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
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 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
Conference Papers

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 51+ 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.

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 2 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 and Australian Institute of Marine Science)
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

Queensland Department of Environment and Science - Advance Queensland Small Business Innovation Research

Boosting coral abundance on the Great Barrier Reef - Scaling up coral restoration using innovative Symbiodinium co-culture and mass larval supply on reefs

Indicative Funding
$71,000 over 1 year (administered by Southern Cross University)
This project will supply millions of coral larvae and significantly increase the settlement and recruitment success of juvenile corals. This will rapidly replenish damaged GBR coral sites, restoring ecological functions and resilience of coral communities. Our concept will significantly increase the supply of high quality larvae of foundation corals and provide the world?s first mass production of larvae containing Symbiodinium microalgae, which will increase larval energy and settlement success and survival of newly settled corals. Innovations include coral larval restoration at larger scales (hundreds of square metres) than previous studies and pioneering front-line diagnostics to confer thermal tolerance in coral recruits. Our team includes world-leading researchers with decades of relevant experience collaborating directly with tourism and other Queensland businesses to provide cost-effective outcomes that can be commercially scaled to restore large reef areas in future.
Katie Chartrand, Robert Coles and Alexandra Carter (TropWATER)
Symbiodinium spp.; Coral larvae; Coral spawning; restoration; Coral reef; Great Barrier Reef

QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries - Contract Research

Green Mussel Monitoring Proposal 2017 - Weipa Plankton Sampling and Sample Processing

Indicative Funding
$64,445 over 1 year
This project will sample plankton for the presence of AGM larval DNA at two locations; Weipa Harbour, and the Amrun project site to the south of Weipa. It will meet the initial requirements of the Weipa Asian Green Mussel Surveillance Strategy. The collection will follow protocols previously used in Cairns Harbour and will rely on expertise developed by TropWATER scientists to collect, process and transport DNA material for analysis and to report the results.
Robert Coles, Michael Rasheed and Alysha Sozou in collaboration with Carissa Reason, Lloyd Shepherd and T Sankey (TropWATER)
Asia Green Mussel; Plankton; Survey; Biosecurity; DNA

Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales - Research Grant

The role of seagrass dispersal by marine mega-herbivores, dugong (Dugong dugon) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).

Indicative Funding
$7,000 over 3 years
This project will investigate the dispersal mechanisms of tropical seagrasses and determine which mechanisms are most effective for long distance dispersal. It will examine whether marine mega-herbivores (dugongs and green sea turtles) disperse seagrass seeds through their fecal matter and whether those seeds are viable. It will determine how long seagrass fragments, created by abiotic and biotic mechanisms, remain viable and establish new meadows. This information will be used to model which seagrass meadows are at greater risk of slow recovery after a large scale loss. This recovery model will have the potential to highlight which seagrass meadows rely solely on dispersal by marine mega-herbivores for recovery.
Samantha Tol, Brad Congdon and Robert Coles (College of Science & Engineering and TropWATER)
tropical seagrass; Dugong (Dugong dugon); Chelonia mydas; Seagrass Dispersal; Seagrass Seed; Seagrass Fruit

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.

  • Understanding Recovery Processes of Tropical Seagrasses of the Great Barrier Reef (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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