About

Dr Alex Carter is a principal research officer at the Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER). Her research focuses on the ecology, conservation and assessment of coastal environments; in particular, large-scale ecosystem processes in northern Australia involving seagrass, coral, fish communities, turtle and dugong. Prior to commencing at James Cook University, she was employed as a scientist at Queensland Fisheries. She completed her PhD on spatial variation in reproductive biology for common coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus), and the role of marine reserves as a potential fisheries management tool for this species on the Great Barrier Reef. 

Alex leads a variety of projects and collaborations with diverse stakeholders and funding agencies, including all levels of government, other universities, industry, Traditional Owners, rangers, citizen scientists, and community groups. Current projects include:

1. Large-scale marine habitat mapping across northern Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and Gulf of Carpentaria.

2. Quantifying habitat use by species with significant cultural, ecological, conservation and economic importance (e.g. turtles, dugong, fish);

3. Developing and implementing environmental condition report cards. These include seagrass report cards for the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership, Torres Strait, regional NRM groups, and Queensland ports, and development of condition indicators for reef fish on the Great Barrier Reef.

4. Working with Rangers and Traditional Owners to expand seagrass and fish research and monitoring in northern Australia by incorporating Indigenous Knowledge.

5. Coral restoration including the use of coral nurseries, reef stars, and larval seeding.

Alex is interested in receiving inquiries from prospective Honours, Masters by Research and PhD candidates who are interested in tropical marine biology. Scholarship funding is available through James Cook University Postgraduate Research Scholarships

Interests
Research
  • Spatial modelling, mapping, and statistical approaches to deal with messy biological data
  • Habitat condition assessments and environmental report cards
  • Incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge into scientific research and collaborations with Traditional Owners to deliver marine research
  • Fisheries management and no-take marine reserves
  • Fish reproductive biology
  • Coral reef restoration
Research Disciplines
Honours
Awards
  • 2016 - UPNG/JCU Twinning Project - ECR Group Work Team Prize
  • 2009 - PADI Project Aware Grant
  • 2009 - GBRMPA Science for Management Award
  • 2008 - GBRMPA Science for Management Award
Memberships
  • World Seagrass Association
  • International Coral Reef Society
  • Australian Marine Science Association
Publications

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
Conference Papers
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 107+ research outputs authored by Dr Alexandra Carter from 2007 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - National Environmental Science Program 2 (NESP 2) - Marine and Coastal Hub (NESP MAC Hub)

NESP 3.5: Supporting regional planning in northern Australia: Building knowledge, skills & partnerships for understanding seagrass distribution

Indicative Funding
$988,773 over 3 years (administered by Reef and Rainforest Research Centre)
Summary
Northern Australia has vast development opportunities but limited knowledge of the environment to inform decision making. This region has globally significant seagrass habitat, supporting dugong, green turtle, and commercially important fish and prawns. However, knowledge about seagrass habitats for extensive areas of the coast is limited - data is patchy or not freely available, few large-scale mapping surveys have been conducted, and even fewer seagrass long-term monitoring programs exist. This project will address these problems by: 1. Mapping selected benthic habitats, with a focus on seagrass, using methods consistent with previous and ongoing surveys in northern Australia. 2. Establishing a benchmark of seagrass habitats for Traditional Owners, Indigenous communities, rangers, management agencies, ports, industry, and researchers to assess change. 3. Partnering with management agencies and ranger groups to co-design mapping and monitoring methods in remote areas that use new technology such as drones. 4. Compiling and synthesizing historical seagrass data into a publicly available spatial database to create a permanent record. 5. Interpreting and reporting on survey findings, including providing advice on options for establishing monitoring programs.
Investigators
Alexandra Carter and Catherine Collier (TropWater)
Keywords
Seagrass; Benthic Habitat; Spatial data; Northern Australia; Sea Country

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water - Contract Research

Benthic monitoring and demersal fish surveys in Limmen Marine Park.

