Thomas Wernberg

Research summary

I am an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Plant Biology, based within the UWA’s Oceans Institute.

My research covers a broad spectrum of topics, but my primary interests lie in the ecological interactions in and around shallow sub-tidal habitats. Although my interests are broad, and the principles I study general, much of my work has focused on temperate seaweed-dominated habitats such as kelp forests.

My research provides understanding of how coastal habitats might respond to stressors such as climate change, invasive species and eutrophication. By working across sub-cellular to macro-ecological scales and connecting fields such as physiology, ecology and biogeography, my research has contributed to an integrated understanding of the complex processes that drive the ecology of near-shore marine environments.

I am an Editor-in-Chief for the journal Aquatic Botany and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Phycology.

My Marine Ecology Family Tree



Wernberg - Diver counting seaweed

Kelp canopy removal and recovery experiment in southwestern Australia, to test the resilience of kelp beds to physical disturbance (see Wernberg et al., 2010, Ecol Lett).


Selected publications

A full publication list and pdf’s can be found here.

Citation statistics: Google Scholar.

Wernberg T, Straub SC (2016) 3.3 Impacts and effects of ocean warming on seaweeds. In: Explaining ocean warming: causes, scale, effects and consequences (eds. Laffoley D, Baxter JM); Full report. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. pp. 87-103.

Wernberg T, Bennett S, Babcock RC, de Bettignies T, Cure K, Depczynski M, Dufois F, Fromont J, Fulton CJ, Hovey RK, Harvey ES, Holmes TH, Kendrick GA, Radford B, Santana-Garcon J, Saunders BJ, Smale DA, Thomsen MS, Tuckett CA, Tuya F, Vanderklift MA, Wilson SK (2016) Climate driven regime shift of a temperate marine ecosystem. Science, 353(6295): 169-172.

Wernberg T, Smale, DA, Tuya F, Thomsen MS, Langlois TJ, de Bettignies T, Bennett S,  Rousseaux CS (2013) An extreme climatic event alters marine ecosystem structure in a global biodiversity hotspot, Nature Climate Change, 3: 78-82.

Wernberg, T., Smale, D.A., Verges, A., Campbell, A., Russell, B.D., Coleman, M.A., Ling, S.D., Steinberg, P.D., Johnson, C.R., Kendrick, G.A. & Connell, S.D. (2012). Macroalgae and temperate rocky reefs. In: Poloczanska, E.S., Hobday, A.J. & Richardson, A.J. (eds)  A Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report Card for Australia 2012.

Wernberg, T., Smale, D.S., Thomsen, M.S. (2012) A decade of climate change experiments on marine organisms: procedures, patterns and problems, Global Change Biology, 18: 1491–1498

Wernberg, T., Russell, B.D., Thomsen, M.S., Gurgel, C.F.D., Bradshaw, C.J.A., Poloczanska, E.S., Connell, S.D. (2011) Seaweed communities in retreat from ocean warming. Current Biology, 21: 1828-1832.

Wernberg T., Russell B.D., Moore P.J., Ling S.D., Smale D.A., Campbell A., Coleman M.A., Steinberg P.D., Kendrick G.A., Connell S.D. (2011) Impacts of climate change in a global hotspot for temperate marine biodiversity and ocean warming. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 400: 7-16

Wernberg, T., Thomsen, M.S., Tuya, F., Kendrick, G.A., Staehr, P.A. & Toohey, B.D. (2010) Decreasing resilience of kelp beds along a latitudinal temperature gradient: potential implications for a warmer future. Ecology Letters, 13: 685-694