Rob has a long history translating scientific research into effective management advice and policy. He has a BSc in Zoology, an Honours degree (1st Class) in Entomology and a PhD in Fisheries from the University of Queensland.

He has worked as an entomologist, a fisheries scientist, a fisheries manager in the Torres Strait, as environment and regional manager for the Queensland government and as a seagrass scientist and research administrator.

Rob was the founding secretary of the World Seagrass Association and has a long history of promoting seagrass and coastal management research in the Indo-Pacific region.

Research Disciplines
  • 1996 - Churchill Fellow

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
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 60+ research outputs authored by Dr Robert Coles from 2007 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Traditional Owner Healing Country Grant

Applying Indigenous and western science knowledges to inform the sustainable management of a dugong and seagrass hotspot in the Girringun TUMRA

Indicative Funding
$83,552 over 2 years (administered by Girringun Aboriginal Corporation)
Girringun Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) are deeply concerned about potential threats and reduced resilience for the coastal environment. This project will address knowledge gaps around dugongs and seagrasses that are core to Traditional Owner?s cultural identity and traditional values; critical to the cultural, natural, socio-economic values of the Girringun Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement (TUMRA) and Indigenous Protected Area, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Hinchinbrook Island Dugong Protection Area. This project is a collaboration between GAC, seagrass and dugong experts from James Cook University, and Charles Darwin University to heal the Reef.
Alexandra Carter, Robert Coles and Rachel Groom (TropWater and Charles Darwin University)
Seagrass; Great Barrier Reef; TUMRA; Traditional Owner; Dugong; Monitoring

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Trust Partnership

IMR Integrated Reef Fish Monitoring Program

Indicative Funding
$491,011 over 2 years (administered by Australian Institute of Marine Science)
While critical knowledge of the abundance, diversity, and assemblage composition of Great Barrier Reef reef fishes has been delivered by comprehensive and systematic monitoring programs across various spatial and temporal scales to date, significant knowledge gaps remain. The Integrated Reef Fish Monitoring Program will address these critical knowledge gaps by establishing monitoring in nursery seascapes, deep-water inter-reef habitat, inshore fringing reefs, and developing indicators of reef fish status and trend.
Alexandra Carter, Tim Smith and Robert Coles (TropWater)
Fish; Great Barrier Reef; Monitoring; Coral Reef; Seagrass; Mangrove

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

Reef lagoon benthic habitat mapping in the Coral Sea Marine Park

Indicative Funding
$498,093 over 3 years
This project will undertake reef lagoon benthic habitat mapping within the Coral Sea Marine Park. Sites to be surveyed are the western lagoon of Holmes Reef, all of Herald Cays, the lagoon between the Diamond Islets in Tregrosse Reef, and the eastern corner of the lagoon in Lihou Reef. This project will produce the first extensive reef lagoon benthic maps of the selected regions in the Coral Sea Marine Park and will be the first seagrass survey in the Coral Sea.
Samantha Tol, Paul York, Michael Rasheed, Robert Coles, Alana Grech and Andrew Hoey (TropWater and Research Division)
Reef lagoon; Coral Sea Marine Park; Macroalgae; Benthic Habitat Mapping; Seagrass; Coral

Gunggandji-Mandingalbay Yidinji Prescribed Body Corporate - GBRF Healing Country

Gunggandji-Mandingalbay Yidinji Prescribed Body Corporate ? Healing Country Grant.

Indicative Funding
$125,415 over 1 year
This project will adopt a collaborative partnership approach with TropWATER and the Reef Restoration Foundation to build the skills, knowledge and experiences of Gunggandji and Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples for mapping, monitoring and assessing Sea Country. This collaborative approach will incorporate an Indigenous Knowledge perspective with Western science to help ensure that Traditional Owners are empowered to lead Reef restoration work, and to make and contribute to informed decisions about managing their Sea Country. Through co-designed workshops and training?both on and off Country?rangers will learn species and habitat identification and survey methods, will undertake baseline.
Skye McKenna, Katie Chartrand, Robert Coles, Paul Leeson, Lloyd Shepherd and Luke Hoffmann (TropWater)
Seagrass; Network; Ranger; Traditional Owner; Capacity building

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

Mapping Marra Sea Country with a focus on benthic habitats of the Limmen Marine Park

Indicative Funding
$283,720 over 3 years
Understanding the distribution and composition of benthic habitats in the Limmen Marine Park is necessary to manage the park in accordance with the North Marine Parks Network Management Plan and support the aspirations of the Marra People. Our team will survey the marine benthic habitats within and adjacent to the marine park. Recommendations for the marine park?s co-management will be developed. Project outputs will be relevant to multiple users and made accessible by optimizing media streams, including a short film about the Limmen marine park from the perspective of the Marra people and sea rangers.
Catherine Collier, Alexandra Carter, Rachel Groom, Robert Coles and Michael Rasheed in collaboration with Lloyd Shepherd and Paul Leeson (TropWater, Australian Institute of Marine Science and Research Infrastructure)
Marine Parks; Co-management; Traditional Owners; Benthic habitats; Seagrass; Monitoring

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - National Environmental Science Program 2 (NESP 2) - Marine and Coastal Hub (NESP MAC Hub)

Synthesizing Three Decades of Seagrass Spatial Data from Torres Strait and Gulf of Carpentaria

Indicative Funding
$41,837 over 1 year, in partnership with the Torres Strait Regional Authority ($10,000)
The Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait have globally significant seagrass habitat that provide food for threatened dugong and turtle, and habitat for commercially important fish and prawns. Key to understanding, managing, mitigating risk, and monitoring seagrass in this remote region is reliable data on seagrass distribution and species composition and how these changes through time. Data on seagrass has been collected in these areas since the 1980s, but data location and storage from these efforts remains disparate, in many cases not publicly available, and in some cases has already been lost. Our study will compile, validate and synthesize historical seagrass spatial data to create a publicly available database accessible on eAtlas. This product will provide end-users with a valuable spatial resource to assist management and monitoring of seagrass in the region.
Alexandra Carter, Skye McKenna, Robert Coles and Michael Rasheed (TropWater)
Seagrass; Torres Strait; Dugong; gulf of carpentaria; Green Turtle; spatial data

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.

  • A functional traits-based approach to improve understanding of seagrass resilience and disturbance effects on ecosystem services (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Relative importance of different seagrass re-establishment strategies in tropical Queensland, Australia (2021, PhD , Secondary 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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