Foto del docente

Stefano Goffredo

Associate Professor

Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences

Academic discipline: BIO/07 Ecology

Coordinator of PhD Programme of Innovative Technologies and Sustainable Use of Mediterranean Sea Fishery and Biological Resources (FishMed-PhD)

Curriculum vitae





VALIDITY: JANUARY 31, 2014 - JANUARY 31, 2020





Dr. Stefano Goffredo (SG)


(a) Scientific Biography


SG is consolidating his career. His scientific initiative promises to lead marine biology towards integrative interdisciplinary syntheses. By extensive collaborations with leaders in different fields, such as physics, chemistry, computational science, stable isotopes, and photobiology SG developed multidisciplinary methodologies attacking the questions identified by his field studies with novel laboratory tools. In his research, SG has developed original aspects in the interpretation of growth and population data, population dynamics, reproductive biology and conservation monitoring. Recently, he has expanded his interests to the biomineralization in relation to environmental parameters. His major contributions were:


1. Analyzing the reproductive patterns of sexual reproduction in temperate Mediterranean corals. SG's pioneering works on reproductive biology of temperate corals are the first in the Mediterranean since the ancient observations by Lacaze-Duthiers dating back to 19th century. SG analyses revealed peculiar reproductive patterns, a contribution for understanding the evolution of coral sexuality.


2. Modeling for the first time the population dynamics of solitary corals in the tropical Red Sea and in the temperate Mediterranean Sea, introducing age-based population dynamics models in coral biology and ecology, and in the field of invertebrate zoology. This result led to the understanding of how age controls the demographic parameters of corals, their biometry, growth and reproductive activity, and how to develop management approaches to fisheries.


3. Assessing patterns of genetic differentiation in Mediterranean corals. These studies revealed levels of population structure and connectivity in gonochoric and hermaphroditic brooding corals, and possible relationships with planula behavior and mating system.


4. Assessing patterns of microendolithic depth distribution in open and shaded habitats. This study demonstrates that differences between habitat light conditions have to be considered for bathymetric and consequently paleobathymetric interpretations.


5. Analyzing the relationships between environmental parameters and demographic traits, and calcification in temperate Mediterranean corals and other calcifying organisms, which led to predictions of the effects of global warming on Mediterranean coral survival.


6. Launching a new attractive application of Citizen Science to marine biodiversity monitoring. This has opened new horizons in the modern field of applied conservation biology by enabling the collection of huge datasets at little cost for institutions, increasing environmental education (


7. Addressing questions on biomineralization and macromolecular crystallography in corals, contributing to the understanding of how biologic and environmental factors interact to regulate biomineralization. SG showed that both soluble and insoluble components of the intra-skeletal organic matrix (OM) influence calcium carbonate crystal morphology, aggregation and polymorphism as a function of their relative composition, and of the content of magnesium ions in the precipitation media. This sheds light on the role of the OM, which appears mediated by the presence of magnesium ions in the crystallization environment.


8. Investigating the mineralogy of modern Mediterranean corals across their life cycle, its relationships with species' habitat and ecological strategies, and its implications for paleoclimatology. SG showed that, in addition to aragonite, a significant amount of calcite correlated to the age of the coral. The presence of calcite can greatly affect the interpretation of paleoecological archives, suggesting the need for investigations of coral skeletal composition in order to obtain accurate paleoclimatic reconstructions.


9. Investigating the relationship between biological control over mineralization and species abundance along a natural pH gradient. SG showed that as pCO2 increased, the mineralogy of a scleractinian coral and a mollusc did not change. In contrast, calcifying algae reduced and changed mineralization with increasing pCO2, from aragonite to the less soluble calcium sulphates and whewellite. As pCO2 increased, the coral and mollusc abundance was severely reduced. Conversely, calcifying algae showed less severe or no reductions with increasing pCO2. SG suggested that the mineralization response to decreasing pH is linked with the degree of control over the biomineralization process by the organism, and only species with lower control manage to thrive in the lowest pH.


