Frederieke Kroon

Dr Frederieke Kroon

Principal Research Scientist
Tropical marine water quality
(07) 4753 4159
+61-7-4753 4159


I am a marine ecologist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). My research focusses on informing management and policy of major threats to tropical marine ecosystems, such as poor water quality from land-based run-off, emerging contaminants such as microplastics, and population outbreaks of Crown-of-Thorn Starfish. I presently lead the AIMS’ Team ‘Tropical Marine Water Quality and Impacts’ including 20 research scientist and technical staff, and 10 post-graduate students.

Before starting at AIMS in 2014, I worked at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Atherton and in Brisbane (2002-2014); and at NSW DPI Fisheries in Port Stephens (2000-2002). Here, my research focused on collaborative management of coastal zones to improve water quality and floodplain habitat for aquatic biodiversity and fisheries production.

During my postgraduate studies, I worked on the behavioral ecology and endocrinology of fish in tropical coral reef (Bonaire, Dutch Antilles) and temperate reef (Vancouver Island, Canada) environments.

Tertiary Education

1992 MSc eq. Biology, The University of Groningen, The Netherlands

1997 PhD Zoology, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Employment History

2014 – current Australian Institute of Marine Science – Principal Research Scientist

2002 – 2014 CSIRO - Research Scientist / Senior Research Scientist / Principal Research Scientist

2000 2002 NSW Fisheries – Research Scientist


My research focusses on the ecology of coastal and marine ecosystems. I have published extensively on water quality and emerging contaminants such as pesticides and microplastics, and their potential impact on coastal and marine fishes, especially on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). These publications and associated research have informed policy, planning and management at both State and Federal Government levels.

At AIMS, I established the Microplastics team and conduct research on the ecological risks of microplastic contamination in tropical marine environments; a key knowledge gap for policy makers in Australia and globally. Our work focusses on developing baseline information on national levels of environmental contamination, examining intake and retention by marine organisms including seafood species, and assessing the effects on tropical marine organisms and ecosystems.


More recently, I have also focused on understanding the role of fish predation in regulating population outbreaks of Crown-of-Thorn Starfish (CoTS). Using new DNA technologies to detect Pacific CoTS (Acanthaster cf. solaris) in fish faecal and gut content samples, we found that direct fish predation on CoTS might well be more common than is currently appreciated. This includes species from the emperor family, including redthroat emperor, a popular fisheries species on the GBR. In current work, I am examining the influence of fish biomass removal by fisheries on CoTS population outbreaks.

Partnerships & Collaborations

Partnerships and collaborations have been an important component of my research at AIMS, as well as previously at the CSIRO and NSW DPI Fisheries. My work on improving water quality from land-based run-off has involved effective multi-institutional collaborations and direct engagement with Government and industry, including integral contributions to the 2013 and 2017 ‘Scientific Consensus Statement on Land use impacts on GBR water quality and ecosystem condition’.

At AIMS, my research on microplastics has resulted in new national and international collaborations, including with James Cook University, the CSIRO, and Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), and the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, University of Copenhagen, and the Institute of Oceanology Chinese Academy of Sciences. I presented our work at the National Plastics Summit in Canberra 2020, and my team is participating in various activities of the Commonwealth Blue Charter ‘Clean Ocean Alliance’ Action Group on Marine Plastic Pollution.

My work on water quality and microplastics have informed the update of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (2018), the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017-2022, the ‘Threat Abatement Plan for the impacts of marine debris on the vertebrate wildlife of Australia’s coasts and oceans, Commonwealth of Australia 2018’, the 2014 and 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook reports, the Queensland Reef protection regulation and the Queensland Plastic pollution reduction plan.

My more recent research on CoTS has involved multi-institutional collaborations through the National Environmental Science Program Tropical Water Quality Hub, and through the Reef Trust Partnership CoTS Control and Innovation Program. For the latter, I am contributing to the design and delivery of a 3-year research and innovation program to improve CoTS control and surveillance.

Other Activities


  • Adjunct Associate Professor, AIMS@JCU Division of Research and Innovation, JCU (2016 – current)
  • Team Leader ‘Tropical Marine Water Quality and Impacts’, AIMS (2016 – current)
  • Team Leader ‘Tropical marine contamination and eco-toxicology’, AIMS (2015 – 2016)
  • Leader, IMOS New Technology Proving Sub-Facility Microplastics (2021 – current)
  • Member, CoTS Working Group, National Environmental Science Program Tropical Water Quality Hub (2015 – 2021)
  • Program Area lead, Reef Trust Partnership CoTS Control and Innovation Program (2020 – current)
  • Contributor, Scientific Consensus Statement on Land use impacts on GBR water quality and ecosystem condition (2013, 2017)
  • Member, Pesticide Working Group and Pesticide Community of Practice (2013 – current)
  • Member, North Queensland Pest Fish Working Group (2006 – current)

Student supervision and teaching

  • Advisor for one Postdoctoral fellow, supervisor or co-supervisor for seven PhD and Master’s postgraduate students
Plastic tow

Links to the complete publications list: Google Scholar and Research Gate.


