PhD Candidate

Amy Coghlan


Current research

Reef and coastal fisheries possess an extraordinary amount of living things (like fish, crabs, corals and algae) condensed into a small space, with its nearest rivals only being rainforests and agriculture.

Despite being such a small part of the global surface (~6 %) these living resources provide almost 40% of estimated global 'services' provided by the natural world. According to the world bank, ~ 3 billion people rely on coastal and marine fisheries, which indirectly or directly employ ~ 200 million people.

Meanwhile 680 million people live in coastal regions, a number expected to grow to a billion by 2050. Unlocking the natural processes which structure coastal ecosystems can help us understand how these systems may change and respond to pressures such as fisheries and climate change, and can also help us understand the intricacy and maintain the integrity of these complex systems.

Although my work only plays a small part in the bigger picture, I am proud to investigate the little piece of the puzzle which traces how energy in the form of sunlight enters these systems and is transferred to predators such as the fish which may feed or provide work for billions of mankind.

Featured article: Now you see me: first records of the greater amberjack Seriola dumerili at Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the result of range extension or increased scientific effort?

What my project involves

I have spent many hours in the field collecting fish from Tasmania to an island off Cape York. Whilst being in the field is challenging and thrilling, back in the lab I get down to the dirty work - sorting through fish gut contents and dealing with hundreds of fish tissue biopsies. This side of things involves a tough stomach (ironically) to tolerate the strongly unpleasant smalls, a lot of staring down microscropes, and eventually hours on computer programs, writing code, performing complex statistics, and summarising my work into a written synthesis to share with the world.

Fun trivia about my research

Research project in a haiku

No guts no glory
Come hell or high water
I'll seek their story

Research-related interests

I've studied and worked in institutions from Western Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Galapagos and now based in Tasmania, with my research spanning many topics in biology. At present I am interested in: stable isotope ecology, size based theory of ecology, metabolic theory of ecology, biogeography and species redistributions, and trophodynamics (predator-prey relationships).

About me

On the weekends I hike the rogue trails (often Type II fun), try to surf with my cooler friends (usually in the whitewash), climb (with frequent intermissions involving naps under trees), party, and occasionally attempt to be artistic.

Previous work I've done

I completed my PADI Divemaster in the treatcherous waters of the Komodo, Indonesia; worked as a snorkel tour guide on the tame Great Barrier Reef; and frozen my brain as a SCUBA Instructor in Canada. But all along I have worked with or participated in research.

Committees and affiliations

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