As part of its goal to train outstanding coral reef researchers and scientists, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies is offering a coral identification course to all graduate students (Honours, Masters and PhD) attending the Australian Coral Reef Society Conference, 16 – 17 May 2018. The coral identification course will be taught by Dr Thomas Bridge (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University and Museum of Tropical Queensland), Dr Verena Schoepf (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, University of Western Australia) and Centre Director, Professor Terry Hughes. There are 30 places available.
Reef-building corals are the key habitat-forming taxon on tropical reefs, in the same way that trees from the backbone of forest ecosystems. Knowledge of the identity of different corals taxa is therefore critically important for effectively understanding ecological and biological processes on coral reefs. Identifying coral species is a fundamental skill for coral reef researchers to ensure the accuracy of both field-based and lab-based research. However, coral taxonomy at the species level is notoriously difficult, partly because many species show high morphological plasticity and partly because molecular data have shown that the morphological characters historically used to define species and higher taxonomic groups often do not reflect the evolutionary history of the group. Molecular techniques are providing fascinating new insights into the taxonomy, systematics and biogeography of the group. However, most of this new information is distributed across a handful of key research papers, and no good resources currently exist to assist newcomers to the field or those without taxonomic experience to correctly identify corals. In this course, Tom, Verena and Terry will provide a summary of the current state of coral taxonomy, essentially what we know and what we still don’t know, and provide some advice for those who would like to improve their coral ID skills.
There will be no registration fees for students attending the National Student Mentoring Day. The Centre of Excellence will provide morning and afternoon tea and lunch, and contribute $60 towards accommodation associated with attendance on the day to students through a reduced conference registration. Indicate your interest when completing your ACRS conference registration to secure a place and discount.
Students attending the course need to bring their own snorkeling equipment, towel, water bottle, sun screen, hat, appropriate footwear, waterproof camera, slate (if you have one), bathers and marine stinger protective clothing.
8:30 – 9:00am: Registration (tea and coffee on arrival) Ningaloo Centre
9:00 – 10:00am: Indoor Session 1 Ningaloo Centre
10:00 – 10:30am: Morning tea
10:30 – 12:00pm: Indoor Session 2 Ningaloo Centre
12:00 – 12:30pm: Lunch
12:30 – 2:00pm: Bus transfer to Turquoise Bay
2:00 – 4:00pm: Field Session Turquoise Bay
4:00 – 5:30pm: Bus transfer to Ningaloo Centre