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Dr. Diego Kersting

Diego Kerting
Bildquelle: Jan Kersten

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Since 2000 my professional career has been focused on marine conservation.

The outburst of the first warming-related mass mortalities in the Mediterranean Sea at the beginning of the 2000's woke up my concern and curiosity. In addition, there was an urgent need to monitor and assess their impact on marine communities and their association to warming. As a result, I started to study the effects of climate change in marine organisms. Among other projects, I set up a monitoring program in the Columbretes Islands to study thermal anomalies in surface waters and their relation with the mortalities detected in the Mediterranean endemic coral Cladocora caespitosa. These long-term monitoring series allowed to describe and statistically prove, for the first time in the Mediterranean Sea, the long-term association between warming events and the mass mortalities of benthic invertebrates. The Columbretes data series are currently the longest of their kind in the Mediterranean Sea and probably worldwide.

I worked during 12 years as scientific coordinator in the Columbretes Islands Marine Reserve (Spain), being responsible for the coordination of scientific teams, the development of scientific studies, and the implementation of scientific monitoring. Afterwards I have worked as researcher for the Department of Ecology of the University of Barcelona and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), as well as freelance scientific consultant, undertaking studies for the Spanish Ministry of Environment and IUCN, among others.

My PhD, entitled "Ecology and conservation of the Mediterranean endemic coral Cladocora caespitosa", was defended in the University of Barcelona.

Currently, I work as researcher (Eigene Stelle) in the Working Group on Geobiology and Anthropocene Research (Section Paleontology, Freie Universität Berlin), where I am further developing my research on marine climate change and its impact on marine ecosystems under the DFG-funded project “Studying anthropogenic climate change in the Mediterranean Sea beyond instrumental data: the temperate coral Cladocora caespitosa as bioindicator and archive of environmental and ecological changes”.

My scientific interests are focused on the impact of global change disturbances in marine ecosystems (mainly warming, but as well other disturbances such as invasive species and diseases), with special attention to key species and vulnerable communities; as well as in the role of MPAs as laboratories and conservation tools in the current context of global change.

Currently, I am highly interested in expanding our knowledge on global warming impacts by combining long-term data series on ecological responses and local water temperature with geochemical and schlerochronological proxies.

Books and book chapters

  1. Gubbay et al. (Kersting DK among authors) (2016) European Red List of Habitats. Part 1. Marine Habitats. European Comission, Luxembourg.
  2. Kersting DK (2016) Cambio climático en el medio marino español: impactos, vulnerabilidad y adaptación (Climate change in the seas of Spain: impacts, vulnerability and adaptation). Oficina Española de Cambio Climático, Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, Madrid.
  3. Ballesteros E, Cebrian E, Kersting DK, Serrano E, Sala E (2013) Fons rocosos (Rocky bottoms). In: Ballesteros E (ed). Atles d’Ecologia, clima i evolució (Atlas on Ecology, Climate and Evolution). Història Natural dels Països Catalans. Enciclopèdia Catalana, Barcelona.

