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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Ronal Lal

Ronal Lal

PhD Candidate

James Cook University

Ronal is born and bred in the beautiful Fiji Islands. He has been actively involved in marine research and teaching at the University of the South Pacific which is located on the main island of Fiji. It was here that he completed his master’s degree and then spent around three years in multiple teaching and research roles working with postgraduate research students. In these roles he particularly enjoyed the logistical and technical aspects of oceanographic monitoring equipment deployment. After relocating to Sydney in 2019, Ronal joined Macquarie University as a research assistant investigating biodiversity on cobblestone, natural beaches and seawalls around Lake Macquarie. Here, he conducted research at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) looking at microbial RNA and DNA. Further to this, he worked as a research assistant at the University of New South Wales investigating the effects of the 2019 Sydney Bushfires which involved extensive laboratory work.

Ever since the completion of his master’s degree Ronal has sought to seek conclusive answers to the resilience and stress response of corals in sub-optimal conditions. It is here at James Cook University that he has found his niche investigating the impact of water quality on the physiological performance of the coral Acropora millepora through strong genomic evaluation, under the supervision of Prof. David Miller, Assoc Prof. Mia Hoogenboom, and Dr. Ira Cooke. Ronal strives to make a formidable contribution to knowledge in this area in order to facilitate coral reef restoration and rehabilitation efforts.


Lal R, Kininmonth S, N’Yeurt ADR, Riley RH, Rico C. The effects of a stressed inshore urban reef on coral recruitment in Suva Harbour, Fiji. Ecol Evol. 2018; 00:1–15. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4641

McAndrews, R.S., Eich, A., Ford, A.K., Bejarano S., Lal R.R., Ferse S., Coral Reefs. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-019-01780-1

Mangubhai, S., Sykes, H., Lovell, E., Brodie, G., Jupiter, S., Morris, C., Lee, S., Loganimoce, E.M., Rashni, B., Lal, R. and Nand, Y., 2019. Fiji: Coastal and Marine Ecosystems. In World Seas: an Environmental Evaluation (pp. 765-792). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100853-9.00044-0


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Coral Reef Studies