Christopher A. Brunner - AIMS@JCU

Christopher A. Brunner

Recipient of an AIMS@JCU Scholarship

College of Science and Engineering

Christopher A. Brunner

College of Science and Engineering
Cumulative impacts of sedimentation and climate change on the early life history of corals

Christopher completed his double MSc degree in Marine Biology in 2015, after studying one year at the University of Bremen (Germany) and another year at the Ocean University of China (Qingdao, China). He is especially interested in adaptation processes of different benthic communities and studied the adaptability of cold-water, mesophotic and tropical corals, as well as other benthic organisms, towards impacts of climate change and sedimentation.
In his PhD studies, he adds-on to his previous work by identifying how coral larvae and recently settled coral recruits perform in future climate conditions.

Cumulative impacts of sedimentation and climate change on the early life history of corals

2017 to 2021

Project Description

Sedimentation and climate change have detrimental effects on tropical coral reefs. For the first time, the cumulative effects of sedimentation and two climate scenarios likely to become reality in near-future (elevated temperatures and pCO2) will be assessed for corals. Controlled, multi-factorial experiments at the National Sea Simulator will provide critical data on cause-effect pathways and climate-adjusted stress thresholds. The results will inform spatial risk maps to identify potentially threatened reefs where targeted action should be prioritised. This will enable the development of water quality management guidelines and policies adjusted for predicted climatological conditions to help enhance coral replenishment on reefs in the future.

Project Importance

Due to ongoing industrial activities, future reefs will likely face intensifying combinations of major stressors, such as from elevated sediment runoff, rising temperatures, and ocean acidification. Previous studies that only focused on one or two stressors may vastly underestimated the realistic influence of climate change. In this study, cumulative impacts of all these major environmental factors will therefore be investigated for the first time in coordination with one another.


Climate change,
Coastal development,
Controlled Environment,
Coral reefs,
Economic development,
Management tools,
Manipulative experiments,
Marine planning,
Natural disturbance,
Ocean acidification,
Ocean warming,
Remote Sensing,
Soft bottom,
Temporal change