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

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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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Nery Contti Neto explains his research on the effects of seagrass and corals reefs on sediment transport

Ecological surveys of Tonga’s coral reefs by PhD student Patrick Smallhorn-West in 2018

Hear from Associate Professor Jodie Rummer from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies on how she ended up as a marine biologist with us and JCU!

Connections with friends and family are key to helping communities adapt to the devastating impact of climate change on their homes and livelihoods, a new study shows.
The research found people are more empowered to respond when they see others doing the same.
Scientists analysed how an island community in Papua New Guinea of around 700 people coped with the impact of encroaching sea-levels and dwindling fish stocks. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, examined the actions households took to deal with these impacts.
Lead author Dr Michele Barnes, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (Coral CoE at JCU), said: “We found their actions were related to their social networks, the ways they are connected to other people within the community.”
“To cope with the impacts of climate change, existing practices or behaviours can be tweaked—this is adaptation. However, in some cases this won’t be enough, and people need to enact more fundamental changes—transformation.”
“In our case, adaptation included things like building sea walls to protect existing land use,” said co-author Dr Jacqueline Lau, from Coral CoE and WorldFish. “And transformation involved developing alternative food and income sources away from fish and fishing-related activities.”
Essentially both sets of actions are necessary to combat the impacts of climate change.
Dr Barnes says influence within social networks is what encouraged both sets of actions. The team found the households more socially connected to others taking action were more likely to do the same.
“It may be a situation of ‘like-attracts-like’ where households with particular mindsets are more socially connected to similar households,” Dr Barnes said. “Another explanation is that households were influencing each other’s actions. It’s likely a combination of the two,” she said.
The authors also found household connections with the marine environment played an important role in determining the responses to climate impacts.
“Climate change and other human impacts rapidly degrade coral reef ecosystems and alter the composition of reef fish communities,” said co-author Professor Nick Graham, of Lancaster University in the UK.
“The adaptation of coastal communities is becoming essential. Our research highlights that interacting with and learning from the marine environment is one mechanism through which this adaptation can be achieved,” he said.
Dr Barnes says the policies and programs seeking to reduce vulnerability to climate change often focus on building up material assets or creating infrastructure.
“Our research emphasises a broader set of factors can play an important part in the actions communities end up taking,” she said.
PAPER Barnes M, Wang P, Cinner J, Graham N, Guerrero A, Jasny L, Lau J, Sutcliffe S, Zamborain-Mason J. (2020). ‘Social determinants of adaptive and transformative responses to climate change’. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/s41558-020-0871-4

To Watch The Video Translated Into Tok Pisin

Happy International Women’s Day! Today we celebrate IWD2019 by profiling incredible CoralCoE & affiliated Women In STEM and Social Sciences at James Cook University, University of Queensland, Australian National University and University of Western Australia. Balance for Better!

A new video series by Prof. Joshua Cinner in collaboration with WorldFish, to assist early career researchers to navigate through the peer-review process.

View the whole series on Josh’s research group page or on WorldFish’s official Youtube channel.

Video by the Australian Academy on Sciences on our media release “Global warming disrupts recovery of coral reefs.

The damage caused to the Great Barrier Reef by global warming has compromised the capacity of its corals to recover, according to new research published today in Nature.

Congratulations to Tessa Hill for her Visualise Your Thesis presentation, entitled ‘The impact of ocean acidification on ecological processes that structure coral communities’. Tessa was 2018 JCU’s overall winner and her presentation can be found in the Online National Showcase for Visualise Your Thesis here: https://goo.gl/SwH1qR

Music by Ben Sounds

Dr Alana Grech, the Assistant Director of Coral CoE, was one of the speakers at the 2018 Public Forum held in conjunction with this year’s Coral Reef Futures Symposium.

Prof Josh Cinner led a massive study of nearly 1,800 tropical coral reefs around the world, and found that marine reserves near heavily populated areas struggle to do their job – but are a vast improvement over having no protection at all. Read more: http://ow.ly/ETN530kvCgr

Credit: Dean Miller

Corals growing in high-latitude reefs in Western Australia can regulate their internal chemistry to promote growth under cooler temperatures, according to new research at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at The University of Western Australia by Claire Ross.
Read more here.
Credit: University of Western Australia Media Team

Professor Cinner’s research aims to help solve the global problem of unsustainable coral reef fisheries by locating and learning from ‘bright spots’– reefs with more fish than expected, based on their exposure to pressures such as human population, poverty and unfavourable environmental conditions.

Read more here
Video by Cinematic Science

The world’s reefs are under siege from global warming, according to a novel study published today in the prestigious journal Science.

For the first time, an international team of researchers has measured the escalating rate of coral bleaching at locations throughout the tropics over the past four decades. The study documents a dramatic shortening of the gap between pairs of bleaching events, threatening the future existence of these iconic ecosystems and the livelihoods of many millions of people.

Video courtesy of Australian Academy of Science.

Media release here.

New research suggests an urgent need to find out why sea snakes are disappearing from known habitats, after it was discovered some seemingly identical sea snake populations are actually genetically distinct from each other and can’t simply repopulate if one group dies out.

Video produced by Australian Academy of Science

Media Release here

Congratulations to Assoc. Prof. Tracy Ainsworth from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies – Coral CoE at JCU, who has been awarded the 2018 Dorothy Hill Medal by the Australian Academy of Science.

Her research aims to determine the impact of environmental stress on reef-building corals, their host-microbe interactions, symbioses and disease outbreaks.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2yPBAzu

Credit: JCU Media

Declining water quality due to human activities threatens the health of coastal reefs globally. But, what does this mean for reef inhabitants such as the iconic damselfish?

Researchers at Coral CoE, led by PhD student Sybille Hess, examined three species of coral reef damselfishes. They found that all three species remodelled their gills in response to elevated suspended sediments levels.

Video courtesy of Australian Academy of Science

Blog Post here

Unprecedented coral bleaching in consecutive years has damaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, aerial surveys have shown. The bleaching – or loss of algae – affects a 1,500km (900 miles) stretch of the reef, according to scientists. The latest damage is concentrated in the middle section, whereas last year’s bleaching hit mainly the north. Experts fear the proximity of the two events will give damaged coral little chance to recover.

Credit: BBC News

60 minutes’s special report on the recent Great Barrier Reef mass bleaching event.
The Great Barrier Reef has always been Australia’s great treasure. It’s not just beautiful, it’s also bountiful, and worth billions of dollars in tourism revenue. But now the largest living structure on the planet is becoming the largest dying structure.

Professor Terry Hughes on why he is an optimist when it comes to saving 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