Research Interests

Dr. Coker is from New Zealand but spent some of his childhood in the Solomon Islands. There, he was exposed to snorkeling and the underwater world of coral reefs. His love of traveling later took him to Australia where he learned to dive and spent many weekends exploring the Great Barrier Reef. 

Since then, Dr. Coker completed a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at James Cook University (JCU) and a PhD (The Importance of Live Coral Habitats for Reef Fishes and Their Role in Moderating Key Ecological Processes) at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (JCU) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, Australia, under the supervision of Professors Morgan Pratchett, Philip Munday, Dr. Nicholas Graham, Dr. Shaun Wilson (Department of Environment and Conservation, WA), and Dr. Aaron MacNeil (Australian Institute of Marine Science). Following his Ph.D., Dr. Coker worked at the ARC Center investigating the effects of climate change on commercially important reef fishes. He joined the Reef Ecology Lab as a post-doctoral fellow in spring 2014. 

Dr. Coker's research interests include investigating the importance of live coral habitats for fishes and how changes in habitat condition following disturbances impact the abundance, recruitment, and behavior of associated reef fishes. He is also investigating the role ecological processes play in biogeographic patterns of Red Sea reef fishes.

Selected Publications

  • Body condition of the coral-dwelling fish Dascyllus aruanus following host colony bleaching
    D. J. Coker, J. P. Nowicki, M. S. Pratchett
    Environmental Biology of Fishes. Volume 98, Issue 2, 691-695, (2015)
  • An annotated bibliography of the research on marine organisms and environments at Christmas Island and the Cocos (K...
    J-P. A. Hobbs, D. J. Coker, et al.
    Bulletin of Zoology, Volume 30, 419-468, (2014)
  • Importance of live coral habitat for reef fishes
    D. J. Coker, S. K. Wilson, M. S. Pratchett
    Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. Volume 24, Issue 1, 89-126, (2014)
  • Increasing ocean temperatures reduce activity patterns of a large commercially important coral reef fish
    L. J. Johansen, V. Messmer, D. J. Coker, A. S. Hoey, M. S. Pratchett
    Global Change Biology, Volume 20, Issue 4, 10671074, (2014)
  • Foraging in corallivorous butterflyfish varies with wave exposure
    M. M. Nobel, M. S. Pratchett, D. J. Coker, C. Cvitanovic, C. J. Fulton
    Coral Reefs, Volume 33, Issue 2, 351-361, (2014)
  • Social group entry rules may limit population resilience to patchy habitat disturbance
    D. J. Coker, S. P. W. Walker, P. L. Munday, M. S. Pratchett
    Marine Ecology Progress Series. Volume 493, 237-242, (2013)
  • Documentation of the Mimic Octopus Thaumoctopus mimicus in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
    D. J. Coker
    Marine Biodiversity Records, Volume 6, e14, , (2013)
  • Interactive effects of live coral and structural complexity on the recruitment of reef fishes
    D. J. Coker, N. A. J. Graham, M. S. Pratchett
    Coral Reefs, Volume 31, Issue 4, 919-927, (2012)
  • Influence of coral bleaching, coral mortality and conspecific aggression on movement and distribution of coral-dwel...
    D. J. Coker, M. S. Pratchett, P. L. Munday
    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Volumes 414415, 62-68, (2012)
  • Interdependence between reef fishes and scleractinian corals
    M. S. Pratchett, A. Hoey, D. J. Coker, N. Gardiner
    Proceedings of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, (2012)

Education Profile

  • Ph.D., ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, and Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia, 2012 
  • Graduate Diploma of Research Methods (GDipResMeth), Marine Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, 2007. 
  • B. Sc., Marine Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, 2007.

Professional Profile

  • ​2014 – present: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Saudi Arabia. 
  • 2012 – 2013: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

Scientific and Professional Memberships

  • ​Australian Coral Reef Society
  • Australian Society for Fish Biology

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
  • Division of Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering (BESE)