman, P. Reid, B. Gintert, T. Smith, C. Moses, and M. Dick. 2010. Landscape video mosaic from a mesophotic coral ecosystem. Coral Reefs 29:253. Eakin, M., J. Morgan, S. Heron, T. Smith, G. Liu, L. Alvarez-Filip, B. Baca, E. Bartels, C. Bastidas, C. Bouchon, M. Brandt, A. Bruckner, L. Bunkley-Williams, A. Cameron, B. Causey, M. Chiappone, T. Christensen, M. J. Crabbe, O. Day, E. de la Guardia, G. Diaz-Pulido, D. DiResta, D. Gil-Agudelo, D. Gilliam, R. Ginsburg, S. Gore, H. Guzman, J. Hendee, E. Hernandez-Delgado, E. Husain, C. Jeffrey, R. Jones, E. Jordán-Dahlgren, L. Kaufman, D. Kline, P. Kramer, J. Lang, D. Lirman, J. Mallela, C. Manfrino, J-Philippe Maréchal, K. Marks, J. Mihaly, W. J. Miller, E. Mueller, E. Muller, C. Orozco Toro, H. Oxenford, D. Ponce-Taylor, N. Quinn, K. Ritchie, S. Rodríguez, A. Rodríguez-Ramírez, S. Romano, J. Samhouri, J. Sanchez, G. Schmahl, B Shank, W. Skirving, S. Steiner, E. Villamizar, S. Walsh, C. Walter, E. Weil, E. Williams, K. Woody, and Y. Yusuf. 2010. Caribbean corals in crisis: record thermal stress, bleaching, and mortality in 2005. PloS ONE 5(11): e13969. doi:10.1371.

Lirman, D. and D. Manzello. 2009. Patterns of resistance and resilience of the stress-tolerant coral Siderastrea radians (Pallas) to sub-optimal salinity and sediment burial. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 369:72-77.

Lirman, D., J. Herlan, C. Langdon, and T. Capo. 2009. Exposure to nutrient-enriched sediments mitigates the negative impacts of sedimentation on coral growth in the Caribbean corals Porites astreoides and Siderastrea siderea. Proceedings 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, 900-904.

Davis, S., D. Lirman, and J. Wozniak. 2009. Nitrogen and phosphorus exchange among tropical coastal ecosystems. In: Nagelkerken, I. (ed), Ecological Connectivity Among Tropical Coastal Ecosystems. Springer Press, p. 9-43.

Gintert, B., N. Gracias, D. Lirman, A.C.R. Gleason, P. Kramer, and R.P. Reid. 2009. Second-generation landscape mosaics of coral reefs. Proceedings 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, 577-581.

Herlan, J. and D. Lirman. 2009. The development of a coral nursery program for the threatened coral Acropora cervicornis in Florida. Proceedings 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, 1244-1247.

Lirman, D., G. Deangelo, J. Serafy, A. Hazra, D. Smith Hazra, and A. Brown. 2008. Geospatial video monitoring of nearshore benthic habitats of western Biscayne Bay (Florida, USA) using the Shallow-Water Positioning System (SWaPS). Journal of Coastal Research 24:135-145.

Lirman, D., G. Deangelo, J. Serafy, A. Hazra, D. Smith Hazra, J. Herlan, J. Luo, S. Bellmund, J. Wang, and R. Clausing. 2008. Seasonal changes in the abundance and distribution of submerged aquatic vegetation in a highly managed coastal lagoon. Hydrobiologia 596:105-120.

Bouchon, C., P. Portillo, Y. Bouchon-Navaro, M. Loius, P. Hoetjes, K. De Meyer, D. Macrae, H. Armstrong, V. Datadin, S. Harding, J. Mallela, R. Parkinson, J.W. Van Bochove, D. Lirman, J. Herlan, A. Baker, L. Collado, and S.C. Isaac. 2008. Status of Coral Reef Resources of the Lesser Antilles: The French West Indies, The Netherlands Antilles, Anguilla, Antigua, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago. In: Wilkinson, C. (ed.). Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008. Australian Institute for Marine Science, Australia. p. 265-279.

Lirman, D., N. Gracias, B. Gintert, A. R. Gleason, R.P. Reid, S. Negahdaripour, and P. Kramer. 2007. Development and Application of a Video-Mosaic Survey Technology for Coral Reef Monitoring. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 125:59-73.

Lirman, D. and P. Fong. 2007. Is proximity to land-based sources of coral stressors an appropriate measure of risk to coral reefs? An example from the Florida Reef Tract. Marine Pollution Bulletin 54:779-791.

Cooper, W., D. Lirman, M. Schmale, and D. Lipscomb. 2007. Consumption of coral spat by histophagic ciliates. Coral Reefs 26:49-50.

Manzello, D.P., M. Brandt, T. B. Smith, D. Lirman, J. C. Hendee, and R. S. Nemeth. 2007. Hurricane-associated cooling benefits bleached corals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104:12035-12039.

Gleason, A.C.R., D. Lirman, D. Williams, N.R. Gracias, B.E. Gintert, H. Madjidi , R.P. Reid, G.C. Boynton, S. Negahdaripour, M. Miller, and P. Kramer. 2007. Documenting hurricane impacts on coral reefs using two-dimensional video-mosaic technology. Marine Ecology 28:254-258.

