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 Future of Coral Reefs (Canberra)


3rd and 4th July 2014

The Shine Dome, Canberra.

UPDATE: Videos of the presentations are available!
You can watch all videos in the viewer on the top right corner of this page, or select individual videos from the Youtube playlist here.

The Future of Coral Reefs symposium to be held in Canberra on 3rd and 4th July celebrates the launch of the newly funded Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies.
In an era of rapid environmental shifts, social change, and unprecedented economic development, the worldwide demand and need for trans-disciplinary and policy-relevant research has never been greater or more urgent. The theme of the new ARC Centre is the generation and supply of knowledge (in social and biological sciences) to foster sustainable use, adaptive governance and effective management of the world’s coral reefs. Globally, more than 300 million people depend on the ecosystem services that coral reefs provide, for their livelihoods and food security. In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef alone generates $6 billion per annum in income from tourism and fisheries, yet its status as a World Heritage Area is under review by UNESCO. This illustrates the challenges associated with sustainable use of the world’s coral reefs and the need to build bridges between the natural and social sciences, to strengthen capacity and communication, and to inform and support actions for transformative changes in reef governance and management in order to enhance human well-being.

Who should attend?

Two events are scheduled:

  • A 2-day symposium on Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th July 2014 with over 30 presentations by leading scientists, managers and policy makers. The symposium is aimed at a general audience of scientists in related fields, natural resource managers, conservationists, and policy makers. The symposium will be held at The Shine Dome, Canberra.
  • A public forum also being held at The Shine Dome, at 5.30pm for a 6.00pm start, Thursday 3 July 2014. This event is for everyone: the general public, teachers and school children (older than about 10) as well as scientists, resource managers and policy-makers.


Our objectives are to:

  • present the latest science which supports the sustainable management of coral reefs, in Australia, our region and globally
  • focus on the research, management and policy developments for coral reefs
  • present research examining the effects of the changing environment on marine ecosystems.

UPDATE: Videos of the presentations are available!
You can watch all videos in the viewer on the top right corner of this page, or select individual videos from the Youtube playlist here.

Thursday 3 July

Time Topic Presenter
8.30am Registration and coffee
9.00am Welcome Terry Hughes
Official Opening Aidan Byrne, CEO, Australian Research Council
9.20am Great Barrier Reef in Danger

(Chair: Terry Hughes)

Shifting baselines and failing governance Terry Hughes
Managing the World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef Jon Day
The seven deadly sins of conservation prioritisation Hugh Possingham
Protecting the Green and Blue for Golden Returns Daniel Gschwind
10.40am Morning tea  
11.10am Great Barrier Reef in Danger

(Chair: Morgan Pratchett)

Managing water quality for the Great Barrier Reef: a success? Jon Brodie
Size matters: the future of Great Barrier Reef megafauna Helene Marsh
New approaches to monitoring the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Jamie Oliver
Preparing for the next rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Bob Pressey
12.30pm Lunch
1.50pm Climate Change (Chair: Hoegh-Guldberg)  
The tip and the tail of coral species migrations in response to climate change John Pandolfi
Atmospheric and oceanic forcing of temperature climatology and thermal stress in nearshore reef environments Jim Falter
Oceanic drivers of coral reef systems along Western Australia Ryan Lowe
Post-disturbance coral reef dynamics:
a coral recruit perspective
Christopher Doropoulos
Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science: empowering tomorrow’s Indigenous marine leaders Joe Pollock
3.10pm Afternoon tea
3.40pm Climate Change (Chair: Malcolm McCulloch)  
Production and fate of DMSP in reef-building corals
(Virginia Chadwick Award recipient 2013)
Jean-Baptiste Raina
The effect of warming and acidification on patch reefs Sophie Dove
The effects of climate change on early life history stages and patterns of dispersal in corals Andrew Baird
Genetic connectivity patterns indicate potential for recovery of Acropora corals impacted by the effects of climate change Vimoksalehi Lukoschek
Gills gone wild! Physiological responses to climate
change in fish
Jodie Rummer
5.00pm End


Thursday 3 July (evening session)

A Public Forum, hosted by Ruben Meerman will be held at 6.00pm (5.30pm for refreshments).


