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

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au

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Alana Grech

Alana Grech

Associate Professor; Assistant Director; Program 2 Leader

Senior Lecturer, Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia (2013 - 2016); Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia (2010 - 2013).

Bachelor of Environmental Science (1st Class Honours), University of Adelaide, Australia (2003); PhD, James Cook University, Australia (2010)

James Cook University

+61 (0)7 4781 4107

I am the Assistant Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Program Leader of the Centre’s Research Program 2: Ecosystem Dynamics: Past, Present and Future. Prior to my current position, I worked as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (JCU), Townsville. I am an Associate Editor of Diversity and Distributions and Associate Dean Research Education at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies’ JCU node.

My research uses conservation biogeography theory and spatial technologies, such as geographic information systems (GIS), geostatistics, network analysis, biophysical models and reserve design software, to inform the conservation of Australia’s coastal environment. Specifically, my research develops new methodologies for cumulative impact assessment (CIA), and explores the implications of CIA in environmental decision-making, policy and practice. Most of my research is conducted in remote coastal and marine areas of northern Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait, and Gulf of Carpentaria.

The transfer of research to management action and policy is my highest priority, and I actively generate partnerships to deliver my research outputs directly to government and non-government agencies and Indigenous communities. I communicate my knowledge via research papers, reports and presentations, workshops with stakeholders, and briefings to agencies, such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, NSW Parks and Wildlife Service, Queensland Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Fisheries, Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, and the Torres Strait Regional Authority.

My research has received funding from the Australian Research Council, Ian Potter Foundation, James Cook University, Macquarie University, NSW Adaptation Research Hub – Biodiversity Node, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, National Environmental Research Program Tropical Ecosystems Hub, Australian Marine Mammal Centre, Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility, and others.

PhD opportunities

Selected publications for the last five years * indicates Grech’s postgraduate students

*Pirotta, V., Reynolds, W., Ross, G., Jonsen, I., Grech, A., Slip, D. and Harcourt, R. 2020. A citizen science approach to long-term monitoring of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off Sydney, Australia. Marine Mammal Science. 36(2): 472-485.

Tulloch, V., Grech, A., Jonsen, I., Pirotta, V. and Harcourt, R. 2019. Cost-effective mitigation strategies to reduce bycatch threats to cetaceans identified using return-on-investment analysis. Conservation Biology. 34(1): 168-179.

*Critchell, K., Hamann, M., Wildermann, N. and Grech A. 2019. Predicting the exposure of coastal species to plastic pollution in a complex island archipelago. Environmental Pollution. 252: 982 – 991.

*Graham, V., Baumgartner, J.B., Beaumont, L.J., Esperón-Rodríguez, M. and Grech, A. 2019. Prioritising the protection of climate refugia: designing a climate-ready protected area network. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.

*Pirotta, V., Grech, A., Jonsen, I., Laurance, W. and Harcourt, R. 2019. Marine roads: consequences of global shipping traffic for marine megafauna. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Grech, A., Hanert, E., McKenzie, L., Rasheed, M., Thomas, C., Tol, S., Wang, M., Waycott, M., Wolter, J. and Coles, R. 2018. Cumulative effects of multiple disturbance events on seagrass connectivity. Global Change Biology. 24(7): 3093-3104.

Tol, S., Jarvis, J., York, P., Grech, A., Congdon. B.C. and Coles. R. 2017. Long distance biotic dispersal of tropical seagrass seeds by marine mega-herbivores. Scientific Reports. 7: 4458

*Graham, V., Laurance, S.G., Grech, A., and Venter, O. 2017. Spatially explicit estimates of forest carbon emissions, mitigation costs and REDD+ opportunities in Indonesia. Environmental Research Letters. 12: 044017

Grech, A., Wolter, J., Coles, R., McKenzie, L., Rasheed, M., Thomas, C., Waycott, M. and Hanert, E. 2016. Spatial patterns of seagrass dispersal and settlement. Diversity and Distributions. 22: 1150-1162.

Sheaves, M., Coles, R., Dales, P., Grech, A., Pressey, R. and Waltham, N. 2016. Enhancing the value and validity of EIA: Serious science to protection Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Conservation Letters. 9(5): 377-383.

Ainsworth, T., Heron, S., Ortiz, J., Mumby, P., Grech, A., Ogawa, D., Eakin, M. and Leggat, W. 2016. Climate change disables coral bleaching protection on the Great Barrier Reef. Science. 352(6283): 338 – 342.

Grech, A., Pressey, R. and Day, J. 2016. Coal, cumulative impacts and the Great Barrier Reef. Conservation Letters.9(3): 200 – 207.

Popular Articles

Grech, A. and Brodie, J. 2019. ‘This situation brings me to despair’: two reef scientists share their climate grief. The Conversation, September 19.

Grech, A., Tol, S. and Coles, R. 2018. Seagrasses in the Great Barrier Reef can bounce back with good stewardship of our coastal environments. Coral CoE Blog, June 7.

Tol, S., Grech, A., York, P., Coles, R. 2018. Dugong and sea turtle poo sheds new light on the Great Barrier Reef’s seagrass meadows. The Conversation, May 25.

Ens, E. and Grech, A. 2018. Indigenous ranger programs are working in Queensland – they should be expanded. The Conversation, January 15.

Brodie, J., Grech, A. and McCook, L. 2017. The new Great Barrier Reef pollution plan is better, but still not good enough. The Conversation, September 1.

Day, J., Grech, A. and Brodie, J. 2016. Great Barrier Reef needs far more help than Australia claims in its latest report to UNESCO. The Conversation, December 6. Republished in The Guardian, December 6.

Pressey, R., Grech, A. and Ward, T. 2016. The Coral Sea: an ocean jewel that needs more protection. The Conversation, October 6.

Pressey, R., Grech, A., Day, J. and Sheaves, M. 2015. Development and the Reef: the rules have been lax for too long. The Conversation, May 29.

Grech, A., McCook, L. and Smith, A. 2015. Shipping in the Great Barrier Reef: the miners’ highway. The Conversation, May 25.

Pressey, B., Brodie, J., Day, J. and Grech, A. 2015. Six things Queensland’s next government must do to save the Great Barrier Reef. The Conversation, January 19.

Grech, A., Pressey, B. and Coles, R. 2013. It all adds up: port developments on the Great Barrier Reef. The Conversation, November 1. Republished in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane Times, November 4.

Research profiles and metrics

James Cook University Research Portfolio  Google Scholar Scopus ORCID  The Conversation




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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au