Dr Jennie Mallela

Environmental Ecology and Marine Specialist: 1) PhD in Coral Reef development; 2) M.Sc. Marine Resource Management; 3) B.Sc. Hons Environmental Bio-Geo Science (biology, physical geography, geology)
Recently completed: ARC DECRA Research Fellow, co-located in two schools: RSB & RSES. Superstars of STEM awardee: https://scienceandtechnologyaustralia.org.au/profile/dr-jennie-mallela/
ANU College of Science
T: +61 2 612 52534

Areas of expertise

  • Climate Change Processes 040104
  • Ecology 0602
  • Environmental Science And Management 0502
  • Geochemistry 0402
  • Marine And Estuarine Ecology (Incl. Marine Ichthyology) 060205
  • Environmental Monitoring 050206
  • Population Ecology 060207
  • Ecological Impacts Of Climate Change 050101
  • Ecosystem Function 050102
  • Landscape Ecology 050104
  • Conservation And Biodiversity 050202
  • Environmental Impact Assessment 050204
  • Environmental Management 050205
  • Natural Resource Management 050209
  • Wildlife And Habitat Management 050211
  • Community Ecology (Excl. Invasive Species Ecology) 060202

Research interests

I'm interested in how humans impact the natural environment, biodiversity and ecosystem function. My research focuses on how past, present and future environmental disturbances (natural and anthropogenic) influence ecological resilience and ecosystem development (e.g. biodiversity, coral recruitment, marine calcification and erosion), and also how such disturbances impact resource management.

Current multidisciplinary projects:

  1. Agricultural runoff (e.g. sediments and nutrients) and their impacts on coral reefs
  2. How mining activities in the nearshore zone influence coral reef development
  3. Coral bleaching (temperature stress) and reef development
  4. Changing catchment use and river runoff on coral reefs
  5. Plastic pollution on coral reefs
  6. Coral reef carbonate budgets and responses to environmental stress

I have an interdisciplinary background in the bio-geo sciences and broad research interests which include: catchment to reef interactions, reef health, calcification, carbonate budgets, reef monitoring, geochemical proxies, coral sclerochronology (growth rings), hurricanes, bleaching, coral recruitment, land-based stressors, climate change and marine resource management.

For my PhD research I developed a coral reef carbonate budget model to assess how river runoff influenced rates and styles of reef development and carbonate accretion in Jamaica. As a Research Fellow at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad, I expanded on this research to incorporate climate change variables into my carbonate budget approach. We designed and implemented a long-term reef monitoring program, assessed the effects of hurricanes and bleaching on coral recruitment and coral disease. We then took cores from coral colonies in order to build proxy records of climate change and terrestrial runoff, used stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) to assess sources of energy and pollution on the reef, and used in-situ experiments to assess reefal calcification in relation to global (e.g. climate change), regional (e.g. Orinoco River runoff) and local (e.g. sewage) disturbances. Currently I am an ARC-DECRA fellow. I am focusing on the effects of land-based runoff on the development of the Great Barrier Reef: past, present and future. Please contact me if you are interested in any of this work.


Marine experience:     I have two decades of experience in marine research, monitoring, conservation, marine protected areas, environmental monitoring and environmental education. I have worked in marine ecosystems in both temperate and tropical regions of the world including: UK, Ireland, Caribbean (Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago) and Indo-pacific region (East Africa, Great Barrier Reef, Christmas Island). I am currently based at the Australian National University.

Specialist marine skills: I am a highly qualified scientific and commercial SCUBA diver (British qualification: HSE IV). I also have SCUBA diving teaching skills (PADI dive master) enabling me to professionally train students and colleagues in the field. I have British/Australian and international powerboat handling qualifications. Routine scientific work includes: marine SCUBA surveys, intertidal surveys, biodiversity monitoring, underwater experiments, coral coring, and environmental monitoring.

Researcher's projects

1. Coral reefs, climate change and land-based pollution: past, present and future impacts on coral reef development (ARC DECRA)


2. Research highlights: Nutrients and corals

3. Climate change and coral reefs: Coral Bleaching video



4.Research talk:

Available student projects

Project: Coral growth on the Great Barrier Reef: pollution impacts

Research Question: How does pollution impact reef growth?


If you enjoy microscope work and are interested in Coral Reefs and want to gain more experience of both please contact me.

You will learn:

Basic coral organism ID;

How to use a dissecting microscope;

How to analyse settlement plates;

How to do image analyses.


Sister projects in the caribbean (background reading):

Tobago: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0060010

Jamaica: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00338-007-0260-8


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  23 September 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers