Dr Alastair Harborne

Harborne profile picture

Marine Spatial Ecology Lab

School of Biological Sciences
University of Queensland
St. Lucia Campus Brisbane,
Qld 4072
Email: a.harborne@uq.edu.au

Tel: +61-(0)7 336 51671

Skype: al_harborne

UQ website: http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/2293

Research Overview

I am an ecologist primarily interested in coral reef fishes, providing novel insights into the impacts of environmental change on these fishes, and underpinning sound conservation science. A current research focus, in both the Caribbean and Pacific, is examining the processes (abiotic and biotic) controlling the abundance, ecology, and behaviour of coral reef fish species, and integrating this work into food web models to provide a comprehensive understanding of tropical communities and the threats to their health. For example, these studies are demonstrating the potential impacts of sea-level rise on reef-flat food webs in the Pacific through changing predator-prey interactions and foraging behaviour. I am also interested in the impacts of marine reserves, including the indirect effects of trophic cascades driven by increases in predatory species. I also have a growing interest in comparing tropical and sub-tropical reefs. Finally, I am interested in collaborating with researchers from other disciplines (e.g. physiologists and geomorphologists / sedimentologists) to provide novel approaches to understanding the ecology of fishes and their provision of reef services.


1st March 2012 – 28st February 2015: Australian Research Council DECRA Research Fellow, University of Queensland
1st December 2008 – 30th November 2011: Natural Environment Research Council Independent Research Fellow, University of Exeter
1st October 2004 – 30th November 2008: Research / Teaching Assistant, University of Exeter
1st May 1996 – 31st December 2001: Coral Cay Conservation Marine Science Co-ordinator
13th September 1993 – 1st May 1996: Coral Cay Conservation Assistant Science Co-ordinator


January 2002 – December 2006: PhD at the University of Exeter. “The ecology of coral reef communities at seascape scales”.
October 1990 – July 2003: Degree at the University of Southampton. First Class BSc joint honours degree – Oceanography with Biology.


Recent grants / projects

Australian Research Council DECRA Research Fellow, AU$375,000, entitled “The effects of sea-level rise on the feeding ecology of coral-reef fishes in shallow water, and the implications for reef-flat food webs”.

University of Queensland New staff research start-up grant, AU$11,910 entitled “Fishes on coral reef flats: are they thermal generalists compared to fishes in deeper water?”

Great Barrier Reef Foundation grant, AU$150,000 entitled  “Quantification of coral reef habitat structural complexity and community composition in a changing ocean using 3D models.” (collaborator)

Natural Environment Research Council Independent Research Fellowship, £247,243, entitled “A holistic model of the factors controlling reef-fish populations, including both pre- and post-settlement processes”.

Earthwatch Project “Mangroves and coral reefs as effective fish nurseries: the effects of fishing, climate change, and altering coasts”, US$190,000, 2011-2015

UQ Global Change Institute Seed Grant “The effects of predators on blue carbon storage in an algal dominated landscape” (to Atwood  Macreadie, Madin, and Harborne), AU$8,600, 2014

Journal publications

Cited by 2754; h Index 22, i10-index 24 (http://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=LcANET4AAAAJ&hl=en); h index 17 (Web of Science, ResearcherID: F-6155-2013); h index 19 (Scopus)

