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 effect of chronic fish predation on reef-building corals


Monday 2 February, 11:00 am

ARC Centre of Excellence Conference Room, JCU (DB44). Video-link to Centre for Marine Studies, UQ
Andrew Cole


The trophic link between corals and fishes is potentially very important in energetics of coral reef ecosystems. Corallivory is the primary means of incorporating energy derived from corals into higher trophic levels. However, chronic grazing by fishes must also represent a significant energetic cost for reef-building corals. Natural stressors like coral predation will likely be compounded by the effects of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors. This interaction is not yet understood, and further study is required for the appropriate management of coral reefs. The primary aim of this research project is to explore the energetic cost of chronic fish predation on common reef corals. I intend to do this through five research objectives: (1) compare the predation intensity on different coral species in different habitats; (2) quantify the amount of coral material which is removed by coral-feeding butterflyfish; (3) Compare coral energetics such as growth, condition and reproductive output in the presence and absence of chronic fish predation; (4) test the impact that newly settled obligate coral feeders have on the corals they inhabit; and (5) investigate possible beneficial aspects of fish predation by testing whether coral predators consume coral disease and whether this consumption slows the rate of progression of these diseases. The combination of these aims will greatly increase the understanding of the functional importance and ecological consequences of corallivory on coral reefs and allow me to investigate whether corallivores are exacerbating changes to coral reef dynamics resulting from global environmental change.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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