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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Emily Howells

Emily Howells

PhD Graduate

James Cook University

From the southeast of Australia, Emily completed her Bsc and PhD in Marine Biology at James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville. Her PhD, supervised by Bette Willis, Madeleine van Oppen and Line Bay, evaluated roles of algal endosymbionts in shaping the thermal tolerance of corals. Her findings demonstrate that symbiont populations are well adapted to their local thermal environments but show little potential to acclimatise to temperatures beyond their current thermal regimes. Emily has been involved in additional projects including population genotyping of corals and symbionts, coral husbandry and juvenile experiments, genetic selection of thermally tolerant algal strains, and monitoring coral disease and bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. From 2013, she will be based in the United Arab Emirates in a post-doctorate position at New York University Abu Dhabi. Her goal is to identify traits of Middle Eastern corals that enable them to withstand extremely hot temperatures and apply these findings to assess potential climate change responses of corals in other regions.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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Coral Reef Studies