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.

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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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Does being different pay off? Sharks under anthropogenic pressure


Tuesday 30 August, 3 PM (AEST)

https://jcu.zoom.us/j/89297805770 and Bldg 19 - Room 106 at James Cook University, Townsville
Prof. Gudrun De Boeck
Prof. Gudrun De Boeck


Sharks are generally perceived as strong and fearsome animals. With fossils dating back at least 420 million years, sharks are not only majestic top predators but they also outlived dinosaurs and many other species which definitely seems to confirm their robustness. Their anatomy and physiology is very different from that of marine bony fish, and clearly well suited for survival in the marine environment. But are they really equipped to deal with the current pace of environmental changes? Temperature changes, eutrophication, hypoxic zones and pollution act in concert in coastal zones. Our research touches on the effects of some of these parameters, and emphasizes that special attention needs to be paid to the unique physiology of these fish. A suitable suite of biomarkers, different from those for teleosts, needs to be developed to support efficient conservation measures.


Gudrun De Boeck studied biology at the Universities of Hasselt (BSc) and Leuven (MSc) in Belgium. After a short period in the private sector (aquarium fish trade), she got immersed in the field of fish physiology and ecotoxicology and obtained her PhD at the University of Antwerp on the effects of copper on common carp in 1996. During het postdoctoral period, at McMaster University (Canada) and the University of Antwerp, she worked with different marine and freshwater species and became interested in comparative studies within and between species. The underlying physiological mechanisms that make one species more sensitive to environmental changes are a fascinating field of research, and at the core of her research. Since her appointment as assistant professor at the University of Antwerp in 2006, she now became the group leader of the new research group ECOSPHERE, which combines expertise in fundamental and applied research in aquatic ecology and in aquatic and terrestrial ecotoxicology and ecophysiology. Our research group aims to underpin environmental management decisions with fundamental knowledge at different levels of organisation, from cell to ecosystem.


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