  1. Harborne, A.R., B. Talwar, and E.J. Brooks. 2015. The conservation implications of spatial and temporal variability in the diurnal use of Bahamian tidal mangrove creeks by transient predatory fishes. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. In press. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2538.
  2. Rogers, A., A.R. Harborne, C.J. Brown, Y-M. Bozec, C. Castro, I. Chollett, K. Hock, C. Knowland, A. Marshell, J.C. Ortiz, T. Razak, G. Roff, J. Samper-Villarreal, M.I. Saunders, N. Wolff, and P.J. Mumby. 2015. Anticipative management for coral reef ecosystem services in the 21st century. Global Change Biology. 21, 504-514
  3. O’Farrell, S., A.R. Harborne, Y-M. Bozec, B.E. Luckhurst, and P.J. Mumby. Protection of functionally important parrotfishes increases their biomass but fails to deliver enhanced recruitment. Marine Ecology Progress Series. In press
  4. Igulu, M.M., I. Nagelkerken, M. Dorenbosch, M.G.G. Grol, A.R. Harbone, I.A. Kimirei, P.J. Mumby, A.D. Olds, and Y.D. Mgaya. 2014. Mangrove habitat use by juvenile reef fish: meta-analysis reveals that tidal regime matters more than biogeographic region. PLoS ONE 9(12): e114715. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114715.
  5. Bridge, T., R. Ferrari, M. Bryson, R. Hovey, W. Figueira, S. Williams, A.R. Harborne, M. Byrne. 2014. Variable responses of benthic communities on a high-latitude reef to a coral bleaching event. PLoS ONE. 9(11): e113079. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113079
  6. Cordeiro, C.A.M.M., A.R. Harborne and C.E.L. Ferreira. 2014. Controls of the distribution and composition of sea urchin assemblages on Brazilian subtropical rocky reefs. Marine Biology 161, 2221-2232
  7. Micheli, F., P.J. Mumby, D.R. Brumbaugh, K. Broad, C.P. Dahlgren, A.R. Harborne, K.E. Holmes, C.V. Kappel, S.Y. Litvin, and J.N. Sanchirico. 2014. High vulnerability of ecosystem function and services to diversity loss in Caribbean coral reefs. Biological Conservation 171, 186–194
  8. Roff, G., Wabnitz C.C.C., Harborne A.R., and P.J. Mumby. 2013. Macroalgal associations of motile epifaunal invertebrate communities on coral reefs. Marine Ecology-an Evolutionary Perspective 34. 409-419
  9. Harborne, A.R. 2013. The ecology, behaviour and physiology of fishes on coral reef flats, and the potential impacts of climate change. Journal of Fish Biology, 83, 417–447
  10. Mumby, P.J., D.R. Brumbaugh, A.R. Harborne AR, G. Roff. 2013. On the relationship between native grouper and invasive lionfish in the Caribbean. PeerJ PrePrints 1:e45v1
  11. Harborne, A. R., H. L. Jelks,  W. F. Smith-Vaniz, and L. A. Rocha. 2012. Abiotic and biotic controls of cryptobenthic fish assemblages across a Caribbean seascape. Coral Reefs 31, 977-990.
  12. Harborne, A. R. 2012. Seasonal variation in the functional response of a coral-reef piscivore alters the inverse density-dependent mortality of its prey. Coral Reefs 31, 247-251. download pdf
  13. Harborne A.R., P.J. Mumby, and R. Ferrari. 2012. The effectiveness of different meso-scale rugosity metrics for predicting intra-habitat variation coral-reef fish assemblages. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 95431-442download pdf
  14. Mumby, P.J., R.S. Steneck, A.J. Edwards, R. Ferrari, J.P. Gibson, A.R. Harborne, R. Coleman. 2012. Fishing down a Caribbean food web relaxes trophic cascades. Marine Ecology Progress Series 445, 13-24. download pdf
  15. Mumby, P.J., A.R. Harborne, and D.R. Brumbaugh. 2011. Grouper as a natural biocontrol of invasive lionfish. PLoS ONE 6(6): e21510. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021510. download pdf
  16. Perry C.T., M. Salter, A.R. Harborne, S.F. Crowley, H.L. Jelks, and R.W. Wilson. 2011. Fish as major carbonate mud producers and new components of the tropical carbonate factory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, 3865-3869. download pdf
  17. Harborne A.R., P.J. Mumby, E.V. Kennedy, and R. Ferrari. 2011. Effect on coral-reef fishes of biotic and multi-scale abiotic controls of habitat quality. Marine Ecology Progress Series 437, 201-214. download pdf
  18. Harborne A.R., P.J. Mumby. 2011. Novel ecosystems: Atlantic fish assemblages in warming waters. Current Biology, 21, R822-R824. download pdf
  19. Mumby P.J. and A.R. Harborne. 2010. Marine reserves enhance the recovery of corals on Caribbean reefs. PLoS ONE 5(1): e8657. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008657  download pdf
  20. Wilson S.K., M. Adjeroud, D.R. Bellwood, M.L. Berumen, D. Booth, Y.-M. Bozec, P. Chabanet, A. Cheal, J. Cinner, M. Depczynski, D.A. Feary, M. Gagliano, N.A.J. Graham, A.R. Halford, B.S. Halpern, A.R. Harborne, A.S. Hoey, S. Holbrook, G.P. Jones, M. Kulbiki, Y. Letourneur, T. Lison De Loma, T. McClanahan, M.I. McCormick, M.G. Meekan, P.J. Mumby, P.L. Munday, M.C. Öhman, M.S. Pratchett, B. Riegl, M. Sano, R.J. Schmitt, C. Syms. 2010. Critical knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213, 894-900.  download pdf
