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.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

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


Responding to a changing world

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

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Assessment of scale dependent function in reef fish, and its application to the evaluation of coral reef resilience


Thursday, 13th of March 2014; 10:00 to 11:00 hrs (Please note the time is different to our usual slot)

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building), Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville; video-linked to the University of Queensland (GCI Boardroom, Level 7, Gehrmann Building 60).
Kirsty Nash, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Kirsty Nash, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Abstract:  The functional roles played by fish have been identified as critical for supporting the resilience of reefs within a coral-dominated state.  However, research to date suggests that measures such as functional diversity or biomass of functional groups may not be directly related to ecosystem impact, due to spatial and ontogenetic changes in function.  For evaluation of fish function to be a useful as an indicator of resilience there is a need to move to a multi-scale approach, where the role of species within the spatial patchiness of the landscape is considered.  My research addresses this need by (1) Characterising the spatially explicit functional role of reef fish; (2) Evaluating the interaction of fish with coral reef structure across spatial scales; and (3) Uses this information to evaluate the effectiveness of cross-scale diversity of function in fish as an indicator of resilience in coral reef ecosystems.  The distribution of body sizes of both individuals and species within fish communities is a central theme underlying the different aspects of my project.  The research outcomes provide fundamental understanding of the spatial scales at which fish interact with their environment and perform functions critical to coral reef condition.

Biography:  Kirsty is originally from the UK, where she studied Oceanography with Marine Biology (BSc Hons). She moved to Townsville in 2002 and completed a MAppSci in Tropical Marine Ecology at James Cook University. She spent a number of years doing field research and teaching field techniques in association with the Marine Park Authority in the Seychelles, and teaching college level courses in marine biology and oceanography in the Caribbean. In 2009 she returned to Australia, completing a Masters of Education and a Postgraduate Certificate in Statistics at Charles Sturt University. She worked as a research assistant at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University prior to starting her PhD. Her research looks at the scales at which fish are functioning on the reef and how this contributes to resilience. Kirsty is supervised by Nick Graham and David Bellwood.


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