James Cook University
Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.
Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution
Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.
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)
Rachel’s interest in the marine realm began in her youth, privately breeding rare fishes and working in the ornamental aquarium industry. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Marine Science at Macquarie University, whilst working as an environmental educator in Sydney, Australia. Rachel undertook a Master of Science in evolutionary biology at the University of Basel in Switzerland, where she studied the adaptive radiation of cichlid fishes in the African Great Lakes. After her research at Lake Tanganyika, she worked in South Africa as a scuba diver and then for an international NGO as a marine ecologist. Rachel came to James Cook University to embark on a PhD at the Centre of Excellence, studying the ability of reef fishes to adjust via phenotypic plasticity to ocean warming within and across generations.
Phenotypic plasticity to ocean warming in coral reef fish:
the importance of sex and exposure timing within and between generations
Prof. Philip Munday and Dr. Jennifer Donnelson
Spinks, R.K., Bonzi, L.C., Ravasi, T., Munday, P.L. & Donelson, J.M. (2021). Sex- and time-specific parental effects of warming on reproduction and offspring quality in a coral reef fish.,
Spinks, R.K., Munday, P.L. & Donelson, J.M. (2019). Developmental effects of heatwave conditions on the early life stages of a coral reef fish.
Spinks, R.K., Muschick, M., Salzburger, W. & Gante, H.F. (2017). Singing above the chorus: cooperative Princess cichlid fish (Neolamprologus pulcher) has high pitch. Hydrobiologia, 791, 115–125. DOI:10.1007/s10750-016-2921-5
New DNA techniques are being used to understand how coral reacted to the end of the last ice age in order to better predict how they will cope with current changes to the climate. James Cook Univer
A new study on the effects of climate change in five tropical countries has found fisheries are in more trouble than agriculture, and poor people are in the most danger. Distinguished Profess
James Cook University researchers have found brightly coloured fish are becoming increasingly rare as coral declines, with the phenomenon likely to get worse in the future. Christopher Hemingson, a
Researchers working with stakeholders in the Great Barrier Reef region have come up with ideas on how groups responsible for looking after the reef can operate more effectively when the next bleaching
Abstract: As marine species adapt to climate change, their heat tolerance will likely be under strong selection. Individual variation in heat tolerance and its heritability underpin the potential fo
Abstract: The Reef Ecology Lab in KAUST’s Red Sea Research Center explores many aspects of movement ecology of marine organisms, ranging from adult migrations to intergenerational larval dispersal
Abstract: Macroalgal meadows are a prominent, yet often maligned component of the tropical seascape. Our work at Ningaloo reef in WA demonstrate that canopy forming macroalgae provide habitat for ad
Abstract: Sharks are generally perceived as strong and fearsome animals. With fossils dating back at least 420 million years, sharks are not only majestic top predators but they also outlived dinosa
Abstract: Connectivity plays a vital role in many ecosystems through its effects on fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes. Its consequences for populations and metapopulations have been
Abstract: Evolution of many eukaryotic organisms is affected by interactions with microbes. Microbial symbioses can ultimately reflect host’s diet, habitat range, and even body shape. However, how
Abstract: The past few years have seen unprecedented coral bleaching and mortality on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) but the consequences of this on biodiversity are not yet known. This talk will expl