Friday 4 July

Time Topic Presenter
9.00am Welcome and introductory comments
Fish, Fisheries and Green Zones (Chair: Janice Lough)  

Overfishing kills corals and coral reefs
Jeremy Jackson

Marine reserves, fisheries management and environmental disturbances on coral reefs
Garry Russ

Escaping social-ecological traps in coral reef fisheries
Josh Cinner

The Chinese governance context for global fisheries
Mike Fabinyi

Fisheries management in the tropical Pacific from an interdisciplinary perspective
Pip Cohen
10.50am Morning tea
11.20am Fish, Fisheries and Green Zones (Chair: Janice Lough)  
Does more biodiversity help you sleep better at night? David Bellwood

The role of larval dispersal in defining appropriate management scales in coral reef fisheries
Michael Bode

Cheap as chips reef fish – many key species live for a year or less
Mike Kingsford

Using insights from the past to reshape the future for Australia’s marine fisheries
Ruth Thurstan

Should I stay or should I go? Larval connectivity in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Hugo Harrison

Warming up a fishes appetite
Andrew Hoey

Prioritising catchment management projects to protect marine ecosystems
Carissa Klein

The Great Barrier Reef as a globally significant demonstration of the benefits of zoning and adaptive management
Laurence McCook
1.00pm Lunch
2.00pm Climate Change cont (Chair: Malcolm McCulloch)

The methylome of Acropora millepora
Sylvain Foret

Effects of ocean warming on the productivity of coral communities
Mia Hoogenboom

Coral disease: the emerging legacy of cyclones, crown of thorns starfish predation and climate change
Bette Willis

Can fishes acclimate to a warmer and more acidic ocean?
Philip Munday
4.00pm Windup

UPDATE: Videos of the presentations are available!
You can watch all videos in the viewer on the top right corner of this page, or select individual videos from the Youtube playlist here.

Professor Andrew Baird
Andrew is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. His research interests touch on many aspects of coral reef ecology, in particular larval ecology, reproductive biology, biogeography and systematics. His recent research combines experimental biology and ecological modelling to explore the effect of climate change on patterns of coral larval dispersal.

Professor David Bellwood
David is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence and a Professor of Marine Biology at James Cook University. David’s interests focus on the ecology of coral reef fishes. By combining work on fossils, phylogenies and modern fishes he is able to gain unique insights into the role of fishes on coral reefs. With an active research lab and broad range of international collaborators, his work encompasses global biogeography, ecosystem function and reef resilience. Having published over 230 papers, including 8 in Science or Nature, David has broad interests in coral reef ecosystems, human interactions, and the future of coral reefs. His primary goal, however, is to understand and to find practical solutions to the challenges facing today’s coral reefs.

Michael Bode
Dr Michael Bode
Michael is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s School of Botany. He is interested in aspects of spatial planning, particularly those that involve interactions between multiple decision-makers. He graduated from James Cook University in 2001, from the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. He became interested in biophysical oceanography during his honours year. His thesis analysed macroscale structure in coral reef fish connectivity patterns on the Great Barrier Reef. After graduating, he spent a year teaching secondary school in Malawi, and following another year working as a Research Assistant began a PhD at the University of Queensland’s Mathematics Department in 2004. After submitting his thesis Michael was employed until 2009 by Brendan Wintle and Mick McCarthy in the Applied Environmental Decision Analysis centre. In 2010 he was awarded an ARC postdoctoral fellowship, and in 2013 started a second, DECRA fellowship.

Jon Brodie

Jon is the Team Leader of the Catchment to Reef Processes Research Group at TropWATER. His research interests are in the sources of pollutants in catchments, transport of pollutants to the marine environment, the dispersal of land-based pollutants in coastal and marine environments and the effects of terrestrial pollutants on marine ecosystems. He has published over 80 peer reviewed articles in this field as well as more than 100 technical reports. He is also heavily involved in policy advice to Australian governments regarding management of water quality issues for the Great Barrier Reef. He was the lead author of the Scientific Consensus Statement (2008) documenting the status of knowledge and management for water quality issues affecting the Great Barrier Reef for the Queensland Government and is currently leading the preparation of the 2013 Scientific Consensus Statement.

