• marine biology
  • coral reef ecology
  • marine invertebrate reproduction and development
  • predator-prey interactions
  • coral reef disturbances and responses of marine organisms
  • crown-of-thorns starfish
  • coral reproduction and restoration
  • chemical ecology
  • conservation and management
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2018 - Dean's Award for Higher Degree by Research Excellence
  • 2017 to 2018 - Advance Queensland Knowledge Transfer Research Fellow
  • 2020 - Pacific Islands Marine Invasive Working Group
  • 2020 - Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Control Innovation Program
  • 2018 - Australian Marine Science Association
  • 2013 - South Pacific Asian Marine Science Association
  • 2013 - Australian Coral Reef Society
  • 2010 - International Coral Reef Society
  • 2009 - Asia-Pacific Association of Chemical Ecology
  • 2007 - American Academy of Underwater Sciences

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 35+ research outputs authored by Dr Ciemon Caballes from 2013 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

Pre-outbreak monitoring of the density, distribution and size-structure of crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) in the Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$441,100 over 3 years
This project will conduct annual field surveys (diver-based and eDNA) across reefs in the primary outbreak initiation region to reveal how the density, distribution and size-structure of COTS populations changes, providing field data to inform early warning and response in the lead up to the 2025 outbreak.
Morgan Pratchett, Ciemon Caballes, Sven Uthicke and Jason Doyle (Research Division and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Coral Reef; Management; Disturbance; Outbreak; Monitoring; Crown-of-thorns starfish

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

COTS Monitoring Design: sample design for science and management decisions

Indicative Funding
$14,400 over 1 year
This project uses a combination of desktop and fieldwork to characterise and measure the detection errors associated with various COTS survey tools (e.g. manta tow, glider, eDNA, scooter, cull dives) and will calibrate density estimates across these tools to enable integration of data from multiple sources and programs into COTS Control Program decision-making.
Morgan Pratchett, Ciemon Caballes and Emma Lawrence (Research Division and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Coral Reef; crown of thorns; Management; Disturbance; Outbreaks; Monitoring

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

Quantifying predation rates on CoTS relative to fisheries management zones and corresponding differences in abundance of putative predators

Indicative Funding
$299,115 over 2 years
The purpose of this research is to quantify rates of predation on CoTS at reefs within contrasting Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) management zones. More specifically, we will quantify predation and mortality rates for CoTS, as well as differences in the abundance and composition of potential predators, between reefs where fishing is permitted (Blue zones), restricted (Yellow zones) or effectively prohibited (Green zones). The focus of this project is unequivocally on relatively large and conspicuous post-settlement life stages of CoTS (e.g., sub-adults and adults) and the relatively large predators (mainly fishes) that might be consuming them.
Morgan Pratchett, Ciemon Caballes, Andrew Hoey, Symon Dworjanyn and Scott Ling (Research Division, Southern Cross University and University of Tasmania)
Coral Reefs; Crown-of-thorns starfish; Zoning; Predation; Outbreaks; Marine protected areas

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

In situ feeding rates of crown-of-thorns starfish and fate of prey corals

Indicative Funding
$280,000 over 2 years
Accurate measurements of CoTS feeding rates are key in modelling ecological thresholds to inform CoTS management. This project aims to quantify feeding rates of CoTS in the field, to better resolve ecological impacts of CoTS on coral assemblages relative to the size and abundance of CoTS, as well as changes in prey availability and seasonal variation in temperature. This will significantly improve current models that estimate ecological thresholds used to inform surveillance (density of CoTS required to prevent further coral damage) and control (levels of culling required to ensure that coral growth outpaces CoTS feeding) activities in the GBR.
Morgan Pratchett and Ciemon Caballes (Research Division)
Coral Reefs; Crown-of-thorns starfish; Feeding rates; Coral Mortality; Disturbance; Recovery

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

Effects of prey limitation on the collapse of CoTS populations

Indicative Funding
$51,250 over 1 year
CoTS outbreaks typically end with precipitous declines in abundance, which have been attributed to starvation following local depletion of prey resources or rapid onset of disease among high-density populations. We will examine whether abrupt declines in the abundance of CoTS can be attributed to local depletion of prey resources resulting in starvation and reduced immunity against opportunistic pathogens. The vulnerability of CoTS to starvation and susceptibility to disease will be compared between CoTS from reefs with varying levels of coral cover. Understanding the processes that contribute to the collapse of CoTS populations will provide important insights to manage ongoing outbreaks.
Ciemon Caballes and Morgan Pratchett (Research Division)
Coral Reefs; Crown-of-thorns starfish; Pathogenesis; Population collapse; Outbreaks; Starvation

Ian Potter Foundation - Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Research Grants

Effective sampling of Acanthaster cf. solaris to provide early-warning of new and renewed outbreaks

Indicative Funding
$62,727 over 2 years
This project aims to develop a holistic monitoring program that will not only help to deliver an early-warning syste, but will increase the viability of culling CoTS populations even during non-outbreak periods with the ultimate goal of reducing the frequency and severity of future outbreaks. Perhaps even more importantly, this project will deliver (for the first time) spatially and temporally explicit information about the structure and dynamics of crown-of-thorns starfish within the ?initiation zone? and in the lead-up to a new population irruption, which is a critical knowledge gap that limits understanding of the initiation and causes of population outbreaks.
Morgan Pratchett, Andrew Hoey, Ciemon Caballes, Sven Uthicke and Jason Doyle in collaboration with Peter Doll and Janai Chandler (Research Division and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Coral Reefs; Disturbance; Management; Monitoring

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

Crown-of-thorns starfish control innovation program ? Feasibility and Design Phase (Phase 1)

Indicative Funding
$346,700 over 1 year
Recognising that manual control of COTS during outbreaks is not, on its own, an ideal long-term solution, new efforts were launched in 2016 to develop an Integrated Pest Management approach for COTS (as part of the National Environmental Science Program), led by CSIRO and involving numerous partners. This approach relies on understanding COTS distribution, movement and population dynamics, targeting critical locations and exploring new and more effective control methods. This involves both improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the current methods while also focusing efforts to better understand and manage the pre-conditioning and initiation of outbreaks. A Feasibility and Design Phase (Phase 1) is focused on assessing the feasibility (technical, social and regulatory) and modelling the benefit (impact) at scale of a broad range of possible improvements and interventions. Applying a transparent and consistent scientific framework, this Phase will lead to recommendations on priority areas that should be further investigated and developed
Morgan Pratchett, Damien Burrows, Ciemon Caballes, Stewart Lockie and Carla Ewels (Research Division, College of Science & Engineering and Cairns Institute)
Coral Reef; acanthaster spp; Management; Disturbance; Monitoring

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.

  • Processes and patterns in larval settlement of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Biology and Ecology of Australian Aquarium Corals: Information needed to Secure the Sustainability of ongoing Wild Harvest of Scleractinian Corals (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Impacts of ocean warming on the Pacific crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) (2023, PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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


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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