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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Morgan Pratchett

Morgan Pratchett

Professorial Research Fellow and Chief Investigator

Queensland Smart Futures Fellowship (2012-2014)
ACU Titular Fellowship, University of Oxford (2011-2012)
ARC Australian Research Fellow (2007-2011)
Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship, American Australian Association (2008-2009),
Sir John and Laurine Proud Research Fellowship, Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation (2008)
Churchill Fellowship (2008), University of Newcastle, UK

James Cook University

+61 (0)7 4781 5747

Research Interests

Morgan Pratchett is a Professorial Research Fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, based at James Cook University, Townsville. He has broad interests in population and community ecology of coral reef organisms, especially corals and fishes. His current research focuses on major disturbances that impact coral reef ecosystems, with a view to understanding differential responses and vulnerabilities among coral reef organisms. Morgan has written many papers describing direct and indirect effects of coral bleaching and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, considering impacts on both coral assemblages and associated assemblages of coral reef fishes. He has also conducted extensive research on the biology and ecology of coral reef butterflyfishes.

Member of: Australian Coral Reef Society, International Coral Reef Society.

Publications online

Selected Publications

Pratchett, Morgan S., Baird, Andrew H., Bauman, Andrew G., and Burt, John A. (2017) Abundance and composition of juvenile corals reveals divergent trajectories for coral assemblages across the United Arab Emirates. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 114 (2). pp. 1031-1035.

Caballes, Ciemon Frank, Pratchett, Morgan S., Raymundo, Maia L., and Rivera-Posada, Jairo A. (2017) Environmental tipping points for sperm motility, fertilization, and embryonic development in the crown-of-thorns starfish. Diversity, 9 (1). pp. 1-18.

Hughes, Terry P., Kerry, James T., Álvarez-Noriega, Mariana, Alvarez-Romero, Jorge G., Anderson, Kristen D., Baird, Andrew, Babcock, Russell C., Beger, Maria, Bellwood, David, Berkelmans, Ray, Bridge, Tom C., Butler, Ian R., Byrne, Maria, Cantin, Neal E., Comeau, Steeve, Connolly, Sean, Cumming, Graeme S., Dalton, Steven J., Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo, Eakin, C. Mark, Figueira, Will F., Gilmour, James P., Harrison, Hugo B., Heron, Scott F., Hoey, Andrew S., Hobbs, Jean-Paul A., Hoogenboom, Mia O., Kennedy, Emma V., Kuo, Chao-Yang, Lough, Janice M., Lowe, Ryan J., Liu, Gang, McCulloch, Malcolm T., Malcolm, Hamish A., McWilliam, Michael J., Pandolfi, John M., Pears, Rachel J., Pratchett, Morgan S., Schoepf, Verena, Simpson, Tristan, Skirving, William J., Sommer, Brigitte, Torda, Gergely, Wachenfeld, David R., Willis, Bette L., and Wilson, Shaun (2017) Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature, 543 (7645). pp. 373-377.

Cowan, Zara-Louise, Pratchett, Morgan, Messmer, Vanessa, and Ling, Scott (2017) Known predators of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.) and their role in mitigating, if not preventing, population outbreaks. Diversity, 9 (1). pp. 1-19.

Pratchett, Morgan S., Dworjanyn, Symon, Mos, Benjamin, Caballes, Ciemon F., Thompson, Cassandra A., and Blowes, Shane (2017) Larval survivorship and settlement of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) at varying algal cell densities. Diversity, 9 (1). pp. 1-11.

Wilmes, Jennifer, Matthews, Samuel, Schultz, Daniel, Messmer, Vanessa, Hoey, Andrew, and Pratchett, Morgan (2017) Modelling growth of juvenile crown-of-thorns starfish on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Diversity, 9 (1). pp. 1-11.

Blowes, Shane A., Pratchett, Morgan S., and Connolly, Sean R. (2017) No change in subordinate butterflyfish diets following removal of behaviourally dominant species.Coral Reefs, 36. pp. 213-222.

Cowan, Zara-Louise, Dworjanyn, Symon A., Caballes, Ciemon, and Pratchett, Morgan (2016) Predation on crown-of-thorns starfish larvae by damselfishes. Coral Reefs, 35 (4). pp. 1253-1262.