Marine and coastal water quality

  1. Kroon FJ, Berry KLE, Brinkman DL, Kookana R, Leusch F, Melvin S, Neale P, Negri A, Puotinen M, Tsang J, van de Merwe J, Williams M (2020). Sources, presence and potential effects of contaminants of emerging concern in the marine environments of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, Australia. Science of the Total Environment 719, 135140. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135140
  2. Kroon FJ, Thorburn P, Schaffelke B, Whitten S (2016). Towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef from land-based pollution. Global Change Biology 22, 1985-2002. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13262
  3. 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, 33-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.06.003
  4. Kroon FJ, Kuhnert P, Henderson B, Wilkinson S, Henderson A, Brodie J, Turner R (2012). River loads of suspended solids, nitrogen, phosphorus and herbicides delivered to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Marine Pollution Bulletin 65, 167-181. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.10.018
  5. Kroon FJ. (2012). Towards ecologically relevant targets for river pollutant loads in the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Pollution Bulletin 65, 261-266. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.10.030

Fish health and fisheries habitats

  1. Kroon FJ, Streten C, Harries S (2017). A protocol for identifying suitable biomarkers to assess fish health: A systematic review. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0174762. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174762
  2. Kroon FJ, Hook S, Jones D, Metcalfe S, Henderson B, Smith R, Warne M, Turner R, McKeown A, Westcott DA (2015). Altered transcription levels of endocrine associated genes in two fisheries species collected from the Great Barrier Reef catchment and lagoon. Marine Environmental Research 104, 51-61. DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2015.01.002
  3. Kroon FJ, Phillips S (2016). Audit of human-made physical barriers to fish passage in the Wet Tropics region, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 67, 677-681. DOI: 10.1071/MF14397
  4. Boys C, Kroon FJ, Glasby T, Wilkinson K (2012). Improved fish and crustacean passage in tidal creeks following floodgate remediation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 49, 223-233. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.02101.x
  5. Kroon FJ, Ludwig J. (2010). Response and recovery of fish and invertebrate assemblages following flooding in five tributaries of a sub-tropical river. Marine and Freshwater Research 61, 86-96. DOI: 10.1071/MF08357

Marine microdebris, including microplastics

  1. Santana MFM, Dawson A, Motti CA, van Herwerden L, Kroon FJ (2021). Ingestion and depuration of microplastics by a planktivorous coral reef fish, Pomacentrus amboinensis. Frontiers in Environmental Science, section Toxicology, Pollution and the Environment 9, Article 641135. DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2021.641135
  2. Dawson A, Santana MFM, Miller ME, Kroon FJ (2021). Relevance and reliability of evidence for microplastic contamination in seafood: a critical review using Australian consumption patterns as a case study. Environmental Pollution, 116684. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.116684
  3. Miller M, Hamann M, Kroon FJ (2020). Biomagnification of microplastics in marine environments: A review and meta-analysis of current data. PLOS One 15(10): e0240792. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240792
  4. Jensen LH, Motti CA, Garm AL, Tonin H, Kroon FJ (2019). Sources, distribution and fate of microfibres on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Scientific Reports 9: 9021. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-45340-7
  5. Kroon FJ, Motti CE, Jensen LH, Berry KLE (2018). Classification of marine microdebris: A review and case study on fish from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Scientific Reports 8:16422. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-34590-6
  6. Kroon F, Motti C, Talbot S, Sobral P, Puotinen M (2018). A workflow for improving estimates of microplastic contamination in marine waters: a case study from North-Western Australia. Environmental Pollution, 238, 26-38. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.03.010

Pest species, including Crown-of-Thorn starfish:

  1. Kroon FJ, Lefèvre CD, Doyle JR, Patel F, Milton G, Severati A, Kenway M, Johansson CL, Schnebert S, Thomas-Hall P, Bonin M, Cameron DS, Westcott DA (2020). DNA-based identification of predators of the corallivorous Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) from fish faeces and gut contents. Scientific Reports 10:8184. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-65136-4
  2. Westcott DA, Fletcher CS, Kroon FJ, Babcock R, Plagányi E, Pratchett MS, Bonin M (2020). Relative efficacy of three approaches to mitigate Crown-of-Thorns Starfish outbreaks on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Scientific Reports, 10:12594. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-69466-1
  3. Kroon FJ, Philip S, Burrows D, Hogan A (2015). Presence and absence of invasive fish species in the Wet Tropics region, Australia. Journal of Fish Biology, 86, 1177-1185. DOI: 10.1111/jfb.12614.
  4. Bradford M, Kroon FJ, Russell J. (2011). The biology and management of Tilapia mariae (Pisces: Cichlidae) as a native and invasive species: a review. Marine and Freshwater Research, 62, 902-917. DOI: 10.1071/MF10289