Featured News JCU scientist recognised as a leader in Indo-Pacific fish research

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Tue, 30 May 2017

JCU scientist recognised as a leader in Indo-Pacific fish research

David Bellwood
Professor David Bellwood

A JCU scientist has received a rare honour, winning an award that places him in an elite group of fish researchers.

Professor David Bellwood has won the 2017 Bleeker Award for his outstanding and ongoing contribution to fish ecology in the Indo-Pacific region - an award that is presented just once every four years.

Prof. Bellwood’s research into the evolution and ecology of fishes on coral reefs has resulted in a fundamental change in the way we understand reef ecosystems.

He joins a group of pioneers in the field of Indo-Pacific fish ecology, which includes JCU Emeritus Professor Howard Choat.

Prof. Bellwood said that it was an honour to receive the world’s most prestigious award for ichthyologists.

“It’s wonderful, and it’s particularly rewarding to receive recognition from my specialist peers and to stand alongside past recipients like Howard Choat and Jack Randall, who, like the award’s namesake, Pieter Bleeker, have long championed research in ichthyology,” he said.

Through his studies on the role of fishes on coral reefs, Prof. Bellwood has demonstrated that fishes are both sentinels of ecosystem decline and key players in the future recovery of coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific.

“Fishes are our window to the aquatic world,” he said. “As the world changes, fishes will still be there, and through them we can understand how aquatic ecosystems are changing.”

Prof. Bellwood said there are so many interesting questions about fishes that still need to be answered.

“Fishes will be an important group in shaping both the future of coral reefs and the human populations that depend on them.”

Prof. Bellwood is also dedicated to training the next generation of scientists, who he believes are the key to the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

He will be presented with the Bleeker Award at the 2017 Indo-Pacific Fish Conference taking place in Tahiti in October, an international meeting of the world’s leading fish experts.

Link to folder with images:



Prof. David Bellwood
(07) 4781 4447
Email david.bellwood@jcu.edu.au