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Dr David Feary


To be utterly truthful I majored in Marine Biology during my BSc at the University of Auckland as I surfed. However, I found that understanding more than just where the next swell was going to be hitting was pretty interesting. Once finishing my BSc I undertook a Masters (investigating mechanisms of species maintenance within Tripterygiidae) at the University of Auckland with Assoc Prof Kendall Clements.

The warmer waters of the tropics then called, and I moved to Australia to undertake a PhD at James Cook University on the role of coral loss in structuring reef fish community dynamics (graduating 2008) supervised by the dream team of Prof. Geoffrey Jones, Assoc Prof. Mark McCormick and Dr Glenn Almany. This was followed by a 3 year postdoctoral fellowship in Dubai working within a United Nations University – INWEH program headed by Prof. Peter Sale. During this postdoc I worked on a range of projects, though my passion for understanding the dynamics important in structuring reef fish communities saw me undertake work within Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman.

In 2011 I took up a UTS Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Prof. David Booth studying the ecological role of range shifting fish species in structuring temperate ecosystems. However, my interest in examining whether there are global patterns in the mechanisms structuring reef fish communities has resulted in ongoing projects in the Middle East, Singapore, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.


PhD Marine Ecology, James Cook University, awarded September 2008
Masters Marine Biology, University of Auckland, 2001
BSc Zoology, University of Auckland, 1998

Career development
Jan 2011 (3 years) Chancellors Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Technology Sydney
Examining the mechanisms of influx and potential importance of tropical vagrants (tropical fishes that move south in summer months) in structuring fish assemblages in cooler temperate waters of SE Australia.
Dec 2009 – Nov 2010 Senior Marine Environmental Consultant, URS Corporation – Abu Dhabi
Head marine gas and oil consultant, responsible for supervision and mentoring of three environmental consultants
Aug 2007 – Nov 2009 Postdoctoral Fellow, United Nations University INWEH – Dubai
The primary goal of this project was to design and implement a long-term environmental monitoring program (EMP) and management plan for marine waters surrounding the Palm Development Projects within Dubai. Ecological and environmental research was carried out to determine the nature of these newly developed ecosystems and how they respond to weather and other environmental variables.

Visiting research fellowship
2011/2012 Visiting Research Scholar: New York University (Abu Dhabi); Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
2009 Visiting Research Scholar, Windsor University, Canada (2 months)

Fellowships and scholarships (with salary)
2011-14 Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, University of Technology Sydney (3 years full-time salary inc. $45K research support + $30K travel fellowship)
2007-10 Postdoctoral Fellow, United Nations University – INWEH (3 years full-time salary, inc. US4m research support)
2003-07 James Cook University, Postgraduate Research Award (3 years full-time salary)

Awards, prizes and travel grants (selected)
2011 Early Career Research Grant, University of Technology, Sydney ($24,946)
2007 Best student paper, Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies ($1000)
2006-2007 James Cook University Graduate Research Scholarship ($1500 per year)
2006 Australian Coral Reef Society for best student presentation at national conference ($300)
2005 Australian Coral Reef Society Fellowship ($2000); The Nature Conservancy, PNG ($9900)
2004 Australian Coral Reef Society Terry Walker Award ($2500); Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Science for Management Award ($1000)
2003 James Cook University Merit Research Grant for examining effects of coral loss on reef fish communities on Great Barrier Reef ($19000)

Image of David Feary
Associate of the Faculty, School of Life Sciences
Associate Member, Centre for Environmental Sustainability
B. Sc, M.Sc, PhD
+61 2 9514 4068

Research Interests

The role of extreme environments in structuring tropical reef fish communities
Mechanisms facilitating range shifts of tropical fish species into temperate ecosystems
Effects of ocean acidification on finfish fisheries species
Behavioural impacts of marine protected area development on fish community structure
Functional structuring of temperate reef fish communities

Other professional development
Senior editor for Special Issue in Marine Pollution Bulletin encompassing papers discussing the current marine research within the Arabian Gulf (due to be published July 2012)
Co-organiser (with 2 colleagues) of Coral Reefs of the Gulf conference Abu Dhabi 17-19 Jan 2012
Co-participant (led by Prof Peter Sale) within international workshop on “Managing Coastal Seas for the 21st Century” July 2012


