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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Non-Reef Habitats in a tropical Seascape. The effects of the surrounding seascape on coral reef fishes


Friday 19th March 10:00 to 11:00 hrs (AEST)

https://jcu.zoom.us/j/81019744919? Password: 972708
Katie Sievers
Katie Sievers

Abstract: Multiple habitats in a tropical seascape are increasingly recognized as interconnected to one another. Mangroves, seagrass beds, and macroaglal beds are important components of a tropical seascape, and although they are unique and important in their own right, they also contribute to patterns and processes on coral reefs. In my PhD, I explore how non-reef habitats affect coral reef fishes in a highly connected seascape on Siquijor Island in the Philippines. Combining traditional reef fish and benthic habitat surveys with habitat mapping and spatial analysis of the seascape, I explore how fishes respond to habitat across multiple spatial scales. Firstly, I examine the relative importance of within-patch benthic habitat of coral reefs and adjacent non-reef habitats in the seascape on coral reef fish populations and assemblages. I then use DNA analysis to identify juvenile parrotfish species using non-reef habitats to investigate potential ontogenetic shifts. Finally, I utilise stable isotope analysis to explore diet and habitat use for important ‘herbivorous’ coral reef fish species (parrotfishes and rabbitfishes) to understand their diet and habitat use patterns. I found that coral reef fishes are influenced by non-reef habitats in the surrounding seascape, and that habitat within 500-m of coral reefs should be incorporated in species-habitat relationships. DNA analysis revealed an increase in non-reef habitat use for juvenile parrotfishes, and identified macroalgal habitat as a potentially important nursery habitat. I also found that habitat availability may be altering how species use non-reef habitats. My research highlights the importance of considering fish-habitat relationships at larger spatial scales, and underscores the importance of including non-reef habitats in future research.  


Australian Research Council Pandora

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