10 Exploring skeletal mechanical properties in temperate corals. SG investigated the variation of skeletal mechanical properties with position along the polyp body axis, age, populations and environmental conditions in zooxanthellate and non-zooxanthellate corals. Mechanical properties were measured by nanoindentation, a technique that SG applied in detail for the first time to scleractinian corals. A reduction of Young’s modulus was observed toward the oral pole, which is the youngest part of the skeleton. Only zooxanthellate species showed reduced Young’s modulus in southern populations, coherently with the observed reduced skeletal bulk density and increased porosity with SST, and with the lack of correlations with SST and latitude for skeletal bulk density and porosity in non-zooxanthellate species. These results may imply consequences related to the envisaged seawater warming for the next decades.


11 Investigating the acclimation potential of stony corals living along a pH gradient caused by a Mediterranean CO2vent that serves as a natural long-term experimental setting. SG showed that in response to reduced skeletal mineralization at lower pH, corals increase their skeletal macroporosity in order to maintain constant linear extension rate, an important criterion for reproductive output. At the nanoscale, the coral skeleton’s structural features were not altered. However, higher skeletal porosity, and reduced bulk density and stiffness may contribute to reduce population density and increase damage susceptibility under low pH conditions. Based on these observations, SG suggested that the almost universally employed measure of coral biomineralization, the rate of linear extension, might not be a reliable metric for assessing coral health and resilience in a warming and acidifying ocean.


12 Analyzing photosynthetic efficiency of corals exposed in aquaria to temperatures expected for 2100 as a consequence of global warming. Corals photosynthesis was progressively depressed with increasing temperatures, supporting previous hypotheses raised by studies on coral growth and demography. This study confirmed the potential threats posed to zooxanthelate corals by the ongoing seawater warming.


13 Surveying abundance and size-frequency of coral populations at mesophotic sites, founding that population structure is depth dependent. The mean surface area of colonies at mesophotic sites was smaller than at shallow sites, suggesting that growth rates and maximum colony surface area are limited on mesophotic reefs. Colony density was significantly higher at mesophotic sites, however, resulting in equal contributions to overall percent cover. This study indicated that the mesophotic reefs support established populations.


14 Predicting how ocean warming and ocean acidification will affect marine organisms. SG investigated, in the field, the combined temperature and acidification effects on mortality and growth of Mediterranean coral species transplanted, in different seasonal periods, along a natural pH gradient generated by a CO2 vent. SG showed a synergistic adverse effect on mortality rates, suggesting that high seawater temperatures may have increased their metabolic rates which, in conjunction with decreasing pH, could have led to rapid deterioration of cellular processes and performance. The net calcification rate of the symbiotic species was not affected by decreasing pH, regardless of temperature, while in the two asymbiotic species it was negatively affected by increasing acidification and temperature. This study suggested that symbiotic corals may be more tolerant to increasing warming and acidifying conditions compared to asymbiotic ones.


Thus, SG has contributed to the opening of new horizons in invertebrate biology, including reproduction, demographic modeling, biomineralization, conservation monitoring, skeletal mechanical properties, climate change effects, and physiology, and created a novel school in Italy: the Marine Science Group,, at the University of Bologna (UNIBO) founded by SG in 1998 during his PhD with funds by private companies. SG team is an active research group in which the main experimental tools are innovative ideas, generated from the interaction between SG and his enthusiastic students [# supervised thesis (as supervisor or assistant supervisor): 77, BSc 36 + MSc 41; 9, PhD].With the support of Zvy Dubinsky (Bar-Ilan University) and Giuseppe Falini (UNIBO), SG conceived the European Research Council (ERC) funded project "CoralWarm" (FP7 IDEAS, g.a. n° 249930,; total grant amount: 3,332,032.00 ). SG's work has resulted in the publication of 65 papers in I. F. journals of the subject categories Marine & Freshwater Biology; Ecology; Oceanography; Zoology, Environmental Sciences; Biology; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Chemistry, Multidisciplinary; Multidisciplinary Sciences; Biochemical Research Methods; Developmental Biology, Physiology (Total citations: 808; SG h-index: 18; Web of Science data). SG is the recipient of private and public international and national grants.



