Professor Morgan Pratchett
Morgan is a marine biologist, who works on tropical coral reefs. His research is largely focussed on the nexus between coral reef science and conservation, working to understand major disturbances and threats to coral reef ecosystems. He has contributed greatly to understanding and managing outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, which remain a major cause of coral loss and reef degradation throughout the Indo-Pacific. He has also been studying the direct and indirect effects of climate change on coral reef ecosystems and organisms. Morgan led surveys to document the extent and severity of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and witnessed first-hand the dire consequences for coral reef habitats. He is now focussed on understanding the broad-scale and longer-term impacts of ocean warming to ensure that management decisions (such as fisheries harvest strategies) effectively account for observed and emerging effects of global climate change.
The future for the GBR- what we predicted, what has happened and what it likely to happen. In 2010, during the ASFB symposium, on “Climate change and the aquatic environment – the future for fish and fisheries, I pointed out that climate change was an important, but emerging threat to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. At that time the major causes of coral loss and reef degradation were non-climatic disturbances, such as outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish. In the last few years, however, we have witnessed unprecedented and recurrent years of mass coral bleaching, unequivocally linked to ocean warming. Climate change is now the foremost threat to coral reefs, and I will point out how these systems are forever altered by the current climate regime. Even more importantly, I will present dire projections for future of coral reefs globally, if we do not immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.