Professor Josh Cinner

Josh’s research explores how social, economic, and cultural factors influence the ways in which people use, perceive, and govern natural resources, with a particular emphasis on using applied social science to inform coral reef management.  He works closely with ecologists on interdisciplinary research topics such as defining the socioeconomic factors that drive successful marine conservation, understanding resilience and thresholds in coral reef social-ecological systems, and examining and operationalizing vulnerability to environmental change. He has worked on human dimensions of resource management in Australia, Jamaica, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Indonesia, and the USA.

Pip-CohenDr Pip Cohen

Pip is an interdisciplinary researcher who focuses on the governance of small-scale fisheries in developing countries. Pip began her career in fisheries in Tasmania, but then escaped the cold for the tropical Pacific – Tonga, Fiji and then Solomon Islands. Pip has now worked in the Pacific region for over ten years. In 2013 Pip completed her PhD at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Pip is now employed as a scientist for WorldFish, and is an adjunct research fellow at the Centre. Pip’s research examines governance at local to regional scales, and particularly focuses on understanding community-based fisheries management for improving food security in the Pacific.

jon_dayJon Day

Jon has 39 years of professional experience as a natural protected area planner and manager (both terrestrial and marine), 28 years of which has been in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park.  Jon joined GBRMPA in 1986, and had a variety of roles over the years including field management, planning and world heritage.  Between 1998-2003, Jon was the Director responsible for the Representative Areas Program (RAP), the major rezoning program undertaken for the entire GBR. The systematic marine planning approach developed during RAP is today widely considered as ‘world’s best practice’ and has received eleven national and international awards. For his efforts with RAP, Jon was awarded an Australian Public Service Medal and a Smithsonian-Queensland Fellowship. Jon has published widely on MPA management and planning, as well as on world heritage matters, and was appointed as one of Australia’s representatives on the World Heritage Committee from 2007-11.

Chris-DoropoulosDr Christopher Doropoulos

Christopher has been working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Peter Mumby at The University of Queensland since 2013. He is a marine ecologist whose work focuses on benthic algal and invertebrate recruitment and species interactions in shallow reef environments, and how these are affected by chronic and acute stress. His PhD, completed at The University of Queensland in 2012, investigated how ocean acidification altered species interactions during the pre- and post-settlement coral recruitment phase; and, how functional traits of recruiting and juvenile coral assemblages influence early recovery trajectories. Christopher is now investigating the trade-offs that determine early recruitment success in corals, using a combination of observational, experimental, and modelling approaches.

Associate Professor Sophie Dove

Sophie is a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies undertaking research in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland. She is an expert in the photobiology of reef-building corals and leads a growing laboratory that is focused on how the carbonate balance of reefs will fare under future warming and acidification. Her investigations on the carbonate balance of reefs monitor the responses of mesocosms, calcifers such as corals and bioeroders such as sponges.

Dr Michael Fabinyi

Michael is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University. He obtained his PhD in Anthropology and Environment at the Australian National University in 2009, and has worked widely on the social, political and cultural aspects of marine resource management in the Asia-Pacific region. He is currently based at Peking University in Beijing where he is researching the environmental and social implications of Chinese seafood consumption.

jim-falterDr Jim Falter
Jim is a Research Fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the University of Western Australia.  He is an oceanographer interested in how the growth and metabolism of coral reef communities respond to environmental and climate change; particularly due to increased ocean warming and acidification.  His current research focuses on understanding how oceanic and atmospheric processes influence rates of calcification, production, and nutrient uptake in reef communities via changes in light, temperature, water chemistry, and hydrodynamics.

sylvain-foretDr Sylvain Foret
Sylvain did his undergraduate in Montpellier and Paris (France), where he studied invertebrate physiology and computer science. He obtained his PhD in 2007 from the Australian National University, working on genomics in the honeybee and in other insects such as beetles and wasps. From 2007 to 2009 he worked at the Mathematical Sciences Institute (ANU) investigating computational and statistical aspects of biological sequences comparison methods. He was then recruited to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (2009-2011), where he worked on the transcriptomes, genomes and epigenomes of various invertebrates, with a particular focus on corals and other cnidarians. In 2012, Sylvain started his group at the ANU, where his current research includes examining the mechanisms of epigenetic regulation in the honeybee and in corals, as well as comparative genomics in various invertebrates.