Feary, D.A., Burt, J.A., Cavalcante, G.H. & Bauman, A.G. 2012, 'Extreme physical factors and the structure of gulf fish and reef communities' in Riegl, B.M. & Purkis, S.J. (eds), Coral Reefs of the Gulf, Springer, Netherlands, pp. 163-170.
Burt, J.A., Bartholomew, A. & Feary, D.A. 2012, 'Man-made structures as artificial reefs in the gulf' in Riegl, B.M. & Purkis, S.J. (eds), Coral Reefs of the Gulf, Springer, Netherlands, pp. 171-186.
Chapter 10 (Burt et al.) acknowledges the fact that the spectacular economic development in the Gulf region has created miles of arti fi cial reef habitat and explores the dynamics, and conservation value, of man-made habitats. The following section reviews the systematics and taxonomy of some major animal and plant groups found on coral reefs.

Journal articles

Feary, D.A., Pratchett, M.S., Emslie, M.J., Fowler, A., Figueira, W.F., Luiz, O.J., Nakamura, Y. & Booth, D.J. 2014, 'Latitudinal shifts in coral reef fishes: why some species do and others do not shift', Fish and Fisheries, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 593-615.
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Climate change is resulting in rapid poleward shifts in the geographical distribution of many tropical fish species, but it is equally apparent that some fishes are failing to exhibit expected shifts in their geographical distribution. There is still little understanding of the species-specific traits that may constrain or promote successful establishment of populations in temperate regions. We review the factors likely to affect population establishment, including larval supply, settlement and post-settlement processes. In addition, we conduct meta-analyses on existing and new data to examine relationships between species-specific traits and vagrancy. We show that tropical vagrant species are more likely to originate from high-latitude populations, while at the demographic level, tropical fish species with large body size, high swimming ability, large size at settlement and pelagic spawning behaviour are more likely to show successful settlement into temperate habitats. We also show that both habitat and food limitation at settlement and within juvenile stages may constrain tropical vagrant communities to those species with medium to low reliance on coral resources.
Booth, D.J., Poulos, D.E., Poole, J. & Feary, D.A. 2014, 'Growth and temperature relationships for juvenile fish species in seagrass beds: implications of climate change', JOURNAL OF FISH BIOLOGY, vol. 84, no. 1, pp. 231-236.
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Beck, H.J., Feary, D.A., Figueira, W.F. & Booth, D.J. 2014, 'Assessing range shifts of tropical reef fishes: a comparison of belt transect and roaming underwater visual census methods', BULLETIN OF MARINE SCIENCE, vol. 90, no. 2, pp. 705-721.
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Feary, D.A., Fowler, A.M. & Ward, T.J. 2014, 'Developing a rapid method for undertaking the World Ocean Assessment in data-poor regions - A case study using the South China Sea Large Marine Ecosystem', OCEAN & COASTAL MANAGEMENT, vol. 95, pp. 129-137.
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Sale, P.F., Agardy, T., Ainsworth, C.H., Feist, B.E., Bell, J.D., Christie, P., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Mumby, P.J., Feary, D.A., Saunders, M.I., Daw, T.M., Foale, S.J., Levin, P.S., Lindeman, K.C., Lorenzen, K., Pomeroy, R.S., Allison, E.H., Bradbury, R.H., Corrin, J., Edwards, A.J., Obura, D.O., de Mitcheson, Y.J.S., Samoilys, M.A. & Sheppard, C.R.C. 2014, 'Transforming management of tropical coastal seas to cope with challenges of the 21st century', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 8-23.
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Vergés, A., Steinberg, P.D., Hay, M.E., Poore, A.G.B., Campbell, A.H., Ballesteros, E., Heck Jr, K.L., Booth, D.J., Coleman, M.A., Feary, D.A., Figueira, W., Langlois, T., Marzinelli, E.M., Mizerek, T., Mumby, P.J., Nakamura, Y., Roughan, M., van Sebille, E., Gupta, A.S., Smale, D.A., Tomas, F., Wernberg, T. & Wilson, S.K. 2014, 'The tropicalization of temperate marine ecosystems: Climate-mediated changes in herbivory and community phase shifts', Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 281, no. 1789.
