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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Greg Torda

Greg Torda

Research Fellow

James Cook University

+61 (0)7 4781 5241

I grew up in the landlocked country of Hungary, longing for the sea my entire childhood. Working towards a career in marine biology, I completed an MSc degree in Zoology at the Szent Istvan University in Budapest in 2000; then moved on to a postgradual research and coursework program in marine ecology at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain between 2002 and 2004. My early research on behavioural ecology of birds and marine mammals soon led to an interest in spatial ecology and subsequently, a specialization in GIS applications. With a scholarship from the Society for Conservation GIS in 2007, I ventured into landscape ecology, habitat connectivity, and spatial ecological modeling, which set me up for a PhD on ecological connectivity in corals at the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University. In my PhD research I learned and employed genetic tools to characterize evolutionary and contemporary connectivity patterns and their temporal stochasticity in coals. Along the winding road of my professional development I worked for government (Ministry of Environment of Hungary, national park directorates); NGOs (BirdLife Hungary) and academic institutions (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, James Cook University) in administrative and research positions.

My postdoctoral research gravitates around adaptation and acclimatization in reef building corals to rapid changes in their environment, in particular in the framework global climate change. I combine genetic, ecological and modeling approaches to better understand the ecological, physiological and genetic bases of resilience of corals to stressors, and their future in the Anthropocene.

Google Scholar profile

Research @JCU

Selected Publications

Torda G, Donelson J, Aranda M, Barshis DJ, Bay L, Berumen M, Bourne DG, Cantin N, Foret S, Matz MV, Miller DJ, Moya A, Putnam H, Ravasi T, van Oppen M, Vega-Thurber R, Vidal-Dupiol J, Voolstra CR, Watson SA, Whitelaw E, Munday PL, Willis BL (2017) Rapid adaptive responses to climate change on coral reefs. Nature Climate Change (in review)

Torda G, Sambrook K, Cross P, Sato Y, Bourne DG, Lukoschek V, Willis BL (2017) Decadal erosion of coral communities by multiple disturbances in the Palm Islands, central Great Barrier Reef. Scientific Reports (in review)

Smith HA, Epstein H, Torda G (2017) The molecular basis of differential morphology and bleaching thresholds in two ecomorphs of the coral Pocillopora acuta. Scientific Reports (in review)

Epstein H, Torda G, van Oppen MJH (2017) The role of the microbiome in enhancing climate resilience in corals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (in review)

van Oppen MJH, Cantin N, Cormick C, Crean A, Gates R, Harrison P, Jones T, Lough J, Miller M, Pears R, Putnam H, Raftos D, Torda G, Wachenfeld D, Weeks AR, Blackall L (2017) Shifting paradigms in coral reef restoration. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/gcb.13647.

Hughes TP, Kerry J, Álvarez-Noriega M, Alvarez-Ramero J, Anderson K, Baird A, Babcock R, Beger M, Bellwood D, Berkelmans R, Bridge TC, Cantin N, Kuo CY, Connolly S, Cumming GS, Diaz-Pulido G, Harrison H, Heron S, Hoey A, Hoogenboom M, Kennedy E, Lough J, McWilliam M, Pandolfi JM, Pears R, Pratchett M, Torda G, Wachenfeld D, Willis B, Wilson S (2017) Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature, 543, 373–377.

Pollock FJ, Wada N, Torda G, Willis BL, Bourne DG (2016) Repeated sampling of white syndrome-affected corals reveals distinct microbiome at disease lesion fronts. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, AEM.02799-16

Moya A, Howes EL, Lacoue-Labarthe T, Foret S, Hanna B, Medina M, Munday PL, Ong J-S, Teyssie, J-L, Torda G, Watson S-A, Miller DJ, Bijma J, Gattuso J-P (2016) Near future pH conditions severely impact calcification, metabolism and the nervous system in the pteropod Heliconoides inflatus. Global Change Biology, 22, 3888–3900.

Ainsworth TD, Krause L, Bridge T, Torda G, Raina JB, Zakrewski M, Gates RD, Padilla-Gamiño J, Spalding HL, Smith C, Woosley ES, Bourne DG, Bongaerts P, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Leggat W (2015) The coral core microbiome identifies rare bacterial taxa as ubiquitous endosymbionts. The ISME Journal, 9, 2261–2274.

Torda G, Lundgren P, Willis BL, van Oppen MJH (2013) Genetic assignment of recruits reveals short- and long-distance larval dispersal in Pocillopora damicornis on the Great Barrier Reef. Molecular Ecology, 22, 5821–5834.

Torda G, Lundgren P, Willis BL, van Oppen MJH (2013) Revisiting the connectivity puzzle of the common coral Pocillopora damicornis. Molecular Ecology, 22, 5805–5820.

Torda G, Schmidt-Roach S, Peplow LM, Lundgren P, van Oppen MJH (2013) A rapid genetic assay for the identification of the most common Pocillopora damicornis genetic lineages on the Great Barrier Reef. PLoS ONE, 8, e58447.

Lukoschek V, Cross P, Torda G, Zimmerman R, Willis BL (2013) The importance of coral larval recruitment for the recovery of reefs impacted by cyclone Yasi in the central Great Barrier Reef. PLoS ONE, 8, e65363.


Hannah Epstein – PhD candidate

Katie Sambrook – MSC graduate

Georgina Torras Jorda – MSC graduate

Virgina Krone – MSC graduate

Peter Cross – MSC graduate



Australian Research Council Pandora

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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