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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Peter Cowman

Peter Cowman

Senior Research Fellow in Ecosystem Dynamics

James Cook University

+61 (0)7 4781 3194

Peter is originally from Ireland were he completed a BSc (Hon) degree in Marine Science at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). He completed his PhD at James Cook University in 2012 on the topic of the evolutionary origins and biogeography of coral reef fishes.

After his PhD he was a Postdoctoral fellow in the Macroevolution and Macroecology group at the Australian National University in Canberra, where he investigated the genetic links between molecular evolution, life history and diversification in plants and animals. In 2014, he was awarded the Donnelley Environmental Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (YIBS).

At Yale he worked on the phylogenetic reconstruction of the Fish Tree of Life and using it as a frame work to explore rate variation and biogeography across the largest vertebrate group.

He joined the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in 2016 where he continues to leverage phylogenetic data for fishes and corals to explore their evolutionary history under the Centre Program 2: Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future.

ResearchOnline @ JCU



Selected publications



Australian Research Council Pandora

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Coral Reef Studies