Prof Mark McCormick has a very broad range of interests within the field of reef fish population dynamics. His major research field explores the links between life history stages of coral reef fishes, and how events in earlier phases influence subsequent population dynamics. To this end, he has active research programs in the field of maternal effects, larval development and growth, and how individual performance measures of larvae and juveniles influence survival within the confines of their social and physical environment.

He uses field collections, observation and experiments in conjunction with laboratory experiments to address such questions as: the importance of starvation of larvae in tropical waters; the role of maternal condition in influencing fish population processes; whether mortality in the larval and juvenile phases are selective with respect to growth, size or body condition; the role of predator characteristics in influencing prey selection.

Mark has an active research program exploring predator-prey interactions, and how these influence which prey survive. His team has shown that chemical alarm signals are an important mechanism whereby newly settled fish can learn the identity of predators. This mechanism is compromised by elevated levels of CO2 through a mechanism that alters the activity of neuroreceptors in the brain.

Check out my lab website at: www.reeffishecology.com

  • MB2060: Marine Ecology and Environmental Assessment (Level 2; TSV)
  • MB3050: Biological Oceanography (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB5055: Biological Oceanography (Level 5; TSV)
  • MB5300: Sampling and Experimental Design (Level 5; TSV)
  • MB5430: Behaviour of Marine Animals (Level 5; TSV)
  • Reef Fish Population Processes and Underlying Mechanisms
  • Fish/Habitat Interactions and the Influence of Habitat Degradation on Fish Communities
  • Larval Biology
  • Fish Behaviour and Chemical Ecology of Predator-Prey Interactions

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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 206+ research outputs authored by Prof Mark McCormick from 1992 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Centres of Excellence

ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies

Indicative Funding
$28,000,000 over 7 years
The overarching aim of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies is to provide the scientific knowledge necessary for sustaining ecosystem goods and services of the world's coral reefs, which support the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in the tropics. The Centre will enhance Australia's global leadership in coral reef science through three ambitious research programs addressing the future of coral reefs and their ability to adapt to change. A key outcome of the research will be providing tangible benefits to all Australians by bui8lding bridges between the natural and social sciences, strengthening capacity, and informing and supporting transformative changes in coral reef governance and management.
Terry Hughes, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Malcolm McCulloch, Peter Mumby, Sean Connolly, John Pandolfi, Bob Pressey, Andrew Baird, David Bellwood, Joshua Cinner, Sophie Dove, Maja Adamska, Mia Hoogenboom, Geoff Jones, Mike Kingsford, Ryan Lowe, Mark McCormick, David Miller, Philip Munday, Morgan Pratchett, Garry Russ and Tiffany Morrison in collaboration with Janice Lough, David Wachenfeld, Stephen Palumbi, Serge Planes and Philippa Cohen (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, The University of Queensland, The University of Western Australia, College of Science & Engineering, Australian National University, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Stanford University, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and WorldFish)
coral reef ecosystems; Climate Change Adaptation; ecological resilience; biodiversity goods and services; social-ecological dynamics

Natural Environment Research Council - Standard Research Grant

Impacts of anthropogenic noise on reproduction and survival

Indicative Funding
$58,225 (administered by University of Exeter)
The aim of this project is to use an established field-based study system (coral reef fish) to assess the impacts of vessel noise on key life-history processes (reproduction, embryonic and larval survival) that have direct fitness and ecological implications in fishes. We use laboratory and field studies to experimentally determine the impact of vessel noise on coral reef fish at a number of important points in their life history. In doing so we will be able to provide recommendations concerning the management of vessel noise in sensitive marine systems.
Stephen Simpson, Andrew Radford and Mark McCormick (University of Exeter, University of Bristol and College of Science & Engineering)
vessel noise; pollution; Coral Reef Fish; Marine Ecology; Predator-Prey

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Coping with habitat degradation on coral reefs

Indicative Funding
$462,500 over 3 years
Live corals are ecosystem engineers that support the world?s most biodiverse communities. Regrettably, anthropogenic factors have lead to unprecedented global declines in live coral. Preliminary work indicates that the transition from live to dead coral-dominated habitats is associated with a modified sensory landscape of fear for resident fishes, via chemical interference emanating from degraded coral. This project aims to determine (1) how reef degradation affects fish communities by modifying predator-prey dynamics, and (2) the extent to which parental effects may help species to cope with habitat change. The existence of inter-generational advantages would inform management on how best to regulate reef usage to promote reef resilience.
Mark McCormick in collaboration with Douglas Chivers and Maud Ferrari (College of Science & Engineering and University of Saskatchewan)
Coral Reef Fishes; Parental Effects; habitat degradation; Predator-Prey Interactions; Coral Bleaching; Behavioural Ecology

Fisheries Society of the British Isles - Research Grant Fund

How does the duration of peaks during diel CO2 cycles affect the behavioural sensitivity of coral reef fish to elevated CO2?

Indicative Funding
Many shallow water habitats experience substantial fluctuations in CO2 around the mean daily. Several studies have now shown that these diel CO2 cycles can significantly modify the biological responses of marine organisms to ocean acidification conditions. However, it is unknown how this modification is affected by the duration the peaks last within cycling CO2 conditions. The aim of this study is to determine how duration of high and low peaks during a diel CO2 cycle affect the behavioural sensitivity of coral reef fish to elevated CO2.
Michael Jarrold, Philip Munday and Mark McCormick (College of Science & Engineering and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Coral reef fish; Ocean acidification; Diel variation; Behaviour

Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation Inc - Research Grant

Impact of ship noise on the dynamics of reef fish populations

Indicative Funding
$63,557 over 2 years
The goal of our study is to produce a major body of field evidence that enables managers to determine the extent to which noise from ships represents a threat to fish community processes in shallow tropical waters. Shipping routes through the tropical Indo-Pacific are some of the world's busiest waterways an many transit close to coral reef habitats. This research explores whether coral reef fishes are affected by ship noise and will estimate the spatial extent of the effect (impact kernel). This research will promote informed discussion on whether shipping activities need further spatial management and may in time lead to noise-reduced preservation areas.
Mark McCormick and J McWilliam (College of Science & Engineering and Curtin University of Technology)
Acoustics; ship impacts; Noise; Anthropogenic Impacts; Coral Reef Fishes

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.

  • Understanding the Ecology and Impacts of the Asian House Gecko (Hemidactylus Frenatus) (PhD , Advsor Mentor)
  • Can Species Interactions Cause Rapid Niche Adaptation? (PhD , Advsor Mentor)
  • How Do Coral Reef Fish Develop Into Athletes (PhD , Advsor Mentor)
  • Pheromones as a Mating Trait in Australian lizards: Understanding Diversity in Morphologically Conservative Taxa (PhD , Advsor Mentor)
  • Causes and Consequences of Spatially Non-Random Feeding in a Territorial Excavating Parrotfish, Chlorurus microrhinos. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Assessment of the effects of boat noise on coral reef fish in their larval stage (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Connectivity and Ecological Processes on Small Non-Emergent Offshore Pinnacles; Reef Fish Ecology and Implications for Marine Reserve Network Design (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Adaptive Potential of Coral Reef Fishes to Ocean Acidification (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The Effects of Natural Variation in CO2 and rising CO2, on Coral Reef Fish. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Dynamics of Coral Reef Fishes at Aggregation Sites Within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. (PhD , Primary Advisor)

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.


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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  • 23.166, Marine & Tropical Biology 1 (Townsville campus)
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