Rachel Neil - AIMS@JCU

Rachel Neil


College of Science and Engineering

Rachel Neil


College of Science and Engineering
Bioengineering for enhanced coral production

Rachel grew up in Perth WA, where she fostered a love of the ocean and marine science. After completing two years of a Bachelors at the University of Western Australia, she decided she wanted to pursue a career studying tropical reefs and corals, so made the decision to move to Queensland to study at James Cook University . There she completed her Bachelors, and undertook an honours project at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, looking at the effects of small-scale co-culture of Acropora, Porites and Platygyra coral recruits.

Bioengineering for enhanced coral production

2021 to 2025

Project Description

This project aims to improve ex-situ aquaculture production of coral by using co-culture with herbivores to increase the settlement, survival and growth of corals.

Project Importance

In the face of climate change, there is a increasing demand for sustainably produced aquacultured corals for reef restoration, scientific experiments and the ornamental trade - co-culture offers a cost-effective solution to potentially dramatically increase the production of coral aquaculture efforts.

Project Methods

The project will use manipulative experiments at the SeaSim to compare co-culture of a variety of corals with grazers such as gastropods, sea urchins and herbivorous fish to test the effects of the grazers on biofilm formation and coral settlement, coral's survival and growth from recruit to the juvenile stage, and the efficacy of grazers on a variety of different substrates.

Project Results

From initial work conducted in 2020, coral recruit survival in co-culture treatments can be up to 26 times higher than in control tanks - a very significant increase in yield with minimal intervention from an aquarist. Should other life-stages of corals show such responses to co-culture, it could become an easy to apply method to improve the production of corals worldwide.


Artificial reef,
Climate change,
Coral reefs,
Manipulative experiments,

Supervised By:

Craig Humphrey (AIMS)

David Bourne (JCU)

Andrew Heyward (AIMS)