Dr Christopher Goatley

Postdoctoral Research Fellow - School of Environmental and Rural Science

Christopher Goatley

Phone: +61 2 6773 1751

Email: cgoatley@une.edu.au

Twitter: @buzzgoatley


I am originally from the UK, but moved to Australia in 2007 to study marine ecology at James Cook University, Townsville. In January 2017 I began a 3-year UNE postdoctoral research fellowship working on the ecology and function of small, cryptic reef fishes. My research is based in the Function, Evolution & Anatomy Research (FEAR) Lab in the School of Environmental and Rural Science. Working in the FEAR lab I will combine 3D imaging, shape analysis and biomechanical techniques with field work on eastern Australian reef ecosystems to determine what highly abundant, small fishes ‘do’ in reef ecosystems.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Marine Biology (The ecological role of sediments on coral reefs), James Cook University, 2015.
  • Master of Applied Science, Tropical Marine Ecology and Fisheries, James Cook University, 2008.
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), Marine Biology, University of Newcastle, UK, 2006.

Research Interests

  • Marine ecology
  • Functional ecology, morphology and evolution of reef fishes
  • Impacts of benthic sediments on coral reef fish function
  • Biodiversity and function of cryptobenthic reef fishes

Further information - personal website


For a full list of publications, please visit Dr Goatley’s Google Scholar or ResearchGate profiles.

Goatley CHR, Brandl SJ (in press) Cryptobenthic reef fishes. Current Biology

Tebbett SB, Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (in press) Clarifying functional roles: algal removal by the surgeonfishes Ctenochaetus striatus and Acanthurus nigrofuscus. Coral Reefs

Bellwood DR, Goatley CHR, Bellwood O (in press) The evolution of fishes and corals on reefs: form, function and interdependence. Biological Reviews doi: 10.1111/brv.12259

Goatley CHR, González-Cabello A, Bellwood DR (2017) Small cryptopredators contribute to high predation rates on coral reefs. Coral Reefs 36:207-212

Tebbett SB, Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2017) Algal turf sediments and sediment production by parrotfishes across the continental shelf of the northern Great Barrier Reef. PLoS One 12:e0170854

Tebbett SB, Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2017) Fine sediments suppress detritivory on coral reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin 114:934-940

Bellwood DR, Goatley CHR (2017) Can biological invasions save Caribbean coral reefs? Current Biology 27:R13-R14

Tebbett SB, Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2017) The effects of algal turf sediments and organic loads on feeding by coral reef surgeonfishes. PLoS One 12:e0169479

Bellwood DR, Goatley CHR, Khan JA, Tebbett SB (2016) Site fidelity and homing in juvenile rabbitfishes (Siganidae). Coral Reefs 35:1151-1155

Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2016) Body size and mortality rates in coral reef fishes: a three-phase relationship. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283:20161858

Gordon SE, Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2016) Composition and temporal stability of turf sediments on inner-shelf coral reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin 111:178-183

Goatley CHR, Bonaldo RM, Fox RJ, Bellwood DR (2016) Sediments and herbivory as sensitive indicators of coral reef degradation. Ecology and Society 21(1):29

Gordon SE, Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2016) Low quality sediments deter herbivory by the parrotfish Scarus rivulatus on inner-shelf reefs. Coral Reefs 35:285-291

Goatley CHR, González-Cabello A, Bellwood DR (2016) Reef-scale partitioning of cryptobenthic fish assemblages across the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 544:271-280

Bellwood DR, Goatley CHR, Bellwood O, Delbarre DJ, Friedman M (2015) The rise of jaw protrusion in spiny-rayed fishes closes the gap on elusive prey. Current Biology 25:2696-2700 (cover article)

Bellwood DR, Goatley CHR, Cowman PF, Bellwood O (2015) The evolution of fishes on coral reefs: fossils, phylogenies and functions. In: Mora C (Ed.) Ecology of fishes on coral reefs. Cambridge University Press, pp. 55-63

Bellwood DR, Goatley CHR, Brandl SJ, Bellwood O (2014) Fifty million years of herbivory on coral reefs: fossils, fish and functional innovations. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281:20133046

Bellwood DR, Bellwood O, Hoey AS, Goatley CHR (2014) Evolution of long-toothed fishes and the changing nature of fish-benthos interactions on coral reefs. Nature Communications 5:3144

Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2014) Don’t let the bed bugs bite: goatfish resting aggregations on low sediment reef surfaces. Galaxea 15:17-18

Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2014) Moving towards the equator: reverse range shifts in two subtropical reef fish species, Chromis nitida (Pomacentridae) and Pseudolabrus guentheri (Labridae). Marine Biodiversity Records 7:e12

Welsh JQ, Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2013) The ontogeny of home ranges: evidence from coral reef fishes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280:20132066

Goatley CHR, Bellwood DR (2013) Ecological consequences of sediment on high-energy coral reefs. PLoS One 8:e77737

Goatley CHR, Bellwood D (2012) Sediment suppresses herbivory across a coral reef depth gradient. Biology Letters 8:1016-1018

Goatley CHR, Hoey AS, Bellwood DR (2012) The role of turtles as coral reef macroherbivores. PLoS One 7:e39979