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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Deborah Burn

Deborah Burn

PhD Candidate

Master of Philosophy - James Cook University, Australia (2019-2021)

James Cook University

Ext: 14829

Debs completed her BSc in Marine Biology at Newcastle University (UK) in 2013, where her dissertation project described the microbial communities associated with a coral disease in Venezuela. After graduating, Debs continued to work in tropical marine science in the Maldives, where she worked first as a Science Officer for a Marine Research Station and then as the Marine Biologist and Environmental Officer for a 5* Resort. Through these positions she engaged in several research activities, sparking a passion for understanding responses to coral reef disturbances at both the organism and ecosystem level. In 2018, she moved to Townsville to immerse herself in academia by working as a Research Assistant for Prof. Morgan Pratchett at JCU. She went on to complete her Master of Philosophy in 2021 under the supervision of Professors Morgan Pratchett and Andrew Hoey, assessing the differential susceptibility of corals to major and routine disturbances in Australia’s Coral Sea Marine Park. She has since continued her work in the Coral Sea Marine Park as a PhD Candidate, using six years of spatially expansive monitoring data to understand how vulnerable remote and isolated coral assemblages are to disturbances. Her PhD is supervised by Professor Morgan Pratchett, Professor Andrew Hoey and Dr. Chiara Pisapia.

Instagram: @debsburn.marine

ResearchGate : Deborah Burn


Burn D, Matthews S, Pisapia C, Hoey AS, Pratchett MS (2022) Changes in the incidence of coral injuries during mass-bleaching across Australia’s Coral Sea Marine Park. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 682: 97-109

Pratchett MS, Caballes CF, Cvitanovic C, Raymundo ML, Babcock RC, Bonin MC, Bozec Y-M, Burn D, Byrne M, Castro-Sanguino C, Chen CCM, Condie SA, Cowan Z-L, Deaker DJ, Desbiens A, Devantier LM, Doherty PJ, Doll PC, Doyle JR, Dworjanyn SA, Fabricius KE, Haywood MDE, Hock K, Hogget A, Hoj L, Keesing JK, Kenchington RA, Lang BJ, Ling SD, Matthews SA, McCallum HI, Mellin C, Mos B, Motti CA, Mumby PJ, Stump RJW, Uthike S, Vail L, Wolfe K, Wilson SK (2021) Knowledge gaps in the biology, ecology, and management of the Pacific Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star, Acanthaster cf. solaris, on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Biological Bulletin, 241(3): 330-346

Pratchett MS, Nadler LE, Burn D, Lang B, Messmer V, Caballes CF (2021) Reproductive investment and fecundity of Pacific Crown of Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) on the Great Barrier Reef, Marine Biology, 168: 87

Hoey AS, Harrison HB, McClure EC, Burn D, Barnett A, Cresswell B, Doll PC, Galbraith G, Pratchett MS (2021) Coral Sea Marine Park Coral Reef Health Survey 2021. Report prepared for Parks Australia.

Burn D, Matthews S, Caballes CF, Chandler JF, Pratchett MS. 2020. Biogeographical variation in diurnal behaviour of Acanthaster planci versus Acanthaster cf. solaris. PLoS One.15(2): e0228796

Pisapia C, Burn D, Pratchett MS. 2019. Changes in the population and community structure of corals during recent disturbances (February 2016-October 2017) on Maldivian coral reefs. Scientific Reports. 9: 8402

Burn D, Pratchett MS, Heron SF, Thompson CA, Pratchett D, Hoey AS. Limited Cross-Shelf Variation in the Growth of Three Branching Corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Diversity. 2018;10(4):122

Pisapia C, Burn D, Yoosuf R, Najeeb A, Anderson KD, Pratchett MS. Coral recovery in the central Maldives archipelago since the last major mass-bleaching, in 1998. Scientific Reports. 2016;6(1):34720

Chandler JF, Burn D, Berggren P, Sweet MJ. Influence of Resource Availability on the Foraging Strategies of the Triangle Butterflyfish Chaetodon Triangulum in the Maldives. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(3):e0151923

Sweet M, Burn D, Croquer A, Leary P. Characterisation of the bacterial and fungal communities associated with different lesion sizes of dark spot syndrome occurring in the coral Stephanocoenia intersepta. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(4):e62580.


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