Dr. Collier is a Postdoctoral Fellow and seagrass ecophysiologist at JCU. She has a background in ecophysiology and marine conservation with work on morphology, physiology, growth and meadow characteristics of seagrasses, and their vulnerability to climate change. Between 2007 and 2010 she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility, supported by the Commonwealth Environmental Research Program (CERF).

Seagrass meadows are a vital habitat in tropical coastal ecosystems: they support biodiversity of estuarine, coastal and reef communities, including fisheries species, and they are a direct food source for obligate seagrass feeders such as dugongs. Seagrass meadows in the coastal zone also form a buffer between the catchment and the reef, trapping sediments and absorbing nutrients, with their high productivity rates facilitating rapid nutrient cycling.

A key policy to minimising the effects of climate change on tropical marine organisms (e.g. coral bleaching and loss of seagrass cover) is to improve water quality, thereby reducing the potential for pollution to exacerbate the effects of thermal stress (Reef Plan, 2009).  While pesticides are thought to contribute to stress on nearshore habitats, little is known of their chronic effects on tropical species or their persistence in tropical waters.

Program 5 will have three projects designed to assess the impacts of cumulative pressures on coastal biodiversity in the GBR. One will be a synthesis and analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of inshore biodiversity seeking to partition the influence of different environmental drivers (water quality, crown of thorns starfish, cyclones, and connectivity) and identify synergistic interactions between stressors.

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