About

I have broad interests in the ecology and early life history of marine fishes, as well as the potential for ectotherms to cope with future climate change. Much of my 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, I use state of the art environmentally controlled research aquariums systems that simulate future conditions.   

My research concentrates on understanding phenotypic plasticity and parental effects. Much of my work has focused on exploring the importance and prevalence of developmental plasticity, when fish experience warmer conditions in the first months of life, as well as the potential for plasticity across generations. More recently my focus has shifted to understand when previous generations (parents and grandparents) need to experience warming to result in phenotypic changes in the current generation. I am also interested in the role that behavioural plasticity and thermoregulation could play in the response of more mobile reef fish to ocean acidification and warming.

 

Interests
Research
  • Impacts of climate and environmental change on marine fishes
  • Acclimation and adaptation
  • Developmental plasticity
  • Transgenerational plasticity
  • Parental effects
  • Thermal ecology and evolution
  • Fish ecology
  • Fish reproductive biology
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Awards
  • 2021 - Emerging Leader in Marine Science Award, Australian Marine Sciences Association
  • 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 55+ research outputs authored by A/PROF Jennifer Donelson from 2008 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Future Fellowships

Phenotypic and adaptive responses to environmental change

Indicative Funding
$710,470 over 4 years
Summary
Projecting the response of species to future environmental change is essential for appropriate human management and conservation strategies. However, we currently lack knowledge on whether populations differ in their capacity to respond to climate change. This project will explore the capacity for various populations of reef fish to acclimate and adapt to ocean warming across generations and between populations. This project will also explore whether short term heatwave experience results in any adaptive benefits.
Investigators
Jennifer Donelson (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Keywords
acclimation; Adaptation; Fish; Plasticity; Pomacentridae

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
Summary
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.
Investigators
Elliott Schmidt, Jennifer Donelson and Gergely Torda (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Keywords
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
Summary
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).
Investigators
Elliott Schmidt, Jennifer Donelson and Gergely Torda (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Keywords
Acclimation; Phenotypic plasticity; Climate change; Adaptation; Ocean warming
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
  • The Effect of Ocean Warming on the Behaviour and Fitness of Post-settlement Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Establishing how the Nature of Environmental Change Influences Phenotypic and Adaptive outcomes (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Incorporating evolutionary perspectives into conservation: an assessment of local adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, and interpopuation hybridization in a reef fish (Acanthochromis ployacanthus) (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Do the effects of multiple environmental stressors depend on the timing of experience across generations? (Masters , 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 Research Data Australia.

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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  5. Dr Gergely Torda
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