My students and I focus on the ecology of coastal marine ecosystems. I am interested using fundamental ecology to improve our understanding of the response of marine communities to global change and to develop more robust conservation and restoration efforts for critical marine foundation species such as oysters and seagrasses. I work in temperate systems around the world and members of my lab conduct research at local and international scales.
As I am interested in instilling students with the skills to address any ecological question that piques their interest, my research has a strong experimental focus.
I am also Director of the Sydney Harbour Research Program (Sydney Institute of Marine Science). This is a large interdisciplinary program including researchers from government agencies, universities and conservation agencies. The aim of this program is to provide natural solutions to environmental issues. Students involved with this program get to be part of a large collaborative group with a common goal of building resilience and resistance into our estuarine and harbour ecosystems.
- The ecology and restoration of foundation species
- Ecology and evolution of marine invasive species
- Plant soil feedbacks in marine ecosystems
- The role of facilitation and mutualisms in structuring marine communities
- Processes controlling biodiversity from local to biogeographic scales
- Understanding environmental conditions alter species interactions
- The development of natural solutions to environmental issues
- Using bioturbators to improve contaminated sediments
- Restoration of oyster reefs to estuaries in Australia
Student Research Projects
I would love to talk to PhD, MSc or Honours students interested in any of the themes above, or are interested in developing their own exciting ideas.
Current Lab Members Students
- Ana Bugnot (Post-doc). Project manager Sydney Harbour Research Program.
- Rebecca Piercey (PhD). The role of microbes in marine invasions
- Rick Leong (PhD). Landscape scale influences of oyster reefs on biodiversity
- Talia Stelling-Wood (PhD). Community assembly in response to intra- and inter-specific variation in algal traits (Jointly supervised with Assoc. Prof. Alistair Poore)
- Sebastian Vadillo (PhD). Sediment micro/macro-interactions and ecosystem function (co- supervised with Dr. Katie Dafforn and Prof. Emma Johnston)
- Guilia Ferretto. Ecosystem function and restoration of Posidonia australis (Co-supervisor with Assoc. Prof. Adriana Verges)
- Daniel Bradley (PhD). The effects of the rapidly spreading macroalga, Caulerpa filiformis, on coastal marine herbivores.
- Megan Ramsdale (Hons) The effects of remnant oyster reefs on sediment infauna (Co-supervised with Dr. Ana Bugnot)
Past UNSW PhD and MSc Students
- Brendan Lanham (PhD). Effects of habitat spatial distribution on fish assemblages (Jointly supervised with A/Prof Alistair Poore). Now a Post-doc at Macquarie University.
- Marc Uya Yrayzoz (PhD). Disturbance and the establishment of invasive species (Jointly supervised with Assoc. Prof Fabio Bulleri, U. Pisa)
- Lois Duff (MSc). Effects of invasive oysters in different ecological setting (Co-supervisor with Assoc. Prof. Louise Firth, U. Plymouth)
- Sofie Voermen (PhD). Spread of the native macroalga Caulerpa filiformis. Now a Post-doc at Heriot Watt University, Scotland
- Hannah Lloyd (MSc). Inter-continental patterns of faunal biodiversity on temperate coasts. Now Senior Project Officer Ecosystems and Threatened Species for Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, NSW
- Hayden Beck (PhD). Mechanisms driving the success of tropical vagrant fish in coastal New South Wales (co-supervised with Prof. David Booth).
Past Hons Students
- Sian Liddy. Positive and negative interactions in facilitation cascades
- Ben Chui. The role of predation and facilitation in estuarine ecosystems
- Sam Ropert: Does algal functional diversity influence biodiversity?)
- Phoebe Quessy. Does enemy release or habitat-availability determine higher abundances of an invasive crab in its non-native range?
- Michael Simpson. Impacts of the New Zealand porcelain crab Petrolisthes elongatus in Tasmania.
- Brendan Lanham. Associational defences: Influence of Caulerpa filiformis on herbivore foraging.
- Jason Hendrickx. Spread and impacts of the invasive snail Zeacumantus subcarinatus on Sydney’s rocky shores.
- Dilys Zhang (UTS). Effects of pollution on marine macrophyte interactions.
- Sam I’Ons (UTS). Biogeographic comparison of a marine invader in Australia.
- Matt West (UTS). The role of disturbance in the spread of marine invaders.
- Hannah Lloyd (UTS). Biogeography of marine invertebrates.
- Chris Mabin (UTas). Effects of climate-driven EAC strengthening on kelp morphology and reproduction.
- Lyndle Hardstaff (UTS). Relationships between leaf flammability and leaf traits in native and exotic species of dry sclerophyll forest.
- Pamela Morales (UTS). Are earthworms good indicators of rehabilitation in disturbed environments? (
- Michael Clements (UNSW). The effects of mat-forming invasive species on the community structure of foulers in soft-sediment habitat.
- Loni Koukoumaftis (UoW). Invasive seaweed increases the susceptibility of an infaunal bivalve to predation.
MSCI2001 Introduction to Marine Science (Course Coordinator)
BEES2031 Invertebrate Zoology (Lecturer)
BIOS3091 Marine and Aquatic Ecology (Lecturer)
BIOS3601 Advanced Field Biology (Lecturer)
BEES6601 Introduction to the Sydney Environment (Lecturer)