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Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


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Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


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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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Unveiling a coral species abundance distribution


Monday 28 July, 12:00 pm

ARC Centre of Excellence Conference Room, JCU. Video-linked to Centre for Marine Studies, UQ.
Dr Maria Dornelas, James Cook University

Maria completed her Ph.D. in 2006 on neutral theory and biodiversity patterns of reef corals, under the supervision of Sean Connolly and Terry Hughes. She moved to Scotland to take up her first postdoctoral fellowship in Anne Magurran’s lab at the University of St Andrews. Maria came back to Australia to join the ARC CoE of Coral Reef Studies last February.


Species abundance distributions summarize the patterns of species rarity and commonness in ecological communities, and are the biodiversity pattern most often used to test biodiversity models. However, the abundances of rare species require large samples to be confidently estimated. In this seminar I will present the species abundance distribution for a sample of >40,000 coral colonies from a single bay in Lizard Island. This exceeds existing samples of coral assemblages by over an order of magnitude. Although species abundance distributions are widely accepted to follow a lognormal distribution, these data have a multimodal distribution, and are best fitted by a mixture of three lognormal distributions. Several types of heterogeneities within the community are explored, but only differences among species spatial distributions are linked to multimodality.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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