Daniel Gschwind

Daniel Gschwind is the Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC). Daniel is a board member of the National Tourism Alliance (NTA) and the Tourism Research Advisory Board (TRAB) and is a member of the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC). He represents QTIC on various tourism committees including the Tourism Forecasting Council.  He is an Adjunct Professor to the School of Tourism at the University of Queensland, the Honorary Consul of Switzerland for Queensland and was previously a member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). Daniel holds an honours degree in economics from the University of Queensland and has worked as a senior economist with Queensland Treasury. He has previously run a yacht charter operation in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean for ten years.

Dr Hugo Harrison

Hugo is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. His research is broadly focused on the role of no-take marine reserves in the management and conservation of coral reef fishes. Hugo’s current research projects apply methods of parentage analysis in commercially and recreationally important reef fish to assess the level of demographic connectivity between fish populations. Understanding these processes is of critical importance to the effective conservation of marine biodiversity, fisheries management and the design of marine protected areas. Hugo recently completed his PhD in Marine Biology in 2012 in co-tutelle between the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etude, France, and James Cook University, Australia, for which he received the Virginia Chadwick award for excellence in scientific publishing.

Andy HoeyDr Andrew Hoey

Andrew is an ARC DECRA Fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. He is a functional ecologist working on large-scale ecosystem processes on coral reefs, in particular the functional importance of different taxa to the resilience of coral reef ecosystems, and relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem function. Andrew’s current research is aimed at understanding how water temperature influences the feeding and function of reef fishes, and the role of ecological feedbacks in shaping key ecological processes on reefs. In particular, he is examining how the density and composition of macroalgal beds influences foraging by herbivorous fishes, and the replenishment of fish and coral populations.

Dr Mia Hoogenboom

Mia is a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and she has broad interests in the biology and ecology of marine and aquatic organisms. Her current research program focuses on understanding and predicting the impacts of climate change on coral populations and communities, primarily through investigating how the physical environment controls coral growth, reproduction and survival. Using laboratory experiments and field observations, she determines why certain species perform best in certain habitats and tests the capacity of species to acclimatize and adapt to environmental change. Combining these results with mathematical models that ‘scale-up’ from individuals to populations and communities, Mia’s research predicts how the productivity of reefs is likely to change in the future.

Terry HughesProfessor Terry Hughes

Terry is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and an Australian Laureate Fellow (2012-2017). His research focuses on the linkages between the ecology of reefs and their importance for societies and economies. He has worked extensively in Australia, the Coral Triangle Region, and in the Caribbean. An important aspect of his research is understanding the dynamics and resilience of coral reefs, and translating this knowledge into innovative and practical solutions for improved reef management. Terry is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Beijer Institute for Ecological Economics, Stockholm. He is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher, and was recognized in 2008 by the International Coral Reef Society, with the award of the society’s Darwin Medal.

Jeremy Jackson, Scripps Professor of OceanographyProfessor Jeremy Jackson

Jeremy is Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, Professor of Oceanography Emeritus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Director of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. He studies the ecology and evolution of ocean ecosystems and the impacts of human activities on ocean ecosystem services and human wellbeing. Jackson is author of some 175 scientific publications including 24 in Science and Nature and author or editor of ten books. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received a dozen prizes and awards including the BBVA International Prize in Ecology and Conservation, The Paleontological Medal, and the Darwin Medal of the International Society for Reef Studies. Jackson’s work on historical overfishing and the collapse of coastal ecosystems was chosen by Discover magazine as the outstanding scientific achievement of 2001. His most recent book is Shifting Baselines: The Past and Future of Ocean Fisheries.

