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 temperature-dependence of behaviour: Do Plectropomus leopardus have the capacity to cope with increasing temperature?


Tuesday 16th February 2016 – 12:00 to 13:00 hrs

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room 106, JCU, Townsville
Molly Scott
Molly Scott


Abstract: Global climate change poses a serious threat to tropical marine ecosystems impacting the viability and sustainability of fisheries. Increasing ocean  temperature is considered one of the most pervasive aspects of climate change particularly for ectotherms, such as fishes, whose body temperatures are dictated entirely by their environment. Concerning results have emerged from experimental studies illustrating the negative effects of temperature on overall fitness and performance of fishes however these studies have not taken into account the option of behavioural modification as a mechanism for mediating increasing temperatures. My PhD seeks to determine whether or not coral trout, Plectropomus leopardus, a primary fisheries species on the Great Barrier Reef, has the capacity to cope with increasing environmental temperatures through behavioural modification.

: Molly grew up by the beach in Sydney and has been fascinated with the ocean and the marine environment since she can remember. She combined her passion for environmental conservation and the ocean to do Bachelor of Environmental Science (Hons) majoring in marine biology at University of New South Wales, Sydney. Her honours project looked at the influence of an artificial reef on fish assemblages in the surrounding pelagic environment using underwater video. After a lifetime of temperate marine systems, she decided to pursue her dream of studying coral reef ecosystems and embark on a PhD with Prof. Morgan Pratchett at ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Molly’s PhD focuses on the influence of increasing ocean temperature on the behaviour and movement patterns of coral trout, Plectropomus leopardus; the tastiest and one of the most commercially important fisheries species on the Great Barrier Reef. She hopes that her research will be used for the sustainable management of coral trout fisheries on the Great Barrier Reef in the face of rapid environmental change.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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