ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University
Currently, most research into the effects of climate change has involved testing an animal’s ability to cope when immediately placed in warmer conditions, but for most species this warming will occur over many years and several generations. Dr Donelson’s research focuses on understanding the ability for fish species to adjust to future climate change over several generations. Rearing fish at higher temperatures, over multiple generations, she has monitored their growth, metabolism, reproduction and gender determination. She discovered that fish who develop in warmer water from early life they can improve performance slightly, but the more generations that experience the warm conditions the greater the improvement that occurs. This provides some hope that some fish populations may be able to tolerate a warmer ocean, providing time for society to bring rapid climate change under control.
Jennifer’s work as featured several times in the media, including in The Australian, New Scientist and on the ABC. She is also an active member of the Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS), assisting to provide submissions to government policy makers and scientist commentary. Jennifer is also developing a 3-day writing workshop, to assist students in improving their ability to convey their research to peers and general audiences.