Stephanie Martinez Hernández

Stephanie Martinez

I am a marine biologist with a great interest in the study of tropical marine and coastal systems. I am currently studying the development and trajectories of current and past marine reef communities under high sea water temperature and nutrients.


tropical reefs, marine ecology, photogrammetry, community structure, paleoecology

Msc. Stephanie J. Martinez Hernández

PhD student
Promotion at Wageningen University & Research
Promotor Lisa Becking
Researchgroup: Marine Evolution & Ecology

LinkedIn, GitHub, ResearchGate

52.164888, 4.4728894


In recent decades, concerns have been raised that coral reefs are shifting from coral-dominated states to systems dominated by macroalgae. Meanwhile there is growing evidence that other benthic groups are increasing in abundance on coral reefs, in particular sponges and benthic cyanobacterial mats (BCMs, dense mats of diverse microbial consortia dominated by cyanobacteria).

Given global trends in increased water temperatures and eutrophication due to coastal development and runoff, BCMs and sponges may be more resilient to environmental change than corals, or even macroalgae, leading to possible shifts of dominance. The overall aim of this project is to understand how tropical marine species communities respond to past and current environmental change and identify possible shifts in dominance of benthic groups related to temperature and eutrophication gradients. Using a multifaceted approach including photogrammetry, genomics, and water quality analysis, I will study current and past benthic distribution patterns and dynamics of whole communities through three main components: Marine lakes: discrete marine communities replicated over space, under similar degrees of eutrophication while each lake differs in temperature, representing natural states of future climate change scenarios; Coral Reefs: natural eutrophication gradient, caused by runoff and other human activities, while maintaining similar temperatures among sites; Sediment cores: window into past biodiversity dynamics, as paleolimnology provides a useful approach to study how diversity has shifted over time and under what circumstances. Through our field-validated data, we will identify feedbacks and conditions that can set the stage for large community fluctuations under future scenarios predicted for climate change.

marine lake


  • Kornder N.A., Cappelletto J., Mueller B., Zalm M.J.L., Martinez S.J., Vermeij M.J.A., Huisman J., de Goeij J.M. 2021. Implications of 2D versus 3D surveys to measure the abundance and composition of benthic coral reef communities. Coral Reefs 40, 1137-1153. 
  • Martinez S.J., Cavada-Blanco F., Cappelletto J., Agudo-Adriani E., Croquer A. 2021. Distribution, abundance, and health indicators of the critically endangered coral species Acropora cervicornis in Los Roques National Park, 2014. Advances in Oceanography and Limmnology 12(2). 
  • Cavada-Blanco F., Cappelletto J., Agudo-Adriani E., Martinez S.J., Rodriguez J.P., Croquer A. 2020. Status of the pillar coral Dendrogyra cylindrus in Los Roques National Part, Southern Caribbean. bioRvix.

All publications