Darren Coker, Ph.D.

Research Scientists

Research Scientist

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

  • Translational Molecular Ecology in practice: Linking DNA-based methods to actionable marine environmental managemen... 
    E. Aylagas, A. Borja, X. Pochon, A. Zaiko, N. Keeley, K. Bruce, P. Hong, G.M. Ruiz, E.D. S...
    Science of the Total Environment 744, 140780, (2020)
  • Drivers of the Low Metabolic Rates of Seagrass Meadows in the Red Sea 
    Andrea Anton, Kimberlee Baldry, Darren J. Coker and Carlos M. Duarte
    Front. Mar. Sci 7:69, (2020)
  • Conspicuous and cryptic reef fishes from a unique and economically important region in the northern Red Sea 
    C.J. Atta, D.J. Coker, T.H. Sinclair-Taylor, J.D. DiBattista, A. Kattan, A.A. Monroe, M.L....
    PLoS ONE 14(10): e0223365, (2019)
  • Multiple stressor effects on coral reef ecosystems 
    J.I. Ellis, T. Jamil, H. Anlauf, D.J. Coker, J. Curdia, J. Hewitt, B.H. Jones, G. Krokos, ...
    Glob Change Biol., 00, pp. 116, (2019)
  • Assessing the utility of eDNA as a tool to survey reef-fish communities in the Red Sea 
    Joseph D. DiBattista, Darren J. Coker, Tane H. Sinclair-Taylor, Michael Stat, Michael L. B...
    Coral Reefs, (2017)
  • Habitat Use and Spatial Variability of Hawkfishes with a Focus on Colour Polymorphism in Paracirrhites forsteri 
    D.J. Coker, V. Chaidez, M.L. Berumen
    Paracirrhites forsteri. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0169079, (2017)
  • Reef fish communities in the central Red Sea show evidence of asymmetrical fishing pressure 
    Alexander Kattan, Darren J Coker, Michael L Berumen
    Marine Biodiversity, pp. 1-12, (2017)
  • A review of contemporary patterns of endemism for shallow water reef fauna in the Red Sea 
    J.D. DiBattista, M.B. Roberts, J. Bouwmeester, B.W. Bowen, D.J. Coker, D.F. Lozano-Cortes,...
    Journal of Biogeography, volume 43, issue 3, pp. 423-439, (2016)


  • 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 Membership

  • ​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)

Research Interests Keywords

​​Behavior Biodiversity Disturbances Ecological Processes Habitat Marine ecology Reef Fishes