Marcus Sheaves is a Distinguished Professor in the College of Science and Engineering, where he is Director of Special Projects. Marcus also leads JCU’s Estuary and Coastal Wetland Ecology Research Group, and, JCU’s Marine Data Technology Hub.

Marcus has researched ecosystem and fisheries ecology of tropical coastal systems, estuaries, coastal wetlands and mangroves since the early 1990s. His research has focussed particularly on nursery ground utilisation and values, the role of connected habitat mosaics in ecosystem functioning, functional mapping of marine habitats, the use of developing technology (e.g., artificial intelligence) in environmental problem-solving, and critical thinking in environmental decision-making. He has published widely with over 75 peer reviewed publications over the last 5 years. Marcus leads a number of substantial research projects within Australia and across the Asia-Pacific region. He has extensive collaborations with research and management organisations both within Australia and internationally.


  • MB3270: Coastal, Estuarine and Mangrove Ecosystems (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB5270: Coastal, Estuarine and Mangrove Ecosystems (Level 5; TSV)
  • MB5610: Fishing Gear and Technologies (Level 5; TSV)
  • The ecology of estuaries and coastal wetland ecosystems, in particular in: nursery ground function, animal habitat relationships, the role of ecosystem mosaics and connectivity
  • Ecosystem repair and rejuvenation, contributions to food security and the effects of climate change
  • Fisheries, food web, seascape and spatial ecology
Research Disciplines
  • 2006 - Best Paper of the Year; 'Coral Reefs' - Journal of the International Society of Reef Studies
  • 2009 - Australian Academy of Sciences Study Fellowship
  • 2012 - Primary Postgraduate Advisor of the Year, James Cook University

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
Book Chapters
  • Able K, Simenstad C, Strydom N, Bradley M and Sheaves M (2022) Habitat Use and Connectivity. In: Fish and Fisheries in Estuaries: A Global Perspective. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 188-254

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 204+ research outputs authored by Prof Marcus Sheaves from 1992 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Herbert Cane Productivity Services Ltd - Contract Research

Developing a proof of concept AI for the identification and counting of feral pigs

Indicative Funding
$20,000 over 1 year
The aims of the project is use create a proof of concept Artificial Intelligence capable to count feral pigs entering traps and then when the majority of the pigs has entered the door closes, trapping the pigs.
Marcus Sheaves and Dmitry Konovalov (College of Science & Engineering)
Feral Pig Trapping

Ecological Society of Australia - Student Research Grant

Investigating fine-scale habitat use of rays in high-value intertidal nurseries.

Indicative Funding
$1,500 over 1 year
Project aims to understand fine-scale habitat use of stingrays on intertidal sandflats. Data on abundances, species composition, and habitat use are being collected via drone assessments, and hands-on capture is being conducted to study diet and assess how foraging shapes habitat use.
Jaelen Myers and Marcus Sheaves (College of Science & Engineering)
Predator-prey; Habitat use; stingray; Intertidal sandflat; Animal distribution

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Trust Partnership

Integrated reef fish monitoring - Nursery Seascapes

Indicative Funding
$102,345 over 2 years (administered by Australian Institute of Marine Science)
A 2 year monitoring program to understand the abundance, diversity, and assemblage composition of Great Barrier Reef Fishes. Within this program, JCU Marine Data Tech will be working with project partners conducting bi-annual surveys of reef fishes in nursery seascapes in the central GBR. Data will be collected using stereo Remote Underwater Video Systems and processed using Artificial Intelligence computing.
Michael Bradley, Dmitry Konovalov and Marcus Sheaves (College of Science & Engineering)
Reef Fish; Seascape; Great Barrier Reef; Fisheries; Monitoring; Nursery grounds

Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales - Ethel Mary Read Research Grant

Drone surveys of estuary stingrays

Indicative Funding
$3,000 over 2 years
This project consists of using drone surveys to better understand how the estuary stingray and sympatric species use intertidal sandflat habitats. Focus is on their feeding behaviours across different microhabitat substrates.
Jaelen Myers, Marcus Sheaves, Carlo Mattone and Michael Bradley (College of Science & Engineering)
Movement ecology; Habitat use; Stingray; Intertidal sandflat; Animal distribution; Drone

Ecological Society of Australia - Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment

How are stingray communities distributed across tropical intertidal sandflats and which environmental factors influence their habitat use?

