Sofie Vranken

Sofie returned to Belgium where she landed a postdoc at Ghent University.

Genetic patterns of Australian seaweed forests in changing environments (PhD)

Australia’s temperate marine kelp forests are currently under threat by increasing temperatures. If we want to protect these valuable under water forests it is crucial that we are able to predict future responses and understand the underlying genetic basis. That is why I aim to gain more understanding of the genetic diversity patterns, connectivity and putative signals of adaptations in kelp populations along the Australian east and west coast, and how these genetic patterns influence the ecological response to temperature stress. To this purpose, I will use a combination of population genomics and aquarium experiments.

Supervisors: Thomas Wernberg, Melinda Coleman (NSW DPI), Jaqueline Batley


  • 2012: Master of Science in Biology: Ecology & Evolution (Ghent University, Belgium)
    Thesis: Belowground herbivory of Taraxacum officinale (Asteraceae) impacts defence and seed dispersal related traits.
  • 2010: Bachelor of Science in Biology (Ghent University, Belgium)
    Thesis: Pollination mechanism of Campanula trachelium (Campanulaceae).

Peer reviewed papers

  1. Vranken S, Scheben A, Batley J, Wernberg T & Coleman MA (2022) Genomic consequences and selection efficacy in sympatric sexual versus asexual kelps. Frontiers in Marine Science: Marine Evolutionary Biology, Biogeography and Species Diversity, accepted 27/9/22.
  2. Alsuwaiyan NA, Filbee-Dexter K, Vranken S, Burkholz C, Cambridge M, Coleman MA & Wernberg T (2022) Green gravel as a vector of dispersal for kelp restoration. Frontiers in Marine Science: Marine Ecosystem Ecology. Accepted 22/8/22.
  3. Mulders YR, Filbee-Dexter K, Bell SY, Bosch NE, Pessarrodona A,  Sahin D, Vranken S, Zarco-Perello S, Wernberg T (2022) Intergrading reef communities across discrete seaweed habitats in a temperate – tropical transition zone: lessons for species reshuffling in a warming ocean. Ecology and Evolution, accepted 10/12/21.
  4. Alsuwaiyan NA, Vranken S, Filbee-Dexter K, Cambridge M, Coleman MA, Wernberg T (2021) Genotypic variation in response to extreme events may facilitate kelp adaptation under future climates. Marine Ecology Progress Series, accepted 21/6/21.
  5. Vranken S, Wernberg T, Scheben A, Severn-Ellis A, Batley J, Bayer PE Edwards D, Wheeler D, Coleman MA (2021) Genotype-environment mismatch of kelp forests under climate change. Molecular Ecology, 15: 3730-3746.
  6. Coleman MA, Minne AJP, Vranken S, Wernberg T (2020) Genetic tropicalisation following a marine heatwave. Scientific Reports, 10: 12726.
  7. Vandepitte L., Vanhoorne B., Decock W, Vranken S., Lanssens T., Dekeyzer S., Verfaille K., Horton T., Kroh A., Hernandez F., Mees J. (2018) A decade of the World Register of Marine Species – general insights and experiences from the Data Management Team: where are we, what have we learned and how can we continue? PLOS ONE, 13(4): e0194599.
  8. Vranken S, Bosch S, Pena V, Leliaert F, Mineur F, De Clerck O (2018). A risk assessment of aquarium trade introductions of algae in European waters. Biological Invasions
  9. Horton T., Gofas S., Kroh A., Poore G. C. B., Read G., Rosenberg G., Stöhr S., Bailly N., Boury-Esnault N., Brandão S. N., Costello M. J., Decock W., Dekeyzer S., Hernandez F., Mees J, Paulay G., Vandepitte L., Vanhoorne B., Vranken S. (2017). Improving nomenclatural consistency: A decade of experience in the World Register of Marine Species. European Journal of Taxonomy, 389: 1-24.
  10. Mortelmans M., Debusschere E., Vranken S., Deneudt K., Hernandez F., Mees J. (2017). Two marine parasites new to the Belgian fauna. Belgian Journal of Zoology, 147(2): 143–153.
  11. Mineur F., Arenas, F., Assis, J., Davies, A. J., Engelen, A. H., Fernandes, F., Malta, E.-J., Thibaut, T., Van Nguyen, T., Vaz-Pinto, F., Vranken, S., Serrão, E. A. & De Clerck, O. (2015). European seaweeds under pressure: Consequences for communities and ecosystem functioning. Journal of Sea Research, 98: 91-108.
  12. Vranken S., Brys R., Hoffmann M., Jacquemyn H. (2014). Secondary pollen presentation and the temporal dynamics of stylar hair retraction and style elongation in Campanula trachelium (Campanulaceae). Plant Biology, 16: 669–676.

Achievements and awards

  • 2020: Grant winner, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment
  • 2020: Grant winner, Convocation Postgraduate Research Travel Award for 2020.
  • 2019: Grant winner, British Phycological Society
  • 2019: Grant winner, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment
  • 2019: Grant winner, P.C. Silva Student Grant, International Phycological Society
  • 2018: Grant winner, Robson & Robertson Award.
  • 2018: Grant winner, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment
  • 2017: International Postgraduate Research Scholarship for a PhD at UWA