Kevin Bairos-Novak - AIMS@JCU

Kevin Bairos-Novak

College of Science and Engineering

Kevin Bairos-Novak

College of Science and Engineering
Understanding reef thermal evolution in the context of climate change

Kevin is a PhD student from Winnipeg, Canada, interested in evolution, population ecology, modelling, R programming, statistics, and social behaviour.

Understanding reef thermal evolution in the context of climate change

2018 to 2022

Project Description

Kevin's research examines how Great Barrier Reef corals are likely to evolve in the future, given future predicted ocean warming. He uses demographic models of corals to address likely rates of population evolution.
Kevin's thesis chapters examine the following three topics:
(1) Defining a minimal demographic model (size-dependent Integral Projection Model) of corals that captures realistic population dynamics;
(2) Determining to what extent traits such as coral survival during heat stress are heritable; and
(3) Determining likely coral population outcomes in the long run by combining the coral demographic model (Chapter 1), trait heritability estimates (Chapter 2), and future projections of climate change within an evolutionary Integral Projection model.
Future extensions of his work will include meta-population evolutionary dynamics, as well as incorporating a thermotolerance-growth evolutionary trade-off.

Kevin's main passion is statistical modelling/causal inference and he is always open and happy to form new collaborations. If you are looking for advice on which analysis to use for your data analysis, help with making advanced plots, or simply would like an extra set of eyes to look over your design – please reach out to him!

Project Importance

This project is important, given the current state of coral reefs, the future projected increases in sea surface temperatures and increasing frequency/intensity of bleaching events, and how few population models current take into account evolutionary processes that are likely to affect coral populations.

Project Methods

Meta-analysis, statistical modelling, and Integral Projection Models.

Project Results

Coral traits are highly heritable (doi: 10.1111/gcb.15829), indicating the potential capacity for corals to adapt to future projected warming. However, coral population demography is strongly dependent on local reef post-settlement density dependence, survival, and growth.


Climate change,
Controlled Environment,
Coral reefs,
Management tools,
Manipulative experiments,
Marine planning,
Natural disturbance,
Ocean warming,
Quantitative marine science,
Temporal change