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Climate-driven changes in biotic interactions can profoundly alter ecological communities, particularly when they impact foundation species. In marine systems, changes in herbivory and the consequent loss of dominant habitat forming species can result in dramatic community phase shifts, such as from coral to macroalgal dominance when tropical fish herbivory decreases, and from algal forests to 'barrens' when temperate urchin grazing increases. Here, we propose a novel phase-shift away from macroalgal dominance caused by tropical herbivores extending their range into temperate regions. We argue that this phase shift is facilitated by poleward-flowing boundary currents that are creating ocean warming hotspots around the globe, enabling the range expansion of tropical species and increasing their grazing rates in temperate areas. Overgrazing of temperate macroalgae by tropical herbivorous fishes has already occurred in Japan and the Mediterranean. Emerging evidence suggests similar phenomena are occurring in other temperate regions, with increasing occurrence of tropical fishes on temperate reefs. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Bauman, A.G., Baird, A.H., Burt, J.A., Pratchett, M.S. & Feary, D.A. 2014, 'Patterns of coral settlement in an extreme environment: the southern Persian Gulf (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)', MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, vol. 499, pp. 115-126.
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Burt, J.A., Feary, D.A., Cavalcante, G., Bauman, A.G. & Usseglio, P. 2013, 'Urban breakwaters as reef fish habitat in the Persian Gulf', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 342-350.
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Feary, D.A., Burt, J.A., Bauman, A.G., Al Hazeem, S., Abdel-Moati, M.A., Al-Khalifa, K.A., Anderson, D.M., Amos, C., Baker, A., Bartholomew, A., Bento, R., Cavalcante, G.H., Chen, C.A., Coles, S.L., Dab, K., Fowler, A.M., George, D., Grandcourt, E., Hill, R., John, D.M., Jones, D.A., Keshavmurthy, S., Mahmoud, H., Tapeh, M.M.O., Mostafavi, P.G., Naser, H., Pichon, M., Purkis, S., Riegl, B., Samimi-Namin, K., Sheppard, C., Samiei, J.V., Voolstra, C.R. & Wiedenmann, J. 2013, 'Critical research needs for identifying future changes in Gulf coral reef ecosystems', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 406-416.
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Pratchett, M.S., Hoey, A.S., Feary, D.A., Bauman, A.G., Burt, J.A. & Riegl, B.M. 2013, 'Functional composition of Chaetodon butterflyfishes at a peripheral and extreme coral reef location, the Persian Gulf', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 333-341.
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Bauman, A.G., Pratchett, M.S., Baird, A.H., Riegl, B., Heron, S.F. & Feary, D.A. 2013, 'Variation in the size structure of corals is related to environmental extremes in the Persian Gulf', MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, vol. 84, pp. 43-50.
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Bauman, A.G., Feary, D.A., Heron, S.F., Pratchett, M.S. & Burt, J.A. 2013, 'Multiple environmental factors influence the spatial distribution and structure of reef communities in the northeastern Arabian Peninsula', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 302-312.
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Ateweberhan, M., Feary, D.A., Keshavmurthy, S., Chen, A., Schleyer, M.H. & Sheppard, C.R.C. 2013, 'Climate change impacts on coral reefs: Synergies with local effects, possibilities for acclimation, and management implications', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 74, no. 2, pp. 526-539.
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Nakamura, Y., Feary, D.A., Kanda, M. & Yamaoka, K. 2013, 'Tropical Fishes Dominate Temperate Reef Fish Communities within Western Japan', PLOS ONE, vol. 8, no. 12.
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Cinner, J.E., McClanahan, T.R., MacNeil, M.A., Graham, N.A.J., Daw, T.M., Mukminin, A., Feary, D.A., Rabearisoa, A.L., Wamukota, A., Jiddawi, N., Campbell, S.J., Baird, A.H., Januchowski-Hartley, F.A., Hamed, S., Lahari, R., Morove, T. & Kuange, J. 2012, 'Comanagement of coral reef social-ecological systems', PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, vol. 109, no. 14, pp. 5219-5222.
