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Nick Graham supervises 6 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Nick Graham


Nick Graham

Lancaster University

LEC Building



Tel: +44 1524 595054

Research overview

Nick is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and a Chair in Marine Ecology. He tackles large-scale ecological and social-ecological coral reef issues under the overarching themes of climate change, human use and resilience. He has assessed the impacts of climate induced coral bleaching on coral reef fish assemblages, fisheries and ecosystem stability. He has studied the patterns and processes by which degraded coral reefs recover, and how this can be influenced by management. He has worked extensively on the ecological ramifications of fishing and closed area management. Increasingly he works with social scientists linking social-ecological systems for natural resource assessment and management.


Recent and current research

Nick has published over 200 peer reviewed journal articles, available through his Google Scholar page. This has included key papers assessing the long-term outcomes for reefs severely disturbed by climatic disturbances (nature 2015), identification of the worlds coral reefs that are outperforming given the conditions they are exposed to (nature 2016), an assessment of the spatial and temporal patterns of mass coral bleaching (science 2018), and determining how seabirds enhance coral reef productivity and functioning (nature 2018). Examples of ongoing, or recent projects include:


The Changing Ecology and Functioning of Coral Reefs. This Royal Society University Research Fellowship seeks to assess the changing ecology of coral reef ecosystems under climate change and human use, including alterations to productivity and functioning of the ecosystem. Specifically the project is quantifying the changing composition of coral reefs across the Indian Ocean in response to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts, assessing the top-down (i.e. fishing) versus bottom-up (i.e. habitat composition) influences on the productivity of coral reef fisheries, and assessing how ecosystem functions differ under alternate scenarios of direct human use and climate impacts.

Implications of nutrient flow and feedbacks across the seabird-island-reef system. This Bertarelli Foundation funded project assesses the role of seabird nutrient subsidies in driving island and coral reef processes, and the geo-ecological functions that support tropical island resilience. The project includes research groups at Lancaster University, the University of Oxford, and the University of Exeter, and works with partners across the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Nick was a Chief Investigator, and remains an Adjunct Professor, of this Australian Research Council funded Centre, which is organised under three programs: 1. People and Ecosystems, 2. Ecosystem Dynamics: Past, Present and Future, 3. Responding to a Changing World. Nick principally works under programs 1 and 2, with broad ecological and social-ecological research activities and collaborations.

Ecology of Novel Coral Reef Ecosystems. This Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award was an independent fellowship aimed at predicting future novel coral reef ecosystem configurations. Specifically, the project aimed to experimentally assess the response of fish to predicted changes in coral composition, determine how the ecological effects of marine protected areas may change in a novel ecosystem context, and build empirically‐based simulations of novel coral reef ecosystem configurations.



Associate Editor for Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Associate Editor for the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Senior Editor for Journal of Fish Biology

Faculty member for F1000

Councillor for International Society for Reef Studies 2011-2015

Australian Research Council Int Reader


Other affiliations:

Adjunct Professor

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

James Cook University


QLD 4811



Seminars online

Predicting climate-driven regime shifts versus rebound potential in coral reefs

Unfolding phase shifts and managing for change

Maintaining ecosystems and livelihoods in the face of climate change

Extinction vulnerability of coral reef fishes in response to climate change


Select Media

Video: Nature Video - of rats and reefs

Web: Scientific American – Coral reefs show remarkable ability to recover from near death

Print: The Guardian – Scientists reveal which coral reefs can survive global warming

TV: WIN News – a key to protecting coral reefs

Radio: ABC The World Today – Scientists name rock bottom rules for coral reefs


Select Commentary

Nature - How rats wreak havoc on coral reefs

Nature - Sea-level rise could overwhelm coral reefs

The Conversation – Obituaries for coral reefs may be premature, study finds

Nature – Older but less wise

Nature – Recovering the potential for coral reefs

Nature – Deep and complex ways to survive bleaching

Nature – Identifying reef fish at risk

Current Biology – Marine conservation: moving beyond Malthus


Research Fellows

Dr Casey Benkwitt, 'Reef fish ecology, and seabird nutrient subsidies in Chagos'

Dr Tim Lamont, 'Functions and services associated with reef restoration' Royal Commission 1851 Research Fellow

Dr Sarah Martin, 'Climate change an reef fisheries'

