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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Vivian Cumbo

Vivian Cumbo

PhD Graduate

James Cook University

Vivian grew up in Sydney, Australia and completed her BSc in Microbiology (Hons) and Marine Biology at the UNSW. Her honours thesis investigated the antimicrobial compounds in the scleractinian corals Montipora digitata and Montipora tortuosa. Vivian’s interests in corals and coral reef ecosystems saw her embarking on a PhD on corals and climate change in 2006 under the supervision of Dr Andrew Baird, Dr Madeleine van Oppen and Professor Terry Hughes.  Her PhD research utilized larvae of the genus Acropora to explore initial patterns of association between the host and Symbiodinium spp., and how environmental conditions affected the establishment and development of symbiosis. She tested how competition among Symbiodinium types affects these processes, and whether these competitive effects were mediated by environmental conditions. In addition to this, she investigated the poorly known symbiosis between coral and the recently described alga, Chromera velia. After completing her PhD, Vivian worked as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral researcher at California State University, Northridge.  Her research in Dr Peter Edmunds laboratory focused on the area of global climate change and its effects on the early life stages of coral; specifically the effects of rising temperature and ocean acidification on the physiology of larvae, newly settled recruits and juvenile corals. This postdoctoral position helped build her skill set, and extended her knowledge about the early life stages of coral and their response to climate change.


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Coral Reef Studies