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Cavalcante, G.H., Kjerfve, B. & Feary, D.A. 2012, 'Examination of residence time and its relevance to water quality within a coastal mega-structure: The Palm Jumeirah Lagoon', JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY, vol. 468, pp. 111-119.
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Feary, D.A., Cinner, J.E., Graham, N.A.J. & Januchowski-Hartley, F.A. 2011, 'Effects of Customary Marine Closures on Fish Behavior, Spear-Fishing Success, and Underwater Visual Surveys', CONSERVATION BIOLOGY, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 341-349.
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Sale, P.F., Feary, D.A., Burt, J.A., Bauman, A.G., Cavalcante, G.H., Drouillard, K.G., Kjerfve, B., Marquis, E., Trick, C.G., Usseglio, P. & Van Lavieren, H. 2011, 'The Growing Need for Sustainable Ecological Management of Marine Communities of the Persian Gulf', AMBIO, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 4-17.
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Mora, C., Aburto-Oropeza, O., Ayala Bocos, A., Ayotte, P.M., Banks, S., Bauman, A.G., Beger, M., Bessudo, S., Booth, D.J., Brokovich, E., Brooks, A., Chabanet, P., Cinner, J.E., Cortes, J., Cruz-Motta, J.J., Cupul Magana, A., DeMartini, E.E., Edgar, G.J., Feary, D.A., Ferse, S.C.A., Friedlander, A.M., Gaston, K.J., Gough, C., Graham, N.A.J., Green, A., Guzman, H., Hardt, M., Kulbicki, M., Letourneur, Y., Lopez Perez, A., Loreau, M., Loya, Y., Martinez, C., Mascarenas-Osorio, I., Morove, T., Nadon, M.-.O., Nakamura, Y., Paredes, G., Polunin, N.V.C., Pratchett, M.S., Bonilla, H.R., Rivera, F., Sala, E., Sandin, S.A., Soler, G., Stuart-Smith, R., Tessier, E., Tittensor, D.P., Tupper, M., Usseglio, P., Vigliola, L., Wantiez, L., Williams, I., Wilson, S.K. & Zapata, F.A. 2011, 'Global Human Footprint on the Linkage between Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning in Reef Fishes', PLOS BIOLOGY, vol. 9, no. 4.
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Januchowski-Hartley, F.A., Graham, N.A.J., Feary, D.A., Morove, T. & Cinner, J.E. 2011, 'Fear of Fishers: Human Predation Explains Behavioral Changes in Coral Reef Fishes', PLOS ONE, vol. 6, no. 8.
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Burt, J.A., Feary, D.A., Bauman, A.G., Usseglio, P., Cavalcante, G.H. & Sale, P.F. 2011, 'Biogeographic patterns of reef fish community structure in the northeastern Arabian Peninsula', ICES JOURNAL OF MARINE SCIENCE, vol. 68, no. 9, pp. 1875-1883.
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Feary, D.A., Burt, J.A. & Bartholomew, A. 2011, 'Artificial marine habitats in the Arabian Gulf: Review of current use, benefits and management implications', OCEAN & COASTAL MANAGEMENT, vol. 54, no. 10, pp. 742-749.
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Cavalcante, G.H., Kjerfve, B., Feary, D.A., Bauman, A.G. & Usseglio, P. 2011, 'Water Currents and Water Budget in a Coastal Megastructure, Palm Jumeirah Lagoon, Dubai, UAE', JOURNAL OF COASTAL RESEARCH, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 384-393.
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Bauman, A.G., Burt, J.A., Feary, D.A., Marquis, E. & Usseglio, P. 2010, 'Tropical harmful algal blooms: An emerging threat to coral reef communities?', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 60, no. 11, pp. 2117-2122.
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Wilson, S.K., Adjeroud, M., Bellwood, D.R., Berumen, M.L., Booth, D., Bozec, Y.-.M., Chabanet, P., Cheal, A., Cinner, J., Depczynski, M., Feary, D.A., Gagliano, M., Graham, N.A.J., Halford, A.R., Halpern, B.S., Harborne, A.R., Hoey, A.S., Holbrook, S.J., Jones, G.P., Kulbiki, M., Letourneur, Y., De Loma, T.L., McClanahan, T., McCormick, M.I., Meekan, M.G., Mumby, P.J., Munday, P.L., Ohman, M.C., Pratchett, M.S., Riegl, B., Sano, M., Schmitt, R.J. & Syms, C. 2010, 'Crucial knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes', JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, vol. 213, no. 6, pp. 894-900.
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Cavalcante, G.H., Kjerfve, B., Knoppers, B. & Feary, D.A. 2010, 'Coastal currents adjacent to the Caete Estuary, Para Region, North Brazil', ESTUARINE COASTAL AND SHELF SCIENCE, vol. 88, no. 1, pp. 84-90.
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Burt, J., Feary, D.A., Usseglio, P., Bauman, A.G. & Sale, P.F. 2010, 'The influence of wave exposure on coral community development on man-made breakwater reefs, with a comparison to a natural reef', Bulletin of Marine Science, vol. 86, no. 4, pp. 839-859.
