My research uses spatial technologies, such as geographic information systems (GIS), geostatistics, network analysis, biophysical models and reserve design software, to inform the conservation of Australia's coastal environment. Specifically, my research develops new methodologies for cumulative impact assessment (CIA), and explores the implications of CIA in environmental decision-making, policy and practice. Most of my research is conducted in remote coastal and marine areas of northern Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait, and Gulf of Carpentaria. 

The transfer of research to management action and policy is my highest priority, and I actively generate partnerships to deliver my research outputs directly to government and non-government agencies and Indigenous communities. I communicate my knowledge via research papers, reports and presentations, workshops with stakeholders, and briefings to agencies, such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, NSW Parks and Wildlife Service, Queensland Fisheries, Australian Department of Environment and Energy, and the Torres Strait Regional Authority.

My research has received funding from the Australian Research Council, Ian Potter Foundation, James Cook University, Macquarie University, NSW Adaptation Research Hub - Biodiversity Node, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, National Environmental Research Program Tropical Ecosystems Hub, Australian Marine Mammal Centre, Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility, and others.

  • Spatial predictions of coastal and marine features
  • Cumulative impact and risk assessments
  • Conservation planning and Indigenous Australia
  • 2016 to 2020 - Assistant Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Townsville)
  • 2013 to 2016 - Senior Lecturer, Macquarie University (Sydney)
  • 2010 to 2013 - Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Townsville)
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2018 - Queensland Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year, Australian Institute of Policy and Science
  • 2015 - Wallonie-Bruxelles International, Asem Duo Fellowship
  • 2012 - Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Churchill Fellowship
  • 2016 - International Society for Reef Studies
  • 2016 - Australian Coral Reef Society
  • 2010 - World Seagrass Association
  • 2008 - Society of Conservation Biology

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 56+ research outputs authored by Dr Alana Grech from 2006 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Contract Research

An assessment of the distribution and abundance of dugong and in-water large marine turtles along the Queensland coast from Cape York to Hinchinbrook Island

Indicative Funding
$359,077 over 2 years
This project will meet the requirements outlined in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan to provide information to inform the management of dugongs in the Northern Great Barrier Reef region (NGBR) by continuing the time series of standardised aerial surveys conducted since the late 1980s. The project will provide an assessment of the distribution and abundance of dugongs and in-water large marine turtles in the NGBR and contribute to the 30 year time series for temporal comparisons using the latest advances in distribution and abundance analyses.
Helene Marsh, Susan Sobtzick and Alana Grech (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, TropWATER and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Dugong; Aerial Survey; Abundance; Marine Turtles; Distribution; Long-term Monitoring

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Research Grant

Measuring coral health, integrating cells to satellites

Indicative Funding
$150,000 over 2 years
Environmental metabolomics is opening new avenues for monitoring ecosystem health. Eco-metabolomics measures the impact to organisms from natural and anthropogenic stressors by directly measuring changes in metabolism. Use of metabolomics provides managers with rapid, reliable and accurate impact assessments of stress exposure on species. As metabolomics is able to quantify and identify specific and synergistic effects of acute and cumulative stressors, thresholds for management responses can be tailored to specific exposures. Linking metabolic responses to satellite monitoring and incorporating into a geographic information system, will provide a novel integrated monitoring tool for managers at multiple spatial and temporal scales.
Bill Leggat, Tracy Ainsworth, Benjamin Gordon, N Rosenthal, U Roessner, Alana Grech and Scott Heron (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Monash University, The University of Melbourne, Macquarie University and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Biomonitoring; Metabolomics; Coral

Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian Marine Mammal Centre - Grant Scheme

Improving the time series of estimates of dugong abundance and distribution by incorporating revised availability bias corrections

Indicative Funding
$100,836 over 2 years
The availability of dugongs for detection by aerial observers is influenced by sighting conditions (eg turbidity, and sea state), and dugong diving behaviour, which varies with water depth. Availability Correction Factors have recently been greatly improved by analysing dive records collected from satellite-tracked dugongs using new statistical models. We will use these improved techniques to reanalyse dugong abundance estimates from archival aerial survey data from Queensland to provide more accurate estimates of dugong population size and spatially-explicit models of dugong distribution and relative density to inform dugong management.
Helene Marsh and Alana Grech in collaboration with Susan Sobtzick, Rie Hagihara, Rhondda Jones and Kenneth Pollock (College of Science & Engineering, Macquarie University, TropWATER and Murdoch University)
Dugong; relative abundance; Aerial Survey; relative density; Habitat Use; Distribution

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Assessing Cumulative Impacts of Land Use in the Wet Tropics Catchments on the Great barrier Reef: Remote Sensing and Bayesian Modeling for a New Conservation Planning Scheme (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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  • 32.121, Sir George Fisher Research Building (Townsville campus)
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