About

Prof Morgan Pratchett has broad interests in population and community ecology of coral reef organisms, especially corals and fishes. His current research focuses on major disturbances that impact coral reef ecosystems, with a view to understanding differential responses and vulnerabilities among coral reef organisms.

Morgan has written many papers describing direct and indirect effects of coral bleaching and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, considering impacts on both coral assemblages and associated assemblages of coral reef fishes. He has also conducted extensive research on the biology and ecology of coral reef butterflyfishes.

Teaching
  • MB3190: Coral Reef Ecology (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB3200: Marine Conservation Biology (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB5004: Marine Conservation Biology (Level 5; TSV)
  • MB5190: Coral Reef Ecology (Level 5; TSV)
  • MB5400: Life History and Evolution of Reef Corals (Level 5; TSV)
Interests
Research
  • Impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems
  • Population outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish
  • Population dynamics of scleractinian corals
  • Ecological versatility in coral reef fishes
  • Biology and ecology of butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Fellowships
  • 2012 - Queensland Smart Futures Fellowship
  • 2011 - ACU Titular Fellowship, University of Oxford
  • 2008 - Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship, American Australian Association
  • 2008 - Sir John and Laurine Proud Research Fellowship, Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation
  • 2008 - Churchill Fellowship, University of Newcastle, UK
Memberships
  • Australian Coral Reef Society
  • Fisheries Society of the British Isles
  • Recording Secretary for International Coral Reef Society
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 329+ research outputs authored by Prof Morgan Pratchett from 1999 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - Marine Parks

Coral reef monitoring, research and community engagement in the IOT Marine Parks.

Indicative Funding
$499,978 over 2 years
Summary
The objectives of this project are twofold: i) Enhance understanding of the nature values in the shallow waters of IOT Marine Park by determining their current condition, the key ecological processes that maintain them, and their threats; and ii) Build capacity in the local communities to support employment opportunities and ecologically sustainable economic growth. The project will enhance understanding of natural values through monitoring and research, while engaging and upskilling the local community.
Investigators
Morgan Pratchett and Joseph DiBattista (College of Science & Engineering and Australian Museum)
Keywords
Coral reefs; Monitoring; Ecosystem management; Indian Ocean Territory; Conservation; Commonwealth Marine Parks

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water - Approach to market

Localised status assessment for specialty coral harvest species in the Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$585,089 over 1 year
Summary
The objectives of the proposed 2-year program of monitoring are to assess the relative abundance and biomass of coral species within localised areas of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, directly comparing between areas of intensive coral harvesting with complementary reference areas within Marine National Park areas that are closed to fishing.
Investigators
Morgan Pratchett and Andrew Baird (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Coral reefs; Monitoring; Ecosystem management; Great Barrier Reef; Fisheries; Marine Parks

Department of the Environment and Energy - Director of National Parks - Tender

Coral Sea Bright Spot Reef Health and Resilience Survey ? 2022-24

Indicative Funding
$1,010,595 over 2 years
Summary
The Coral Sea Marine Park (CSMP) covers approximately 990,000 km2 and includes over 30 individual reef systems that are surrounded by deep waters. Extensive bleaching of corals was recorded across shallow reef habitats within the CSMP in 2020 and 2021. This project will use surveys of benthic, fish and invertebrate communities to assess the ongoing effects and potential recovery from these back-to-back bleaching events.
Investigators
Andrew Hoey, Eva McClure, Morgan Pratchett, Deborah Burn and Gemma Galbraith (Research Division)
Keywords
Coral reef; Coral bleaching; Marine park management; Reef fish; Coral Sea

