Dr Britta Schaffelke

Research Program Director
A Healthy and Sustainable Great Barrier Reef
(07) 4753 4382
+61 7 4753 4382


My overarching professional interest is the interface between science and policy. My expertise is the research and management of environmental impacts on tropical ecosystems, especially those related to deteriorating marine water quality. The inshore Great Barrier Reef has been the focus of my research for the past 20 years. Prior to joining AIMS in 2005, I held a variety of positions spanning marine ecological research, environmental management and knowledge exchange. I migrated to Australia from Germany in 1995 for post-doctoral research at AIMS. In 2000 I joined the CSIRO to work on seaweed invasions. After positions in the Water Quality & Coastal Development group of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and at the CRC for Reef Research, I returned to AIMS in 2005 to manage the AIMS component of the Inshore Marine Monitoring Program. In 2006, I became Research Team Leader of the 'Measuring Water Quality and Ecosystem Health' Team and in 2012 a Research Program Leader.


1989 Degree 'Diplom Biologin' University of Hamburg, Germany
1993 PhD University of Hamburg, Germany



The interdisciplinary research of my 30+-staff strong Program will provide managers and policymakers with a better understanding of the condition and trends of GBR coral reefs, their vulnerability to climate change and ocean acidification, especially in interaction with local and regional environmental stressors. Our focus is to: 

Develop a framework for understanding cumulative stressors and critical thresholds.
Determine adaptive capacity of key functional groups, and new opportunities for managing goods and services under climate change.
Produce a new comprehensive status and trends reporting system for the Great Barrier Reef.

Other Activities


Reef 2050 Plan Independent Expert Panel 
Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce 
Reef Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program Working Group 
Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership Independent Science Panel 
Fitzroy Partnership for River Health Science Panel 



Haapkyla J, Unsworth RKF, Flavell M, Bourne DG, Schaffelke B and Willis BL (2011) Seasonal rainfall and runoff promote coral disease on an inshore reef . PLoS ONE. 6: 1-10.

Fabricius KE, Cooper TF, Humphrey CA, Uthicke S, De'ath AG, Davidson J, LeGrand H, Thompson AA and Schaffelke B (2012) A bioindicator system for water quality on inshore coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 65: 320 332.

Schaffelke B, Carleton JH, Doyle JR, Furnas MJ, Gunn K, Skuza MS, Wright M and Zagorskis IE (2011) Reef Rescue Marine Monitoring Program. Final Report of AIMS Activities 2010/11 - Inshore Water Quality Monitoring. Report for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 83 p.

Brodie JE, Kroon F, Schaffelke B, Wolanski EJ, Lewis SE, Devlin MJ, Bohnet I, Bainbridge ZT, Waterhouse J and Davis AM (2012) Terrestrial pollutant runoff to the Great Barrier Reef: An update of issues, priorities and management responses. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 65: 81-100.

Berkelmans R, Jones AM and Schaffelke B (2012) Salinity thresholds of Acropora spp. on the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs. 31: 1103-1110.

Kroon FJ, Schaffelke B, Bartley R (2014) Informing policy to protect coastal coral reefs: Insight from a global review of reducing agricultural pollution to coastal ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin 85(1): 33-41

Thompson A, Schroeder T, Brando VE, Schaffelke B (2014) Coral community responses to declining water quality: Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Coral Reefs 33(4): 923-938

Davidson AD, Campbell ML, Hewitt CL, Schaffelke B (2015) Assessing the impacts of nonindigenous marine macroalgae: an update of current knowledge. Botanica Marina 58(2): 55-79

Brando VE, Devlin MJ, Dobbie M, MacNeil MA, Schaffelke B, Schroeder T (2014) Developing integrated assessment metrics for reporting of water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Report to the Reef Rescue Water Quality Research & Development Program. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns (53pp.).

Thompson A, Lønborg C, Logan M, Costello P, Davidson J, Furnas M, Gunn K, Liddy M, Skuza M, Uthicke S, Wright M, Zagorskis I, Schaffelke B (2014) Marine Monitoring Program. Annual Report of AIMS Activities 2013 to 2014 - Inshore water quality and coral reef monitoring. Report for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville (160 p)