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Breakwaters dominate shorelines in many coastal urban areas, providing substantial hard-bottom habitat upon which diverse and abundant reef communities develop. In recognition of their potential ecological and economic importance, there is increasing interest in understanding how design features can influence community development. We investigated the influence of wave exposure on breakwater coral communities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Coral community composition, cover, size structure, recruitment, mortality, and growth rates were compared quarterly between two windward and two leeward breakwater sites for 1 yr to explore the influence of wave exposure on coral community development. Comparisons also were made with a natural coral reef to gain an understanding of how community structure and dynamics compare between these habitats. Benthic and water column sediment particle sizes were also analyzed. Leeward breakwaters contained a low-cover coral community dominated by small colonies with high mortality compared with windward breakwaters and the natural reef. Windward breakwater coral communities had comparable recruitment, mortality, and growth rates as the natural reef. Fine sediments (< 63 &micro;m) dominated the benthos and water column on leeward breakwaters, while windward breakwaters and the natural reef were dominated by sediments with larger size classes (> 125 &micro;m), likely as a result of differences in wave action among reef types.
Feary, D.A., Burt, J.A., Bauman, A.G., Usseglio, P., Sale, P.F. & Cavalcante, G.H. 2010, 'Fish communities on the world's warmest reefs: what can they tell us about the effects of climate change in the future?', JOURNAL OF FISH BIOLOGY, vol. 77, no. 8, pp. 1931-1947.
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Feary, D.A., Wellenreuther, M. & Clements, K.D. 2009, 'Trophic ecology of New Zealand triplefin fishes (Family Tripterygiidae)', MARINE BIOLOGY, vol. 156, no. 8, pp. 1703-1714.
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Feary, D.A., McCormick, M.I. & Jones, G.P. 2009, 'Growth of reef fishes in response to live coral cover', JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MARINE BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY, vol. 373, no. 1, pp. 45-49.
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Hobbs, J.-.P.A., Choat, J.H., Robbins, W.D., Ayling, A.M., van Herwerden, L. & Feary, D.A. 2008, 'Unique fish assemblages at world's southernmost oceanic coral reefs, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, Tasman Sea, Australia', CORAL REEFS, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 15-15.
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Feary, D.A. 2007, 'The influence of resource specialization on the response of reef fish to coral disturbance', MARINE BIOLOGY, vol. 153, no. 2, pp. 153-161.
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Feary, D.A., Almany, G.R., McCormick, M.I. & Jones, G.P. 2007, 'Habitat choice, recruitment and the response of coral reef fishes to coral degradation', OECOLOGIA, vol. 153, no. 3, pp. 727-737.
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Feary, D.A., Almany, G.R., Jones, G.P. & McCormick, M.I. 2007, 'Coral degradation and the structure of tropical reef fish communities', MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, vol. 333, pp. 243-248.
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Feary, D.A. & Clements, K. 2006, 'Habitat use by triplefin species (Tripterygiidae) on rocky reefs in New Zealand', Journal Of Fish Biology, vol. 69, no. 4, pp. 1031-1046.
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Habitat use and nesting sites of 12 triplefin species (Tripterygiidae) were investigated at 26 coastal and offshore rocky reef locations in north-eastern New Zealand. Within these locations, 17 broad-scale habitats and 14 fine-scale habitats were surveye
Anderson, M.J., Ford, R.B., Feary, D.A. & Honeywill, C. 2004, 'Quantitative measures of sedimentation in an estuarine system and its relationship with intertidal soft-sediment infauna', MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, vol. 272, pp. 33-48.
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