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.

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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 effects of climate change on reef mesopredators


Friday, Aug 31 2018, 10:00 to 11:00 hrs (AEST)

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room 106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Shannon McMahon
Shannon McMahon


Anthropogenic emissions are driving global climate change, which is resulting in the warming and acidification of the world’s oceans. The current changes have displayed a range of negative effects in marine organisms, however under projected climate change scenarios marine organisms may face significantly warmer and more acidified oceans. Reproduction and early life stages are the most sensitive to environmental stressors and could be a potential bottleneck of ecological success under projected climate change scenarios, even for more tolerant species. While current research has begun to explore how these life stages are effected by climate change the number of species studied is relatively low and has primarily focused on either smaller demersal reef fish or larger, commercially important pelagic species. This has left a knowledge gap as to how mesopredators will cope under climate change scenarios. The aim of this research is to investigate how two of the most significant stressors associated with climate change, elevated temperature and CO2, effect the reproduction and early life stages of ecologically and commercially important reef mesopredators.


Hailing from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Shannon grew up fascinated with the Ocean and each trip to the beach was spent exploring rock pools, digging through the intertidal zones, and surfing. However, it wasn’t until after completing a bachelors in communication and travelling abroad that Shannon realized he wanted to do something that would involve the understanding and protection of our oceans. This led to Shannon’s relocation to Townsville where he undertook a BSc in Science at James Cook University. Through this undergrad he became drawn to the research of our oceans, particularly the future challenges they may face, which ultimately lead him to undertake Honours with Prof. Philip Munday & Dr Jennifer Donelson, where he investigated the effects of climate change on coral reef fish. After Honours he was determined to pursue a PhD focusing on the effects of climate change on reef mesopredators and started this journey in 2017 under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Donelson & Prof. Philip Munday.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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