I am a senior research fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies; and holder of a prestigious ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA 2020 - 2022). I have a background in behavioural, spatial and marine ecology, and population genetics. Before completing a PhD at James Cook University in 2013, I worked extensively in bridging science and policy as well as conservation management. Since my PhD I held a number of postdoctoral positions at the Australian Insititue of Marine Science, James Cook University, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. In my current research I use molecular techniques to study the pace and mechanisms of genetic adaptation and transgenerational plasticity in coral species, and how these  translate into changes in assemblage composition with progressing climate change. Recently I have embarked on an adventure in evolutionary modeling to combine empirical genomic data with evolutionary theory in order to predict the fate of climate-sensitive ecosystems, such as coral reefs, in the Anthropocene.

  • R (data wrnagling, graphing, stats, genomics, modeling, GIS)
  • coral reef ecology
  • coral biology
  • molecular ecology
  • spatial analysis, GIS
  • evolutionary modelling
  • coral reef ecology
  • coral biology
  • spatial analysis, GIS
  • 2020 to 2022 - Senior Research Fellow (DECRA), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2018 to 2020 - Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2015 to 2018 - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, AIMS@JCU & ARC CoECRS (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2009 to 2015 - Research Officer (p/t), James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2006 to 2008 - Executive Project Manager / Research Officer, Institute of Ecology and Botany, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Vacratot, Hungary)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2017 - Award of Excellence in Research, James Cook University
  • 2014 - Virginia Chadwick Award for Excellence in Scientific Publishing
  • 2012 - Winner of the 3 Minute Thesis Competition at the Australian Institute of Marine Science
  • 2012 - Best oral presentation – JCU School of Marine and Tropical Biology Symposium
  • 2010 - Best Poster Award – JCU School of Marine and Tropical Biology Symposium
  • 1999 - Prominent Student Award of the Hajdú Gusztáv Foundation
  • 2017 - Lizard Island Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2020 to 2022 - ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
  • 2020 - councilor of the Australian Coral Reef Society

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 Gergely Torda from 2010 onwards.

Current Funding

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

French Embassy - Australia - Fonds Pacifique

Adaptation of corals to climate change

Indicative Funding
$58,443 over 3 years
Coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse, socially and economically valuable and climatically vulnerable ecosystems of our planet. There are concerns that corals cannot keep pace with climate change and coral reefs will collapse by the middle of the 21st century. In this project we capitalize on a unique reef site in Bourake, New Caledonia, that experiences extreme environmental conditions, similar to those predicted for the end of the century under climate change models. We will reciprocally transplant corals between control and study sites and analyse their genome, transcriptome, and microbiome to unveil the mechanisms of rapid adaptation.
Gergely Torda and Riccardo Rodolfo-Metalpa (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Centre IRD de Noumea)
Microhabitat; Acclimatisation; climate Chance; Coral; Scleractinia; Adaptation

Australian Research Council - Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

Exploring eco-evolutionary dynamics to predict the future of coral reefs

Indicative Funding
$416,000 over 3 years
This project aims to predict the future of coral reefs in the rapidly changing climate of the Anthropocene by integrating state-of-the-art population genomics with evolutionary and ecological modelling. The project expects to describe pathways of genetic and non-genetic adaptation; and the strength and direction of connectivity of warm vs cold adapted coral populations - united in an eco-evolutionary framework. Expected outcomes address critical gaps in data and methodology that currently hinder our ability to reliably model the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of one of the most biologically diverse, socially and economically valuable and climatically vulnerable ecosystems of our planet, contributing to their science-based management.
Gergely Torda (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
eco-evolutionary dynam ics; Connectivity; Adaptation; evolutionary resdue; Coral Bleaching

Australian Society for Fish Biology - Michael Hall Student Innovation Award

Incorporating evolutionary perspective into conservation: An assessment of local adaptation across the range of a coral reef fish

Indicative Funding
$1,000 over 1 year
The aims of this research project are to gain an increased understanding of how different populations across the species? range of Acanthochromis polyacanthus will respond to ocean warming. Specifically, I will 1) determine the levels of local adaptation across three different regions within the species range to reveal the thermal performance landscape, and 2) identify cellular mechanisms that underlie adaptive difference between populations. This research will allow identification of populations and/or reef regions that have increased adaptive ability and could be potential targets for conservation action.
Elliott Schmidt, Jennifer Donelson and Gergely Torda (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Local adaptation; Coral reef fish; Climate Change; Ocean warming; Enzymes; Thermal performance

Ecological Society of Australia - Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment

Incorporating evolutionary perspective into wildlife conservation: An assessment of local adaptation, genetic differentiation, and heritability in a reef fish (Acanthaochromis polyacanthus)

Indicative Funding
$6,695 over 2 years
For many sedentary organisms with low dispersal ability, response to climate change depends on their capacity for local adaptation and phenotypic plasticity to maintain populations in changing environmental conditions. These evolutionary processes may vary across populations, resulting in uneven responses to changes within a species? range. To understand a species? evolutionary trajectory under climate change it is important to quantify the magnitude of local adaptation, genetic differentiation, heritability, and phenotypic plasticity in populations throughout its range. This project aims to understand how these evolutionary processes vary across a latitudinal gradient in a reef fish (spiny chromis damselfish; Acanthochromis polyacanthus).
Elliott Schmidt, Jennifer Donelson and Gergely Torda (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Acclimation; Phenotypic plasticity; Climate change; Adaptation; Ocean warming

AIMS@JCU - Scholarship

Non-genetic inheritance of stress tolerance in corals

Indicative Funding
$20,000 over 5 years
This project will assess the capacity of corals to cope with rapid changes in their environment, by evaluating the importance of non-genetic inheritance of acquired stress tolerance from the parental generation following pre-conditioning to ambient and future stress conditions, across successive 1st and 2nd generations of offspring. The research plan involves three components: 1) a +genetic component that aims to correlate changes in physiological traits with gene expression changes in response to stressors; 2) an epigenetic component that examines the relevance of non-genetic inheritance as an evolutionary mechanism to cope with adverse conditions; and 3) a quantitative analysis of the genotypes' and epigenotypes' performance under different environmental conditions. Thus, being a genome-wide typing component to attempt to tease out the relative importance of genetic and epigenetic inheritance.
Jose Luis Montalvo Proano and Gergely Torda in collaboration with T Ravasi and Manuel Aranda (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology)
Epigenetics; Pocillopora acuta; Stress Tolerance; Acclimatisation; Corals; Climate Change

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.

  • Incorporating evolutionary perspectives into conservation: an assessment of local adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, and interpopuation hybridization in a reef fish (Acanthochromis ployacanthus) (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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