May 7 2019

12:00 TLSB 1100

Morgan Pratchett
Arc Center of Excellence

Causes and Consequences of Coral Loss and Habitat Degradation on Australias Great Barrier Reef


Coral reefs have been subject to a long-history of anthropogenic degradation, but degradation of coral reefs is accelerating due to widespread and significant effects of anthropogenic climate change. Focussing on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, this talk will outline the sequence of events that has led to major changes in the structure and function of coral reef ecosystems. Habitat degradation on coral reefs is largely represented as declines in live coral cover, which is mainly attributed to increasing incidence of major disturbances. There are however, other even more insidious changes in population and community dynamics that undermine the resilience of reef ecosystems and will have far-reaching effects on biodiversity, productivity and ecosystem function. Importantly, climate change and habitat degradation are not only affecting the structure of benthic habitats, but pose a real and discernible threat to many of the larger, more mobile, species that associate with coral reefs. This will have major ramifications for reef fisheries and the livelihoods of people in tropical maritime countries. In short, immediate and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed to reduce and reverse the degradation of coral reef ecosystems, and thereby sustain and restore the critical goods and services derived from these systems.


Professor Morgan Pratchett is a Research Leader in Coral Reef Ecology at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, based at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. He has published close to 300 papers, with a major emphasis on understanding and managing coral reef ecosystems. While he was trained as a coral biologists, he is an international authority on the biology of butterflyfishes (family Chaetodontidae) and has also made major contributions towards managing outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.), which continue to plague reefs throughout the Indo-west Pacific. Having recognised that the single greatest threat to coral reef ecosystems is anthropogenic climate change, his research is increasingly focussed on understanding differential responses and vulnerabilities of coral reef organisms to changing environmental and habitat conditions. He was heavily involved in documenting recent effects of mass coral bleaching on coral assemblages on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and is currently leading critical research to understand the legacy of these changes for reef fishes and fisheries.

Host: Paul Barber

Refreshments will be served at 11:40 a.m.













































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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