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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Johanna Leonhardt

Johanna Leonhardt

PhD candidate

James Cook University

As a passionate conservationist and an ocean-lover, a career in marine biology was an easy choice! Attending a University on the surf coast of Victoria, Australia, I had the unique opportunity to study a B.Sc and gain a greater respect and love for the ocean through surfing and marine activities. However my marine conservation efforts didn’t start until I travelled up to Far North Queensland in 2010, where I decided to go back to uni to study a Masters in Conservation and Management at James Cook University. This gave me the opportunity to visit the beautiful Great Barrier Reef through diving and snorkelling on many sites along the coast (from Port Douglas to to Gladstone), both recreationally and for research.
My love of animals lead me to focus my research on marine turtle health for a few years, where I gained knowledge and inspiration from my fellow researchers and teachers – the up-close experiences I’ve had with these marine reptiles, including a research expedition to Raine Island, have been some of the best moments of my academic life.
Currently, I am focusing on coral health, including their resilience and ability to grow and reproduce after a major disturbance. I am also looking at the current interspecific relationship some species of coral have with algal-farming damselfish, and if this relationship will impact the future survival and persistence of the Great Barrier Reef. I have also been given the opportunity to work in the tourism industry on a weekly basis, travelling out on daily tours, educating people from all around the world about the ecological and physiological elements of a coral reef system, including the very apparent threats to the reef and current conservation efforts made by other researchers at JCU and other affiliates.
I have been given this unique opportunity to spread awareness and make people think about their future actions (however seemingly small) and how it may affect such a beautiful ecosystem whilst being involved in research and conservation on the GBR.
“Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration.”
~ Evan Esar


Australian Research Council Pandora

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Coral Reef Studies