Mike-KingsfordProfessor Michael Kingsford

Michael is the Head of the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at James Cook University. The School is a recognized world leader in tropical marine science, aquaculture, zoology, ecology and plant sciences. He has been President of the Australian Coral Reef Society, Director of One Tree Island Research Station, member of the Great Barrier Reef Research Foundation and the Museum of Tropical Queensland advisory committees. He has published extensively on the ecology of reef fishes, jellyfishes, biological oceanography and climate change. His projects have encompassed a range of latitudes and he has edited two books on tropical and temperate ecology. A major focus of his research has been on connectivity of reef fish populations, environmental records in corals and fishes and deadly irukandji jellyfishes. In addition to research and leadership, he teaches undergraduate students and supervises many postgraduate students.

Dr Carissa Klein

Carissa is a conservation scientist at The University of Queensland in the School of Geography, Planning, and Environmental Management, the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions. Her primary research interest is in supporting conservation decisions in the Coral Triangle, the world’s epicenter of marine biological diversity. Her expertise is in spatial conservation prioritization, answering questions such as: Should we be investing in marine parks or stopping forest clearing to get the most bang-for-our buck in protecting Indonesia’s coral reefs? How can we zone the ocean to meet the needs of multiple stakeholders? She is also involved in projects to do with climate change adaptation, ecosystem services, and sustainable seafood. Currently, she is collaborating with The Nature Conservancy (Melanasia), Wildlife Conservation Society (Fiji and Papua New Guinea), Conservation International (Indonesia), and the World Wildlife Fund (Australia and Malaysia) to apply various spatial conservation prioritization techniques to support conservation decisions.

Ryan-LoweProfessor Ryan Lowe

Ryan is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, a Professor at the University of Western Australia, and a Chief Investigator of the new ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. He has a unique background in coastal oceanography and environmental engineering that enables him to tackle complex (and often multidisciplinary) research problems in coral reef systems. Major areas of research focus include: understanding how ocean dynamics drive physical and other environmental variability within coral reefs; how these dynamics influence a range of complex biophysical processes, and finally how these processes can be numerically predicted and accurately forecast into the future.

vimoksalehi-lukoschekDr Vimoksalehi Lukoschek
Vimoksalehi is an ARC DECRA Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies who uses molecular genetics and field research to address fundamental questions about the ecology and evolution of a range of marine species. Vimoksalehi (Vee) has conducted pioneering research into the molecular ecology, evolution and conservation of Australian sea snakes, and has made significant contributions to the forensic genetics of cetaceans, foraging biology of reef fish, and the phylogeography of freshwater reptiles. Her current research uses state-of-the-art genetics approaches to investigate connectivity in reef-building Acropora corals on the Great Barrier Reef and the potential for larval dispersal to replenish reefs after major disturbance events such as cyclone Yasi.

Dr Laurence McCook
Dr Laurence McCook manages ecosystem health and resilience for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and has been responsible for the strategic coordination of the scientific information needed to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Laurence has extensive scientific experience, including the ecological processes underlying coral reef resilience and degradation and the effects of marine reserve networks. He has strong interests in the application of science to environmental management, including public perceptions of scientific uncertainty, burden of proof, shifting baselines, and the interface between environmental and economic values. In 2005, Laurence was awarded an international Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, focused on the resilience of coral reefs under climate change, and has recently run a series of workshops on coral reef management for reef managers and communities across Indonesia.

Helene-MarshProfessor Helene Marsh

Helene is a Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and the Dean of Graduate Research Studies at James Cook University.  Her qualifications include BSc (Queensland) and PhD (JCU).  She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and Research Co-Leader of the Species of Conservation Concern program of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program (NERP) Tropical Ecosystems Hub. Throughout the course of her professional academic career, Helene has served on the advisory committees of 51 PhD, 13 Masters by Research, 5 MAppSci, 1 Postgraduate Diploma, 5 Masters Qualifying, 11 Honours, 2 Graduate Diploma of Research Methods and 1 Postgraduate Diploma of Science students.

