Funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Program.

Ocean warming is causing the collapse of highly valuable temperate kelp forests globally and on both sides of Australia, but we do not know if this is because of direct physiological effects of temperature, or because of indirect effects arising from changes in species interactions.

In this project, the direct impacts of marine heatwaves are being compared to the indirect effects of range-shifting tropical herbivores and pathogens for one of Australia’s largest coastal ecosystems: kelp forests of the Great Southern Reef. Through an innovative combination of continental-scale field experiments and environmental microbiology, this project aims to enhance our capacity to respond to the ongoing degradation of these valuable natural assets.