Indicative Funding
$11,665 over 3 years
Stingrays are important meso-predators in coastal habitats around the world that impact biotic communities and structure physical environments. However, broad spatial assessments of ray habitat use are lacking, resulting in poor understanding of their ecological value and how to implement effective management strategies. The project aims to assess how the composition of stingray communities varies across tropical intertidal sandflats and which environmental variables (including prey availability) influence their distribution patterns. This goal is divided into five research objectives whose outcomes will improve habitat use models for intertidal rays and investigate important aspects of ray foraging and movement behaviours.
Jaelen Myers, Marcus Sheaves, Carlo Mattone, Michael Bradley and Adam Barnett (College of Science & Engineering)
Predator-prey; Habitat use; stingray; Intertidal sandflat; Animal distribution

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Infrastructure (L-IEF)

Australian Acoustic Observatory: A Network to Monitor Biodiversity

Indicative Funding
$927,000 over 8 years (administered by Queensland University of Technology)
Acoustic sensing is transforming environmental science by recording vocal species 24 x 7, providing data of unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution for ecosystem monitoring and research. This is particularly relevant to Australia's fragile and mega-diverse environment and Australia has leading research expertise in this emerging field. The proposed observatory will be the world's largest terrestrial acoustic sensor network comprising 450 listening stations deployed across Australia. Funds will purchase autonomous sound recorders and online storage and processing hardware. Data will be freely available to all online, enabling new science in understanding ecosystems, long-term environmental change, data visualisation and acoustic science.
Paul Roe, David Watson, Richard Fuller, Stuart Parsons, Tomasc Bednarz, Margot Brereton, Lin Schwarzkopf, Dale Nimmo, Berndt Janse van Rensburg, Martine Maron, Marcus Sheaves, Paul McDonald and Gary Luck (Queensland University of Technology, Charles Sturt University, The University of Queensland, College of Science & Engineering and The University of New England)
Monitoring; Frogs; acoustic; Birds

Queensland Department of Environment and Science - Research Grant

Desktop work, Fish Habitat and Fisheries Research

Indicative Funding
A desktop synthesis of available scientific literature and grey literature is foundational for the approved DES project ?Coastal Wetlands for Fish ? Building foundational knowledge to guide effective habitat restoration?, to provide the initial knowledge base for fish habitat use of ecosystem components and processes and inform the future direction and approach of the project.
Marcus Sheaves and Janine Sheaves (College of Science & Engineering)
Fish; Habitat; Coastal

Australian Marine Conservation Society - Contract Research

Spatial evaluation of megafauna distribution and gill net fisheries in Queensland.

Indicative Funding
The aims of the project is to assess how the distribution and important ecological regions for various species of megafauna in the GBR, overlap with current commercial gillnet activities. This will be done creating spatial maps that will also be used to highlight areas of data deficiency.
Marcus Sheaves and Carlo Mattone (College of Science & Engineering)
Gillnet; Megafauna; spatial evaluation

Cairns Airport Pty Ltd - Contract Research

Food Web Assessment of the Cairns Airport Waterways.

Indicative Funding
$88,350 over 1 year
This project aims to assess the food web organisation of the waterways adjacent to the Cairns Airport, to identify the species most likely to be impacted by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are toxic persistent pollutants that accumulate up the food chains and can be transferred to people that consume fish caught in contaminated waterways. The study will construct a model of food web functioning based on stable isotope analysis (producers, invertebrates and fish). By describing the food web, it will be possible to identify where the risk of PFAS exposure to people (through fish consumption) is present.
Katya Abrantes, Adam Barnett and Marcus Sheaves (College of Science & Engineering)
Food webs; Estuaries; Stable isotope analysis

Australian Society for Fish Biology - Michael Hall Student Innovation Award

Integrating spatio-temporal distributions of estuary whiprays (Hemitrygon fluviorum) with natural behaviours to better understand fine-scale habitat use in estuary environments