Phil MundayProfessor Philip Munday

Philip is an ARC Future Fellow and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. His research program focuses on understanding and predicting the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on populations and communities of coral reef fishes, both directly through changes in the physical environment and indirectly through effects on coral reef habitat. Using a range of laboratory and field experiments he is investigating the effects of increased temperature and ocean acidification on reef fish populations and testing their capacity to acclimate and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. He has published over 160 scientific papers, including major reviews and research papers on the impacts of climate change.

Jamie-OliverDr Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver is the Research Director at the Australian Institute of Marine Science where he leads a team of over 100 staff working on research projects related to sustainable use and management of Australia’s tropical marine estate. Previously he was the Science Leader for WA at AIMS where he led a small team of researchers doing work focussed on the needs of the Oil and Gas Industry included the monitoring of possible impacts from the Montara oil spill in 2009. Prior to coming to AIMS Dr Oliver worked for the WorldFish Center (2000-2009), first as senior scientist in charge of coral reef projects (including the Center’s ReefBase information system) and then as Director of Science Coordination and  Secretary for the WorldFish Board of Trustees. He has also served as the Chair of the International Coral Reef Action Network Steering Committee and co-chair of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network Management Committee.  Prior to WorldFish he was the Director of Information Support at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and a senior scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. During this period he conceived of, and led the production of the first State of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Report and edited the first AIMS Long-Term Monitoring Report for the GBR.  Whilst at GBRMPA Jamie was the senior representative for the Authority in development and management of the Townsville Port capital dredging campaign in the 1990s and also designed and provided agency oversight of the dredging program for the Port Hinchinbrook development. Jamie has undertaken consultancy and advisory work on coral reef monitoring and management in Tonga, Indonesia, Maldives, Fiji and Yemen. Dr Oliver obtained his PhD in Marine Biology at James Cook University studying growth and reproduction in corals and was a member of the JCU Coral Reproduction Group which was instrumental in discovering the mass coral spawning phenomenon, and which was awarded Australian Eureka Prize in 1992.

john-pandolfiProfessor John Pandolfi

John  is a Program Leader in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and is a Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, and Centre for Marine Science, University of Queensland. He has broad research interests in marine palaeoecology, with emphasis on the effects of anthropogenic impacts and climate change on the recent past history of modern coral reefs.  He has published over 120 scientific articles in leading international journals, including 10 papers in Science and Nature.  He is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher, and one of the top cited climate change scientists in the world. John currently holds an ARC Outstanding Researcher Award.

Joseph-PollockJoseph Pollock

Joe is a PhD candidate and Sir Keith Murdock Fellow at James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). He first joined the Centre as a Fulbright Scholar during a co-tutelle MSc, which was jointly awarded by the College of Charleston, JCU and AIMS in 2010. His current research employs microbiology, genetics, histopathology and ecology to characterize the natural and anthropogenic drivers of coral disease on Indo-Pacific reefs. In 2012, Joe founded Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science, which aims to strengthen connections between Indigenous high school students and their traditional Sea Country through engaging, field-based science programming.

Hugh_PossinghamProfessor Hugh Possingham

Hugh is a Laureate Fellow and the director of both the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the National Environmental Research Program hub for Environmental Decisions. Since the 1990s he has pioneered research into how decision science tools from mathematics and economics can bring rigour and efficiency to conservation decisions. In the past decade he has authored several national scientific consensus statements that have delivered major outcomes for marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Hugh has coauthored over 500 publications and been a primary supervisor for over 30 PhD students and 50 honours students. He likes birds.

Prof Bob PresseyProfessor Bob Pressey

Bob is a Program Leader in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. His research covers all aspects of conservation planning, including spatial data sets on biodiversity, geographic information systems, software development, and the socio-economic issues involved in implementing conservation action. During almost 20 years as a research scientist for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service he developed and applied leading-edge techniques in conservation planning, influenced policy and conservation practice, and began a long series of international collaborations. In 2002 he was awarded The Royal Botanic Gardens’ Eureka Prize for Biodiversity Research. In 2008 he was awarded the inaugural Australian Ecology Research Award from the Ecological Society of Australia. In 2010 he was elected as a Fellow to the Australian Academy of Science.