  21. Harborne A.R., P.G. Renaud, E.H.M. Tyler, and P.J. Mumby. 2009. Reduced density of the herbivorous urchin Diadema antillarum inside a Caribbean marine reserve linked to increased predation pressure by fishes. Coral Reefs 28, 783–791.   download pdf
  22. Harborne, A.R. 2009. First among equals: why some habitats should be considered more important than others during marine reserve planning. Environmental Conservation, 36, 87-90.   download pdf
  23. Harborne, A.R., P.J. Mumby, C.V. Kappel, C.P. Dahlgren, F. Micheli, K.E. Holmes, and D.R. Brumbaugh. 2008. Tropical coastal habitats as surrogates of fish community structure, grazing, and fisheries value. Ecological Applications, 18, 1689-1701.   download pdf
  24. Harborne, A.R., P.J. Mumby, C.V. Kappel, C.P. Dahlgren, F. Micheli, K.E. Holmes, J.N. Sanchirico, K. Broad, I.A. Elliott, and D.R. Brumbaugh. 2008. Reserve effects and natural variation in coral reef communities. Journal Of Applied Ecology, 45, 1010-1018.   download pdf
  25. Mumby, P.J., K. Broad, D.R. Brumbaugh, C.P. Dahlgren, A.R. Harborne, A. Hastings, K.E. Holmes, C.V. Kappel, F. Micheli, and J.N. Sanchirico. 2008. Coral reef habitats as surrogates of species, ecological functions, and ecosystem services. Conservation Biology, 22, 941-951.   download pdf
  26. Mumby, P. J., A. R. Harborne, J. Williams, C. V. Kappel, D. R. Brumbaugh, F. Micheli, K. E. Holmes, C. P. Dahlgren, C. B. Paris, and P. G. Blackwell. 2007. Trophic cascade facilitates coral recruitment in a marine reserve. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104:8362-8367.   download pdf
  27. Harborne, A. R., P. J. Mumby, F. Micheli, C. T. Perry, C. P. Dahlgren, K. E. Holmes, and D. R. Brumbaugh. 2006a. The functional value of Caribbean coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats to ecosystem processes. Advances in Marine Biology 50:57-189.   download pdf
  28. Harborne, A. R., P. J. Mumby, K. Żychaluk, J. D. Hedley, and P. G. Blackwell. 2006b. Modeling the beta diversity of coral reefs. Ecology 87: 2871-2881.   download pdf
  29. Mumby, P. J., C. P. Dahlgren, A. R. Harborne, C. V. Kappel, F. Micheli, D. R. Brumbaugh, K. E. Holmes, J. M. Mendes, K. Broad, J. N. Sanchirico, K. Buch, S. Box, R. W. Stoffle, and A. B. Gill. 2006a. Fishing, trophic cascades, and the process of grazing on coral reefs. Science 311:98-101.   download pdf
  30. Mumby, P. J., F. Micheli, C. P. Dahlgren, S. Y. Litvin, A. B. Gill, D. R. Brumbaugh, K. Broad, J. N. Sanchirico, C. V. Kappel, A. R. Harborne, and K. E. Holmes. 2006b. Marine parks need sharks? Response. Science 312:527-528.
  31. Mumby, P. J., J. D. Hedley, K. Zychaluk, A. R. Harborne, and P. G. Blackwell. 2006c. Revisiting the catastrophic die-off of the urchin Diadema antillarum on Caribbean coral reefs: fresh insights on resilience from a simulation model. Ecological Modelling 196:131-148.   download pdf
  32. Hedley J. D. , Harborne A. R., Mumby P. J. 2005. Simple and robust removal of sun glint for mapping shallow-water benthos. International Journal Of Remote Sensing 26:2107-2112.   download pdf
  33. Hoyle M. and Harborne A. R. 2005. Mixed effects of habitat fragmentation on species richness and community structure in a microarthropod microecosystem. Ecological Entomology 30:684-691.   download pdf
  34. Beger, M., A. R. Harborne, T. P. Dacles, J. L. Solandt, and G. L. Ledesma. 2004. A framework of lessons learned from community-based marine reserves and its effectiveness in guiding a new coastal management initiative in the Philippines. Environmental Management 34:786-801.  download pdf
  35. Mumby, P. J., A. J. Edwards, J. E. Arias-González, K. C. Lindeman, P. G. Blackwell, A. Gall, M. I. Gorczynska, A. R. Harborne, C. L. Pescod, H. Renken, C. C. C. Wabnitz, and G. Llewellyn. 2004. Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Caribbean. Nature 427:533-536.   download pdf
  36. White, W. H., A. R. Harborne, I. S. Sotheran, R. Walton, and R. L. Foster-Smith. 2003. Using an Acoustic Ground Discrimination System to map coral reef benthic classes. International Journal of Remote Sensing 24:2641-2660.   download pdf
  37. Harborne, A. R., D. C. Afzal, and M. J. Andrews. 2001. Honduras: Caribbean coast. Marine Pollution Bulletin 42:1221-1235.  download pdf
  38. Mumby, P. J., and A. R. Harborne. 1999. Development of a systematic classification scheme of marine habitats to facilitate regional management and mapping of Caribbean coral reefs. Biological Conservation 88:155-163.   download pdf
  39. Mumby, P.J., K.R. Clarke, and A.R. Harborne. 1996. Weighting species abundance estimates for marine resource assessment. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 6, 115-120. download pdf
  40. Mumby, P. J., A. R. Harborne, P. S. Raines, and J. M. Ridley. 1995. A critical assessment of data derived from Coral Cay Conservation volunteers. Bulletin of Marine Science 56:737-751.   download pdf