Pisapia, C., Anderson, K.D., and Pratchett, M.S. (2016) Temporal consistency in background mortality of four dominant coral taxa along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.Coral Reefs, 35 (3). pp. 839-849.

Cinner, Joshua Eli, Pratchett, Morgan Stuart, Graham, Nicholas Anthony James Graham, Messmer, Vanessa, Fuentes, Mariana Menezes Prata Bezerra, Ainsworth, Tracy, Ban, Natalie, Bay, Line Kolind, Blythe, Jessica, Dissard, Delphine, Dunn, Simon, Evans, Louisa, Fabinyi, Michael, Fidelman, Pedro, Figueiredo, Joana, Frisch, Ashley, Fulton, Christopher John, Hicks, Christina Chemtai, Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi, Mallela, Jenny, Moya, Aurelie, Penin, Lucie, Rummer, Jodie Lynn, Walker, Stefan, and Williamson, David Hall (2016) A framework for understanding climate change impacts on coral reef social–ecological systems. Regional Environmental Change, 16 (4). pp. 1133-1146.

Shuail, Dawood, Wiedenmann, Jörg, D’Angelo, Cecilia, Baird, Andrew H., Pratchett, Morgan S., Riegl, Bernhard, Burt, John A., Petrov, Peter, and Amos, Carl (2016) Local bleaching thresholds established by remote sensing techniques vary among reefs with deviating bleaching patterns during the 2012 event in the Arabian/Persian Gulf.Marine Pollution Bulletin, 105 (2). pp. 654-659.

Hoey, Andrew S., Feary, David A., Burt, John A., Vaughan, Grace, Pratchett, Morgan S., and Berumen, Michael L. (2016) Regional variation in the structure and function of parrotfishes on Arabian reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 105 (2). pp. 524-531.

Babcock, Russell C., Dambacher, Jeffrey M., Morello, Elisabetta B., Plaganyi, Eva E., Hayes, Keith R., Sweatman, Hugh P.A., and Pratchett, Morgan S. (2016) Assessing different causes of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and appropriate responses for management on the Great Barrier Reef. PLoS ONE, 11 (12). pp. 1-20.

Cowan, Zara-Louise, Dworjanyn, Symon A., Caballes, Ciemon F., and Pratchett, Morgan (2016) Benthic predators influence microhabitat preferences and settlement success of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris). Diversity, 8 (4). pp. 1-11.

Pisapia, Chiara, Burn, Deborah, Yoosuf, R., Najeeb, A., Anderson, Kristen, and Pratchett, Morgan (2016) Coral recovery in the central Maldives archipelago since the last major mass-bleaching, in 1998. Scientific Reports, 6. pp. 1-10.

MacNeil, M. Aaron, Mellin, Camille, Pratchett, Morgan S., Hoey, Jessica, Anthony, Kenneth R.N., Cheal, Alistair J., Miller, Ian, Sweatman, Hugh, Cowan, Zara L., Taylor, Sascha, Moon, Steven, and Fonnesbeck, Chris J. (2016) Joint estimation of crown of thorns (Acanthaster planci) densities on the Great Barrier Reef. PeerJ, 4. pp. 1-17.

Frisch, Ashley J., Cameron, Darren S., Pratchett, Morgan S., Williamson, David H., Williams, Ashley J., Reynolds, Adam D., Hoey, Andrew S., Rizzari, Justin R., Evans, Louisa, Kerrigan, Brigid, Muldoon, Geoffrey, Welch, David, and Hobbs, Jean-Paul A. (2016) Key aspects of the biology, fisheries and management of Coral grouper.Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 26 (3). pp. 303-325.

Hoey, Andrew S., Howells, Emily, Johansen, Jacob L., Hobbs, Jean-Paul A., Messmer, Vanessa, Bradbury, Dominique M., Wilson, Shaun K., and Pratchett, Morgan S.(2016) Recent advances in understanding the effects of climate change on coral reefs. Diversity, 8 (2). pp. 1-22.

Babcock, Russell C., Milton, David A., and Pratchett, Morgan S. (2016) Relationships between size and reproductive output in the crown‑of‑thorns starfish. Marine Biology, 163. pp. 1-7.