Indicative Funding
$363,027 over 2 years
Summary
This project's requirements are for field work, data analysis and reporting on benthic habitat monitorings and demersal fish communities in, and connected to, Limmen Marine Park, in the South-West Gulf of Carpentaria. The objectives are: 1. Increase understanding of traditional knowledge and collaborate with Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners to undertake marine park management, such as monitoring, including the development of bilingual maps where possible. 2. Identify any changes/trends in the condition of benthic habitats in the marine park, including seagrass, algal, sponge and coral habitats. 3. Identify demersal fish communities in and adjacent to the marine park, including consideration of key pressures on these communities and any potential management actions for mitigating impacts.
Investigators
Tim Smith, Alexandra Carter and Catherine Collier in collaboration with Christiaan van de Wetering (TropWater)
Keywords
Seagrass; Mapping; Intertidal; Benthic Habitats; Gulf of Carpentaria; Fish

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water - Contract Research

Seagrass surveys in the lower Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland

Indicative Funding
$71,818 over 1 year
Summary
The proposed work is for marine habitat mapping in the in the Thuwathu/Bujimulla Indigenous Protected Area (TBIPA). Benthic habitats for this area have not been surveyed for more than 15 years and so it is considered a high priority for a comprehensive survey. This will expand the scope (i.e. coverage) of planned benthic habitat surveys currently funded by Parks Australia for the Gulf of Carpentaria Marine Park (GOCMP) into the adjacent IPA. Therefore, the proposed project is supported by Parks Australia who have confirmed that this work is outside the scope of their funded work, but complements and enhances their work program given the importance of this area for marine turtle and dugong foraging and to the Lardil, Yangkaal, Kaiadilt and Gangalida Peoples. Funding will be used to procure a helicopter for surveying intertidal areas, and for staff time to undertake the surveys, process the data and deliver the outcomes including a `baseline? map on which rangers can continue to monitor benthic habitat condition and to improve their negotiation on resource condition and use with other stakeholders in the region.
Investigators
Alexandra Carter and Catherine Collier in collaboration with Megan Proctor (TropWater)
Keywords
Seagrass; Mapping; Intertidal; Benthic Habitat; Gulf of Carpentaria

Charles Darwin University - Contract Research

Mapping Yanyuwa Sea Country - Boat.

Indicative Funding
$191,087 over 2 years
Summary
This project is a collaboration of specialists including the Yanyuwa Traditional Owners and li-Anthawirriyarra Sea Rangers, scientists from James Cook University, Charles Darwin University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and Northern Territory Parks. The team will survey the subtidal marine benthic habitats within Yanyuwa sea country. Using data from the survey and other available information, rangers and scientists will work together to determine priority management areas and identify opportunities for broader community engagement in the management of sea country.
Investigators
Catherine Collier and Alexandra Carter in collaboration with Lloyd Shepherd, Luke Hoffmann and Christiaan van de Wetering (TropWater)
Keywords
Seagrass; Gulf of Carpentaria; Sea Country; Mapping; Subtidal

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Traditional Owner Healing Country Grant

Applying Indigenous and western science knowledges to inform the sustainable management of a dugong and seagrass hotspot in the Girringun TUMRA

Indicative Funding
$83,552 over 2 years (administered by Girringun Aboriginal Corporation)
Summary
Girringun Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) are deeply concerned about potential threats and reduced resilience for the coastal environment. This project will address knowledge gaps around dugongs and seagrasses that are core to Traditional Owner?s cultural identity and traditional values; critical to the cultural, natural, socio-economic values of the Girringun Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement (TUMRA) and Indigenous Protected Area, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Hinchinbrook Island Dugong Protection Area. This project is a collaboration between GAC, seagrass and dugong experts from James Cook University, and Charles Darwin University to heal the Reef.
Investigators
Alexandra Carter, Robert Coles and Rachel Groom (TropWater and Charles Darwin University)
Keywords
Seagrass; Great Barrier Reef; TUMRA; Traditional Owner; Dugong; Monitoring

