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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Terry Hughes

Terry Hughes


Distinguished Professor and Chief Investigator


Inaugural Director (2005-2020), ARC Laureate Fellow (2012-2017), Federation Fellow (2002-2007, 2007-2012).


PhD, MA, Johns Hopkins, USA • BA, Trinity College, Dublin


James Cook University



+61 (0)7 4781 4000


Distinguished Professor Hughes is the former Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (2005-2020). He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2001. From 2002 to 2017 he held two ARC Federation Fellowships and a Laureate Fellowship. Terry has been awarded numerous prizes and awards, including the Centenary Medal of Australia, the quadrennial Darwin Medal of the International Society for Coral Reef Studies, and an Einstein Professorship from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has received two Honorary Doctorates, from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (2014), and Trinity College, Dublin (2019). Hughes is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher; According to Google Scholar, his lifetime citations exceed 65,000. He has published so far 28 papers in Science, Nature, and Nature Climate Change.

In December 2016, Professor Terry Hughes was recognized by Nature as one of the “10 people who mattered this year” for his leadership in responding to the global coral bleaching event caused by climate change. Nature’s 10 dubbed him “Reef Sentinel”, for the global role he plays in applying multi-disciplinary science to securing reef sustainability. In 2018, he was awarded the Sir John Maddox Prize “for standing up for science”, the Huntsman Medal for Excellence in Marine Science, from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Climate Change Award, from the Prince Albert II Foundation, in Monaco. In 2020, he was recognized by the Spanish BBVA Foundation, as recipient of a Frontiers in Knowledge Award.

Research Interests

Terry Hughes’s research has enabled him to translate fundamental and innovative science into practical solutions that improve the management and governance of marine environments. In the past five years, his research has increasingly evolved to encompass the interface between biology and the social sciences, enabling a broader evaluation of the linkages between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, coral reef governance, and the welfare of human societies.

The ARC Centre is developing further research capacity in this area by strategic recruitment of social scientists, creating a unique multi-disciplinary team of the highest calibre. Terry’s recent work has focussed on climate change, understanding the complexities of multiple cumulative impacts, market drivers of ecological change, missing institutions, identifying safe planetary boundaries for human development, avoiding social traps, and transformative governance of the sea (e.g. in Australia, Chile, China, the Galapagos Islands, Gulf of Maine and the Coral Triangle).

His future research will focus on the linkages between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the welfare of human societies. The objective is to improve the governance and management of natural systems and enhance their capacity to sustain human and natural capital. The overarching goal is to integrate the science of coral reef resilience with decision-making and management.

Publications online (since 1999)

Selected Publications

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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