Indicative Funding
$1,000 over 1 year
The aim of this project is to evaluate spatio-temporal distributions and behaviours of estuary stingrays to contribute new knowledge on fine-scale habitat use. Interpreting these data together will show how individuals distribute over available habitat but also which behaviours drive these patterns. Additionally, prolonged observations of natural behaviours will highlight the foraging strategies of estuary stingrays and if there are foraging facilitation interactions between rays and other fish. This component will be valuable for highlighting how data on animal behaviour can be adapted into species management.
Jaelen Myers, Marcus Sheaves, Carlo Mattone, Michael Bradley and Joni Fitzsimmons (College of Science & Engineering and Macquarie University)
Predator-prey; Habitat use; Stingrays; Intertidal sandflat; Animal distribution

Morris Family Foundation - Student Research Grant

Distributions and behaviours of stingrays

Indicative Funding
$3,000 over 1 year
Stingrays are abundant intermediate predators in shallow coastal waters that impact biotic communities and structure physical environments. However, assessments of ray communities and their habitat use are sparse, resulting in poor understanding of their ecological value and management. For this project, I will evaluate ray populations in diverse intertidal habitats around Orpheus Island and examine how spatio-temporal factors influence community composition, distribution and behaviours. This goal is divided into research objectives with outcomes that will improve our ability to identify valuable areas for rays and understand how behaviours are linked to habitat choice, functional roles, and ecological impacts.
Jaelen Myers, Marcus Sheaves, Carlo Mattone and Michael Bradley (College of Science & Engineering)
Movement Ecology; Habitat Use; Stingray; Intertidal Sandflat; Animal Distribution; Drone

WV Scott Charitable Trust - Research Grant

Addressing urgent welfare concerns for Blackspotted Croaker (Protonibea diacanthus) populations in Queensland

Indicative Funding
$50,000 over 3 years
The Blackspotted Croaker (also known as black jewfish) is targeted by commercial, recreational, indigenous and charter fishing groups. Since 2017 there has been a rapid increase in targeted commercial fishing effort for Blackspotteed Croaker in Queensland. Given the high value of Blackspotteed Croaker, their vulnerability as aggregating species and the absence of a stock assessment to inform how many populations need to be managed, updated biological/ecological information (Including stock structure) are needed for assessment and protection of Blackspotted Croaker stock(s) in Queensland. The study aims at identifying stock structure and connectivity (including aggregation time) in order to improve management of th species across Queensland.
Marcus Sheaves, Adam Barnett, Carlo Mattone and Michael Bradley (College of Science & Engineering)
Population Genetic Structure; Fisheries Management; Epinephelus nigritus (Serranidae); Blackspotted Croaker

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.

  • Conservation technology for environmental management: Identifying and overcoming barriers to the use of Drones (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Saltmarsh Connectivity in Tropical Seascapes: An Eco-hydrological Perspective (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • The lost years: identifying and assessing essential habitats for juvenile sharks. (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • Ecological and Environmental Characteristics of Nurseries of Fisheries Species, and Implications for the Management of Critical Fish Habitats (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Assessing the potential for recreational fishing to contribute to conservation of coastal marine species and habitats (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • How are stingray communities distributed across tropical intertidal sandflats and which environmental factors influence their habit use? (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Marine megafauna movement ecology in a changing environment (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • The implications of climate changes on the ecology of small pelagic fish (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Investigating the challenges and needs of small island developing states to develop improved processes for the monitoring of fouling marine invasive species (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Understanding the influence of propagule transport in the dispersal and connectivity of marine macrophytes (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Mangrove restoration trajectories: trends & lessons from Guyana (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Linking drivers of migration and use of essential habitats for pelagic sharks to test the effectiveness of marine reserve design. (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Checking the pulse: Dynamic prey resources and trophic relationships in coastal ecosystems. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

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)

Connect with me
Share my profile
Share my profile:

Advisory Accreditation
Advisor Mentor
Find me on…
Icon for ORCID profile Icon for external homepage Icon for Mendeley public profile Icon for Scopus Author page Icon for ResearcherID page Icon for Google Scholar profile

Similar to me

  1. Dr Katya Abrantes
    Marine & Aquaculture Sciences
  2. Dr Adam Barnett
    Marine & Aquaculture Sciences
  3. Dr Janine Sheaves
    Marine & Aquaculture Sciences
  4. Dr Andrew Chin
    Marine & Aquaculture Sciences