Dr. Hugo Harrison is a molecular ecologist with an interest in coral reefs, notably movement ecology of coral reef organisms. His main research is focused on understanding patterns of larval connectivity in coral reef fish, and its relevance to the design and effectiveness of marine protected areas.

Dr. Harrison received his doctoral degree cum laude in Marine Biology from James Cook University in Australia and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etude in France in 2014.  As part of his thesis, Dr. Harrison and colleagues were the first to apply a forensic DNA profiling approach to track the dispersal pathways of fish larvae throughout a network of marine reserves on Australia’s Great Barrier Reefs. Their study provides the first conclusive evidence that larval supply from marine reserves generates important recruitment subsidies to both fished and protected areas.

His expertise lies in combining field-based research with advances in molecular genetics to investigate dispersal and connectivity in coral reef seascapes, which are fundamental to the persistence and effective management of reef ecosystems globally. In 2016, he was awarded a prestigious ARC Discovery Research Fellowship (DECRA) to identify “Critical regions and network connectivity of coral reef ecosystems”.

He now leads a diverse research portfolio on 'Adaptive Seascapes' to investigate coral reefs' adaptive potential to climate change. His research interests span genomics and population genetics, biophysical and metapopulation modelling, as well as species life-history and ecosystem dynamics.

  • Movement ecology in coral reef seascapes
  • Marine reserves for biodiversity conservation and fisheries management
  • Disturbance regimes and the recovery of coral reef ecosystems
  • Spatial patterns of contemporary selection to climate change
  • Marine conservation and fisheries management
  • 2016 to 2019 - DECRA Research Fellow, James Cook University
  • 2013 to 2016 - Post-doctoral Research Associate, James Cook University
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2016 to 2019 - Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 39+ research outputs authored by Dr Hugo Harrison from 2012 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Coral Reef Society - Research Grant

The influence of symbiont genetic diversity on thermally distinct coral reefs

Indicative Funding
$2,500 over 1 year
This project aims to assess how symbiont genetic diversity underpins thermally distinct coral populations. Standardised heat stress experiments have revealed high variability in reef-level thermal tolerance. To complement phenotypic assessments, genomic analyses of symbiont communities will elucidate the role of symbionts in shaping heat tolerance thresholds. Understanding how symbiotic diversity contributes to thermal tolerance in corals will provide evidence of the ecological and adaptive processes in the symbiotic partnership of critically threatened coral reefs. This project will also provide the first study of symbiont biogeography in the Coral Sea Marine Park region to date.
Magena Marzonie and Hugo Harrison (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Heat Tolerance; Genetics; Adaptation; Coral Bleaching; Symbionts

American Australian Association - USA to Australia Fellowships

Magena Marzonie - AAA-Chevron Graduate Education Scholarship.

Indicative Funding
$51,599 over 2 years
This project aims to identify the environmental, physiological and genetic processes that underpin heat tolerance in corals. This will contribute to our understanding of whether coral populations will be able to adapt to a changing climate. Standardised heat stress experiments will be used to quantify heat tolerance in corals across geographical gradients to identify variation among populations, environmental and disturbance regimes. Complementary molecular approaches will investigate the genetic basis of both host and symbiont partners. This research will contribute to the protection of reef biodiversity into the future.
Magena Marzonie and Hugo Harrison (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Heat tolerance; Coral Bleaching; Genetics; Symbionts; Adaptation

Department of the Environment and Energy - Director of National Parks - Tender

Coral Sea Marine Park Coral Reef Health Survey (2021)

Indicative Funding
$354,402 over 1 year
The Coral Sea Marine Park (CSMP) covers approximately 990,000 km2 and includes over 30 individual reef systems that are surrounded by deep waters. In March 2020 extensive bleaching of corals was recorded across shallow reef habitats within the CSMP. This project will use surveys of benthic, fish and invertebrate communities to assess the impacts of the 2020 bleaching event on coral reefs within the CSMP.
Andrew Hoey, Morgan Pratchett and Hugo Harrison (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Coral Reef; Coral Bleaching; Marine Mark Management; Reef Fish; Coral

Department of the Environment and Energy - Director of National Parks - Contract Research

Coral Sea - Coral Reef Health Multi Year Project

Indicative Funding
$45,455 over 2 years
The principal output of this project will be providing spatial and temporal analyses of hydrodynamic patterns in the Coral Sea Marine Park (CSMP) to facilitate planning and establishment and/or revisions of existing management plans. This project will inform patterns of connectivity and circulation flow across the broader CSMP, and between CSMP and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park using existing modelling platforms.
Morgan Pratchett, Hugo Harrison and Severine Choukroun (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Coral Reefs; Hydrodynamic Modeling; Coral Sea Marine Park; Connectivity

Department of the Environment and Energy - Director of National Parks - Tender

Coral Reef Health in the Coral Sea Marine Park

Indicative Funding
$968,346 over 2 years
A number of coral reefs occur in the Australian Marine Parks estate, particularly within the Coral Sea Marine Park (CSMP). In 2016 and 2017, coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and CSMP were impacted by a mass global coral bleaching event. Regular surveys of coral bleaching and associated reef health in the CSMP are needed to inform future marine park management over the next three years to either enable comparisons against historical baselines where bleaching has previously occurred, or set new baselines for areas that aren?t bleached but may be in the future.
Morgan Pratchett, Andrew Hoey, Hugo Harrison, Andrew Baird, Tom Bridge, Daniela Ceccarelli and Jean-Paul Hobbs (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Curtin University of Technology)
Coral Reefs; Monitoring; Coral Bleaching; Coral Sea Marine Park

Australian Research Council - Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

Critical regions and network connectivity of coral reef ecosystems

Indicative Funding
$366,000 over 3 years
The movement of individuals in fragmented landscapes plays a central role in the ecology and evolution of species. This Project aims to measure the degree of connectivity between isolated reefs in Australia's Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef and identify the biological and environmental mechanisms that enhance management strategies or mitigate against disturbances. It will be the first study to measure true connectivity at multiple scales and identify critical regions for the design of networks of marine protected areas. This Project will significantly improve our understanding of connectivity in marine seascapes and directly benefit fisheries management and coral reef conservation.
Hugo Harrison (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Coral Reefs; Connectivity; Fisheries; spatial planning; Marine Reserves; metapopulations

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.

  • Genome wide Assessments of Heat Tolerance in Corals (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Seascape connectivity and ecology in pinnacle reef fishes (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The Role of Hybridisation in the Evolution of 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 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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