(b) Curriculum Vitae


Stefano Goffredo (SG; Bologna, 27 January 1969) received a master degree in Biological Sciences cum laude from the University of Bologna (UNIBO), in 1995, with the thesis "Growth of Ctenactis echinata (Pallas, 1766) and Fungia fungites (Linnaeus, 1758) (Scleractinia, Fungiidae) on a coral reef at Sharm el Sheikh, Red Sea, South Sinai, Egypt" (supervisor Prof. Francesco Zaccanti). In 1996-1997 served in the civil service. In 2000 he completed a PhD in Animal Biology from UNIBO with the thesis "Population dynamics and reproductive biology of the solitary coral Balanophyllia europaea (Anthozoa, Scleractinia) in the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea" (supervisor Prof. Francesco Zaccanti). Since 2000 he has been a Post-Doctoral fellow and contract researcher at the Department of Evolutionary and Experimental Biology (UNIBO), where he has worked on population dynamics and reproductive biology of temperate and tropical corals, and their relationships with environmental parameters, and on new perspectives and trends in the field of biodiversity monitoring, with the development of several novel Citizen Science based programs. In UNIBO, on June 28th 2010, he progressed to the position of research fellow, and on June 28th 2013 to the position of assistant professor. On 28th June 2016 he progressed to the position of associate professor. He is now consolidating his program on biology and autoecology of marine invertebrates, biometry, population dynamics modeling, and marine biodiversity monitoring, and opening a new research line on the biomineralization process, crystallography and mineralogy of biominerals in various calcifying organisms. At the University of Bologna SG teaches demographic modeling to PhD students in Earth, Life and Environmental Sciences, scientific diving, relationships between biodiversity and the environment, and conservation biology to master students in Biodiversity and Evolution, and in Science and Managment of Nature, and ecology to bachelor students in Biological Sciences. Since 2017, SG is member of "Collegio Superiore", the school of Excellence of Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, where he teaches Sustainability: Environment, Energy and Global ChallengesAs guest lecturer, he taught population dynamics modeling at the US National Science Foundation International Programs International Research Experiences for Students through Auburn University that took place at the Marine Science Station in Aqaba, Jordan. He supervised 77 thesis (BSc 36  + MSc 41), as supervisor (41) or assistant supervisor (36). Many of his students have continued in their fields as PhD students and Post Docs. Currently, he is supervising 3 Post Doc, 1 PhD student, 8 MSc student, and 7 BSc students ( SG is a teacher with friendly disposition, attracting scores of students to devote their careers to marine science and protection of marine heritage. International scolars are visiting SG lab, carrying out research in reproductive biology, population dynamics and genetics.


Since October 2016, SG is the Head of the Laboratory of Marine Biology and Fisheries at Fano, Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences.


Since November 2018, SG is the Coordinator of the International PhD program in Innovative Technologies and Sustainable Use of the Mediterranean Sea Fishery and Biological Resources (FishMed-PhD), Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Laboratory of Marine Biology and Fisheries at Fano.


