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

  • BS2460: Fundamentals of Ecology (Level 2; TSV)
  • BS5460: Fundamentals of Ecology (Level 5; TSV)
  • MB1110: Introductory Marine Science (Level 1; 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)
  • SC2202: Quantitative Methods in Science (Level 2; CNS & TSV)
  • SC5202: Quantitative Methods in Science (Level 5; CNS & 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
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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 235+ 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

Ecological Society of Australia - Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment

Use of DNA metabarcoding analysis to investigate parasite consumption of cleaner fish and shrimp

Indicative Funding
Determining what animals eat is a key component of understanding their ecology. When the organisms play a symbiotic cleaning role, gut contents can elucidate important community dynamics. This innovative study will be the first comprehensive research of the diet of small reef organisms that have very important role in a reef ecosystem. Using recently developed DNA metabarcoding analysis, this study focuses on two commensal cleaners important for reef dynamics: the bluestreak cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, and the cleaner shrimp, Urocaridella antonbruunii.
Pauline Narvaez, Mark McCormick and Kate Hutson (College of Science & Engineering)
Cleaner fish; Diet; DNA metabarcoding; Cleaner shrimp; Stomach content; Parasites

SeaWorld Research and Rescue Foundation Inc - Research Grant

Functional connectivity in pinnacle-reef mesopredator fishes: ecological considerations for fisheries management

Indicative Funding
This project aims to determine habitat use and residency patterns in key coral reef mesopredatory fishes large carnivores, themselves subject to predation). The study will take place in Kimbe Bay, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, a location identified by the Nature Conservancy as critical for preserving marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle. Acoustic telemetry (underwater radio receivers) will be used to investigate three important species and the study will provide critical information about how these organisms utilise a range of habitats in the region. Project findings should prove invaluable for future conservation and sustainability planning for the region.
Geoff Jones and Mark McCormick in collaboration with Gemma Galbraith, Ben Cresswell and Alex Filous (College of Science & Engineering and University of Massachusetts)
Mesopredator; Migration; Fisheries; Submerged reefs; Connectivity; Sustainable Development

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

SeaWorld 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.

  • Can Species Interactions Cause Rapid Niche Adaptation? (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • How Do Coral Reef Fishes Develop Into Athletes (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Dynamics of Coral Reef Fishes at Aggregation Sites Within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Interactions between fish and coral reefs: the influence of habitat degradation on fish communities (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Effects of vessel noise on the behaviour and physiology of coral reef fishes (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Importance of solitary, structurally complex, sponges as habitat and food for coral reef fishes (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Using pheromones to understand cryptic lizard diversity (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Seascape connectivity and ecology in pinnacle reef fishes (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Cleaner fish as a vector of parasites and influence of habitat degradation on cleaning symbiosis (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • The effect of the pasasite Waddycephalus on native reptile communities and the role of the invasive Asian House Gecko (Masters , Advisor Mentor)
  • The Cave Dwellers: Distribution, Abundance, Ecological Partitioning and Social Organisation of the Genus Trimma on Coral Reefs (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • Species Interations and the Evolution of Mating Traits (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Submerged Pinnacle Coral Reefs and Reef Fish Ecology (PhD , Secondary 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)

Connect with me
Share my profile
Share my profile:

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

Similar to me

  1. Prof Mike Kingsford
    College of Science & Engineering
  2. April Hall
    College of Science & Engineering
  3. Dr Ben Hirsch
    College of Science & Engineering
  4. Dr Sue-Ann Watson
    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
  5. Prof Philip Munday
    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies