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Assessing the range expansion of hard corals into temperate waters


The subtropical endemic coral Pocillopora alicia has recently been observed off the coast of Sydney. This project will seek to document the extent of coverage of this species and to understand the dynamics and impacts of its spread.


Associate Professor William Figueira, Dr Brigitte Sommer.

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program type



This project is based around the novel occurrence of the hard coral Pocillopora alicia along the Sydney coast. There is scope for identifying specific research questions upon which to focus within this larger project but they would address some of the following: - How far south and in what abundance Pocillopora alicia occurs along the NSW coast? - Does the coral physical structure of demographics vary across its range, into this new area? - What is the effect of this coral on landscape-scale structure of these habitats and how does this affect fish assemblages. These questions would be addressed with a variety of techniques including standard visual and photo-quadrat surveys, 3D mapping of large areas and individual colonies and underwater visual census of fish assemblages. 

Additional information

Participants in this project will require current driver’s license valid for use in NSW and should SCUBA certification levels at the Divemaster level or higher so they can conduct research diving. Possession of a boating license and/or boating experience is beneficial. 

HDR Inherent Requirements  

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:   

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;  
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);  
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;  
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);  
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;  
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);  
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;  
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;  
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;  
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)   

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2708

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