SG spent several periods of study and research abroad: (i) in 1996, at the Interuniversity Institute of Marine Science in Eilat (Israel) guest of Prof. Nanette Elisabeth Chadwick-Furman to study the abundance, distribution and population dynamics of corals in the Northern Red Sea; (ii) in January 2005, he was chief researcher of the Tsunami Interministerial Task Force of the Government of the Republic of the Maldives, who organized the first expedition on Maldivian coral reefs after the 2004 Tsunami; (iii) in 2005, at the State University of New York at Buffalo (USA) guest of Prof. Howard R. Lasker, to develop models of Caribbean corals biometry and growth, and, in collaboration with Prof. Mary Alice Coffroth, to analyse population genetic structure and biogeography of both zooxanthellae algae and coral host in symbiotic corals; (iv) invited by Prof. Lasker at the Miami University to join several research cruises on board of the R/V F. G. Walton Smith (2005-2007), where he conducted extensive diving fieldwork for data collection on growth, demography and reproductive activity of Caribbean corals, and elaboration of a sustainable management model for coral fisheries in the Bahamas.


SG has an important and tight collaboration with Prof. Giuseppe Falini of the Department of Chemistry (UNIBO) for biomineralization studies, and with Prof. Zvy Dubinsky of the Faculty of Life Sciences at the Bar-Ilan University (Israel) to study the ecophysiology of corals. These collaborations have led to the FP7-IDEAS-ERC Grant "CoralWarm" for a project on Corals and Global Warming (, in which Zvy Dubinsky, Giuseppe Falini, and Stefano Goffredo were scientific coordinators. SG conducted all of CoralWarm's tasks in Italian waters including complex and challenging underwater surveys and long-term experiments.


Since 2014, SG is the coordinator of the ESA (European Space Agency) Topical Team project "SpaceBioMat: Space Bioreactor for Marine Mineralization Material Research", in which Zvy DubinskyGiuseppe Falini, Jaap Kandoorp (Computational Science Section, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and SG are conceivers.


SG is also coordinator of the international citizen science-based project on Mediterranean Sea biodiversity monitoring "Sea Sentinels - Divers United for the Environment" (


Currently, SG research activities mainly address the influence of environmental parameters (irradiance, water temperature, pH) on coral reproductive biology and demography (population density, growth, longevity); marine biodiversity monitoring (Citizen Science); biomineralization and crystallography in corals and other calcifying organism (in collaboration with Prof. Giuseppe Falini); coral ecophysiology (in collaboration with Prof. Zvy Dubinsky); mechanical properties and porosity of coral skeletons (in collaboration with Dr Luca Pasquini and Prof. Paola Fantazzini of the Department of Physics and Astronomy of UNIBO); gene expression profiles of heat stress (in collaboration with Dr Oren Levy of the Faculty of Life Sciences at Bar-Ilan University, and Dr Silvia Franzellitti of the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences at UNIBO); isotopic composition of corals and waters along the Italian coast (in collaboration with Prof. Aldo Shemesh, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel); microgravity effects on marine mineralization (in collaboration with Prof. Giuseppe Falini, Prof Zvy Dubinsky and Prof. Jaap Kaandorp).


The research activities of SG are carried out through the use of several experimental techniques. He uses fully equipped laboratories of histology, molecular biology and electronic microscopy (SEM, TEM). He is responsible for a new advanced unit of image analysis and cytometry. Two latest generation underwater multiparametric sensors belong to his labs, for field measurements of pH, PAR, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, salinity, and temperature. He has organized a fully equipped center for scientific diving, with the newest apparatuses, a refilling unit, and a 6 m deep swimming pool for divers training ( Through the collaboration with Giuseppe Falini, SG's team has access to last generation diffractometers (powder and single crystal), scanning electron, probe and spectroscopic (FTIR and Raman) microscopes, and an inorganic laboratory to carry out crystallization experiments in vitro; through Luca Pasquini, SG team has nanoindentation facilities; through Paola Fantazzini SG team has nuclear magnetic resonance and porous media lab; through Zvy Dubinsky and Oren Levy, novel and unique, high-tech, computerized metabolic chambers, respirometers, photoacoustics facilities, an high-tech aquarium system, and last generation facilities for molecular marine ecology, and through Aldo Shemesh, last generation equipment for oxygen and carbon isotopes measurements.


