Research

Environmental research and education go hand-in-hand. Mahonia Na Dari offers a unique opportunity for marine scientists and other researchers to work on a wide variety of projects that both advance collective knowledge and benefit communities.

Professor Geoff Jones and his lab group based at James Cook University (Australia) have been conducting scientific research in Kimbe bay for over 20 years.

They have collected one of the most significant long-term reef monitoring data sets in the region and have published some of the most important studies to date in the fields of marine ecology and conservation.

Current Research

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Ben Cresswell

PhD Candidate - James Cook University, Australia

Ben's research examines connectivity between fish populations at various scales across Kimbe Bay. Using a combination of acoustic telemetry, genetics and stable isotope analysis he aims to understand more about how fishes utilize the seascape.

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Dr Theresa Rüger

Postdoctoral Associate - Boston University, USA

Theresa’s research focuses on the evolution of social and mating systems and population dynamics of coral reef fishes. Her current work utilizes long-term behavioural experiments, molecular tools and evolutionary modelling to understand social evolution in two key model species in Kimbe Bay; the emerald coral goby, Paragobiodon xanthosomus, and the clown anemonefish, Amphiprion percula.

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Saul Gonzalez-Murcia

PhD Candidate - James Cook University, Australia

Saul is investigating ecological relationships between fish and sponges, specifically focusing on how invasive ascidian species are altering habitat availability for fish communities.

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Tina Barbasch

PhD Candidate - Boston University, USA

As a graduate student in the Buston Lab, I study the environmental and social factors that influence parental care and how variation in the parental environment can influence future generations using the clownfish (Amphiprion percula) as a model system.

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Reef Fish Connectivity Group.

James Cook University, University of Perpignan, CRIOBE

An international collaboration between leading research groups which has conducted some of the most significant work on fish dispersal and population connectivity to date.

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Kelsey Webber

Undergraduate/Honours Student - James Cook University, Australia

My honours project is aimed at measuring the abundance of macro-algae on the inshore reefs of Kimbe Bay and comparing the fish communities between macro-algae and non-macro-algae dominated areas. I will also be conducting an experiment to test if the macro-algae Turbinaria directly causes differences in fish communities, by removing all Turbinaria from small plots and comparing the fish communities to those of control plots. This research should provide a much needed understanding of the ecological functions that these under-studied macro-algae serve for fishes, and of the types of communities we may expect to find if coral loss and macro-algal proliferation continue.

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Past Research

Patrick Smallhorn-West

Pat's Work ->

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Patrick conducted his honours degree in Kimbe Bay investigating the depth distribution and abundance of coral-associated reef fish. He is currently conducting his PhD at James Cook University working on protected area design and implication in Tonga.

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Peter
Doll

Peter's Work ->

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Peter studied the habitat specialisation, distribution and abundance of dwarfgobies in Kimbe Bay. Using ecological surveys, his research discovered strong associations of many species with particular corals including some of the most extreme fine-scale patterns of habitat specialisation known for reef fishes. Most interestingly, dramatic declines of two habitat specialised species were documented in response to extreme losses of their preferred coral habitats over the past decade. These findings confirmed that coral specialists are most threatened by declining coral cover, and local extinction is likely where their preferred corals are lost. 

Ed Roberts

Ed's Work ->

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Ed conducted part of his PhD in Kimbe Bay. His research focuses on the depth distribution patterns of reef-building corals and has recently resulted in a high impact paper in the journal Ecology.

Matt
Jankowski

Matt's Work ->

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Matt undertook his PhD research in Kimbe Bay examining relationships among depth distributions, habitat specialisation and demography in coral reef fishes.

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Kai's Work ->

Image by David Clode

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Kai
Pacey
Amy
Coppock

Amy's Work ->

My research focused upon habitat choices by juvenile reef fish following a larval stage within the pelagic environment.  I concentrated on the use of chemosensory cues by juveniles of several common coral reef fish species (damselfish, butterflyfish and wrasses).  I wanted to determine whether they could detect different habitat types or members of the same species though ‘smell’ alone.  I also considered whether scent of degraded habitats might alter these choices.  I found that most species were either capable of detecting their preferred habitat type, or avoiding their non-preferred habitat type.  For fish species that exhibited a more social nature, the presence of other fish was important in shaping habitat choices.

Alyssa
Giffin

Alyssa's Work ->

Image by David Clode

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Sam
Noonan

Sam's Work ->

Image by David Clode

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Scientific Publications