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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Spatial and Temporal variation in growth, reproduction and condition in Acropora millepora on the Great Barrier Reef


Tuesday, 27 April 2010 3.00pm

ARC Centre of Excellence Conference Room, JCU (DB44)
Chung Hong (James) Tan


Coral reefs grow in ocean waters from the equator to over 30 degrees of latitude and the processes controlling assemblage structure and rates of recovery from disturbance are likely to vary dramatically over this range.. However, the population ecology of individual species remains poorly explored, particularly at large spatial scales. In this thesis, I will test for spatial variation in growth, reproduction and condition in populations of Acropora millepora at 8 sites in four regions separated by 9 degrees of latitude on the Great Barrier Reef: the Lizard Island groups, the Palms Island, the Whitsundays and the Keppels. In addition, I will explore how these processes respond to environmental variables using an innovative combination of biochemistry and molecular biology. Preliminary results indicate considerable spatial and seasonal variation in growth rates among these populations: colonies in the Keppel Islands (230 N) grew throughout the year and annualised growth (mean + one SE: 8.975 + 0.5166 cm) was 3-times that of colonies in the Whitsundays (200 N) (2.408 + 0.4738 cm) and Palm Islands (180 N) (2.334 + 0.8355 cm). In contrast, there was little spatial variation in fecundity: only Myle Islands in the Keppel had significantly greater per polyp fecundity. This suggests that fecundity is more constrained than growth. Also, the predicted trade off between growth and reproduction was not evident at Myle Island due to either greater productivity or lower annual light and thermal stress in this region.


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