Scientific Advisory: SG acts as reviewer for several journals (AMBIO, American Naturalist, Biodiversity and Conservation, Biogeosciences, Biological Invasions, Biology Letters, BMC Evolutionary Biology, Bulletin of Marine Science, Cell & Tissue Research, Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, Conservation Biology, Coral Reefs, Fisheries Research, Functional Ecology, Global and Planetary Change, Hydrobiologia, Journal of Natural History, Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Marine and Freshwater Research, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Biology Research, Marine Biology, Marine Chemistry, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Marine Ecology-An Evolutionary Perspective, Molecular Ecology, PLoS ONE, Proceedings of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences, Restoration Ecology, Science Advances, The Biological Bulletin, Tourism Management, Water, Zoology), and for proposals submitted to the European Science Foundation (ESF), German Ministry of Education and Research, National Geographic Society, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Currently he is member of the editorial board of "Invertebrate Physiology, Speciality Section of Frontiers in Physiology", "Coral Reef Research, Speciality Section of Frontiers in Marine Science", and academic editor of PLoS ONE. He is co-editor of two books by Springer: 2014, "The Mediterranean Sea. Its History and Present Challenges" (Editors: Stefano Goffredo, University of Bologna, Italy; Zvy Dubinsky, Bar-Ilan-University, Israel). The book focuses on the effects of climate change in the Mediterranean and its shores from its birth, through its present state, to the predicted uncertain future; 2016, "The Cnidaria, Past, Present and Future. The world of Medusa and her sisters" (Editors: Stefano Goffredo, University of Bologna, Italy; Zvy Dubinsky, Bar-Ilan-University, Israel). This volume presents a broad panorama of the current status of research of invertebrate animals considered belonging to the phylum Cnidaria, such as hydra, jellyfish, sea anemone, and coral.


In 2014, SG has been Assessor for the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature (Center for Mediterranean Cooperation;;; Red List assessment of Mediterranean Anthozoans).


PhD Examination Committee Membership: 2012, Doctorate Course in Life Science, Tel Aviv University, Israel; 2014, Doctorate Course in Marine Biology, University of Reunion Island, France.


Scientific Diving: SG has been a diving instructor since 1991. In 2006, he introduced in Italy the standards for scientific diving of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences with the creation of the Scientific Diving School, the first AAUS Organizational Member in Italy. SG developed a scientific diving curriculum for MSc students at UNIBO, and was appointed as AAUS representative at the Italian Parliament working group for the national legislation on diving activities.


Invited guest lecturer to an international school


2008 and 2009, Marine Science Station at Aqaba (Jordan) "Population dynamics of Red and Mediterranean Sea cnidarians. Computer modeling of age-based population dynamics". National Science Foundation International Programs (International Research Experiences for Students, IRES). US-Jordan Project: NSF program leader and organizer: Nanette Elizabeth Chadwick-Furman, Auburn University, Alabama (USA).


Awards and patronages


1999, Patronage of the Italian Ministry of the Environment to the research project "Mediterranean Hippocampus Mission: a study on the geographical and ecological distribution of seahorses"; role in the project: conceiver and co-coordinator.


2002, Patronage of the Italian Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of the Territory to the research project "Divers for the Environment: Mediterranean Underwater Biodiversity Project"; role in the project: conceiver and co-coordinator.


2006, Patronage of the Ministry of Tourism of the Arab Republic of Egypt and of the Italian Ministry of the Environment and Land and Sea Protection to the project "STE: Scuba Tourism for the Environment. Red Sea Biodiversity Monitoring Program"; role in the project: conceiver and co-coordinator.


2009, Grant of the European Research Council to the project "CoralWarm. Corals and Global Warming: The Mediterranean versus the Red Sea"; role in the project: conceiver and co-coordinator;


2014, Grant of the European Space Agency to the Topical Team project "SpaceBioMat. Space bioreactor for marine mineralization material research"; role in the project co-conceiver and coordinator