Prof Geoff Jones is a well-established scientist in the fields of marine ecology and tropical marine conservation, with 30 years of experience in ecological research, undergraduate teaching and graduate supervision.  He has published a career total of ~200 refereed papers since 1980, mostly on the ecology, behaviour and conservation of marine fishes on tropical coral reefs and in temperate kelp forests. He supervised a career total of 113 research students to completion (including 50 BSc honours, 31 MSc and 32 PhD students) and hosted 13 post-doctoral research fellows.  His undergraduate teaching record includes over 1,000 students that have completed his 3rd year BSc “Marine Conservation Biology” class.

Over the past 10 years, he has focussed on two key aspects of the ecology of reef fishes that directly inform conservation strategies. In each of these fields, his teams have been responsible for developing new technologies that are changing our views on fundamental aspects reef fish ecology.

The first research topic centres on direct estimates of larval dispersal using genetic parentage analysis, and the significance of self-recruitment and connectivity for meta-population dynamics and the design of marine reserve networks. The second research topic focusses on population and community responses of reef fishes to changes in habitat structure, with particular reference to coral cover, coral diversity and habitat complexity.

His team's experimental work has exposed a high level of sophistication in the ability of reef fish to discriminate among habitats, a previously undiscovered level of species-specific interaction among fish and corals, and the extraordinary extinction risk associated with the declining health of coral reef habitats. 

  • MB3200: Marine Conservation Biology (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB5004: Marine Conservation Biology (Level 5; TSV)
  • Ecology and behaviour of coral reef fishes
  • Marine conservation biology
  • Ecology and behaviour of kelp forest fishes
  • Human impacts on tropical ecosystems
  • Management of tropical marine ecosystems
  • 2006 to 2013 - Professor, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 1999 to 2005 - Reader, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 1994 to 1998 - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 1992 to 1993 - Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 1987 to 1991 - Lecturer, University of Auckland (New Zealand)
  • 1986 to 1987 - National Research Fellow, University of Sydney (Australia)
  • 1983 to 1986 - Queen's Fellow in Marine Science, University of Sydney (Australia)
  • 1981 to 1983 - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Melbourne (Australia)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

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 263+ research outputs authored by Prof Geoff Jones from 1991 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Lizard Island Research Station - Gough Family Doctoral Fellowship

The influence of habitat-degradation induced stress on population regulation of coral reef fishes

Indicative Funding
$18,000 over 2 years
This project will use an experimental approach to better understand how loss of live coral affects the population dynamics of coral dwelling fishes through alterations in energetics and stress physiology. I will use a combination of field surveys and laboratory experiments to examine if the transition from live coral to algal dominated habitats affects body condition and survival of juvenile fishes differentially based on their reliance of live coral habitat. The outcomes of this study will provide a new perspective on the attributes of individuals and populations that make some species more resilient to habitat change than others.
Eric Fakan, Andrew Hoey and Geoff Jones (Research Division and College of Science & Engineering)
Habitat Degradation; Pomacentridge; sub-lethal effects; Coral-associated fishes; Fitness; Stress

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Conserving coral reef fish and sustaining fisheries in the anthropocene

Indicative Funding
$620,000 over 5 years
This project aims to re-evaluate principles for designing marine reserves to conserve reef fish and sustain fisheries under current and future scenarios of habitat quality and population connectivity. It will integrate advanced genetic methods, novel field experiments and new quantitative approaches to optimise reserve network design to promote population recovery, persistence and yield for a range of fish species. It will recommend optimal reserve size, spacing and location for geographic regions subject to different levels of habitat degradation and fishing pressure. It will benefit Australia and our regional neighbours by providing the critical science necessary for the successful management of shared coral reef assets and resources.
Geoff Jones and Michael Bode in collaboration with Malin Pinsky, Serge Planes and Michael Berumen (College of Science & Engineering, Queensland University of Technology, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology)
Connectivity; Great Barrier Reef; marine reserve; Coral Reef Fish; Habitat Degradation

Australian Society for Fish Biology - Video Competition Award

Ecological significance of gorgonian sea fans on coral reefs and the consequences of declining health.

Indicative Funding
$2,000 over 2 years
Gorgonian sea fans are iconic biotic structures on coral reefs that draw attention to photographers wishing to illustrate the diversity and beauty of coral reef habitats. They provide a unique habitat for a huge variety myriad of coral reef fishes and invertebrates. However, in recent years sea fans have suffered from a variety of anthropogenic stresses that have increased the prevalence of disease. The degree to which associated fishes and invertebrates are dependent on sea fans and the consequences of declining health are unknown. This project aims to quantify the abundance and spatial distributions of gorgonian sea fans, to examine the fauna that live in them, and to evaluate the effects of declining health at two locations (Orpheus Island, Australia and in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea). Habitat composition and reef morphology will be analyzed to assess gorgonian habitat preferences. The health of sea fans will be quantified and the effects of different stages of declining health on fishes and invertebrates will be assessed.
Geoff Jones, Maya Srinivasan and Marta Panero (College of Science & Engineering)
Gorgonians; Disease; Habitat Structure; Specialization; Disturbance; gorgonian genera (Annella, Melithaea)

Fisheries Society of the British Isles - Travel Grant

Importance of Solitary and Structurally Complex Sponges as shelter and Feeding Substratum for Coral Reef Fishes

Indicative Funding
To present findings from my second data chapter, which considers the importance of sponges as an important source of structure, or as a source of food for coral reef fishes, at the 14th International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen, Germany. Initially scheduled for 5-11 July 2020, this has now been postponed until 18-23 July 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Recognising the role of other space-holding organisms on coral reefs is particularly prevalent in light of the current global threats toward coral reefs. As the primary international conference for coral reef science, this is a key symposium for communicating data.
Amy Coppock, Geoff Jones and Mike Kingsford (College of Science & Engineering)
Coral reef fish ecology; Three-dimensional structure; Sponges (Porifera); Habitat preferences; Inter-relationships; Dietary preferences

SeaWorld Research and Rescue Foundation Inc - Research Grant

Functional connectivity in pinnacle-reef mesopredator fishes: ecological considerations for fisheries management

Indicative Funding
$39,314 over 3 years
This project aims to determine habitat use and residency patterns in key coral reef mesopredatory fishes large carnivores, themselves subject to predation). The study will take place in Kimbe Bay, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, a location identified by the Nature Conservancy as critical for preserving marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle. Acoustic telemetry (underwater radio receivers) will be used to investigate three important species and the study will provide critical information about how these organisms utilise a range of habitats in the region. Project findings should prove invaluable for future conservation and sustainability planning for the region.
Geoff Jones and Mark McCormick in collaboration with Gemma Galbraith, Ben Cresswell and Alex Filous (College of Science & Engineering and University of Massachusetts)
Mesopredator; Migration; Fisheries; Submerged reefs; Connectivity; Sustainable Development

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.
Graeme Cumming, 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 (Research Division, The University of Queensland, 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

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.

  • Implications of Small Body Size: Ecology and LifeHistory of Small and Short-Lived Coral Reef Fishes of the Genus Trimma (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • The spatial determinants of predatory fishes on pinnacle and seamount coral reefs (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • The effects of habitat degradation on live coral associated reef fishes (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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