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

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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

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Alana Grech

Alana Grech

Assistant Director

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 joined the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies as Assistant Director in November 2016. 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, Townsville.

My research interests are interdisciplinary and broadly focus on informing the management of Australia’s natural and cultural environment through spatial information science and conservation planning. 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. My research covers three themes: (1) Spatial predictions of coastal and marine features; (2) Cumulative impact and risk assessments in geographic information systems (GIS); and (3) Conservation planning and Indigenous Australia.

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 Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Australian Department of 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.

Publications in peer-reviewed journals, * indicates Grech’s postgraduate students

Grech, A., Hanert, E., McKenzie, L., Rasheed, M., Thomas, C., Tol, S., Wang, M., Waycott, M., Wolter, J. and Coles, R. in press. Cumulative effects of multiple disturbance events on seagrass connectivity. Global Change Biology.

*Pirotta, V., Smith, A., Ostrowski, M., Russell, D., Jonsen, I.D., Grech, A., Harcourt, R. 2017. An economical custom-built drone for assessing whale health. Frontiers in Marine Science. 4: 425.

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

Hawkins, E., Harcourt, R., Bejder, L., Brooks, L. Grech, A., Christiansen, F., Marsh, H. and Harrison, P. 2017. Best practice framework and principles for monitoring the effect of coastal development on marine mammals. Frontiers in Marine Science. 4: 59.

Heatwole, H., Grech, A. and Marsh, H. 2017. Paleoclimatology, paleogeography and the evolution and distribution of sea kraits (Serpentes; Elapidae; Laticauda). Herpetological Monographs. 31(1): 1 – 17.

*Graham, V., Laurance, S.G., Grech, A., McGregor, A. and Venter, O. 2016. A comparative assessment of the financial costs and carbon benefits of REDD+ strategies in Southeast Asia. Environmental Research Letters. 1(11): 114022

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.

Heatwole, H., Lillywhite, H. and Grech, A. 2016. Physiological, ecological, and behavioral correlates of the geographic distributions of sea kraits (Laticauda; Elapidae, Serpentes): a critique. Journal of Sea Research. 115: 18-25.

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.

McLean, J., Maalsen, S. and Grech, A. 2016. Learning about feminism in digital and paradoxical spaces: Online methodologies and participatory mapping. Australian Geographer. 47(2): 157 – 177.

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

Bridge, T., Grech, A., Pressey, R. 2016. Planning with uncertainty: Factors influencing incidental representation in the design of Marine Protected Areas. Conservation Biology. 30: 154 – 165.

*Critchell, K., Grech, A., Andutta, F., Lambrechts, J., Wolanski, E., Hamann, H. 2015. Modelling the fate of marine debris along a complex shoreline: lessons from the Great Barrier Reef. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 167(B): 414 – 426.

Marsh, H., Grayson, J., Grech, A., Hagihara, R. and Sobtzick, S. 2015. Re-evaluation of the sustainability of an indigenous marine mammal harvest using several lines of evidence. Biological Conservation. 192: 324-330.

*Cleguer, C., Grech, A., Garrigue, C., Marsh, H. 2015. Spatial mismatch between marine protected areas and dugong in New Caledonia. Biological Conservation. 184: 154 – 162.

Coles, R., Rasheed, M., McKenzie, L., Grech, A., York, P., Sheaves, M., McKenna, S., Bryant, C. 2015. The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area seagrasses: Managing this iconic Australian ecosystem resources for the future. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 153: A1 – A12.

Devillers, R., Pressey, R., Grech, A., Kittinger, J., Edgar, G., Ward, T. and Watson, R. 2015. Reinventing residual reserves in the sea: are we favouring ease of establishment over need for protection? Aquatic Conservation. 25(4): 480 – 504.

Grech, A., Parra, G.J., Beasley, I., Bradley, J., Johnson, S., Whiting, S., li-Anthawirriyarra Sea Rangers, Yanyuwa Families and Marsh, H. 2014. Local assessments of marine mammals in cross-cultural environments. Biodiversity and Conservation. 23: 3319 – 3338.

Lillywhite, H., Sheehy, C., Brischoux, F. and Grech, A. 2014. Pelagic sea snakes dehydrate at sea. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281(1782): 20140119.

Hagihara, R., Jones, R., Sheppard, J., Lanyon, J., Grech, A. and Marsh, H. 2014. The importance of quantifying depth-use when correcting for availability bias. Marine Mammal Science. 30(1): 348 – 366.

Grech, A., Bos, M., Brodie, J., Coles, R., Dale, A., Gilbert, R., Hamann, M., Marsh, H., Neil, K., Pressey, R.L., Rasheed, M.A., Sheaves, M. and Smith, A. 2013. Guiding principles for the improved governance of port and shipping impacts in the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 75: 8 – 20.

Heatwole, H., Grech, A., Monahan, J., King, S. and Marsh, H. 2012. Thermal biology of Sea Kraits and other marine snakes. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 52(2): 257 – 273.

Grech, A., Chartrand-Miller, K., Erftemeijer, P., Fonseca, M., McKenzie, L., Rasheed, M., Taylor, H. and Coles, R. 2012. A comparison of threats, vulnerabilities and management opportunities in global seagrass bioregions. Environmental Research Letters. 7(2): 024006.

