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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The resilience of coral reef tourism to climate change and crises


12.00pm, Tuesday 7 December 2010

ARC Centre of Excellence Conference Room 114, Sir George Fisher Building, JCU (DB32)
Duan Biggs, Ph.D. student

Duan was born in Namibia but has spent most of his life in South Africa. He started his PhD in July 2007 in the Centre’s Program on Resilience and Socio-Ecological Systems. Prior to his PhD he completed an MSc by dissertation in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town. His MSc dissertation was on the institutions, economics and conservation benefits of community-based specialist ecotourism in South Africa. He has a trans-disciplinary undergraduate training with majors in Economics, Development Studies and Environmental Science. Duan relishes working at the interface of science and management and has developed, coordinated and consulted to projects for BirdLife International, Conservational International and WWF among others. He also leads specialist birding and eco-tours to destinations in Africa and the Asia-Pacific. Duan is the first PhD candidate with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies to present his PhD exit seminar.


Rapid and accelerating global change may have severe consequences for humanity. In today’s highly connected world, crises may spread and propagate in novel ways. Thus, understanding the ability of vulnerable socio-economic sectors to cope with, and adapt to change is paramount.  The coral reef tourism sector is highly vulnerable not only to the ecological effects of climate change and other anthropogenic disturbances on reefs, but also to shocks such as economic recession and energy price escalation. Commercial tourism enterprises are key players in reef tourism in Australia and elsewhere. Yet, the factors that confer resilience to reef-based tourism enterprises, or the reef tourism sector more broadly, in the face of large disturbances have not been investigated to date.  This thesis addresses this literature gap by examining the resilience of enterprises in the coral reef tourism sector. Because resilience manifests differently in alternative socio-economic and governance contexts, this study includes formal and informal enterprises in Phuket, Thailand and enterprises on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Lifestyle values and human capital are important determinants of the resilience of all enterprises. Moreover, higher lifestyle values are associated with a higher conservation ethic and a higher level of enterprise participation in conservation action. This study is a basis for policy-makers to actively consider lifestyle benefits to tourism enterprises in supporting enterprise resilience and strengthening conservation.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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