Mail Address: Comparative Genomics Centre,
ATSIP Bldg 145, James Cook University,
Townsville, 4811, Queensland, Australia
Telephone: 61-7-4781 6286 Fax:  61-7-4771- 6087

Overview of Research in the Coral Reef Fish and Fisheries Genetics Group

Position in the Coral Reef and Fisheries Genetics Group
Recent Publications


One of the main research foci of the CGC Coral Reef Fish and Fisheries Genetics Group is the study of molecular genetics to explore the relationships between populations and species of reef organisms. Such studies allow us to infer the evolutionary history of several groups of reef fish and corals. Stock structure and population connectivity is also ascertained and has application to management of reef fisheries and conservation of biodiversity.

This group performs applied and problem solving research by applying a broad range of molecular genetic approaches to a diverse group of coral reef fishes. Research focuses on questions that include: i) the evolutionary history, diversification patterns and processes that have brought about one of the most diverse vertebrate groups on earth; ii) the identification of genetic partitioning between populations of Indo-Pacific wide distributed species of coral reef fish and how this relates to their conservation; iii) the identification of evolutionary and demographic connectivity between populations of coral reef fishes, with application to fisheries management and the efficacy of networks of Marine Protected Areas; iv) manipulative experiments on tropical fisheries species and transcriptomics to identify adaptation to temperature and which genes are associated with this. Many collaborative projects with other CGC groups, other JCU researchers and external researchers are underway. Studies incorporate population genetic, phylogenetic, and transcriptomic approaches. Current and recent research includes studies on elasmobranchs (sharks and sawfish) as well as a huge diversity of coral reef fishes.

Hybridization in reef fishes, including damselfishes, gobies and serranids:
Dr Lynne van Herwerden (Staff), Dr Philip. Munday (Research Fellow), and Professor J. Howard Choat (Adjunct Staff).

Phylogenetic studies of several taxa including: surgeonfishes, parrotfishes and angelfishes
Professor J. Howard Choat (Adjunct Staff), Dr Lynne van Herwerden (Staff), Professor David Bellwood (staff).

Population studies & phylogeography of species including damselfishes, parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, serranids, pseudochromids, reef sharks, acroporid corals
Dr Lynne van Herwerden (Staff), Dr Line. Bay (ARC CoE), Professor Geoff Jones (Staff), Dr M Julian Caley (Adjunct Staff), Professor J. Howard Choat (Adjunct Staff), Dr Philip. Munday (Research Fellow), Professor Terry. Hughes (ARC CoE)


Group Head: Research Fellow:


Students interested in undertaking a PhD or Masters project in the Coral Reef Fish and Fisheries Genetics Group should contact Lynne van Herwerden to discuss projects of mutual interest. Most higher degrees students would be expected to be eligible for a scholarship through the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scheme, the James Cook University Postgraduate Research Scholarship or an equivalent national or international scholarship.

The Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) and James Cook University Postgraduate Research Scholarship (JCUPRS) are open to applicants with, or who expect to hold, a first class honours degree or equivalent by the end of the year and who wish to undertake full-time research Masters or PhD program. In 2010 the stipends for an APA were $22,500 pa (full time) or $12,176 (part-time). APA applicants must be Australian citizens or have been granted permanent resident status and lived in Australia continuously for 12 months prior to receiving the award; Information and application forms can be obtained from the Graduate Research School. Closing Date: 31 October of each year.

Students who have completed their undergraduate training in a BSc, BBiomedSc, BMedlabSc or equivalent program and are interested in participating in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honours Program are encouraged to contact Lynne van Herwerden for a description of currently available projects. Honours studies require a full-time commitment for one year (two semesters) and can start in either February or August.


Students can apply for a Comparative Genomics Centre Summer Studentships Award. The successful applicants receive instruction in the latest genetic and immunological techniques, receiving a stipend of $350 per week for a full-time commitment of between 6 and 10 weeks over the summer break. Applications for the CGC Summer Studentships are announced in September each year and close in late October. Contact Lynne van Herwerden for further details.


More Recent publications..