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.

  • BC5101: Advanced Genes, Genomes and Development (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
Current Funding

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

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 (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Biodiversity; Taxonomy; Great Barrier Reef; Coral Reefs; Scleractinia; Conservation

Australian Research Council - Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

Biodiversity, biogeography and molecular evolution on tropical reefs

Indicative Funding
$372,000 over 3 years
This project aims to uncover how biodiversity patterns are driven by evolutionary processes, biogeography and molecular change. Coral reefs support over 800,000 plant and animal species on <0.1% of the ocean. How was this biodiversity formed? This project aims to answer this question by generating genomic data for a group of reef building corals and reef associated fishes to reconstruct their evolutionary history. It plans to use new methods to compare models of speciation, extinction and range change among regions to determine how those processes contribute to the formation of biodiversity gradients and regional assemblage differences. The project intends to improve understanding of evolutionary dynamics to inform conservation priorities.
Peter Cowman (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Coral Reefs; Molecular Evolution; Biogeography; Acroporidae; diversification; Labridae

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.

  • 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)
  • Role of Hybridization in Evolutionary History of Scleractinian Corals (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • An integrated taxonomic approach to understanding the diversity and biogeography of corals on the Great Barrier Reef. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Morphological and molecular Systematics of Octocorals on the Great Barrier Reef (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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