Lirman, D. 2003. A simulation model of the population dynamics of the branching coral Acropora palmata. Effects of storm intensity and frequency. Ecological Modeling 161:169-182.

Lirman, D. and W.P. Cropper Jr. 2003. The influence of salinity on seagrass growth, survivorship, and distribution within Biscayne Bay, Florida: field, experimental, and modeling studies. Estuaries 26:131-141.

Lirman, D., B. Orlando, S. Maciá, D. Manzello, L. Kaufman, P. Biber, and T. Jones. 2003. Coral communities of Biscayne Bay, Florida and adjacent offshore areas: Diversity, abundance, distribution, and environmental correlates. Aquatic Conservation 13:121-135.

Lirman, D. and M. Miller. 2003. Modeling and monitoring tools to assess recovery status and convergence rates between restored and undisturbed coral reef habitats. Restoration Ecology 11:488-456.

Manzello, D. and D. Lirman. 2003. The photosynthetic resilience of Porites furcata to salinity disturbance. Coral Reefs 22:537-540.

Lirman, D., D. Manzello, and S. Maciá. 2002. Back from the dead: the resilience of Siderastrea radians to severe stress. Coral Reefs 21:291-292.

Irlandi, E , B. Orlando, S. Macia, P. Biber, T. Jones, L. Kaufman, D. Lirman, and E. Patterson. 2002. The influence of freshwater runoff on biomass, morphometrics, and production of Thalassia testudinum. Aquatic Botany 72:67-78.

Lirman, D. 2001. Competition between macroalgae and corals: effects of herbivore exclusion and increased algal biomass on coral survivorship and growth. Coral Reefs 19:392-399.

Lirman, D., P.W. Glynn, A.C. Baker, and G.E. Leyte Morales. 2001. Combined effects of three sequential storms on the Huatulco coral reef tract. Bulletin of Marine Science 69:267-278.

Cropper, W. P. Jr., D. Lirman, S. C. Tosini, D. DiResta, J. Luo, and J. Wang. 2001. Sponge population dynamics in Biscayne Bay, Florida. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 53:13-23.

Gentile, J.H., M. A. Harwell, W. Cropper, C. C. Harwell, D. DeAngelis, S. Davis, J. C. Ogden, D. Lirman. 2001. Ecological Conceptual Models: A Framework and Case Study on Ecosystem Management for South Florida Sustainability. Science of the Total Environment 274:231-253.

Lirman, D. 2000. Fragmentation in the branching coral Acropora palmata (Lamarck): growth, survivorship, and reproduction of colonies and fragments. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 251:41-57.

Lirman, D. 2000. Lesion regeneration in the branching coral Acropora palmata: effects of colonization, colony size, lesion size, and lesion shape. Marine Ecology Progress Series 197:209-215.

Lirman, D. and P. Biber. 2000. Seasonal dynamics of algal communities of the Northern Florida Reef Tract. Botanica Marina 43:305-314.

Lirman, D. 1999. Reef fish communities associated with coral Acropora palmata: relationships to benthic attributes. Bulletin of Marine Science 65:235-252.

Maciá, S. and D. Lirman. 1999. Destruction of Florida Bay seagrasses by a grazing front of sea urchins. Bulletin of Marine Science 65:593-601.

Lirman, D and P. Fong. 1997. Patterns of damage to the branching coral Acropora palmata following Hurricane Andrew: damage and survivorship of hurricane-generated recruits. Journal of Coastal Research 13:67-72.

Lirman, D and P. Fong. 1997. Susceptibility of coral communities to storm intensity, duration and frequency. Proceedings 8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panama 1:561-566.

Fong, P., M. Jacobson, M. Mescher, D. Lirman, and M. Harwell. 1997. Investigating the management potential of a seagrass model through sensitivity and experiments. Ecological Applications 7:300-315.

Lirman, D. and P. Fong. 1996. Sequential storms cause zone-specific damage on a reef in the northern Florida Reef Tract: evidence from Hurricane Andrew and the 1993 Storm of the Century. Florida Scientist 59:50-64.

Lirman, D. and P. Fong. 1995. The effects of Hurricane Andrew and Tropical Storm Gordon on Florida reefs. Coral Reefs 14:172.

Fong, P. and D. Lirman. 1995. Hurricanes cause population expansion of the branching coral Acropora palmata (Scleractinia): wound healing and growth patterns of asexual recruits. Marine Ecology 16:317-335.

Lirman, D. 1994. Ontogenetic shifts in habitat preferences in the three-spot damselfish, Stegastes planifrons (Cuvier), in Roatan Island, Honduras. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 180:71-81.

Fong, P. and D. Lirman. 1994. Damage and recovery of a coral reef after Hurricane Andrew. National Geographic Research and Exploration 10:246-248.

Editorial Responsibilities: Associate Editor, Bulletin of Marine Science. Reviewed manuscripts for Botanica Marina, Hydrobiologia, Coral Reefs, Atoll Research Bulletin, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Bulletin of Marine Science, Biological Bulletin, Estuaries, Aquatic Conservation, Zoological Science, Oecologia, Limnology and Oceanography, Ecological Monitoring and Assessment, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Remote Sensing of the Environment, Journal of Coastal Research, Revista de Biologia Tropical, Galaxea, Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Proposal Reviews: Reviewed proposals for the National Science Foundation, NOAA, USAID, SeaGrant, National Coral Reef Institute, COLCIENCIAS (Colombian Office of Science).