JB-RainaJean-Baptiste Raina

Jean-Baptiste grew up in the south of France and completed his PhD last year at James Cook University. His research at JCU focused on the role that a sulfur molecule, dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), plays in corals. DMSP is produced in large amounts by corals and is known to be an antioxidant, an important signal molecule, and major source of sulfur for bacteria. Marine bacteria are capable of degrading DMSP into a sulfurous gas called dimethylsulfide (DMS) which is involved in cloud formation and local-climate regulation. Jean-Baptiste is now a research associate at the University of Technology, Sydney.

jodie-1Dr Jodie Rummer

Jodie is a Super Science Fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. Her areas of expertise are ecological and evolutionary physiology, with an emphasis on contemporary issues, such as climate change, that threaten fish populations. She specifically investigates how fish perceive and mitigate stress by means of physiological and behavioural modifications, an important emerging area of study that is vital for effective management and conservation of marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Garry-RussProfessor Garry Russ

Garry is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and a Professor in Marine Biology at James Cook University. Garry studies the biology of reef fish of commercial and recreational fishing significance. A major area of his applied research involves population and community dynamics of reef fish of commercial significance. In the Coral Triangle region and Australia, he is undertaking long-term (25 year) studies of reef fish populations inside and outside marine reserves. Garry has published over 75 papers in international journals. In 1999, he received a prestigious Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation jointly with his long-time colleague Dr Angel Alcala.

Ruth-ThurstanDr Ruth Thurstan

Ruth completed her PhD in historical ecology at the University of York, UK, in 2011. Since then she has been a postdoctoral research fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, based at the University of Queensland. Her research focuses upon re-establishing historical reference conditions for Australia’s marine environments prior to the industrialisation of fishing. To do this she uses archival sources, fisheries data and fisher interviews to better understand the timing, rate and magnitude of changes that have occurred over the last 150 years.

Bette-WillisProfessor Bette Willis

Bette is a Program Leader in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and a Professor in the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at James Cook University. Her research addresses questions relating to the health of reef corals in an era of climate change and increasing anthropogenic impacts. Her current research strives to understand inter-kingdom symbiotic partnerships that underpin coral health, factors driving outbreaks of coral disease, and the potential for corals to acclimatise and adapt to a changing world. She is involved in several international working groups to further understanding of the ecology of infectious diseases and raise awareness of coral health issues throughout the Indo-Pacific.

UPDATE: Videos of the presentations are available!
You can watch all videos in the viewer on the top right corner of this page, or select individual videos from the Youtube playlist here.

5.30pm for 6.00pm, Thursday 3rd July, Shine Dome, Canberra

Ruben Meerman is known as the Surfing Scientist because he loves surfing and he’s a scientist. He’s a presenter on Catalyst, a regular guest on ABC3’s Studio 3 and was Play School’s first ever resident scientist. He is also a writer with a website packed with science education resources for teachers and kids and four books published by ABC Children’s Books.  Ruben delivers interactive presentations, using liquid nitrogen (totally safely) and live demonstrations to entertain and explain.  He is also a radiant MC for events as diverse as the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, corporate and community events.


mariana-fuentesDr Mariana Fuentes
Marine turtles in a changing world.

Marine turtles have been around for millions of years, during this time they have persisted through several large-scale climatic and sea level changes, demonstrating to have the biological capacity to cope with climate change. However, the pertinent contemporary question is how individual populations will cope with the current fast rate of climate change while being simultaneously impacted by an array of anthropogenic activities. This talk will reflect on how marine turtles may be impacted by climate change and on some of the current challenges that they experience in a changing world.

Mariana is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at James Cook University. Mariana’s research interests focus on conservation planning, natural resource management, and on climate change impacts on marine mega-fauna, especially marine turtles. Through her research, she aims to: (1) conduct innovative science that is applied to conservation and management issues, (2) build the knowledge and capacity of Indigenous communities to manage their own resources, (3) use research as tool for teaching and engaging students, and (4) bring awareness to issues related to marine mega-fauna conservation and highlight ways that the broad community can help.

