My research focuses on the ecology and photophysiology of tropical marine organisms in coastal habitats at risk. In recent years, my work has centreed on the marine optical environment and how photosynthetic processes dictate the success of marine plants and how this impacts the habitat at a broader scale. Using fine-scale fluorometric technology together with field-based rapid-assessment techniques our research team has built a strong understanding of natural variability versus impacts from environmental threats.

I have forged strong collaborations with researchers at the University of Technology Sydney to delve further into the optics and photosystems of marine plants. Our joint ventures have led to new research using cutting edge tools and sensors in the area of fluorometrics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics to understand tropical seagrass systems.

Using an integrated scientific approach to manage marine habitats, I am currently leading a project on the drivers of deep-water seagrass dynamics and the implications of dredging on their optical strategies. I am particularly interested in the spectral attenuation of light at depth and how the plant modifies its photosynthetic machinery to adopt this environmental niche. This work feeds into management strategies used byt eh Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and state and federal regulators managing dredging programs on the GBR coastline.

Previous work on coral photophysiology and larval recruitment success in the Caribbean has also allowed me to integrate back into coral research on the Great Barrier Reef in 2018. I am currently co-leading a project to increase coral larvae settlement and recruitment success in the northern Great Barrier Reef.  The new research is one of six innovative ideas funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments. The innovative methods used will include rearing millions of coral larvae with improved performance and uptake of the symbiotic algae required for coral survival before the team settles the larvae directly on affected reef areas.

Other research interests include the productivity of tropical seagrass ecosystems, the resilience of seagrasses to disturbance and the role of seed banks and other reproductive mechanisms in recovery. I also am broadening my research interests and directions back into coral photophysiology and how such tools can enhance large-scale restoration efforts.  

Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

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
Other research outputs

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 32+ research outputs authored by Mrs Katie Chartrand from 2008 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games - Advance Queensland Small Business Innovation Research

Boosting coral abundance on the Great Barrier Reef - Scaling up coral restoration using innovative Symbiodinium co-culture and mass larval supply on reefs

Indicative Funding
$71,000 over 2 years (administered by Southern Cross University)
This project will supply millions of coral larvae and significantly increase the settlement and recruitment success of juvenile corals. This will rapidly replenish damaged GBR coral sites, restoring ecological functions and resilience of coral communities. Our concept will significantly increase the supply of high quality larvae of foundation corals and provide the world?s first mass production of larvae containing Symbiodinium microalgae, which will increase larval energy and settlement success and survival of newly settled corals. Innovations include coral larval restoration at larger scales (hundreds of square metres) than previous studies and pioneering front-line diagnostics to confer thermal tolerance in coral recruits. Our team includes world-leading researchers with decades of relevant experience collaborating directly with tourism and other Queensland businesses to provide cost-effective outcomes that can be commercially scaled to restore large reef areas in future.
Katie Chartrand, Robert Coles and Alexandra Carter (TropWATER)
Symbiodinium spp.; Coral larvae; Coral spawning; restoration; Coral reef; Great Barrier Reef

QGC Pty Ltd - Contract Research

Environmental tolerances and drivers of deepwater seagrass change

Indicative Funding
$515,422 over 5 years
The project focuses on deepwater seagrasses (deeper than 8m) which are poorly understood or studied but occur extensively along the Great Barrier Reef Coastline. The project supports a PhD research program which aims to: 1) Determine the light requirements of tropical deepwater seagrasses, specifically Halophila spp., to establish seasonal irradiance triggers for seagrass die-off and subsequent recovery. 2) Describe the photophysiological characteristics which allow for Halophila spp. To persist in deepwater, low irradiance, high pressure environments compared to its shallow water counterparts. 3) Deliver applied management tools and outcomes that will assist in managing these ty0pes of seagrasses during coastal developments such as dredging in Queensland and the tropics where deepwater seagrasses occur.
Michael Rasheed and Katie Chartrand (TropWATER)
Seagrass; Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; Deepwater Halophila spp; Thresholds of change; Marine environments

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Light thresholds for seagrasses of the GBR: a synthesis and guiding document for managing seagrass

Indicative Funding
$29,755 (administered by Reef and Rainforest Research Centre)
Light levels (ie water quality/turbidity) can be managed to minimise seagrass losses. Recent attempts to define threshold levels of light required to maintain GBR seagrass state has resulted in a spectrum of recommendations with no single definitive source document to guide regulation. We will compile the available information on light thresholds into a guiding document, which will become a key reference for managers and regulators to use in generating relevant water quality guidelines and conditions for developments such as dredging programs. It will also highlight research information needs and provide interim guidelines for immediate management application.
Catherine Collier, Michael Rasheed and Katie Chartrand in collaboration with Carol Honchin and Adam Fletcher (TropWATER, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Ports North)
Seagrass; Dredging; Light; Monitoring; Turbidity

BM Alliance Coal Operations - Contract Research

Deepwater Seagrass Dynamics

Indicative Funding
$969,800 over 3 years
The aim of this research is to investigate the drivers of deepwater seagrass changes, their tolerances to a range of environmental variables and the mechanism for their seasonal recruitment and senescence in Tropic Australia. The research will investigate seagrass change at several field locations off the tropical east coast of Australia as well as a series of laboratory mesocosm experiments to establish their environmental tolerances to a range of factors including light, temperature, ph and salinity. The project will deliver a range of seagrass thresholds that can be used in management of seagrasses during developments.
Michael Rasheed and Katie Chartrand in collaboration with Peter Ralph, Ross Thomas and Catherine McCormack (TropWATER, University of Technology and Sydney)
Seagrass habitats; Environmental Monitoring; Marine monitoring; Dugong populations; Great Barrier Reef; Hay Point

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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