Professor Nick GrahamProfessor
Nick is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and a Chair in Marine Ecology. He tackles large-scale ecological and social-ecological coral reef issues under the overarching themes of climate change, human use and resilience. He has assessed the impacts of climate induced coral bleaching on coral reef fish assemblages, fisheries and ecosystem stability. He has studied the patterns and processes by which degraded coral reefs recover, and how this can be influenced by management. He has worked extensively on the ecological ramifications of fishing and closed area management. Increasingly he works with social scientists linking social-ecological systems for natural resource assessment and management.
Recent and current research
Nick has published over 100 peer reviewed journal articles, available through his Google Scholar page. This has included key papers assessing the long-term outcomes for reefs severely disturbed by climatic disturbances (nature 2015), and a global assessment of recovery potential of fish functional roles under differing management (nature 2015). Examples of ongoing, or recent projects include:
The Changing Ecology and Functioning of Coral Reefs. This Royal Society University Research Fellowship seeks to assess the changing ecology of coral reef ecosystems under climate change and human use, including alterations to productivity and functioning of the ecosystem. Specifically the project is quantifying the changing composition of coral reefs across the Indian Ocean in response to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts, assessing the top-down (i.e. fishing) versus bottom-up (i.e. habitat composition) influences on the productivity of coral reef fisheries, and assessing how ecosystem functions differ under alternate scenarios of direct human use and climate impacts.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Nick was a Chief Investigator, and remains an Adjunct Professor, of this Australian Research Council funded Centre, which is organised under three programs: 1. People and Ecosystems, 2. Ecosystem Dynamics: Past, Present and Future, 3. Responding to a Changing World. Nick principally works under programs 1 and 2, with broad ecological and social-ecological research activities and collaborations.
Ecology of Novel Coral Reef Ecosystems. This Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award was an independent fellowship aimed at predicting future novel coral reef ecosystem configurations. Specifically, the project aimed to experimentally assess the response of fish to predicted changes in coral composition, determine how the ecological effects of marine protected areas may change in a novel ecosystem context, and build empirically‐based simulations of novel coral reef ecosystem configurations.
A Mechanistic Understanding of Coral Reef Recovery. This Australian Research Council Fellowship assessed recovery mechanisms of degraded coral reef ecosystems. Specifically, the project aimed to define the role of reef structural complexity in maintaining feeding complementarity of key functional groups of fish and how this promotes coral recovery, assess the long-term maintenance or re-introduction of key functions on reefs following large scale disturbance, and understand the relative roles of live coral cover versus structural complexity in driving fish settlement, post-settlement survival and juvenile persistence.
Associate Editor for the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Associate Editor for Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Associate Editor for Ecology & Society
Assistant Editor for Journal of Fish Biology
Faculty member for F1000
Councillor for International Society for Reef Studies 2011-2015
Australian Research Council Int Reader
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University
Web: Scientific American – Coral reefs show remarkable ability to recover from near death
Print: The Guardian – Scientists reveal which coral reefs can survive global warming
TV: WIN News – a key to protecting coral reefs
Radio: ABC The World Today – Scientists name rock bottom rules for coral reefs
The Conversation – Obituaries for coral reefs may be premature, study finds
Nature – Older but less wise
Nature – Identifying reef fish at risk
Current Biology – Marine conservation: moving beyond Malthus
Current PhD students
Renato Morais, ‘Trophic pathways between primary production and biomass accumulation on tropical reefs’ PhD
Emmanuel Mbaru, ‘Using fisheries dependent data and socio-economic indicators to develop ecosystem based fisheries management tools’ PhD
Laura Richardson, ‘The influence of coral community composition on coral reef ecosystem function’ PhD
Tessa Hempson, ‘Defining the trophic role of reef sharks in coral reef ecosystems’ PhD
Completed research students
Jan Robinson, ‘Vulnerability to fishing in reef fishes that aggregate’ PhD
Matthew Jankowski, ‘Effects of depth on distribution and habitat specialisation in coral reef fish communities’ PhD
Kirsty Nash, ‘Assessment of scale dependent function in reef fish, and its application to the evaluation of coral reef resilience’ PhD
Karen Chong-Seng, ‘Alternative states and the processes influencing differential recovery of coral reef habitats in the Seychelles’ PhD
Judith Kok, ‘The influence of changing coral compositions on reef fish competition’ MAppSc
Stephen Ban: ‘Spatial responses of coral reef ecosystems to climate change and associated stressors’ PhD
Fraser Hartley, ‘Fear of fishers: anti-predator behaviour of coral reef fishes and its relevance to fisheries management and conservation’ PhD
Darren Coker, ‘The importance of live coral habitat for reef fishes and its role in key ecological processes’ PhD
Diego Schapira, ‘Associations between coral reef macro-habitat attributes and damselfish communities’ MSc
George Stoyle, ‘Patch size and its effect on the abundance, biomass and feeding intensity of dominant coral reef herbivores’ MSc
Mary Ledlie, ‘Feeding Habits of Herbivorous Fishes and their Potential Role in Reef Recovery on Cousin Island, Seychelles’ MSc
Ed Bulmer, ‘The effects of coral bleaching on reef fish assemblages: a meso-scale study of Seychellois marine reserves’ Honours
Ecological indicators for coral reef fisheries management
Nash, K.L., Graham, N.A.J. 9/03/2016 In: Fish and Fisheries.
Habitat Complexity: Coral Structural Loss Leads to Fisheries Declines
Graham, N.A.J. 5/05/2014 In: Current Biology. 24, 9, 3 p.