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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Nick Graham

Nick Graham

Professor, Royal Society University Research Fellow

ARC DECRA Fellow (2013-2015)

Australian Postoctoral Fellow -APD (2010-2012)

QLD Smart Future Fellow (2009-2012)

BSc. Newcastle University, UK • Msc James Cook University, Australia • PhD Newcastle University, UK

Lancaster University

+44 (0)1524 595054

Research Interests

My research tackles large-scale ecological and social-ecological coral reef issues under the overarching themes of climate change, human use and resilience. I have worked extensively on the ecological ramifications of fishing and closed area management. I have assessed the long-term impacts of climate induced coral bleaching on coral reef fish assemblages, fisheries and ecosystem stability. I have studied the patterns and processes by which degraded coral reefs recover, and how this can be incorporated into, or influenced by, management action. Increasingly I work with social scientists and economists to assess methods of linking social-ecological systems for natural resource assessment and management.


Predicting climate-driven regime shifts versus rebound potential in coral reefs

Unfolding phase shifts and managing for change

Maintaining ecosystems and livelihoods in the face of climate change

Extinction vulnerability of coral reef fishes in response to climate change

Will coral bleaching lead to fisheries collapse?

Select Media and Commentary

Web: BBC News – warming set to ‘devastate’ coral

Print: CourierMail – number of fish for healthy reef identified by scientists

TV: WIN News – a key to protecting coral reefs

Audio: The Times of London, Eureka magazine audio – Chagos marine reserve

Blog: Huffington Post – Climate change will lead to the extinction of coral reef fish

Commentary: Nature – Older but less wise ; Nature – Identifying reef fish at risk ; Current Biology – Marine conservation_moving beyond Malthus ; Science – Bleach prospects for coral recovery ; Current Biology – … but climate change indicators grow apace

Current Research Staff

Current Research Students

Completed Research Students

  • Kirsty Nash, ‘Assessment of scale dependent function in reef fish, and its application to the evaluation of coral reef resilience’ PhD
  • Karen Chong-Seng, ‘Alternative states and the processes influencing differential recovery  of coral reef habitats in the Seychelles’ PhD
  • Judith Kok, ‘The influence of changing coral compositions on reef fish competition’ MAppSc
  • Stephen Ban: ‘Spatial responses of coral reef ecosystems to climate change and associated stressors’ PhD
  • Fraser Hartley, ‘Fear of fishers: anti-predator behaviour of coral reef fishes and its relevance to fisheries management and conservation’ PhD
  • Darren Coker, ‘The importance of live coral habitat for reef fishes and its role in key ecological processes’ PhD
  • Diego Schapira, ‘Associations between coral reef macro-habitat attributes and damselfish communities’ MSc
  • George Stoyle, ‘Patch size and its effect on the abundance, biomass and feeding intensity of dominant coral reef herbivores’ MSc
  • Mary Ledlie, ‘Feeding Habits of Herbivorous Fishes and their Potential Role in Reef Recovery on Cousin Island, Seychelles’ MSc
  • Ed Bulmer, ‘The effects of coral bleaching on reef fish assemblages: a meso-scale study of Seychellois marine reserves’ Honours

Publications Online

Google Scholar profile

Selected Publications


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

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Coral Reef Studies