Grech, A. and Coles, R. 2011. Interactions between a trawl fishery and spatial closures for biodiversity conservation in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Queensland, Australia. PLoS ONE. 6(6): e21094.

Grech, A., Coles, R. and Marsh, H. 2011. A broad-scale assessment of the risk to coastal seagrasses from cumulative threats. Marine Policy. 35(5): 560 – 567.

Hamann, M., Grech, A., Wolanski, E. and Lambrechts, J. 2011. Modelling the fate of marine turtle hatchlings. Ecological Modelling. 222(8): 1515 – 1521.

Grech, A., Sheppard, J. and Marsh, H. 2011. Informing species conservation at multiple scales using data collected for marine mammal stock assessments. PLoS ONE. 6(3): e17993.

Grech, A. and Coles, R. 2010. An ecosystem-scale predictive model of coastal seagrass distribution. Aquatic Conservation. 20(4): 437 – 444.

*Santana-Garcon, J., Grech, A., Moloney, J. and Hamann, M. 2010. Relative Exposure Index: An important factor in sea turtle nesting distribution. Aquatic Conservation. 20(2): 140 – 149.

*Dryden, J., Grech, A., Moloney, J., Hamann, M. 2008. Re-zoning of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: does it afford greater protection for marine turtles? Wildlife Research. 35: 477 – 485.

Grech, A., Marsh, H. and Coles, R. 2008. A spatial assessment of the risk to a mobile marine mammal from bycatch. Aquatic Conservation. 18(7): 1127 – 1139.

Grech, A. and Marsh, H. 2008. Rapid assessment of risks to a mobile marine mammal in an ecosystem-scale marine protected area. Conservation Biology. 22(3): 711 – 720.

Grech, A. and Marsh, H. 2007. Prioritising areas for dugong conservation in a marine protected area using a spatially explicit population model. Applied GIS. 3(2): 1 – 14.

Lukoschek, V., Heatwole, H., Grech, A., Burns, G. and Marsh, H. 2007. Distribution of two species of marine snakes, Aipysurus laevis and Emydocephalus annulatus, in the southern Great Barrier Reef: metapopulation dynamics, marine protected areas and conservation. Coral Reefs. 26: 291 – 307.

Book chapters

Pratchett, M., Bridge, T., Brodie, J., Cameron, D., Day, J., Emslie, M., Grech, A., Hamann, M., Heron, S., Hoey, A., Hoogenboom, M., Lough, J., Morrison, T., Osborne, K., Read, M., Schauble, C., Smithers, S., Sweatman, J., Waterhouse, J. in press. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In Word Seas, eds. Sheppard, C. Elsevier.

Marsh, H., Grech, A. and McMahon, K. 2018 Dugongs: Seagrass community specialists. In Seagrasses of Australia, eds. Larkum, A. Springer, Netherlands.

McLean, J., Maalsen, S. and Grech, A. 2017. Beyond the Binaries: Geographies of Gender-Technology Relations. In Handbook on Geographies of Technology, eds. Warf, B. Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, United Kingdom.

Coles, R., Rasheed, M., Grech, A. and McKenzie, L. 2017. Seagrass meadows of northeastern Australia. In The Wetland Book II: Distribution, Description and Conservation, eds. Finlayson, C.M., Milton, G.R., Prentice, R.C., Davidson, N.C. Springer, Heidelberg, New York, United States.

Craigie, I., Grech, A., Pressey, R.L., Adams, V.M., Hockings, M., Taylor, M. and Barnes, M. 2014. Terrestrial protected areas of Australia. In Austral Ark, eds. Stow, A., Maclean, N. and Holwell, G. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Grech, A., Edgar, G., Fairweather, P., Pressey, R.L. and Ward, T. 2014. Australian marine protected areas. In Austral Ark, eds. Stow, A., Maclean, N. and Holwell, G. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Marsh, H., Weiss, K. and Grech, A. 2012. Dugong. In Queensland’s Threatened Animals, eds. Curtis, L., Dennis, A., McDonald, K., Kyne, P. and Debus, S. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, Australia.

Coles, R., Grech, A., Rasheed, M., McKenzie, L., Unsworth, R. and Short, F. 2011. Seagrass ecology and threats in the Tropical Indo-Pacific bioregion. In Seagrass: Ecology, Uses and Threats eds. Pirog, R. Nova Publishers, New York, United States.

Waycott, M., Collier, C., McMahon, K., Ralph, P., McKenzie, L., Udy, J., and Grech, A. 2007. Chapter 8 Vulnerability of seagrasses in the Great Barrier Reef to climate change. In Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef, eds. Johnson, J. and Marshal, P. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Australian Greenhouse Office, Canberra, Australia.

Popular articles

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.

Coles, R., Grech, A. and McKenzie, L. 2013. Seagrass under pressure. Seagrass-Watch, March 47: 2 – 6.

Coles, R., McKenzie, L. and Grech, A. 2011. Can we learn from severe climate events? Seagrass-Watch, April 43: 8 – 10.

McKenzie, L., Yoshida, R., Grech, A. and Coles, R. 2010. Queensland Seagrasses: Status 2010 – Torres Strait and East Coast. Fisheries Queensland, Cairns (6pp.).


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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