Samiei, Jahangir Vajed, Saleh, Abolfazl, Shirvani, Arash, Fumani, Neda Sheijooni, Hastroudi, Mehri, and Pratchett, Morgan Stuart (2016) Variation in calcification rate of Acropora downingi relative to seasonal changes in environmental conditions in the northeastern Persian Gulf. Coral Reefs, 35 (4). pp. 1371-1382.

Montanari, Stefano R., Hobbs, Jean-Paul A., Pratchett, Morgan S., and Van Herwerden, Lynne (2016) The importance of ecological and behavioural data in studies of hybridisation among marine fishes. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 26 (2). pp. 181-198.


PhD Graduates

Dr Shane Blowes (2015) The dietary niche in behavioural and community ecology, James Cook University

Dr Chiara Pisapia (2015) Spatial, temporal and taxonomic variation in the incidence of partial mortality among reef-building corals, James Cook University

Dr James Tan (2015) Spatial and temporal variation in demographic traits in the reef coral, Acropora millepora, on the Great Barrier Reef, James Cook University

Dr Karen Chong-Seng (2014) Ecological structure and processes on disturbed coral reefs, James Cook University

Dr Andrew Bauman (2013) The ecology and dynamics of coral reef communities in an extreme reef environment: The southern Persian Gulf, James Cook University

Dr Dominique McCowan (2013) Inter- and intra-specific variation in bleaching susceptibility among scleractinian corals, James Cook University

Dr Melanie Trapon (2013) Variation in early post-settlement growth and mortality of scleractinian corals, James Cook University

Dr Martin van der Meer (2013) Coming, going or gone? Population connectivity in restricted range coral reef fishes on isolated islands, James Cook University

Dr Colin Wen (2012) Recruitment hotspots in the ecology and management of large predatory fishes on coral reefs. James Cook University

Dr Darren Coker (2012) Importance of live corals in settlement, competition and predation among coral reef fishes, James Cook University

Dr Rebecca Lawton (2012) Ecological specialization versus susceptibility to disturbance among coral-feeding butterflyfishes. James Cook University

Dr Jairo Rivera Posada (2012) Pathogenesis in crown-of-thorns starfishes, James Cook University

Dr Andrew Cole (2011) Impacts of chronic fish predation on reef-building corals James Cook University

Dr Danielle Dixson (2011) The role of olfactory cues in settlement site selection by larval anemonefishes, James Cook University

Dr Michael Berumen (2006) Influence of resource availability on life-history traits in coral-feeding butterflyfishes, James Cook University

Current Graduate Students

Kristen Anderson (PhD) Coral growth, James Cook University

Ciemon Caballes (PhD) Reproduction and larval ecology of crown-of-thorns starfish, James Cook University

Tory Chase (PhD) Effects of coral-dwelling damselfish on host corals (Principal supervisor: Dr Mia Hoogenboom)

Zara-Louise Cowan (PhD) Predation on crown-of-thorns starfish, James Cook University

Mike Emslie (PhD) Habitat association of coral reef fishes, James Cook University

Alexia Graba-Landry (PhD) Effects of climate change on coral-macroalgal interactions, James Cook University (Principal supervisor: Dr Andrew Hoey)

Chao-Yang Kuo (PhD) Functional analysis of coral assemblages, James Cook University (Principal supervisor: Professor Andrew Baird)

Johanna Leonhardt (PhD) Interactions between algal-farming damselfishes and host corals, James Cook University

Zoe Loffler (PhD) Macroalgal dynamics (Principal supervisor: Dr Andrew Hoey)

Sam Matthews (PhD) Modelling initiation and spread of outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, James Cook University

Stefano Montanari (PhD) Hybridisation in coral reef butterflyfishes, James Cook University (Principal supervisor: Dr Lynne van HerWerden)

Jessica Nowicki (PhD) Pair bonding in butterflyfishes, James Cook University

Laura Richardson (PhD) Ecosystem consequences of community shifts in coral habitats, James Cook University (Principal supervisor: Professor Nick Graham)

Molly Scott (PhD) Behavioural adaptations in coral trout, James Cook University




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