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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Dorothea Bender-Champ

Dorothea Bender-Champ

Former Research Fellow

Postdoctoral research fellow at the Coral Reef Ecosystems Lab, The University of Queensland, and the ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies.

University of Queensland

+61 (0)7 3346 3063

Dorothea is originally from Germany, where she completed her MSc in Biology at the University of Bremen. Dorothea was a PhD student at the Coral Reef Ecosystems Lab at UQ and investigated the effects of elevated sea surface temperature and ocean acidification on coral reef algae (supervisors: Sophie Dove and Guillermo Diaz-Pulido). She included various growth forms and taxa in her experiments, looked at turf algal communities as well as macroalgal responses to the changed environmental conditions.

After working as a project manager on the development of a MOOC (massive open online course) at the Global Change Institute, she re-joined the Coral Reef Ecosystems Lab in 2014 as a postdoctoral research fellow. Dorothea’s current research focuses on coral reef metabolism, mainly in terms of productivity and calcification, and how it varies between distinct reef zones. She is also interested in how coral reef metabolism will be affected by future conditions.

Dorothea is interested in coral reef metabolism on a small and medium scale. In particular, she is studying the metabolism of coral reef communities on Heron Island reef and she will assess differences in response variables such as productivity and calcification between geomorphological zones. Her work will also focus on the effect of seasonal cycles on water parameters and thus on community metabolism.

Research Interests

My research is focused on the ecophysiology of coral reef primary producers as well as interactions between organisms, such as coral-algal competition. During my PhD candidature, I studied coral reef macroalgae and turf algae under future conditions (ocean acidification and warming) as well as eutrophication. As part of the team working on the ARC Laureate project, I am studying metabolic processes (i.e. productivity and calcification) of different coral reef communities along a transect from Heron Island lagoon to the reef slope. Along this transect, water velocity, depth, light, temperature and other physicochemical parameters are expected to change, affecting reef metabolic rates. Furthermore, our team will assess how these communities and their metabolism will be affected by future conditions.

Selected Publications

Bender, Dorothea, Champ, Connor Michael, Kline, David, Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo and Dove, Sophie (2015) Effects of “reduced” and “business-as-usual” CO2 emission scenarios on the algal territories of the damselfish Pomacentrus wardi (Pomacentridae). PLoS One, 10 6: 1-18. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131442

Bender, D., Diaz-Pulido, G. and Dove, S. (2014) Warming and acidification promote cyanobacterial dominance in turf algal assemblages. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 517 271-284. doi:10.3354/meps11037

Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo, Nash, Merinda C., Anthony, Kenneth R. N., Bender, Dorothea, Opdyke, Bradley N., Reyes-Nivia, Catalina and Troitzsch, Ulrike (2014) Greenhouse conditions induce mineralogical changes and dolomite accumulation in coralline algae on tropical reefs. Nature Communications, 5 3310.1-3310.9. doi:10.1038/ncomms4310

Bender, Dorothea, Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo and Dove, Sophie (2014) The impact of CO2 emission scenarios and nutrient enrichment on a common coral reef macroalga is modified by temporal effects. Journal of Phycology, 50 1: 203-215. doi:10.1111/jpy.12153

Bender, Dorothea, Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo and Dove, Sophie (2012) Effects of macroalgae on corals recovering from disturbance. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 429 15-19. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2012.06.014


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