Charles Sheppard OBE Ph.D.

University of Warwick


Anne Sheppard and I have been building a time-series of data since the 1970s, which are now key to global assessments measuring the impact of climate change on reefs.

These include measurements of coral cover, sea temperature, other important benthic groups and numbers of coral juveniles. Performed at several depths and around all atolls. These track and monitor the repeated collapses and recovery of the reefs in the Chagos Archipelago reefs during marine heatwaves and have shown the Chagos Archipelago to contain particularly resilient reefs which previously have recovered well from destructive warming episodes.

I have been instrumental in developing scientists’ interest in the archipelago, building up a now considerable amount of research performed there. I developed this large research programme on islands and reefs through a series of expeditions. I have also written and led several environmental management plans that in turn led to the designation of the Chagos Archipelago as a giant marine protected area.

This work programme was recognized by government assessors as being in the ‘top 20’ out of 7,000 assessed research programmes in the UK.  With a long series of magazine articles and public lectures on the Chagos Archipelago, I also have spread the word more widely on the importance of this area and its biodiversity.

The absence of many local, direct impacts makes this one of very few places to determine the effects of climate change on coral reefs, especially rising sea temperature, in the absence of most confounding human impacts.

Charles Sheppard


2013 Present
Participated in the now annual research expeditions to the Chagos Archipelago
1990 2015
Reader, then Professor at Warwick University
2003 2013
BIOT Government’s marine science and conservation advisor
1999 2013
Organised and then participated in ~10 research expeds to Chagos Archipelago, building up a critical mass of 100 leading scientists.
1983 1990
Focussed on Arabian Gulf and Red Sea reef ecology and taxonomy.
1980 1983
Postdoctoral fellowship at Australian Institute of Marine Science on coral competition and the controls on and space allocation on reefs, and coral distribution.
1975 1979
Early research in the Chagos Archipelago, which fortuitously set up a baseline before climate change started to have visible impacts.

My Project

  • Island Reef Connections
    Monitoring Coral Reefs in the Indian Ocean

Other interests

Of equal focus and output, has been a long period of reef research in the Arabian Area, often but not only as consultant to most Arabian Governments, and numerous marine-impacting industries. Likewise, advisor to several Caribbean island states on tropical scientific marine management issues, such as: effects of damaging activity, speed of ecosystem recovery, consequences of impacts such as food security, shoreline erosion and economic dependence.

My Publications

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