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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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor

PhD candidate

James Cook University

PhD Candidate

Building 67, Room 16A
James Cook University

Phone: +61 7 4781 5578
Email: brett.taylor1@my.jcu.edu.au

Originally from the United States, Brett came to Australia from Micronesia where he spent seven years at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory working mostly in the Mariana and Caroline islands. His research interests are primarily age-based demography, community ecology and movement patterns of coral reef fishes and how these relate to fisheries management. He is currently a PhD candidate investigating life histories and patterns of community structure of exploited Indo-Pacific parrotfishes at multiple spatial scales under the supervision of Professors Howard Choat and Garry Russ.

Curriculum vitae

Project Title:

Environmental and fishery-induced effects on life histories and community structure of parrotfishes

Project Description:

Patterns of demography and community structure in marine fishes vary across spatial scales and the drivers of this variability are diverse. My PhD research investigates relationships between environmental variables, anthropogenic pressure and the demography of parrotfishes in Micronesia. Parrotfish (family Labridae; tribe Scarinae) are an ideal group for demographic assessment for many reasons and are recognised as critical components of coral reef ecosystems because of their ability to modify benthic biota through processes of grazing and bioerosion. Additionally, they are increasingly subject to intense fishing pressure in many areas of the Indo-Pacific. My project combines high-resolution visual survey data using stereo-video technology with age-based life history analysis to study the diversity of parrotfish demographics, focusing on life-history diversity across species, vulnerability to overexploitation and the influence of life-history traits, drivers of demographic variability across space, and community structure at multiple spatial scales. Results will have significance to both life-history theory in marine fishes as well as to regional fishery managers.


Principal supervisor: Prof. Howard Choat

Supervisory committee: Prof. Garry Russ

Publications List:

Taylor, B.M., Lindfield, S.J., Choat, J.H. in press. Hierarchical and scale-dependent effects of fishing pressure and environment on the structure and size distribution of parrotfish communities. Ecography (doi:10.1111/ecog.01093).

Taylor, B.M., Rhodes, K.L., Marshell, A., McIlwain, J.L. in press. Age-based demographic and reproductive assessment of orangespine, Naso lituratus, and bluespine, Naso unicornis, unicornfishes. Journal of Fish Biology(doi:10.1111/jfb.12479).

Taylor, B.M., Houk, P., Russ, G.R., Choat, J.H. in press. Life histories predict vulnerability to overexploitation in parrotfishes. Coral Reefs (doi:10.1007/s00338-014-1187-5).

Taylor, B.M. 2014. Drivers of protogynous sex change differ across spatial scales. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281: 20132423.

Taylor, B.M., Choat, J.H. 2014. Comparative demography of commercially important parrotfish species from Micronesia. Journal of Fish Biology 84: 383-402.

Taylor, B.M., Mills, J.S. 2013. Movement and spawning migration patterns suggest small marine reserves can offer adequate protection for exploited emperorfishes. Coral Reefs 32: 1077-1087.

Rhodes, K.L., Taylor, B.M. Wilchelmel, C.M., Joseph, E., Hamilton, R.H., Almany, G. 2013. Reproductive biology of Squaretail coralgrouper Plectropomus areolatus using age-based techniques. Journal of Fish Biology. 82:1333-1350.

Taylor, B.M., McIlwain, J.L., Kerr, A.M. 2012. Marine reserves and reproductive biomass: a case study of a heavily targeted reef fish. PLoS one.7(6):e39599.

Rhodes, K.L., Taylor, B.M., McIlwain J.L. 2011. Detailed demographic analysis of an Epinephelus polyphekadionspawning aggregation and fishery. Marine Ecology Progress Series 421: 183-198.

Taylor, B.M., McIlwain, J.L. 2010. Beyond abundance and biomass: effects of marine protected areas on the demography of a highly exploited reef fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 411: 243-258.

Conference Presentations:

Taylor, B.M. 2013. Effects of fishing and environment on protogynous sex change dynamics at multiple scales. Australian Coral Reef Society Annual Conference, Sydney, Australia.

Taylor, B.M., Choat, J.H., Houk, P. 2013. How well do life-history traits predict species’ vulnerability to overexploitation in parrotfishes? Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, Okinawa, Japan.

Taylor, B.M., Mills, J.S. 2013. Movement and spawning dynamics of emperorfishes in a marine reserve, based on acoustic telemetry. Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, Okinawa, Japan.

Taylor, B.M., McIlwain, J.L. 2009. Reef fish demographics reveal MPAs buffer against overfishing. Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, Fremantle, Australia.

Taylor, B.M., Rhodes, K.L., McIlwain, J.L. 2009. Is bigger really better? A detailed demographic analysis of a grouper spawning aggregation in Micronesia. Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, Fremantle, Australia.

Taylor, B.M. 2008. Effects of MPA status on the population structure and age-based demography of a heavily exploited reef fish, Lethrinus harak. International Coral Reef Symposium, Fort Lauderdale, USA.


Awards and Grants:

Highly commended student presentation award – Australian Coral Reef Society Conference (2013)

Travel award – Australian Coral Reef Society Conference (2013) $380 (AUD)

JCU SMTB Graduate Research Scheme award (2013) $2000 (AUD)

International Postgraduate Research Scholoarship (2011-2014) $160080 (AUD)

Research grant for population biology of parrotfishes – NOAA Coral Reef Initiative (2011-2012) $44046 (USD)

Research grant for movement/spawning of lethrinids – Sport Fish Restoration Program (2009-2010) $206850 (USD)

Travel award – International Coral Reef Symposium (2008) $2295 (USD)

Research grant for population biology of lethrinids – Sport Fish Restoration Program (2008) $37166 (USD)


Australian Research Council Pandora

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