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

CCIP-M-01 ? Project management

Indicative Funding
$60,000 over 3 years
Summary
This project provides for the Program Director and Subprogram Leads to drive progress in research delivery, with a strong focus on ensuring that identified synergies across projects in the program are realised. This technical leadership group will also focus on translating the research into tangible and actionable COTS management outcomes through annual `Innovation to Implementation? workshops that bring together researchers and end-users to map out pathways for trailing and integration of CCIP research in the on-water COTS Control Program.
Investigators
Morgan Pratchett and Mary Bonin (Research Division and Great Barrier Reef Foundation)
Keywords
Coral Reefs; Crown-of-thorns starfish; Management; Disturbance; Outbreaks; monitering

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

Pre-outbreak monitoring of the density, distribution and size-structure of crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) in the Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$441,100 over 3 years
Summary
This project will conduct annual field surveys (diver-based and eDNA) across reefs in the primary outbreak initiation region to reveal how the density, distribution and size-structure of COTS populations changes, providing field data to inform early warning and response in the lead up to the 2025 outbreak.
Investigators
Morgan Pratchett, Ciemon Caballes, Sven Uthicke and Jason Doyle (Research Division and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Keywords
Coral Reef; Management; Disturbance; Outbreak; Monitoring; Crown-of-thorns starfish

Lizard Island Research Station - Critical research grants

Spatiotemporal variation in settlement rates of crown-of-thorns starfish on Australia?s Great Barrier Reef: critical research to underpin understanding and management of impending population irruptions

Indicative Funding
$68,000 over 1 year
Summary
The purpose of this research is to quantify spatiotemporal variation in settlement rates of crown-of-thorns starfish in the lead up to renewed population irruptions on the GBR. Attention will focus on reefs within the putative initiation area, though complementary sampling will also be conducted on reefs in the far northern GBR. Despite existing evidence that population irruptions in the far northern GBR (specifically, at reefs in the Cape Grenville region) can precede the emergence of population irruptions in the northern extent of the currently defined initiation area there has never been any attempt to measure and compare settlement rates of crown-of-thorns starfish over a broad cross-section of reefs in the northern GBR.
Investigators
Morgan Pratchett (Research Division)
Keywords
Coral Reefs; Disturbance; Management; Culling; Marine Parks; Coral

Australian Coral Reef Society - Research Grant

Molecular-based method for the quantification of in situ crown-of-thorns starfish settlement rates

Indicative Funding
$2,500 over 1 year
Summary
This research will develop and validate an innovative protocol for the quantification of in situ crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) settlement rates. DNA spiked samples will be analysed using two different DNA extraction methods and droplet digital PCR to determine relative method performance and sub-sampling requirements. Analyses of control samples collected outside the reproductive season may provide additional method validation by ruling out sample contamination by waterborne DNA originating from adult COTS. This work will facilitate future research to resolve critical information gaps and improve the ecological underpinning of COTS management.
Investigators
Peter Doll and Morgan Pratchett (Research Division)
Keywords
Molecular Ecology; eDNA; Larval Settlement; ddPCR; Coral Reefs; Crown of thorns starfish

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

COTS Monitoring Design: sample design for science and management decisions

Indicative Funding
$14,400 over 1 year
Summary
This project uses a combination of desktop and fieldwork to characterise and measure the detection errors associated with various COTS survey tools (e.g. manta tow, glider, eDNA, scooter, cull dives) and will calibrate density estimates across these tools to enable integration of data from multiple sources and programs into COTS Control Program decision-making.
Investigators
Morgan Pratchett, Ciemon Caballes and Emma Lawrence (Research Division and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Keywords
Coral Reef; crown of thorns; Management; Disturbance; Outbreaks; Monitoring

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

Quantifying predation rates on CoTS relative to fisheries management zones and corresponding differences in abundance of putative predators

Indicative Funding
$299,115 over 2 years
Summary
The purpose of this research is to quantify rates of predation on CoTS at reefs within contrasting Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) management zones. More specifically, we will quantify predation and mortality rates for CoTS, as well as differences in the abundance and composition of potential predators, between reefs where fishing is permitted (Blue zones), restricted (Yellow zones) or effectively prohibited (Green zones). The focus of this project is unequivocally on relatively large and conspicuous post-settlement life stages of CoTS (e.g., sub-adults and adults) and the relatively large predators (mainly fishes) that might be consuming them.
Investigators
Morgan Pratchett, Ciemon Caballes, Andrew Hoey, Symon Dworjanyn and Scott Ling (Research Division, Southern Cross University and University of Tasmania)
Keywords
Coral Reefs; Crown-of-thorns starfish; Zoning; Predation; Outbreaks; Marine protected areas

