Dr Anna Scott

Dr Anna Scott 767px

Dr Anna Scott

B. Appl. Sc (1st Class Honours SCU), PhD (SCU)

Position: Senior Lecturer
Course Coordinator, Bachelor and Master of Marine Science and Management
Unit Assessor for Marine Systems Science and Management, and Sustainable Use of the Marine Environment
President, Australian Coral Reef Society

Research Summary

Anna uses sea anemones and anemonefishes as model organisms to answer a variety of research questions throughout tropical and subtropical reefs of the Indo-Pacific. Her research has four main themes, these include:

  1. Investigating the reproductive biology of host sea anemones. This research has provided the first scientific description of the sexual reproduction, larval development, settlement and metamorphosis of two species of host sea anemones.
  2. Developing captive breeding techniques for host anemones. Sexual and asexual propagation techniques have been developed that would allow sea anemones to be bred in captivity rather than taking them from reefs for the marine aquarium trade. These techniques present feasible solutions for reducing the impacts of aquarium collecting pressures, and could also allow for the restoration of areas that have already been impacted by human or natural disturbances.
  3. Documenting the distribution and abundance of anemones and anemonefishes. To address the lack of information about the distribution and abundance of host anemones and their resident fish, surveys have been done from the Great Barrier Reef to their southern distribution limits on the east coast of Australia in shallow and mesophotic environments. As our climate changes, these studies provide important data on the existing distribution patterns, especially as there is evidence that poleward range-shifts are occurring.
  4. Determining the impacts of bleaching and climate change on various aspects of the symbiosis. Host anemones also form a lesser known symbiosis with single-celled algae called Symbiodinium. During times of environmental stress this relationship can break down, leading to bleaching and anemone mortality. This research has documented temperature induced bleaching thresholds and the protective mechanisms that may be used to counteract stress, and thus has important implications for the conservation and management of these species.


A list of Anna's publications is available through the following link: Google Scholar

Please contact her for copies: anna.scott@scu.edu.au.

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My fascination with sea anemones actually started when I was a child. I lived in Canberra, which is obviously a long way from the ocean.

But my grandparents had coast houses and one of my favourite things was going down there on the weekends and as a blonde little girl I used to play in the rock pools and I used to feed sea anemones with periwinkles from the surrounding rocks.

My name is Anna Scott and the focus of my research is on anemones and anemone fish.

So I study Nemo and Nemo's home. How they became the focus of my academic career was total chance.

I was actually at Heron Island Research Station working on coral spawning and I saw one of the sea anemones that provides habitat for those fish spawning and I was like that is absolutely incredible I've never seen anything like it and although I was meant to be studying the corals at the time I went and started reading about these sea anemones and I realised we just didn't know anything about how these animals sexually reproduced and that's a really important process because it's how animals maintain their populations.

Understanding the way the organisms react to our changing temperatures changing ocean currents and changing pH is really important for being able to understand and potentially predict their responses.

If we understand how an organism is going to respond we can manage that situation more thoroughly. Having said that we know that climate change is occurring and we need to make changes as a society to lessen our impacts.

I love living in this region but not only do I think Coffs Harbour is a nice place to live I think it's a great place to work and it's an even better place to do research or to study because we do have all the environments right here on our doorstep and you can access those and find out information about what is occurring right here in our changing climate.

The oceans give us so much and studying marine science is one way to give back to those beautiful environments.