Prof David Bellwood's research interests encompass the evolution and ecology of reef fishes. The central theme of his research is to understand the role that fishes play on coral reefs; from the origins of herbivory in the Cenozoic to the role of fishes in maintaining reef resilience. The approach is largely based on ecology, although it encompasses functional morphology, molecular phylogenetics, and palaeontology.

At larger scales, David's interests include global biogeography and the conservation of coral reefs, particularly the role of biodiversity in ecosystem processes.

  • MB2050: Functional Biology of Marine Organisms (Level 2; TSV)
  • MB2070: Marine Biogeography (Level 2; TSV)
  • MB3160: Evolution and Ecology of Reef Fishes (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB5070: Marine Biogeography (Level 5; TSV)
  • MB5160: Evolution and Ecology of Reef Fishes (Level 5; TSV)
  • SC1101: Science: Nature, Knowledge and Understanding (Level 1; TSV)

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 232+ research outputs authored by Prof David Bellwood from 1999 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Centres of Excellence

ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies

Indicative Funding
$28,000,000 over 7 years
The overarching aim of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies is to provide the scientific knowledge necessary for sustaining ecosystem goods and services of the world's coral reefs, which support the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in the tropics. The Centre will enhance Australia's global leadership in coral reef science through three ambitious research programs addressing the future of coral reefs and their ability to adapt to change. A key outcome of the research will be providing tangible benefits to all Australians by bui8lding bridges between the natural and social sciences, strengthening capacity, and informing and supporting transformative changes in coral reef governance and management.
Terry Hughes, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Malcolm McCulloch, Peter Mumby, Sean Connolly, John Pandolfi, Bob Pressey, Andrew Baird, David Bellwood, Joshua Cinner, Sophie Dove, Maja Adamska, Mia Hoogenboom, Geoff Jones, Mike Kingsford, Ryan Lowe, Mark McCormick, David Miller, Philip Munday, Morgan Pratchett, Garry Russ and Tiffany Morrison in collaboration with Janice Lough, David Wachenfeld, Stephen Palumbi, Serge Planes and Philippa Cohen (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, The University of Queensland, The University of Western Australia, College of Science & Engineering, Australian National University, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Stanford University, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and WorldFish)
coral reef ecosystems; Climate Change Adaptation; ecological resilience; biodiversity goods and services; social-ecological dynamics

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Science for Management Award

Spatial heterogeneity of algal removal by herbivorous fishes on coral reefs

Indicative Funding
Our current understanding of reef resilience hinges significantly on the premise that the herbivorous fish community keeps algae in check across the whole reef. As feeding is unlikely to occur evenly over a fish?s entire home range, it is important to quantify any degree of patchiness of feeding by the herbivorous fish community. Specifically, I aim to answer the following questions: 1. Are some areas grazed continually, while others only receive occasional bites? 2. How densely is feeding impact locally concentrated in feeding hotspots? 3. To what extent do feeding hotspots overlap between different groups of herbivorous fishes? Project Period:
Robert Streit and David Bellwood (College of Science & Engineering)
Spatial resilience; Herbivory; Heterogeneity; Reef fish; Ecosystem function; Functional area

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Intervention ecology on coral reefs: a new role for fishes

Indicative Funding
$435,000 over 3 years
In a world where few intact reefs remain, our goal is to find ways to restore degraded reefs. Recent research has identified the species responsible for removing harmful algae from coral reefs, while advances in mariculture provide us with the capacity to rear these critically important reef fish species. Combining captive rearing, experimental manipulations, and a global analysis of the functional capacity of herbivorous fishes, in intact, degraded and human-modified systems, we will explore the potential for restoring, or boosting, the capacity of reefs to withstand disturbance. Our goal is to provide the scientific knowledge required to directly modify the key processes operating on coral reefs.
David Bellwood in collaboration with David Mouillot (College of Science & Engineering and Universite Montpellier 2)
Coral Reefs; Resilience; Ecosystem Function

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.

  • Feeding ecology of corallivorous reef fishes (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Regulators of Coral Reef Diversity Through Space and Time (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Community Assembly and Diversity-Stability Relationship in Coral Reef Fishes (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Ecological Roles of Microcrustaceans on Coral Reefs (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • Spatial ecology and space use in browsing herbivorous reef fishes: ecological drivers and effects on ecosystem function. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Tropic Pathways Between Primary Production and Biomass Accumulation on Tropical Reefs. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • The Evolution, Biogeography and Ecological Significance of Colour in Coral Reef Fishes (PhD , Primary 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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  • 28.113, Marine & Tropical Biology 2 (Townsville campus)
  • 28.120, Marine & Tropical Biology 2 (Townsville campus)
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  4. Prof Morgan Pratchett
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  5. Dr Nick Graham
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