Diego Lirman, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries
Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science
University of Miami
email: [email protected] 

My research is focused on documenting and forecasting the impacts of multiple stressors on the abundance, distribution, and condition of organisms within marine benthic communities. While investigating the impacts of physical disturbance (e.g., hurricanes, ship groundings), biological interactions (e.g., space competition), and other stressors (e.g., salinity fluctuations, sedimentation), I have developed a research methodology that combines field assessments, lab-microcosm exposure experiments, and ecological simulation modelling. Over the past 7 years, I have applied this methodology to the study of the disturbance ecology of seagrasses, sponges, macroalgae, and coral populations of Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, and the Florida Reef Tract.    

My longer-term research goals are to understand how local adaptation to stress may influence the persistence of benthic communities at larger temporal and spatial scales.  By documenting the response and adaptive mechanisms of benthic communities in habitats that commonly experience sub-optimal, widely fluctuating environmental conditions at ecological time scales, I hope to gain important insights into the mechanisms that may allow such communities to cope with changes at larger scales such as those arising from Global Change processes.


  • 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.



1997-Present   Assistant Scientist,  University of Miami

                      Duties:  Simulation Modeling, GIS, Field Monitoring, Experimental Design

1993-1997       Research Assistant, University of Miami

                      Project:  Seagrass Research, Microcosms and Mesocosms Design



Sigma Xi, Ecological Society of America, International Coral Reef Society.



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. 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.

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. 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 an grazing front of sea urchins. Bulletin of Marine Science 65:593-601.

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

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. 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 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.

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.

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

Lirman, D., Ginsburg, R.,  Hazra, A., Brandt, M., Yñiguez, A., Kool, J., Cooper, W., and Kramer, P.  2004.  A status report of the condition of Florida’s coral reefs: unexpected patterns in relationship to human-based sources of disturbance. Marine Ecology Progress Series (In Review).

Editorial Responsibilities:  Reviewed manuscripts for Botanica Marina, Hydrobiologia, Coral Reefs, Atoll Research Bulletin, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Bulletin of Marine Science, Biological Bulletin, Estuaries, Aquatic Conservation, Zoological Science, Oecologia.

Proposal Reviews:  Reviewed proposals for the NOAA/National Undersea Research Center, Maryland SeaGrant Pogram, National Coral Reef Institute, COLCIENCIAS (Colombian Office of Science).


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