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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Let’s Dive Into the Deep for National Science Week with an Our Marine Parks Round 2 Initiative! In Feb 2021 a team from CoralCoE at James Cook University led by Prof. Andrew Hoey (& in collaboration with Australian Marine Parks and Parks Australia) set out 2 explore the deep reefs (deeper than 30m) of the Coral Sea Marine Park!

f the world fails to reach net zero emissions by 2050, Australia could face potentially insurmountable challenges to its cities, ecosystems, industries and food and health systems. Read our media release: https://www.science.org.au/news-and-e… Read the report now: https://science.org.au/warmerworld

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.

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

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.

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

Check out AIMS@JCU PhD student, Christopher Brunner‘s award-winning video entry “The future of our reefs it built on sand,” showcased at the 2018 JCU ‘Visualise Your Research’ Competition. Using stunning visuals, Mr Brunner describes his research examining juvenile coral response to various climate change scenarios and water quality.

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

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

Dr Sue-Ann Watson captures the majestic Potato Cod gliding around the Great Barrier Reef, near Lizard Island.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies’ Tiffany Sih shows us how video at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef is used by scientists to discover new species and understand their habitat.

Learn how competition between soft and hard corals transforms the reefs into battlefields. ARC Centre of Excellence student Natalia Andrade describes how corals defend their territory and jostle for position.

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies student Jacob Eurich explains the ramifications for damselfish when their home is  destroyed by coral bleaching or cyclones.


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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