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
  • 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 27+ 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
$60,602 over 2 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

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

Lizard Island Research Station - Yulgilbar Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

Population genomics of coral recovery at Lizard Island following the 2016 bleaching event

Indicative Funding
$12,000 over 2 years
The 2016 bleaching event caused unprecedented coral mortality in the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef. In this Project I will: analyze patterns of benthic community changes as function of severe disturbances; assess rates of recruitment of coral species on reefs in the Lizard Island region; and explore genomic changes in populations of selected coral species before and after the major selection sweep caused by the 2016 bleaching event
Gergely Torda (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
evolutionary rescue; no-analog communities; demographic rescue; Coral Bleaching

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.

  • Investigation of the Capacity for Thermal Plasticity to Future Warming across a Species Range (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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