A new approach to understanding climate-induced reef crises
The Reef Traits Database (RTD) is a unique, specimen based compilation
of reef builders’ traits. The database currently focuses on scleractinian
corals and it covers the time period from the Triassic (~ 250 Ma)
until today. The Database is designed in a way that provides easy
integration with the biggest resource of paleontological data -
the Paleobiology Database. This project is part of the CoralTrace project
under the umbrella of the TERSANE project (Research Unit 2332) funded by Deutsche Forchungs
Gemeinschaft (German Research Foundation).
What are reef builders?
Reef builders are organisms that construct complex
geobiological structures that we call reefs. Corals are the main
reef builders today, but other organisms such as sponges, bivalves,
and algae contribute to reef building as well. However, there
were times in geological history when corals were common
reef dwellers, but did not build reefs. Such was the time at the end Cretaceous
(~ 66 Ma) when rudist bivalves were the dominant reef builders,
while corals were only a minor contributor to reef building.
What are scleractinian corals?
Scleractinian corals are the dominant reef builders in modern
oceans. They are mostly confined to warm, shallow waters within the
low latitudes. They serve as hubs for tropical marine biodiversity,
providing habitat for more than one million species. Modern corals
are extremely sensitive to stressors such as global warming,
acidification, and pollution.
Which fossil traits do (can) we use for study?
Every organism is characterized by a number of traits that
can be morphological, reproductive, ecological, geographical,
etc. However, morphological traits are best preserved in fossil
The Ancient Reef Traits (ART) database is a compilation of fossil traits of organisms that are known to have been reef in the geological record. The first phase of the project is currently focusing on Scleractinian corals, the reef-builders in the modern ocean. Within the ART database, multiple observations and measurements, referred to as traits are compiled. Anyone collecting trait data (e.g. from the field, laboratory studies, literature, or by any other means) is welcome to join and contribute to the database.
Contact a member of the Managerial Board if you're interested in contributing to the database or to report any issues.
Meet our Team
Who's behind the ART Database?
Contact a member of the Managerial Board to report any issues or if you would like to contribute to the database.
Nussaïbah B. Raja
CoralTrace - A new approach to understanding climate-induced reef crises
CoralTrace is funded by the Deutsche Forchungs Gemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), under the umbrella of the TERSANE project (Research Unit 2332).