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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Brigitte Sommer

Brigitte Sommer

PhD graduate

University of Queensland

Brigitte completed her PhD in Marine Ecology at The University of Queensland and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoE) in December 2015. Her PhD, supervised by John Pandolfi, Maria Beger, Peter Harrison and Russ Babcock, investigated the ecology of corals at their high-latitude range limits. She used a combination of field ecology, trait-based, phylogenetic community ecology and climate envelope modelling approaches to examine the processes that govern coral biodiversity patterns in the tropical-to-temperate transition zone south of the Great Barrier Reef. Her research shows that differential response to abiotic stress controls species distributions at biogeographic transition zones and that only coral species with certain traits are able to persist in these marginal environments. In 2013, she was awarded the CoE’s prestigious ‘Virginia Chadwick Award for outstanding publishing’ for her paper ‘trait-mediated environmental filtering drives community assembly at biogeographic transition zones’ published in Ecology.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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Coral Reef Studies