Abstract: Global climate change poses a serious threat to tropical marine ecosystems impacting the viability and sustainability of fisheries. Increasing ocean temperature is considered one of the most pervasive aspects of climate change particularly for ectotherms, such as fishes, whose body temperatures are dictated entirely by their environment. Concerning results have emerged from experimental studies illustrating the negative effects of temperature on overall fitness and performance of fishes however these studies have not taken into account the option of behavioural modification as a mechanism for mediating increasing temperatures. My PhD seeks to determine whether or not coral trout, Plectropomus leopardus, a primary fisheries species on the Great Barrier Reef, has the capacity to cope with increasing environmental temperatures through behavioural modification.
Bio: Molly grew up by the beach in Sydney and has been fascinated with the ocean and the marine environment since she can remember. She combined her passion for environmental conservation and the ocean to do Bachelor of Environmental Science (Hons) majoring in marine biology at University of New South Wales, Sydney. Her honours project looked at the influence of an artificial reef on fish assemblages in the surrounding pelagic environment using underwater video. After a lifetime of temperate marine systems, she decided to pursue her dream of studying coral reef ecosystems and embark on a PhD with Prof. Morgan Pratchett at ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Molly’s PhD focuses on the influence of increasing ocean temperature on the behaviour and movement patterns of coral trout, Plectropomus leopardus; the tastiest and one of the most commercially important fisheries species on the Great Barrier Reef. She hopes that her research will be used for the sustainable management of coral trout fisheries on the Great Barrier Reef in the face of rapid environmental change.