CsimsPhD Candidate

Gehrmann Building, Level 8

School of Biological Sciences – UQ

St Lucia QLD 4072


T: +61 7 33659753
















Research interests

Coral reefs, Community ecology, Coral recruitment, Biodiversity, Symbioses, Biogeography, Dispersal, Phylogenetics, Marine Population Connectivity, Evolution.

Current project

Community ecology of corals and their symbionts.

I am a PhD student under the supervision of Professor John Pandolfi (Marine Palaeoecology Lab), Associate Professor Margie Mayfield (Community Ecology Lab) and Dr Eugenia Sampayo (Marine Palaeoecology Lab).

Coral reef structures support an incredible diversity of life and are often called “rainforests of the sea”. Just like rainforests, they have spurred decades of debates and theories among community ecologists to understand what promotes coexistence among apparently similar species and maintains such high levels of diversity. However, the theory for coral reef communities is largely lacking in comparison to its terrestrial counterparts.

My PhD research aims to investigate a fundamental ecological theory, the Janzen-Connell Hypothesis, to highlight aspects that are increasingly being shown to be of importance in coral community ecology. Specifically the role of species interactions during coral recruitment. My research will also investigate the biogeography of the obligate symbiotic association between reef-building corals and Symbiodinium which is of paramount importance to the success and survival of the coral host.


Sims CA, Grutter AS, Huelsken T, Drew J, Blomberg S and Riginos C (2013) Cleaning up the biogeography of Labroides dimidiatus using phylogenetics and morphometrics. Coral Reefs, DOI 10.1007/s00338-013-1093-2.

Litsios G, Sims CA, Pearman P, Wüest R, Zimmerman N and Salamin N (2012) Mutualism with sea anemones drives the adaptive radiation of clownfish. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 12:212.

Wilson GDF, Sims CA and Grutter AS (2011) Toward a taxonomy of the Gnathiidae (Isopoda) using juveniles: the external anatomy of Gnathia aureamaculosa zuphea stages using scanning electron microscopy. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 31 (3), 509-522.