Refereed journal articles

  1. Zupan M et al. (Kersting DK among authors) (2018) How good is your protected area at curbing threats? Biological Conservation 221:237-245
  2. Rubio-Portillo E, Kersting DK, Linares C, Ramos-Esplá AA, Antón J (2018) Biogeographic differences in the microbiome and pathobiome of the coral Cladocora caespitosa in the Western Mediterranea Sea. Frontiers in Microbiology doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00022
  3. Kersting DK, García-March JR (2017) Long-term assessment of recruitment, early stages and population dynamics of the endangered Mediterranean fan mussel Pinna nobilis in the Columbretes Islands (NW Mediterranean). Marine Environmental Research 130:282-292
  4. Vázquez-Luis M, Álvarez E, Barrajón A, García-March JR, Grau A, Hendriks IE, Jiménez S, Kersting DK, Moreno D, Pérez M, Ruiz JM, Sánchez J, Villalba A, Deudero S (2017) S.O.S. Pinna nobilis: A mass mortality event in Western Mediterranean Sea. Frontiers in Marine Science doi: 10.3389/fmars.2017.00220
  5. Garrabou J, Sala E, Linares C, Ledoux JB, Montero-Serra I, Dominici JM, Kipson S, Teixidó N, Cebrian E, Kersting DK, Harmelin JG (2017). Re-shifting the ecological baseline for the overexploited Mediterranean red coral. Scientific Reports 7:42404
  6. Kersting DK, Cebrian E, Verdura J, Ballesteros E (2017) A new Cladocora caespitosa population with unique ecological traits. Mediterranean Marine Science 18: 38-42
  7. Kersting DK, Cebrian E, Verdura J, Ballesteros E (2016) Rolling corals in the Mediterranean Sea. Coral Reefs. 36:245-245
  8. Hereu B, Kersting DK (2016). Diseases of coralline algae in the Mediterranean Sea. Coral Reefs. 35:713-713.
  9. Kersting DK, Cebrian E, Casado C, Teixidó N, Garrabou J, Linares C (2015) Experimental evidence of the synergistic effects of warming and invasive algae on a temperate reef-builder coral. Scientific Reports 5:18635.
  10. Linares C, Vidal M, Canals M, Kersting DK, Amblas D, Aspillaga E, Cebrian E, Delgado-Huertas A, Díaz D, Garrabou J, Hereu B, Navarro L, Teixidó N, Ballesteros E (2015) Persistent natural acidification drives major distribution shifts in marine benthic ecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences 282:20150587.
  11. Capdevila P, Linares C, Aspillaga E, Navarro L, Kersting DK, Hereu B (2015) Recruitment patterns in the Mediterranean deep-water alga Cystoseira zosteroides. Marine Biology 162: 1165-1174.
  12. Kersting DK, Teixidó N, Linares C (2014) Recruitment and mortality of the temperate coral Cladocora caespitosa: implications for the recovery of endangered populations. Coral Reefs 33: 403-407.
  13. Kersting DK, Ballesteros E, De Caralt S, Linares C (2014) Invasive macrophytes in a marine reserve (Columbretes Islands, NW Mediterranean): spread dynamics and interactions with the endemic scleractinian coral Cladocora caespitosa. Biological Invasions 16: 1599-1610.
  14. Casado C, Kersting DK, Cebrian E, Teixidó N, Garrabou J, Linares C. (2014) Rapid recovery from injuries in the temperate long-lived coral Cladocora caespitosa. Marine Biodiversity 45:135-137
  15. Casado-Amezúa P, Kersting DK, Templado J, Machordon A (2014) Regional genetic differentiation among populations of Cladocora caespitosa in the Western Mediterranean. Coral Reefs 33: 1031-1040.
  16. Kersting DK, Casado C, López-Legentil S, Linares C (2013) Unexpected patterns in the sexual reproduction of the Mediterranean scleractinian coral Cladocora caespitosa. Marine Ecology Progress Series 486: 165-171.
  17. Kersting DK, Bensoussan N, Linares C (2013) Long-term responses of the endemic reef-builder Cladocora caespitosa to Mediterranean warming. Plos ONE 8: e70820.
  18. Kersting DK, Linares C (2012) Cladocora caespitosa bioconstructions in the Columbretes Islands Marine Reserve (Spain, NW Mediterranean): distribution, size structure and growth. Marine Ecology 33: 427-436.
  19. García-March JR, Surge D, Lees JM, Kersting DK (2011) Ecological information and water mass properties in the Mediterranean recorded by stable isotope ratios in Pinna nobilis shells. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 116: G02009.
  20. García-March JR, Marquez-Aliaga A, Wang YG, Surge D, Kersting DK (2011) Study of Pinna nobilis growth from inner record: How biased are posterior adductor muscle scars estimates? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 407: 337-344.
  21. Casado-Amezúa P, García-Jiménez R, Kersting DK, Templado J, Coffroth MA, Merino P, Acevedo I, Machordom A (2011) Development of microsatellite markers as a molecular tool for conservation studies of the Mediterranean reef-builder coral Cladocora caespitosa (Anthozoa, Scleractinia). Journal of Heredity 102: 622-626.
  22. Garrabou J, Coma R, Bensoussan N, Bally M, Chevaldonné P, Cigliano M, Díaz D, Harmelin G, Gambi MC, Kersting DK, Ledoux JB, Lejeusne C, Linares C, Marschal C, Pérez T, Ribes M, Romano JC, Serrano E, Teixidó N, Torrents O, Zabala M, Zuberer F, Cerrano C (2009) Mass mortalities in Northwestern Mediterranean rocky benthic communities: effects of the 2003 heat wave. Global Change Biology 15: 1090-1103.

Other publications

  1. Casado-Amezúa P, Kersting DK, Linares C, Bo M, Caroselli E, Garrabou J, Cerrano C, Özalp B, Terrón-Sigler A, Betti F (2015) Cladocora caespitosa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, IUCN.
  2. Oliver JD, Templado J, Kersting DK (2012) Gasterópodos marinos de las Islas Columbretes (Mediterráneo occidental). Iberus 30: 49-87.
  3. Berenguer R, Kersting DK (2011) Cetáceos en la Reserva Marina de las Islas Columbretes (Mediterráneo noroccidental): 20 años de avistamientos oportunistas. Mediterranea 22: 100-124.

Over 40 communications in international congresses and conferences.


Studying anthropogenic climate change in the Mediterranean Sea beyond instrumental data: the temperate coral Cladocora caespitosa as bioindicator and archive of environmental and ecological changes. Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG Project no. 401447620). PI. D. K. Kersting.


  • combining long-term
  • ecological responses
  • geochemical
  • global change.
  • global warming impacts
  • impact of global change disturbances
  • key species
  • local water temperature
  • mainly warming
  • marine ecosystems
  • nvasive species
  • role of MPAs
  • schlerochronological proxies
  • vulnerable communities