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.

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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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Zara-Louise Cowan

Zara-Louise Cowan


PhD graduate


James Cook University




Zara grew up in the UK and achieved her BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool.  She learnt to dive in Dahab, Egypt, returning a few years later to complete an internship with the Red Sea Environmental Centre, which confirmed her career path. Whilst diving in Thailand, Zara had her first encounter with a crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) outbreak and was immediately interested in the causes of these outbreaks and their effects on coral reef communities. Supervised by Prof Morgan Pratchett and Dr Vanessa Messmer within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Dr Symon Dworjanyn at the National Marine Science Centre, and Dr Scott Ling at the University of Tasmania, her PhD focuses on predation upon CoTS. Specifically, her research explores presumed anti-predator defences of the early life stages of this starfish, in addition to identifying new predators and determining patterns of predation upon larval starfish.

 

Personal Profiles:

ResearchGate | Google scholar | Twitter

 

Publications:

Cowan Z-L, Pratchett M, Messmer V, Ling S (2017) Known predators of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.) and their role in mitigating, if not preventing, population outbreaks. Diversity 9(1):7. doi:10:3390/d9010007

Cowan Z-L, Dworjanyn S, Caballes C, Pratchett M (2016) Benthic predators influence microhabitat preferences and settlement success of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris). Diversity 8(4):27. doi:10.3390/d8040027

Cowan Z-L, Dworjanyn SA, Caballes CF, Pratchett MS (2016) Predation on crown-of-thorns starfish larvae by damselfishes. Coral Reefs 35(4):1253-1262

MacNeil MA, Mellin C, Pratchett MS, Hoey J, Anthony KR, Cheal AJ, Miller I, Sweatman H, Cowan Z-L, Taylor S, Fonnesbeck CJ (2016) Joint estimation of crown of thorns (Acanthaster plancii) densities on the Great Barrier Reef. PeerJ 4(9):e2310. doi:10.7717/peerj.2310

 

Presentations:

Cowan Z-L, Dworjanyn SA, Caballes CF, Pratchett MS. December 2016. Predation on crown-of-thorns starfish larvae by damselfishes. British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom

Cowan Z-L, Dworjanyn SA, Caballes CF, Pratchett MS. November 2016. Predation on crown-of-thorns starfish larvae by damselfishes. Ecological Society of Australia Annual Meeting, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia

Cowan Z-L. August 2016. Starfish wars: revenge of the fish. Three Minute Thesis Competition, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Cowan Z-L, Dworjanyn SA, Caballes CF, Pratchett MS. June 2016. Predation on crown-of-thorns starfish larvae by damselfishes. 13th International Coral Reef Symposium, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Cowan Z-L. December 2015. Turning the tables on the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.). Lizard Island, Queensland, Australia

Cowan Z-L, Ling S, Dworjanyn SA, Pratchett MS. June 2016. Assessing the role of saponins in deterring potential predators from feeding on the eggs of the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.). Australian Coral Reef Society Annual Conference, Daydream Island, Queensland, Australia

Cowan Z-L. April 2015. The role of predation in population regulation of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.). ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

 

Grants and Scholarships:

Postgraduate Research Scholarship, James Cook University, 2014 – 2017

Higher Degree Research Enhancement SchemeARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, $1,500, 2016

Ian Potter Foundation 50th Anniversary Commemorative Grants SchemeAustralian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station, $8,800, 2015

Liverpool Excellence Scholarship, Renewable annually, University of Liverpool2010 – 2013

 

Teaching:

Private Tutor, Biology, Maths, Chemistry, 2016 – present

Casual Teaching Staff, EV3201 Managing Coastal and Marine Environments, James Cook University2016

Grading Assistant, EV3200 Terrestrial Resource Management, James Cook University2016

Casual Teaching Staff, BZ1001 Introduction to Biological Processes, James Cook University2015

 

Supervision:

C Van Wynen, SIT (School for International Training) Study Abroad Program2015

 

Professional Societies:

British Ecological Society, 2016 – present

Ecological Society of Australia (ESA), 2016 – present

Fisheries Society of the British Isles, 2016 – present

International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS), 2014 – present

Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS), 2014 – present

Royal Society of Biology (RSB), Associate Member2010 – present

 

Voluntary Commitments:

Student Committee Chair, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies2015-2016

 

Selected Popular Media:

How baby COTS survive by Z-L Cowan, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies2016

Life stages of COTS by Z-L Cowan, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies2016

Fish feeding on larvae COTS by M Deveson, Australian Museum2015

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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