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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Ashton Gainsford

Ashton Gainsford

PhD graduate

James Cook University

Molecular Ecology & Evolution Laboratory, School of Marine and Tropical Biology,
and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies,
James Cook University
Townsville, QLD 4811 Australia

phone: 61-07-4781 5001
email: ashton.gainsford@my.jcu.edu.au
profile: ashtongainsford.wordpress.com

Project Title:

A multi-disciplinary evaluation of the hybrid anemonefish Amphiprion leucokranos: behaviour shaping evolutionary outcomes of hybridization.

Project Description:

Hybridization is an important source of genetic variation within the marine environment. The highly diverse nature of coral reef assemblages offers many opportunities to broaden our understanding of ecological and evolutionary implications associated with current and historical gene exchange between naturally hybridizing species. The project aims to evaluate the ecological and evolutionary implications of reef fish hybridization with the application of genetic techniques to provide high resolution inference of genetic structure within and among taxa. The broad objective of the project is to evaluate localised differences between regions across the narrow hybrid zone between two anemonefish species, and a confirmed hybrid. This project will use ecological and morphological techniques, as well as phylogenetic and population genetic analyses, to address this question, as well as how populations outside the hybrid zone compare to those within, how species are changing through time and whether an advantage or disadvantage exists for hybrids within mixed species groups with strong social structuring behaviour.


Dr. Lynne van Herwerden and Prof. Geoffrey P. Jones

Publication List:

Gainsford, A., L. van Herwerden, and G. P. Jones. (In Review) Hierarchical behaviour, habitat use and species size differences shape evolutionary outcomes of hybridization in a coral reef fish. Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Conference Presentations:

Gainsford, A., L. van Herwerden, G. P. Jones. 2013 Behaviour shapes evolutionary outcomes of hybridization in a coral reef fish. Presented at the 9th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, Okinawa, Japan.

 Awards and Grants:

Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation Inc. Research Funding, 2014

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Travel Award, 2014

Australian Postgraduate Award, James Cook University, 2012 – 2015

First Class Honours Research Thesis (GPA 7), James Cook University, 2011

Australian National Network in Marine Science Coursework Scholarship, 2010


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

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Coral Reef Studies