Book chapters and conference proceedings

  1. Perry, C.T. and A.R. Harborne. In Press. Bioerosion on modern reefs: impacts and responses under changing ecological and environmental conditions. In D. Hubbard (ed). Coral Reefs at the Crossroads. Springer.
  2. Harborne, A.R. and Mumby, P.J. In Press. FAQs about Caribbean Parrotfish Management and their Role in Reef Resilience. In A. Hoey, D. Bellwood, and R. Bonaldo (eds). The Biology and Ecology of Parrotfishes. Science Publishers
  3. Mumby, P. J., and A. R. Harborne. 2006. A seascape-level perspective of coral reef ecosystems. Pages 78-114 in I. M. Côté and J. D. Reynolds, editors. Coral Reef Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  4. Harborne, A. R., M. D. McField, and E. K. Delaney. 2000. Belize. Pages 501-516 in C. R. C. Sheppard, editor. Seas at the Millennium: An Environmental Evaluation. Pergamon, Amsterdam.
  5. Harborne A. R., Afzal D. C., Andrews M. J., Ridley J. M. 2000. Beyond data: the expanded role of a volunteer program assisting resource assessment and management in the Bay Islands, Honduras. In: Moosa M. K., Soemodihardjo S., Soegiarto A., Romimohtarto K., Nontji A., Soekarno, Suharsono (eds) Proceedings of the Ninth International Coral Reef Symposium Vol 2, pp667-673.   download pdf
  6. Harborne A. R., Mumby P. J., Raines P. S., and Ridley J.M. 1995. The Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve: a case study in government and NGO collaboration in conservation projects In. The Peaceful Management of Transboundary Resources (Eds. Blake G. H., Hildesley W. J., Pratt M. A., Ridley R. J., and Schofield C.H.) Graham and Trotman, London. pp 301-306.