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Trust Partnership

IMR Integrated Reef Fish Monitoring Program

Indicative Funding
$491,011 over 2 years (administered by Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Summary
While critical knowledge of the abundance, diversity, and assemblage composition of Great Barrier Reef reef fishes has been delivered by comprehensive and systematic monitoring programs across various spatial and temporal scales to date, significant knowledge gaps remain. The Integrated Reef Fish Monitoring Program will address these critical knowledge gaps by establishing monitoring in nursery seascapes, deep-water inter-reef habitat, inshore fringing reefs, and developing indicators of reef fish status and trend.
Investigators
Alexandra Carter, Tim Smith and Robert Coles (TropWater)
Keywords
Fish; Great Barrier Reef; Monitoring; Coral Reef; Seagrass; Mangrove

Department of the Environment and Energy - Director of National Parks - Tender

Habitat characterisation and biodiversity surveys in West Cape York Marine Park and Torres Strait Dugong Sanctuary.

Indicative Funding
$256,583 over 3 years
Summary
Marine habitats of western Torres Strait and Cape York have long been identified as ecologically and culturally significant, supporting large areas of seagrass, high densities of dugongs and turtles, and traditional, commercial and recreational fisheries. These ecological values in the region have led to the establishment of the Torres Strait Dugong Sanctuary and the West Cape York Marine Park (WCYMP). Despite these values, benthic habitats including seagrasses, fish assemblages and the cultural significance of the region remain inadequately surveyed and documented. In this project we will: (1) Increase understanding of traditional knowledge and collaborate with Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners to undertake marine park management. (2) Identify any changes/trends in the extent, health and diversity of seagrass meadows. (3) Provide a habitat map for the National Park, Habitat Protection and Special Purpose Zones in the southern region of West Cape York Marine Park. (4) conduct a pilot study of fish diversity.
Investigators
Alexandra Carter, Tim Smith and Rachel Groom in collaboration with Lloyd Shepherd and Robert Coles (TropWater and Charles Darwin University)
Keywords
Seagrass; Marine Parks; Torres Strait; Turtle; Dugong; Fish; Dugong Sanctuary; West Cape York Marine Park

Torres Strait Regional Authority - Contract Research

Torres Strait Seagrass Research

Indicative Funding
$1,020,353 over 8 years
Summary
This seagrass research program continues collaborations with TSRA LSLMU Rangers in the Dugong Sanctuary, and will conduct seagrass baseline surveys at Dungeness Reef. The baseline assessment will form the foundation for ongoing monitoring, and provide essential information to the TSRA, Australian and Queensland Governments for dugong and turtle management plans, complimenting dugong and turtle research studies in the region and building skills and capacity of Traditional Owners and Rangers.
Investigators
Alexandra Carter and Michael Rasheed (TropWater)
Keywords
Seagrass; Turtle; Mapping; Dugong; Torres Strait

Northern Land Council - Contract Research

Mapping South East Arnhem Land Sea Country - Intertidal

Indicative Funding
$150,989 over 1 year
Summary
Understanding the location and extent of ecological and cultural values in Sea Country is necessary to support the aspirations of South East Arnhem Land (SEAL) people and further their connection with Sea Country through sustainable resource management. The proposed SEAL Sea Country IPA has high biodiversity values, including extensive habitat for large foraging populations of dugong and turtles which depend on healthy seagrass. Historical seagrass data, dugong aerial surveys (2019), recent surveys in adjacent Marra Sea Country (2021) and the Yanyuwa IPA (2021-22) indicate that extensive areas of seagrass habitat also occur in the SEAL IPA. However, there are no recent maps of seagrass habitat in the IPA. This project will assist the Aboriginal Traditional Owners to protect, maintain and sustainably manage Aboriginal land/ and sea country within the proposed SEAL Marine Indigenous Protected Area by providing base line bilingual maps, GIS and report of seagrass and other benthic habitats.
Investigators
Alexandra Carter and Catherine Collier in collaboration with Carissa Reason (TropWater)
Keywords
Seagrass; Mapping; Gulf of Carpentaria; Intertidal; Sea Country

