I originally come from Noosa, Australia, but have been in Townsville at JCU since 2012. Currently I am a postdoctoral research fellow in the Research Hub for Coral Reef Ecosystem Functions at James Cook University, Australia. My primary activity in this position is conducting research that centres on the functional ecology of coral reefs, with this work covering an array of taxonomic groups across multiple spatial scales. Specifically, my research ranges from conducting small-scale field-based studies that examine the functional roles of key organisms and the interactions between them, through to global-scale studies that use a macroecological approach to understand how coral reefs function, and have changed, at large scales. My current role also involves teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate courses, with a particular focus on the ecology and evolution of reef fishes. I also remain an avid aquarium-keeper, with eight-years of experience working in the aquarium industry prior to diving into the world of coral reef research.

  • MB3160: Evolution and Ecology of Reef Fishes (Level 3; TSV)
  • Coral reef ecology with particular emphasis on the role of algae.
  • Understanding the feeding ecology and ecological roles of reef fishes.
  • The influence of disturbances and stressors on coral reef organisms and ecosystem functioning.
  • Developing frameworks for identifying, quantifying, and managing critical ecosystem functions on coral reefs.
  • 2022 to 2024 - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2019 to 2022 - Doctoral Candidate, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2017 to 2018 - Research Assistant, James Cook University (Townsville)
Research Disciplines
  • 2023 - Dean’s Award for Higher Degree by Research Excellence
  • 2022 - Australian Marine Sciences Association-NQ conference award
  • 2020 - Virginia Chadwick Award for an Outstanding Publication
  • 2017 - Dr R Palmerston-Rundle Prize for Biological Sciences
  • 2015 - James Cook University Academic Medal (Bachelor Coursework)
  • 2015 - Port of Townsville Limited Prize in Marine Biology
  • 2015 - Chris Alexander Memorial Prizes for Marine Biology (Prize B)

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 51+ research outputs authored by Dr Sterling Tebbett from 2016 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Lizard Island Research Station - Postdoctoral Fellowships

The evolution of a critical ecosystem function for the future of coral reefs

Indicative Funding
$14,400 over 1 year
Early in their evolutionary history, surgeonfishes established close links with coral reefs. Today they play essential roles in these threatened ecosystems. Despite this importance, the evolutionary context of some of their ecosystem functions is yet to be understood. This project aims to quantify the role of sediment removal and transportation throughout the evolution of surgeonfishes. More specifically, we will measure the dry weight of sediment found in the guts of surgeonfish species belonging to different clades, and model it through evolutionary time. This would provide fundamental knowledge about an ecosystem function that is critical for the future of coral reefs.
Alexandre Siqueira Correa, Sterling Tebbett and Isabelle Ng (College of Science & Engineering)
Surgeonfishes; Phylogeny; Feeding ecology; Sediment removal; Gut contents; Ancestral reconstructions

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a 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.

  • Planktivorous fishes on coral reefs: A trophic exploration (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.
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  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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