1

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.

2

Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution

3

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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Alexander Kerr

Alexander Kerr


Adjunct Research Fellow


University of Guam, USA



+71 735 2175


An organism’s potential to adapt to a novel environment depends in part upon its history of evolving features requisite in previous environs. Replicate radiations of organisms into a given ecosystem, say – coral reefs, permit one to test such questions as: How has the history of organisms prior to their expansion in the tropics constrained or facilitated their diversification onto reefs? How has the evolution of ecological innovation influenced the tropics as a source or sink for global diversity? We address these questions using comparative phylogenetic methods. Using supertree techniques, we have recently produced the most comprehensive phylogeny of scleractinian corals and the first class-level phylogeny of Holothuroidea, the sea cucumbers, from nucleotide sequences, morphological characters and fossil first occurrances. Using these estimates and comparative methods, we are testing hypotheses with a previously unavailable statistical power about how invertebrates have diversified into and out of a derived environment, scleractinian coral reefs.

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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