Torres Strait Regional Authority - Contract Research

Torres Strait Ugar Island and Dugong Sanctuary Survey

Indicative Funding
$100,612 over 1 year
Summary
This project has two objectives: 1. To map intertidal reef-top and island benthic habitat, including seagrass, coral and algae, of Ugar Island and surrounding Reefs. We will identify the most important seagrass habitats in this region and compare results with recently mapped seagrass in the Kemer Kemer Meriam Nation and Torres Strait Central Cluster Islands. 2. Survey subtidal seagrass and other benthic communities, and fish communities, in the West Cape York Marine Park/ Southern Dugong Sanctuary to increase understanding of traditional knowledge and collaborate with Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners to undertake marine park management, such as mapping and monitoring. We will identify any changes/trends in the extent, health and diversity of seagrass meadows.
Investigators
Alexandra Carter (TropWater)
Keywords
Seagrass; Ugar Island; Turtle; Torres Strait; Dugong Sanctuary; West Cape York

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - National Environmental Science Program 2 (NESP 2) - Marine and Coastal Hub (NESP MAC Hub)

Mapping Critical Habitat in Yanyuwa Sea Country

Indicative Funding
$34,850 over 2 years
Summary
Marra and li-Anthawirriyarra rangers seek to build on existing partnerships with CDU and JCU to map the intertidal habitats of the Yanyuwa Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) and coastal areas connected to it, an area of profound importance to these communities and the marine ecosystem of the Gulf of Carpentaria (GoC). Significant co-funding will be provided by the Mabunji Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) and DAWE Migratory Species Section to conduct a large-scale mapping project that will inform Marra and Yanyuwa community decisions that underpin sustainable management and facilitate continued connection with sea country. Co-funding from NESP2 is sought to provide salary for data processing and reporting for these surveys. This project also leverages existing funding allocated to training, capacity building, community consultation and communication products committed to by the rangers, CDU, JCU, the Australian and the NT Governments.
Investigators
Rachel Groom, Alexandra Carter, Catherine Collier, Shaun Evans, David Barret and Stephen Barret (Charles Darwin University, TropWater and Mabunji Aboriginal Resource Centre)
Keywords
Seagrass; yanyuwa; spatial data; Habitat; gulf os carpentaria; Sea Country; marra

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - Marine Parks

Mapping Marra Sea Country with a focus on benthic habitats of the Limmen Marine Park

Indicative Funding
$283,720 over 3 years
Summary
Understanding the distribution and composition of benthic habitats in the Limmen Marine Park is necessary to manage the park in accordance with the North Marine Parks Network Management Plan and support the aspirations of the Marra People. Our team will survey the marine benthic habitats within and adjacent to the marine park. Recommendations for the marine park?s co-management will be developed. Project outputs will be relevant to multiple users and made accessible by optimizing media streams, including a short film about the Limmen marine park from the perspective of the Marra people and sea rangers.
Investigators
Catherine Collier, Alexandra Carter, Rachel Groom, Robert Coles and Michael Rasheed in collaboration with Lloyd Shepherd and Paul Leeson (TropWater, Australian Institute of Marine Science and Research Infrastructure)
Keywords
Marine Parks; Co-management; Traditional Owners; Benthic habitats; Seagrass; Monitoring
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a 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.

Current
  • Factors driving Chelonia mydas (green sea turtle) interactions with seagrass meadows within coastal foraging habitats (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
Collaboration

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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Email
Phone
Location
  • E1.016A, Health & Sciences (Cairns campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Secondary Advisor
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