About

Jennifer has broad interests in the ecology and early life history of marine fishes, as well as the potential for animals to cope with future climate change. Her research to date has focused on the ecological impacts of climate change to marine fishes and the potential for species to acclimate to the predicted environmental changes. To tackle these questions she use temperature controlled aquarium systems to maintain fish under elevated temperatures for years and generations to test the longer term impacts of warming ocean on marine fish. Jenni utilizes state of the art aquariums systems at both Sydney Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University to test the impacts of elevated sea water temperature.

Jenni's research concentrates on understanding the importance and prevalence of developmental plasticity, when fish experience warmer conditions in the first months of life, as well as the potential for acclimation across generations, when parents and grandparents are kept under elevated temperature conditions for their entire life. Her continuing research will expand our knowledge of how marine fishes throughout Eastern Australia (temperate to tropical) may cope with climate change through both developmental and transgenerational acclimation.

 

Interests
Research
  • · Impacts of climate change on marine fishes · The ability of marine fish to acclimate and adapt to climate change · Developmental plasticity · Parental effects · Thermal ecology and evolution
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Awards
  • 2017 - Australian Society of Fish Biology Early Career Excellence Award
  • 2016 - Australian Institute of Policy and Science Young Tally Poppy of Queensland Science Award
  • 2013 - Virginia Chadwick Award for Excellence in Scientific Publishing
  • 2012 - Winston Churchill Fellowship: Dr Dorothea Sanders and Irene Lee
  • 2011 - Virginia Chadwick Award for Excellence in Scientific Publishing
  • 2013 to 2016 - Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Technology Sydney
  • 2008 to 2011 - CSIRO Marine Climate Impact and Adaptation Flagship Student Fellowship
Publications

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
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 35+ research outputs authored by Dr Jennifer Donelson from 2008 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Coral Reef Society - Student Research Award

The effect of elevated temperature and CO2 on reef mesopredators

Indicative Funding
$2,500
Summary
The aim of this research is to investigate how two of the most significant climate change stressors, elevated temperature and CO2, effect reproduction and early life stages of ecologically and commercially important reef mesopredators. Specifically, I will 1) determine the effects of elevated ocean temperature on reproduction, 2) explore the combined effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on early life stages, and 3) investigate the influence of parental thermal conditions on the response of offspring to both elevated CO2 and temperature. To answer these questions I will utilize the common coral reef snapper, Lutjanus carponotatus.
Investigators
Shannon McMahon and Jennifer Donelson (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Keywords
Global warming; Ocean acidification; Coral reef fish; Climate change; Early life history; Reproduction

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Reef Guardian Grants

The effect of elevated temperature and CO2 on reef mesopredators

Indicative Funding
$1,500
Summary
The aim of this research is to investigate how two of the most significant climate change stressors, elevated temperature and CO2, effect reproduction and early life stages of ecologically and commercially important reef mesopredators. Specifically, I will 1) determine the effects of elevated ocean temperature on reproduction, 2) explore the combined effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on early life stages, and 3) investigate the influence of parental thermal conditions on the response of offspring to both elevated CO2 and temperature. To answer these questions I will utilize the common coral reef snapper, Lutjanus carponotatus.
Investigators
Shannon McMahon and Jennifer Donelson (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Keywords
Ocean acidification; Global warming; Coral reef fish; Climate change; Early life history; Reproduction

SeaWorld Research and Rescue Foundation Inc - Research Grant

Battle of the sexes in a warming ocean ? which parent has the greatest impact?

Indicative Funding
$18,051
Summary
Rising sea temperature poses a significant threat to coral reefs and their inhabitants. By 2050 ? 2100, sea surface temperature of coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, is expected to increase by 1.5?C (IPCC 2007; 2013). While current populations of reef fish suffer when exposed short-term to elevated temperatures, future warming will occur over numerous generations for most species. Research has shown that the performance of fish improves when their parents also experience warmer conditions (known as transgenerational acclimation). The next key question is what combination of parental experience is required to obtain improved performance in the next generation (i.e. only mothers, fathers, or both parents)? This information will directly enhance our ability to predict generational rates of acclimation, especially where mating pairs are formed by individuals of diverse ages. As well as gain valuable insight into the mechanisms behind acclimation.
Investigators
Philip Munday, Jennifer Donelson and Rachel Spinks (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Keywords
Climate change; ocean warming; Parental Effects; Coral Reef; Reef Fish; reproduction

SeaWorld Research and Rescue Foundation Inc - Research Grant

Exploring the nexus between behaviour and physiology of coal reef fishes in a warming world

Indicative Funding
$39,887 over 2 years
Summary
With 15 or the warmest 16 years on record having occurred since 2001, mankind is already witnessing the devastating effects of rising ocean temperatures on coral reef ecosystems. This project will improve the accuracy of climate-sensitivity foecasts for key reef fisheries species by asking: can reef fishes use behaviour to buffer the effects of ocean warming? We go beyond conventional lab-based testing of species' thermal tolerances, utilizing advances in biotelemetry technology to obtain field measures of thermal ecology, and testing for thermal physiological plasticity over relevant timescales. Our research is the first in the world to explore the possibility of behavioural thermoregulation in reef fishes, and will provde an enhanced understanding of the impacts of climate change on reef ecosystems.
Investigators
Jennifer Donelson and Rebecca Fox (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, University of Technology and Sydney)
Keywords
Global Warming; thermal preference; Behavioural Thermoregulation; physiological plasticity

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology - Technology's Competititve Research Grant Program-Round 3 (CRG3)

Transcriptional program and the epigenome of transgenerational acclimation in reef fishes

Indicative Funding
$631,579 over 4 years
Summary
Transgenerational acclimation is a form of non-genetic inheritance in which the environmental conditions experienced by one-generation influences the performance of future generations in that environment. New studies show that the performance of juvenile fish at higher water temperatures is significantly improved when their parents also experienced the warmer temperature. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for transgenerational thermal acclimation, and how it is controlled, are currently unknown. Genomic DNA methylation is a form of epigenetic inheritance that cells use to control gene expression, and recent evidence suggests that genome methylation can be driven by external signals in cells after birth as well as in adult cells. This raises the intriguing possibility that DNA methylation can serve as a mechanism for genomes to rapidly adapt to changing environments. Here we propose a unique multi-generational manipulative experiment for a common coral reef fish, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, with genome-wide measurements of gene expression and DNA methylation. Using an integrative analysis, we seek to identify molecular pathways responsible for transgenerational acclimation to rising ocean temperatures and to test the hypothesis that genomic DNA methylation serves as a central mechanism mediating transgenerational acclimation to climate change.
Investigators
Philip Munday, Jennifer Donelson, T Ravasi and T Berumen (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, College of Science & Engineering and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology)
Keywords
Climate Change; acclimation; Adaptation; coral reef; Marine Fish; Genomics
Supervision

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.

Current
  • Warming up to climate change: the evolutionary potential of transgenerational acclimation of coral reef fishes to elevated sea temperature (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Effects of climate change on reef mesopredators (PhD , Primary Advisor)
Completed
Data

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.

Collaboration

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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Email
Phone
Location
  • 32.118, Sir George Fisher Research Building (Townsville campus)
Advisory Accreditation
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