My research is motivated by the need for robust information to support conservation planning of estuarine and marine resources – recognising that management and conservation strategies must be adaptive and accommodate the changing climate. My speciality is the use of experimental techniques to address targeted questions about seagrass health and resilience. This has focused on both the risk and impacts to seagrass habitat from local scale stressors such as water quality and on the prospective changes to seagrass ecosystems from rising temperature and ocean acidification. Above all I enjoy collaborating with diverse teams of scientists and managers and believe that such collaboration is imperative to enhance the value of experimental science for achieving practical management goals. I also contribute to long-term monitoring of seagrass habitat in the Great Barrier Reef through the Paddock to Reef Marine Monitoring Programme, which is used to track progress towards meeting the targets and objectives of the Reef 2050 Plan. My other funding sources include the National Environmental Sciences Programme (NESP), the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF), National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF).


  • 2007 to present - Principal Research Officer, James Cook University (Townsville and Cairns)
  • 2006 to 2007 - Project Officer, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Townsville)
  • 2002 to 2006 - Doctoral candidate, Edith Cowan University (Perth)
  • 1999 to 2002 - Project Officer, Healthy Waterways (Brisbane)

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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 50+ research outputs authored by Dr Catherine Collier from 2007 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Gold Coast Waterways Authority - Contract Research

Light Threshold Requirements for Seagrasses in the Gold Coast Waterways

Indicative Funding
$25,000 (administered by Griffith University)
Expert advice on the design, analysis and interpretation of surveys and experiments determining seagrass light thresholds; contribution to report and paper writing; provision and transport of loan field equipment
Michael Rasheed and Catherine Collier (TropWATER)
Seagrass; Thresholds; light requirements; Gold Coast

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Deriving ecologically relevant load targets to meet desire ecosystem condition for the Great Barrier Reef: a case study for seagrass meadows in the Burdekin region

Indicative Funding
$345,364 over 3 years
This project will derive ecologically relevant targets (ERTs) for water quality and sediment loads by: 1) defining seagrass desired state targets; 2) calculating water quality guidelines (light); and 3) calculating ERTs for terrestrially sourced sediment loads. Historical and new data collections will be used to derive ERTs via statistical models and eReefs (RECOM), and the seagrass sub-model in eReefs will be used to test ERTs. A framework for setting seagrass desired state will be developed for the entire GBR and water quality guidelines and sediment load ERTs will be quantitatively defined for the Burdekin basin where suspended sediments affect seagrass condition.
Catherine Collier in collaboration with Matthew Adams, Megan Saunders, Mark Baird, Jon Brodie, Alexandra Carter, Michael Rasheed, Len McKenzie, Kate O'Brien, Carissa Klein, Robert Coles and Katherine Martin (TropWATER, The University of Queensland, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)
Seagrass; Sediment Loads; Indicators; eReefs; Water Quality; benthic light

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Benthic light as ecologically-validated GBR-wide indicator for water quality: drivers, thresholds and cumulative risks

Indicative Funding
$18,000 over 3 years (administered by AIMS)
The project will develop a water quality indicator based on benthic irradiance (the amount of light penetrating to the seafloor). Using experiments and field data we will develop irradiance thresholds for measures of ecosystem health, and develop prototype guideline values. We will develop a new remote sensing algorithm of benthic irradiance, validated against open-water irradiance data. We will quantify benthic irradiance through the GBR, near-daily over 14 years, and assess region-specific drivers of trends including river discharges. Ur indicator can directly feed into Reef Plan report cards, irradiance as a limiting factor, and about cumulative risks in the context of coral bleaching.
Katharina Fabricius and Catherine Collier in collaboration with Scarla Weeks, Murray Logan, Line Bay, Christian Lonborg, Marites Canto, Sam Noonan and Veronique Mocellin (Australian Institute of Marine Science, The University of Queensland and TropWATER)
Water Quality Guidelines; Remote Sensing; benthic irradiance; Ecosystem Health; light thresholds

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Developing and refining biological indicators for seagrass condition assessments in an integrated monitoring program

Indicative Funding
$68,584 over 2 years (administered by Reef and Rainforest Research Centre)
Refinement of biological indicators for condition assessment is an immediate priority as highlighted in a recent review of the GBR Marine Monitoring Program (MMP). Seagrass carbohydrate content is an early-warning indicator of water quality impacts. Samples collected quarterly since 2008 will be analysed and used to establish baselines and optimize protocols for applying carbohydrates as an indicator for future monitoring. Furthermore, calibration formulae to convert seagrass percent cover, the principal condition indicator, to biomass will be developed allowing integration across programs critical for the Reef-Wide Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program. This project provides excellent value for money because samples have been collected in-kind.
Catherine Collier in collaboration with Len McKenzie, Katherine Martin, Lucas Langlois, Naomi Smith, Rudi Yoshida and Rahel Zemoi (TropWATER and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)
seagrass; Biomass; Water Quality; storage reserves; indicators

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Contract Research

Seagrass Growth and Diversity: Attributes of a Resilient GBR

Indicative Funding
$319,967 over 3 years
The 'Growth' attribute will be carried into Phase II for pilot-scale testing and incorporation into the Reef Resilience Index, while the 'Diversity' attribute will continue as a feasibility study. "Growth' will be predicted using the photosynthesis to respiration ratio (P:R), which indicates energetic status and seagrass populations at risk. The predictive capacity of the model will be tested through pilot-studies into P:R and other growth indicators. Diversity, including genetic and species diversity, show preliminary evidence they respond in the ways relating to climate change. This proposal includes the design of a monitoring framework and leverages off existing data sources to maximise cost-effectiveness.
Catherine Collier in collaboration with Len McKenzie, Sven Uthicke, Michelle Waycott, Jent Kornelis van Dijk, Kate O'Brien, Matthew Adams, Stuart Phinn and Chris Roelfsema (TropWATER, University of Adelaide and The University of Queensland)
Seagrass; Climate Change; Productivity; Growth

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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.


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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