Dr Ruth Dunn, 'Energetics of seabird-coral reef connectivity'

Dr Rucha Karkarey, 'Socioecological dynamics of reef fish spawning aggregations' National Geographic Explorer

Dr Emmanuel Mbaru, 'Transboundary governance of marine social-ecological systems' AXA Research Fellow

Dr James Robinson*, 'Coral reef fisheries food security following successive climatic shocks' *Now a Royal Society University Research Fellow at Lancaster University

Dr Eva Maire*, 'Ecology of fish micronutrients on coral reefs' *Now a Research Scientist at IRD, MARBEC, Montpellier

Dr Kirsty Nash*, 'Using coral reef fisheries independent data for stock status and management advice'. *Now at University of Tasmania


Current research students

Hana Amir, 'How do coral energy strategies influence their survival?' PhD

Camilla Labonte, 'Do seabird nutrients enhance micronutrients in fish' Masters by Research

Laura-Li Jeannot, 'Effects of seabird nutrient input on the productivity of coral reef fish communities' PhD

Javier Gonzalez Barrios, ‘Confronting the changing diversity patterns of coral reefs’ PhD

Lisa Goberdhan, ‘Functional role of uncharted coral reef habitats in the Anthropocene’ PhD

Johnstone Omukoto, ‘Disentangling the Determinants of Food and Nutritional Security from Tropical Coastal Fisheries’ PhD

Mark Hamilton, 'Implications of coral reef degradation for fisheries' PhD


Completed research students

Samuel Healing, ‘Influence of seabird nutrient input for UK marine ecology’ Masters by Research

Emma Awuku-Sowah, 'Role of mangroves in mediating malaria risk and implications for wellbeing' PhD

Samantha Howlett, 'Climatic disruptions to ecosystem processes on coral reefs' PhD

Helen Ford, 'Widening our view of the reef: the landscape ecology of disturbance and recovery on Pacific coral reefs' PhD (based at Bangor)

Jeneen Hadj-Hammou, 'Functional changes in coral reef marine protected areas' PhD

Kyle Osborne, ‘Coral and fish community development on artificial reefs of different ages’, Masters by Research

Robert Semmler, 'Identifying critical thresholds for foraging strategies of coral reef fish' PhD (co-supervisor)

Anna Woodhead, 'Capturing ecosystem service delivery from coral reefs' PhD

Jan-Claas Dajka, 'Interrupting feedbacks to stimulate regeneration of degraded coral reefs' PhD

Ellie Vaughan, 'Nutrient impacts on coral reefs captured through macroalgal isotopes' PhD

Emmanuel Mbaru, ‘Using fisheries dependent data and socio-economic indicators to develop ecosystem based fisheries management tools’ PhD

Laura Richardson, ‘The influence of coral community composition on coral reef ecosystem function’ PhD

Tessa Hempson, 'Coral reef mesopredator trophodynamics in response to reef condition' PhD

Jan Robinson, ‘Vulnerability to fishing in reef fishes that aggregate’ PhD

Matthew Jankowski, ‘Effects of depth on distribution and habitat specialisation in coral reef fish communities’ PhD

Kirsty Nash, ‘Assessment of scale dependent function in reef fish, and its application to the evaluation of coral reef resilience’ PhD

Karen Chong-Seng, ‘Alternative states and the processes influencing differential recovery  of coral reef habitats in the Seychelles’ PhD

Judith Kok, ‘The influence of changing coral compositions on reef fish competition’ MAppSc

Stephen Ban: ‘Spatial responses of coral reef ecosystems to climate change and associated stressors’ PhD

Fraser Hartley, ‘Fear of fishers: anti-predator behaviour of coral reef fishes and its relevance to fisheries management and conservation’ PhD

Darren Coker, ‘The importance of live coral habitat for reef fishes and its role in key ecological processes’ PhD

Diego Schapira, ‘Associations between coral reef macro-habitat attributes and damselfish communities’ MSc

George Stoyle, ‘Patch size and its effect on the abundance, biomass and feeding intensity of dominant coral reef herbivores’ MSc

Mary Ledlie, ‘Feeding Habits of Herbivorous Fishes and their Potential Role in Reef Recovery on Cousin Island, Seychelles’ MSc

Ed Bulmer, ‘The effects of coral bleaching on reef fish assemblages: a meso-scale study of Seychellois marine reserves’ Honours

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