Gareth Williams | Post-doctoral Researcher |

Short Bio: Gareth is a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Sandin’s lab. He is carrying out comparative analyses of natural and human influences on coral reef community structure, diversity and resilience. Fundamental questions pertaining to coral reef ecology will be addressed, such as 1) how do global climatic stressors and local anthropogenic stressors affect coral bleaching patterns on reefs?, 2) how does the absence of direct human impacts affect coral reef resilience to stressors such as bleaching and disease?, 3) what are ‘natural’ spatial patterns of coral and reef fish communities on reefs? Gareth’s PhD work focused on coral disease ecology at Palmyra Atoll in the Northern Line Islands. More broadly, he has been involved in modeling the distribution of coral diseases throughout the Indo-Pacific and how this relates to climatic stressors and human population size. Originally from the UK, Gareth spent his BSc years working on starfish behaviour in the Irish Sea and his MSc years on temperate reef fish ecology in northeastern New Zealand. He is an avid diver and has visited numerous reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean over the last 10 years.

Research Interests:

  • Biophysical and anthropogenic influences on coral reef communities
  • Coral reef resilience
  • Coral health ecology
  • Statistical ecology

I have a broad interest in coral reef ecology, from the corals themselves to the small reef fish, sharks and other invertebrates that depend on the reef structure for survival. Ultimately, I am interested in how all these components interact with each other and how anthropogenic and climatic stressors have disrupted these interactions across our tropical oceans.


Online: Personal Webpage | Palmyra Atoll Coral ID Guide



 That Top-of-the-Food-Chain Feeling



Williams GJ, Knapp IS, Maragos JE, Davy SK (In Press) Response to Gardner et al. Marine Pollution Bulletin

Kelly LW, Barott KL, Dinsdale E, Friedlander AM, Nosrat B, Obura D, Sala E, Sandin SA, Smith JE, Vermeij MJA, Williams GJ, Willner D, Rohwer F (2011) Black reefs: iron-induced phase shifts on coral reefs. ISME 1-12

Aeby GS, Williams GJ, Franklin EC, Kenyon J, Cox EF, Coles S, Work TM (2011) Patterns of coral disease across the Hawaiian archipelago: relating disease to environment. PLoS One 6(5): e20370

Williams GJ, Knapp IS, Maragos JE, Davy SK (2011) Proximate environmental drivers of coral communities at Palmyra Atoll: establishing baselines prior to removing a WWII military causeway. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62(8): 1842-1851

Williams GJ, Knapp IS, Work TM, Conklin EJ (2011) Outbreak of Acropora white syndrome following a mild bleaching event at Palmyra Atoll, Northern Line Islands, Central Pacific. Coral Reefs 30(3): 621

Knapp IS, Godwin LS, Smith JE, Williams GJ, Bell JJ (2011) Records of non-indigenous marine species at Palmyra Atoll in the US Line Islands. Marine Biodiversity Records 4: 1-7

Williams GJ, Knapp IS, Aeby GS, Davy SK (2011) Spatial and temporal patterns of scleractinian coral, soft coral and zoanthid disease on a remote, near-pristine coral reef (Palmyra Atoll, Central Pacific). Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 94: 89-100

Aeby GS*, Williams GJ*, Franklin EC, Haapkyla J, Harvell CD, Neale S, Page CA, Raymundo L,Vargas-Angel B, Willis B, Work TM, Davy SK (2011) Growth anomalies on the coral genera Acropora and Porites are strongly associated with host density and human population size across the Indo-Pacific. PLoS One 6(2): e16887                (*joint first author)

Williams GJ, Work TM, Aeby GS, Knapp IS, Davy SK (2011) Gross and microscopic morphology of lesions in Cnidaria from Palmyra Atoll, Central Pacific. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 106: 165-173

Maragos JE, Williams GJ (2011) Pacific Coral Reefs: an introduction, In: Hopley E (ed) Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs. Springer-Verlag, 1236 p

Aeby GS, Ross M, Williams GJ, Lewis TD, Work TM (2010) Disease dynamics of Montipora white syndrome within Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii: distribution, seasonality, virulence, and transmissibility. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 91: 1-8

Williams GJ, Knapp IS, Maragos JE, Davy SK (2010) Modeling patterns of coral bleaching at a remote Central Pacific Atoll. Marine Pollution Bulletin 60: 1467-1476

Williams GJ, Aeby GS, Cowie ROM, Davy SK (2010) Predictive modeling of coral disease distribution within a reef system. PLoS One 5(2): e9264

Williams GJ, Aeby GS, Davy SK (2008) Coral disease at Palmyra Atoll, a remote reef system in the Central Pacific. Coral Reefs 27: 207

Williams GJ, Maragos JE, Davy SK (2008) Characterization of the coral communities at Palmyra Atoll in the remote Central Pacific. Atoll Research Bulletin 557: 1-30

Williams GJ, Cameron MJ, Turner JT, Ford RB (2008) Quantitative characterisation of reef fish diversity among habitats in a north-eastern New Zealand marine reserve. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 42: 33-46