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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Understanding human impacts on coral reefs across multiple scales to guide conservation and management


Thursday 24th SEPTEMBER 9:00 to 10:00 hrs (AEST)

https://jcu.zoom.us/j/98566793717 Password: 783597
Mary Donovan
Mary Donovan

Abstract: There is often a mismatch between the scales at which ecosystems are threatened by human impacts and those at which management and policy are implemented. Better understanding the scales over which human impacts interact with ecological complexity is needed to develop more effective and strategic management of social-ecological systems. My research addresses this fundamental challenge by integrating data from multiple sources, such as remotely sensed and in situ data, and developing statistical models that consider variation across and within scales. In particular, I study how climate driven marine heatwaves, which are causing increasingly severe and widespread coral mortality, interact with local impacts, such as pollution and fishing. I will discuss how local and global human impacts have influenced patterns of coral bleaching and coral cover from studies globally, regionally, and at local scales. I will also address how interacting drivers that occur at multiple scales can be considered in local management decisions by identifying the bounds within which local management can be successful.

Biography: Dr. Mary Donovan is an incoming Assistant Professor at the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science and the School for Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University. Prior to joining ASU, she was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California Santa Barbara, and the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, and completed her PhD at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. Mary is a quantitative spatial ecologist focused on applied questions that inform conservation and management of coupled human-natural systems. She studies coral reef status and trends by applying quantitative spatial science alongside practitioners and stakeholders who are implementing management and policy. Her research includes studies on complex ecological dynamics, local and global impacts on reefs, marine spatial planning, invasive species, fisheries, and ecological resilience.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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Coral Reef Studies