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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Keeping up with climate change: the evolutionary potential of coral reef fishes to rising sea temperature


Friday, December 16th, 2016 - 10:00 to 11:00 hrs.

Building 19, Room 106, JCU Townsville Campus
Rachel Spinks
Rachel Spinks

Abstract. Climate change is expected to significantly threaten coral reefs and their organisms globally. Precise predictions of biological impacts are essential for effective management. In the short-term (e.g. days to weeks), elevated water temperature negatively affects coral reef fishes’ physiology, life history, and behaviour. However, there remains a lack of knowledge regarding the capacity for coral reef fishes to adjust to climate change in the long-term (e.g. over generations) through evolutionary processes. My PhD project will employ an experimental approach to predict the influence of phenotypic plasticity and genetic adaptation on a coral reef fish’s ability to persist through global warming.

Biography.  Rachel is a PhD candidate at James Cook University, studying the capacity of coral reef fishes to adjust to climate change, under the guidance of Prof. Philip Munday and Dr Jennifer Donelson. Rachel completed her Bachelor of marine science at Macquarie University in Sydney. She then undertook a Masters in evolutionary biology at the University of Basel in Switzerland, where she studied the infamous adaptive radiation of African cichlid fishes. After spending time working as a marine ecologist for an NGO in South Africa, she returned to Australia to embark on a PhD at the Centre of Excellence.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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Coral Reef Studies