Dr Peter Cowman is an ARC DECRA Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. He is a previous recipient of the prestigious Donnelley Postdoctoral Environmental Fellowship (2014-2016) administered by the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (YIBS). Dr Cowman is a leading authority on the phylogenetic systematics and evolutionary origins of coral reef-associated fishes. 

His research focuses on reconstructing the evolutionary history of diverse groups of fishes and corals that are associated with tropical reefs habitats and uses those phylogenetic hypotheses to explore macroevolutionary questions on topics ranging from the origins of trophic novelty, processes driving biodiversity patterns, and the ancestral biogeography of reef-associated lineages. In a parallel research theme, he explores the causative relationships between genomic change, processes of diversification and life history traits across the tree of life.

  • BZ3450: Ecological and Conservation Genetics (Level 3; TSV)
  • BZ5450: Ecological and Conservation Genetics (Level 5; TSV)
  • 2014 to 2016 - Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University (New Haven (USA))
  • 2012 to 2014 - Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian National University (Canberra)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2009 - Virginia Chadwick Award for Excellence in Publication
  • 2017 to 2020 - ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)
  • 2017 to 2020 - ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
  • 2014 to 2016 - Donnelley Environmental Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies

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 52+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Peter Cowman from 2009 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Minderoo Foundation - Flourishing Oceans

Taxonomic assessment of corals in the Australian Indian Ocean Territory

Indicative Funding
$57,750 over 1 year
Document the species richness of the coral fauna of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands (Australian Indian Ocean Territory), with a focus on identifying new species, species endemic to the region or vulnerable to threats due to low abundance or limited distributions.
Tom Bridge, Peter Cowman and Andrew Baird (College of Science & Engineering)
Coral; Taxonomy; endemicity; Indian Ocean; Biogeography; biodiversity

Minderoo Foundation - Flourishing Oceans

Biodiversity of the reef-building corals of Ningaloo Reef and the Indian Ocean

Indicative Funding
$95,187 over 2 years
Document the species richness of the coral fauna of Ningaloo with a focus on identifying species endemic to the region or vulnerable to threats due to low abundance or limited distributions.
Andrew Baird, Tom Bridge and Peter Cowman (College of Science & Engineering and Education Division)
Coral Reefs; Conservation; Species discovery; Biodiversity; Biogeography; Endemicity

Lizard Island Research Station - Critical research grants

Taxonomy of the reef-building corals of Lizard Island

Indicative Funding
$88,000 over 2 years
The short term aim of the project is to establish a curated collection of all scleractinian coral species from Lizard Island, including field and skeleton images plus tissue samples. This will allow for consistency in identification of corals among studies. The long term goal is a robust taxonomy for the corals of Lizard Island using an integrated approach that includes quantitative morphological analysis, molecular analysis and other lines of evidence, such as spawning times and breeding compatibilities.
Andrew Baird, Tom Bridge and Peter Cowman (Research Division)
Biodiversity; Taxonomy; Great Barrier Reef; Coral Reefs; Scleractinia; Conservation

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.

  • Role of Hybridization in Evolutionary History of Scleractinian Corals (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Revisiting Coral Taxonomy: diversity and biogeography of Acropora across the Indian Ocean (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • An integrated taxonomic approach to understanding the diversity and biogeography of corals on the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Integrating physiological and environmental drivers of depth zonation patterns on coral reefs (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Drivers of Biodiversity on Coral Reefs - the role of Antipatharians Supporting Species Richness and Abundance on Shallow and Mesophotic Reefs (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Morphological and molecular systematics of stoloniferous soft corals (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Phylogenomics and Whole Genome Assembly of Marine Angelfishes: The Evolutionary History of an Iconic Reef Fish Family (PhD , Primary Advisor)

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)

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