1

People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.

2

Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution

3

Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au

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Terry Hughes

Terry Hughes


Professor, Centre Director and Program 1 Leader


ARC Laureate Fellow (2012-2017), Federation Fellow (2002-2007, 2007-2012).


PhD, MA, Johns Hopkins, USA • BA, Trinity College, Dublin


James Cook University



+61 (0)7 4781 4000


In December 2016, Professor Terry Hughes was recognized by Nature as one of the “10 people who mattered this year” for his leadership in responding to the global coral bleaching event caused by climate change. Terry’s research has enabled him to translate fundamental and innovative science into practical solutions that improve the management and governance of marine environments. Nature’s 10 dubbed him “Reef Sentinel”, for the global role he plays in applying multi-disciplinary science to securing reef sustainability.

Professor Hughes is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (since 2005). Professor Hughes was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2001, and was a member of the Expert Advisory Committee for Australian National Research Priorities in 2002. He is a Fellow of the Beijer International Institute for Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Stockholm, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Resilience Alliance. He has been awarded numerous prizes awards, including the Centenary Medal of Australia, the quadrennial Darwin Medal of the International Society for Coral Reef Studies, and an Einstein Professorship from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. According to Google Scholar, his lifetime citations exceed 43,000. He has published so far 20 papers in Science and Nature.

Research Interests

In the past five years, Terry’s research has increasingly evolved to encompass the interface between biology and the social sciences, enabling a broader evaluation of the linkages between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, coral reef governance, and the welfare of human societies.

The ARC Centre is developing further research capacity in this area by strategic recruitment of social scientists, creating a unique multi-disciplinary team of the highest calibre. Terry’s recent work has focussed on climate change, understanding the complexities of multiple cumulative impacts, market drivers of ecological change, missing institutions, identifying safe planetary boundaries for human development, avoiding social traps, and transformative governance of the sea (e.g. in Australia, Chile, China, the Galapagos Islands, Gulf of Maine and the Coral Triangle).

His future research will focus on the linkages between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the welfare of human societies. The objective is to improve the governance and management of natural systems and enhance their capacity to sustain human and natural capital.  The overarching goal is to integrate the science of coral reef resilience with decision-making and management.

Publications online (since 1999)

Selected Publications

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au