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

Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image
Facebook Twitter YouTube FlickR

It’s been a busy year at Coral CoE! Here are some of our favourite highlights from 2020!

In a ground-breaking new study, scientists used innovative molecular techniques to explain how corals on the east coast of Australia survived previous tough conditions—enabling the Great Barrier Reef to become the vast reef it is today.
RESEARCH INSIGHTS: https://www.coralcoe.org.au/blog/genes-unlock-clues-to-the-evolution-survival-of-the-great-barrier-reef
PAPER I. Cooke, H. Ying, S. Forêt, P. Bongaerts, J. M. Strugnell, O. Simakov, J. Zhang, M. A. Field, M. Rodriguez-Lanetty, S. C. Bell, D. G. Bourne, M. J. van Oppen, M. A. Ragan, D. J. Miller. ‘Genomic signatures in the coral holobiont reveal host adaptations driven by Holocene climate change and reef specific symbionts’. Sci. Adv. 6, eabc6318 (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc6318

What exactly is a black coral? Where are they found? PhD student and lover of things down deep, Jeremy Horowitz chats about these incredible animals and why their name really doesn’t really do them justice.

An international team of scientists have developed a new genetic tool that can help them better understand and ultimately work to save coral reefs.

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

It’s been a busy year at Coral CoE! Here are some of our favourite highlights!

We’re excited to share that our 2018 Annual Report is out!

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!

Credits: Jodie Rummer, Tom Vierus, Ian Bouyoucos, Isabel Ender, ARC CoE, JCU, the ARC, L’Oreal-UNESCO, CRIOBE, Oceania Chondrichthyan Society (OCS), and Passions of Paradise

What do baby sharks have to do with climate change?

Besides fishing, pollution and habitat destruction climate change is a major threat to sharks. Increasing ocean temperatures, as well as decreasing oxygen availability, affect all animal’s physiology including sharks. The physioshark project specifically investigates how climate change impacts induced stressors affect baby sharks. Around the island of Moorea in French Polynesia, a team of scientists conducts several field and lab-based experiments to find out more about the early-life stages of blacktip reef sharks and sicklefin lemon sharks.


Instagram: @physioshark (instagram.com/physioshark)
Facebook: @physioshark (facebook.com/physioshark)

or read through my article on their research



Instagram: @tomvierus (instagram.com/tomvierus/)
Facebook: @tomvierus (facebook.com/tomvierus)
For blogging: livingdreams.tv
For business: tomvierus.com
Email: tom@vierus.de

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


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

Partner Partner Partner Partner
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