Coral reefs are considered one of the ecosystems most vulnerable to ongoing global climate change. However, geographic and taxonomic responses to climate change are highly variable, and fundamental aspects of key research approaches remain unresolved, leaving substantial uncertainty in our ability to predict the future of coral reefs. I review the ecological and evolutionary response of coral reefs to climate change in a broad temporal context, primarily focusing on tropical reef corals. I show critical gaps in our understanding that impede accurate prediction of future responses. These gaps include the response of past reefs to global change, the interpretation of coral response to thermal stress and ocean acidification, how corals and other reef organisms might respond evolutionarily, and our approach to evaluating response to climate in the context of multiple stressors. Reducing uncertainty by filling these gaps and by incorporating variation in geographic and taxonomic response will substantially improve our ability to model coral reef futures and manage coral reefs.


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