Ove-Hoegh-GuldbergProfessor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
GBR judgement day: The great fork in the road

The Great Barrier Reef is still one of the most spectacular coral reefs on the planet yet its days are numbered if we don’t address climate change and local stresses such as water quality. This talk will take the latest IPCC assessment and build the simple case that we are currently sitting at a key decision point – choose the right track, and we have a GBR which will continue to be more or less spectacular. Choose the wrong track, however, and we will have a highly modified ecosystem with none of the beauty, and few of the ecosystems services, of our current GBR. As always, it’s up to us.

Ove is a Deputy Director in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, and an Australian Laureate Fellow  (2013-2018). His research interests span a broad range of topics including marine biology, evolution, physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology of plant-animal symbioses, co-evolution, coral bleaching and climate change. Ove was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2013 and has published over 200 papers, including 16 in Science and Nature. He is reviewing editor at Science Magazine.

janice-loughDr Janice Lough
Coral tales of droughts and flooding rains

Major Queensland flood events (e.g. 2010-2011) cause disruption not only on land but also on the Great Barrier Reef. Luminescent lines in massive coral skeletons provide a unique historical archive of past river flood events that significantly extends observational climate records. They allow us to ask how unusual recent floods have been and whether their frequency and magnitude are changing?

Janice is a Senior Principal Research Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science and a Partner Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Reef Studies. Trained as a climatologist at the Climate Research Unit (UK), her research interests focus on understanding the nature, causes and impacts of climate variability and climate change in tropical marine environments. She also specializes in obtaining historical perspectives on coral reefs and the significance of currently observed changes using the rich archive of proxy environmental information contained in long-lived massive coral skeletons.

malcolm-mcculloch2Professor Malcolm McCulloch
Turning up the heat in Western Australia

North-western Australia is not only Australia’s powerhouse for the production and export of LNG and iron-ore but also a region containing immense biodiversity and structurally unique coral reefs. At this forum I will not only describe the dilemma posed by this intimate mix of intensive multi-billion dollar resource developments with natural assets, but also how an unprecedented warming event decimated many of the coral reefs across pristine as well as developed areas. Evidence will be presented for the unprecedented nature of this La Nina driven warming event and possible reasons why fortunately the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park in the southernmost part appears to have escaped largely intact.

Malcolm is a Deputy Director of the ARC Centre and an Australian Laureate Fellow (2013-2018) at the University of Western Australia. Malcolm’s research interests focus on the modern part of the geologic record using isotopic and trace element geochemical methods to determine how climate and anthropogenic processes have influenced both past and present environments with particular emphasis on coral reefs. Malcolm has received a number of prestigious awards, most recently in 2010 he was elected as a Fellow to The Royal Society. In 2009 he was awarded the Jaeger Medal for his career achievement in the Earth Sciences and has Fellowships of the Australian Academy of Science (2004), the Geological Society of Australia (2007), the Geochemical Society (2008) and the American Geophysical Union (2002). Malcolm is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher and has published over 250 scientific papers in leading international journals including 23 in Science and Nature.

Morgan-PratchettProfessor Morgan Pratchett
Can the coral trout fishery withstand ongoing environmental changes?

Coral trout (mainly, Plectropomus leopardus) are the current mainstay of both commercial and recreational fisheries on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Recent research has however, revealed that coral trout are extremely sensitive to changes in both temperature and seawater chemistry, making them very susceptible to sustained and ongoing climate change. This talk will consider how coral trout are likely to respond to ongoing climate change and associated effects on the viability and sustainability of reef-based fisheries.

Morgan is a research fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and a Queensland Smart State Fellow (2013-2015). His research spans a broad range of topics from factors affecting early post-settlement survivorship of scleractinian corals to effects of climate change on fish and fisheries. Morgan has published close to 200 scientific papers, and his extensive body of research is consistently directed towards providing scientific data to underpin improved management and conservation of coral reefs in Australia and throughout the world.


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