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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Chico Birrell

Chico Birrell

PhD graduate

University of Queensland

Chico first experienced coral reefs as a “beche de mer” collector from Cairns in 1993. As an Ecological Science undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh he became involved in initiatives for conservation of coral reefs in Central America. Following work in the tourism and dive industry in Spain, Portugal and Morocco he moved to Townsville and undertook an MSc to investigate the impacts of macroalgae on coral reproduction at James Cook University. Since 2003 Chico has worked as an independent marine consultant, a dive instructor and biologist on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Coral Sea for Undersea Explorer, as a research assistant at James Cook University, as a benthic ecologist for the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Western Australia (Scott Reef, Ningaloo Reef and Kimberley Region), as a translator and interpreter (Portuguese, Spanish), as a scientific commercial diver and for coral health and fecundity monitoring projects as a consultant in Western Australia.. In 2011 Chico joined ARC Laureate Prof. Peter Mumby at the University of Queensland, for a PhD to explore the ecology and dynamics of macroalgae and provide insights for conservation measures to boost coral reef resilience. He also dedicates spare time to the Australian Coral Reef Society (www.australiancoralreefsociety.org)

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Coral Reef Studies