Professor Philip Munday has broad interests in the ecology and evolution of reef fishes. His primary research focuses on understanding and predicting the impacts that climate change will have on populations and communities of marine fishes, both directly through changes in the physical environment and indirectly through effects on coral reef habitat. Using a range of laboratory and field-based experiments he has investigated the effects of climate change on reef fish populations and testing their capacity for acclimation and adaptation to a rapidly changing environment.

Prof Munday is a Highly Cited Researcher who has published over 270 scientific papers. He is now retired and is an Emeritus Professor in the ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies.

  • Impact of climate change on marine fishes
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Adaptation to evironmental change
  • Role of habitat in structuring fish communities
  • 2014 to 2017 - ARC Future Fellow (Professorial Tier), James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2008 to 2013 - ARC QEII Research Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2003 to 2007 - ARC Australian Research Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2003 to 2004 - Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara (USA)
  • 2000 to 2002 - ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2018 - Fellow of International Society for Reef Studies
  • 2018 - JCU Outstanding Career Achievement in Research Supervision
  • 2014 - JCU Award for Excellence in Research
  • 2009 - Vice-Chancellors Award for Excellence in Research and Research Supervision
  • 2014 to 2017 - ARC Future Fellow (Professor)
  • 2008 to 2013 - ARC QEII Fellowship
  • 2003 to 2007 - ARC ARF Fellowship
  • 2003 to 2004 - Fulbright Fellowship
  • 2000 to 2002 - ARC APD Fellowship

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 270+ research outputs authored by Prof Philip Munday from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Museum - Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowship

Mechanisms for underpinning maintained or enhanced performance of coral reef fishes under future climate change conditions.

Indicative Funding
$16,545 over 3 years
The partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the oceans is increasing at unprecedented rate. This is expected to have negative impacts on marine organisms. However, some studies have found enhanced aerobic scope of fishes. No study has identified the mechanisms underpinning maintained or enhanced performance of fishes during predicted future conditions. This basic mechanistic knowledge could help informing how fish communities will perform and survive in future climate change conditions and their adaptive capacity.
Kelly Hannan, Jodie Rummer and Philip Munday (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Climate Change; Performance; Reef Fish; Ocean Acidification; Oxygen Consumption

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.
Graeme Cumming, 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

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology - Competitive Research Grant

Genomic evidence for adaptation of marine fishes to ocean acidification

Indicative Funding
$536,574 over 3 years (administered by King Abudullah University of Science and Technology)
Ocean acidification is predicted to have far-reaching impacts on marine biodiversity, especially in vulnerable ecosystems such as coral reefs. Whether marine animals can adapt to the decreasing pH is uncertain and the likely molecular mechanisms responsible for such adaptation are unknown. Recent studies show that ecologically important behaviours of marine fishes can be impaired by CO2 levels projected to occur in the ocean before the end of this century. However, in a unique multi-generational experiment with a common coral reef fish, we have demonstrated that such individuals are more tolerant to high CO2 than others and that this tolerance is heritable. In this study we will use Next-Generation Sequencing to sequence the brain's genomes and transcriptomes from parents and their offspring to test for genetic adaptation in CO2 tolerance.
V Orlando, Philip Munday, Michael Berumen and Jodie Rummer (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Ocean Acidification; Coral Reef Fish; Adaptation; Genome

SeaWorld Research and Rescue Foundation Inc - Research Grant

Battle of the sexes in a warming ocean ? which parent has the greatest impact?

Indicative Funding
$18,051 over 1 year
Rising sea temperature poses a significant threat to coral reefs and their inhabitants. By 2050 ? 2100, sea surface temperature of coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, is expected to increase by 1.5?C (IPCC 2007; 2013). While current populations of reef fish suffer when exposed short-term to elevated temperatures, future warming will occur over numerous generations for most species. Research has shown that the performance of fish improves when their parents also experience warmer conditions (known as transgenerational acclimation). The next key question is what combination of parental experience is required to obtain improved performance in the next generation (i.e. only mothers, fathers, or both parents)? This information will directly enhance our ability to predict generational rates of acclimation, especially where mating pairs are formed by individuals of diverse ages. As well as gain valuable insight into the mechanisms behind acclimation.
Philip Munday, Jennifer Donelson and Rachel Spinks (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Climate change; ocean warming; Parental Effects; Coral Reef; Reef Fish; reproduction

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology - Technology's Competititve Research Grant Program-Round 3 (CRG3)

Transcriptional program and the epigenome of transgenerational acclimation in reef fishes

Indicative Funding
$631,579 over 3 years
Transgenerational acclimation is a form of non-genetic inheritance in which the environmental conditions experienced by one-generation influences the performance of future generations in that environment. New studies show that the performance of juvenile fish at higher water temperatures is significantly improved when their parents also experienced the warmer temperature. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for transgenerational thermal acclimation, and how it is controlled, are currently unknown. Genomic DNA methylation is a form of epigenetic inheritance that cells use to control gene expression, and recent evidence suggests that genome methylation can be driven by external signals in cells after birth as well as in adult cells. This raises the intriguing possibility that DNA methylation can serve as a mechanism for genomes to rapidly adapt to changing environments. Here we propose a unique multi-generational manipulative experiment for a common coral reef fish, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, with genome-wide measurements of gene expression and DNA methylation. Using an integrative analysis, we seek to identify molecular pathways responsible for transgenerational acclimation to rising ocean temperatures and to test the hypothesis that genomic DNA methylation serves as a central mechanism mediating transgenerational acclimation to climate change.
Philip Munday, Jennifer Donelson, T Ravasi and T Berumen (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, College of Science & Engineering and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology)
Climate Change; acclimation; Adaptation; coral reef; Marine Fish; Genomics

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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.


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The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
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  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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