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Resident Researchers

In collaboration with the Marine Conservation Ecology Lab at James Cook University (Australia), led by Professor Geoff Jones, Mahonia Na Dari initiated the Resident Researcher program in 1996. Over two decades later the program has gone from strength to strength with current and past researchers conducting their postgraduate research in Kimbe Bay.

Researchers spend significant amounts of time at Mahonia Na Dari and are also involved in delivering some aspects of the Marine Environmental Education Program. 

Current Resident Researchers

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Melissa Versteeg

Melissa is monitoring inshore anemonefish populations to understand their response to environmental stress exposure. She looks at a range of abiotic and biotic factors including temperature, turbidity and predator density. Her research focusses on how population dynamics change during disturbance events such as bleaching or flooding

Previous Resident Researchers


Gemma Galbraith

Resident Researcher


Gemma is studying the ecology of reef fishes on small, deep and isolated coral pinnacles. Her work examines how community assemblages differ between shallow and submerged reefs and what environmental conditions might be driving these differences.


Dr Jacob Eurich

Resident Researcher 2014-17


Jacob studied the mechanisms that drive species distributions and ecological partitioning along gradients in the natural environment in Kimbe Bay. The coexistence of ecologically similar species were examined by investigating fine-scale species distributions, microhabitat use, and competition in a guild of seven territorial damselfishes. Using species comparisons, ecological surveys, and extensive field experiments, Jacob’s research addressed novel questions about the ecology and functional role of intermediate territorial damselfish and the resulting community effects. Jacob was a MND Resident Researcher from 2014-2017 and completed his PhD in 2018. Learn more about his research here.


Dr Theresa Rueger

Resident Researcher 2012-15


Theresa was resident researcher at MND from 2012-2015. During this time she completed her PhD studies with James Cook University, investigating social and mating systems in coral reef cardinalfish


Dr Mary Bonin

Resident Researcher 2007-10


Mary conducted her PhD research on the specialised habitat use of coral-dwelling fishes, how they find and settle in microhabitats on the reef and recruitment patterns are effected by coral mortality and bleaching.


Amy Coppock

Resident Researcher


Amy is investigating the relationships between local fish and sponge species.  Specifically, she is looking at how fish use solitary and structurally complex sponge species as either a source of shelter or as a source of food.


Dr Chancey MacDonald

Resident Researcher 2014-17


Chancey explored depth related patterns in fish distributions and use of habitat in Kimbe Bay. 

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Dr Lisa Boström Einarsson

Resident Researcher 2012-15


Lisa is a marine disturbance ecologist, who conducted her Honours and PhD thesis fieldwork in Kimbe Bay between 2010-2016, and acted as the Resident Researcher between 2012-2015. 
Lisa's thesis project investigated the consequences of habitat degradation to the ecology of reef fishes. In particular, she explored how behavioural interactions were affected by habitat degradation, and investigated the link to species loss following coral degradation. Lisa also started a side-project while in Kimbe Bay, where she developed a cost-effective and widely available method to cull crown-of-thorns starfish. The method achieves 100% mortality using a single shot of household white vinegar and is now widely used throughout the Indo-Pacific region, and on the Great Barrier Reef. 

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Dr Naomi Gardiner

Resident Researcher 2005-08


In that time I explored the behavioural ecology of cardinalfish, for which Kimbe Bay hosts over 35 spp. I discovered that the most commonly seen species are quite specialist in their use of habitats, and really like sleeping among branching Porites corals. I explored their incredible homing behaviour and site fidelity finding that some species will ‘home’ back from 5km away just to get back to their original coral shelter. Their behaviour was so strong that these 5cm long fish would swim 2km overnight to get home.


Dr Maya Srinivasan

Resident Researcher 1999-2000


Maya’s PhD project titled “Recruitment in time and space: the dynamics and distributions of reef fish populations on a low latitude coral reef”. Maya conducted monthly surveys of newly settled juvenile fishes at several depths for 2 years, recording the habitats that the fish settled into, to examine patterns of recruitment over time, depth-related patterns and habitat preferences. Maya continues to actively conduct research in Kimbe Bay and has been involved in several significant studies of reef fish connectivity.

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