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

In situ feeding rates of crown-of-thorns starfish and fate of prey corals

Indicative Funding
$280,000 over 2 years
Summary
Accurate measurements of CoTS feeding rates are key in modelling ecological thresholds to inform CoTS management. This project aims to quantify feeding rates of CoTS in the field, to better resolve ecological impacts of CoTS on coral assemblages relative to the size and abundance of CoTS, as well as changes in prey availability and seasonal variation in temperature. This will significantly improve current models that estimate ecological thresholds used to inform surveillance (density of CoTS required to prevent further coral damage) and control (levels of culling required to ensure that coral growth outpaces CoTS feeding) activities in the GBR.
Investigators
Morgan Pratchett and Ciemon Caballes (Research Division)
Keywords
Coral Reefs; Crown-of-thorns starfish; Feeding rates; Coral Mortality; Disturbance; Recovery

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Crown-of-Thorns Control Innovation Program (CCIP)

Effects of prey limitation on the collapse of CoTS populations

Indicative Funding
$51,250 over 1 year
Summary
CoTS outbreaks typically end with precipitous declines in abundance, which have been attributed to starvation following local depletion of prey resources or rapid onset of disease among high-density populations. We will examine whether abrupt declines in the abundance of CoTS can be attributed to local depletion of prey resources resulting in starvation and reduced immunity against opportunistic pathogens. The vulnerability of CoTS to starvation and susceptibility to disease will be compared between CoTS from reefs with varying levels of coral cover. Understanding the processes that contribute to the collapse of CoTS populations will provide important insights to manage ongoing outbreaks.
Investigators
Ciemon Caballes and Morgan Pratchett (Research Division)
Keywords
Coral Reefs; Crown-of-thorns starfish; Pathogenesis; Population collapse; Outbreaks; Starvation

Department of the Environment and Energy - Director of National Parks - Tender

Coral reef research and monitoring in the Coral Sea Marine Park (CSMP).

Indicative Funding
$451,795 over 1 year
Summary
The Coral Sea Marine Park (CSMP) covers approximately 990,000 km2 and includes over 30 individual reef systems that are surrounded by deep waters. In March 2020 extensive bleaching of corals was recorded across shallow reef habitats within the CSMP. This project will use surveys of benthic, fish and invertebrate communities to assess the ongoing effects of the 2020 bleaching event on coral reefs within the CSMP.
Investigators
Andrew Hoey, Morgan Pratchett and Eva McClure (Research Division)
Keywords
Coral Reef; Coral Bleaching; marine park management; Reef Fish; Coral Sea
Supervision

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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 effects of marine heatwaves on phenotypic and adaptive outcomes in a marine fish (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Phylogenomics and Whole Genome Assembly of Marine Angelfishes: The Evolutionary History of an Iconic Reef Fish Family (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Development and Application of Novel Genetic Tools for the Investigation of Genetic Diversity and Age Structure of Crown-of-Thorns Seastar on the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Assessing coral reef resilience in Malaysia (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • Dynamics of Reef-building corals along the north-western Australian coastline (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Vulnerability of coral assemblages in Australia?s coral sea marine park (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Changes in the Biology and Behaviour of Pacific Crown-of-thorns Starfish (Acanthaster cf.solaris) with increasing Densities and onset of Population Irruptions (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Biology and Ecology of Australian Aquarium Corals: Information needed to Secure the Sustainability of ongoing Wild Harvest of Scleractinian Corals (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Thermal Plasticity of Natural versus Sexually selected Traits (Masters , Secondary 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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