Science in the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Biodiversity Research


Maintaining the health and biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is complicated by the impacts to the system by global stressors associated with a changing climate. These include changes to ocean chemistry, such as temperature and acidity that affect the health and physiology of organisms that in turn affects their ability to recover after disturbance. This is exacerbated by local stressors, including declining water quality and development pressure in the coastal zone.

The research programs seek to understand the long-term cycle of disturbance and recovery of the reef.

Further information about current and past projects RRRC manages in the GBR are linked below:


Status of the Ecosystems
NERP 1.1 Monitoring status and trends of coral reefs of the GBR Hugh Sweatman, AIMS
NERP 1.2 Marine wildlife management in the GBR World Heritage Area Helene Marsh and Mark Hamann, JCU
NERP 1.3 Characterising the cumulative impacts of global, regional and local stressors on the present and past biodiversity of the GBR Jian-Xin Zhao and John Pandolfi, UQ
MTSRF 1.1.1 Identification of indicators and thresholds of concern for ecosystem health on a bioregional scale for the GBR Michelle Waycott, JCU and Hugh Sweatman, AIMS
MTSRF 1.1.2 Condition and trend of the GBR ecosystem: Indicators, thresholds of potential concern and ecological influence of GBR Zoning Plan on mid and outer reefs Hugh Sweatman, AIMS and Marie-Lise Schläppy, Reef Check
MTSRF 1.1.3 Condition, trend and risk in coastal habitats: Seagrass indicators, distribution and thresholds of potential concern Michelle Waycott, JCU and Len McKenzie, QDPI&F
MTSRF 1.1.4 Dating and mapping historical changes in GBR coral communities Jian-Xin Zhao, UQ
MTSRF 1.1.5 Reef Atlas: Risk, Resilience and Response Katharina Fabricius, AIMS
MTSRF 1.4.1 Condition trends and projected futures of marine species of conservation concern Mark Hamann, JCU
Risks and Threats to the Ecosystems
NERP 4.1 Tracking coastal turbidity over time and demonstrating the effects of river discharge events on regional turbidity in the GBR Katharina Fabricius, AIMS
NERP 4.2 The chronic effects of pesticides and their persistence in tropical waters Andrew Negri, AIMS
NERP 4.3 Ecological Risk Assessment for the GBR Jon Brodie, JCU
NERP 5.1 Understanding diversity of the GBR: spatial and temporal dynamics and environmental drivers Glenn De’ath, AIMS
NERP 5.2 Combined water quality and climate effects on corals and other reef organisms Sven Uthicke, AIMS
NERP 5.3 Vulnerability of seagrass habitats in the GBR to changing coastal environments Catherine Collier, JCU
NERP 6.1 Maximising benefits of mobile predators to GBR ecosystems: the importance of movement, habitat and environment Michelle Heupel, AIMS
NERP 6.2 Drivers of juvenile shark biodiversity and abundance in inshore ecosystems of the GBR Colin Simpfendorfer, JCU
NERP 6.3 Critical seabird foraging locations and trophic relationships for the GBR Brad Congdon, JCU
MTSRF 2.5i.1 Hydrodynamics at the whole-of-GBR scale Richard Brinkman, AIMS
MTSRF 2.5i.2 Early warning and assessment system for thermal stress on the GBR Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, UQ
MTSRF 2.5i.3 Resilience to climate change Terry Hughes, JCU and Julian Caley, AIMS
MTSRF 2.5i.4 Tools to support resilience-based management in the face of climate change Scott Wooldridge, AIMS
MTSRF 2.6.1 Understanding threats and impacts of invasive pests in the GBR David Blair, JCU
Sustainable Use and Management
NERP 8.1 Monitoring of ecological effects of the GBR zoning plan on mid and outer shelf reefs Hugh Sweatman, AIMS
NERP 8.2 Assessing the long term effects of management zoning on inshore reefs of the GBR Garry Russ and David Williamson, JCU
NERP 8.3 Significance of no-take marine protected areas to regional recruitment and population persistence on the GBR Geoff Jones, JCU
NERP 9.1 Dynamic vulnerability maps and decision support tool for the GBR Ken Anthony, AIMS
NERP 9.2 Design and implementation of management strategy evaluation for the GBR Cathy Dichmont, CSIRO
NERP 9.3 Prioritising management actions for GBR islands Bob Pressey, JCU
NERP 9.4 Conservation planning for a changing coastal zone Bob Pressey, JCU
NERP 10.1 Social and economic long-term monitoring program Nadine Marshall, CSIRO
NERP 10.2 Socio-economic systems and reef resilience Natalie Stoeckl, JCU
MTSRF 1.4.2 Sustainable use of marine species of conservation concern Helene Marsh, JCU
MTSRF 4.8.1 Resilience and connectivity Terry Hughes, JCU
MTSRF 4.8.2 Influence of the GBR Zoning Plan on inshore habitats and biodiversity, of which fish and corals are indicators Peter Doherty, AIMS and Garry Russ, JCU
MTSRF 4.8.3 Evaluation of the resiliency of key inter-reefal fish species Colin Simpfendorfer, JCU
MTSRF 4.8.4 Evaluation of the impacts from industry and community uses on inshore biodiversity Andrew Tobin, JCU
MTSRF 4.8.5 Incorporating stakeholders and their values, knowledge and aspirations in the care and development of the GBR Marine Park Stephen Sutton, JCU
MTSRF 4.8.6 Analysis of recreational and tourism use and impact on the GBR for managing sustainable tourism Bruce Prideaux, JCU
MTSRF 4.8.7 Forecasting risk of exposure to Irukandji Michael Kingsford, JCU
MTSRF 4.8.8 Investigation of the motivations of commercial and recreational fishers to comply with Great Barrier Reef Marine Park zoning Renae Tobin, JCU