Sahira Bell

After graduating Sahira landed a job as Research Scientist with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and is now continuing her work on the Great Southern Reef in the Ngari Capes marine park

Regime shifts and tropicalisation of temperate reefs (PhD 2021)

In marine environments, there is increasing evidence that climate-mediated marine heatwaves and range shifting tropical herbivores can have profound impacts on temperate kelp forests. My project aims to determine the relative importance of marine heatwaves and tropical herbivores in driving persistent change and the degradation of kelp forests on the Great Southern Reef – one of Australia’s most productive and globally unique ecosystems.

Supervisors: Thomas Wernberg, Adriana Vergés (University of New South Wales)


2014: B.Sc. (Marine Biology), University of Western Australia, Australia

Peer reviewed publications

  1. Bosch NE, Pessarrodona A, Filbee-Dexter K, Tuya F, Mulders Y, Bell SY, Langlois T & Wernberg T (2023) Habitat configurations shape the trophic and energetic dynamics of reef fishes in a tropical-temperate transition zone: implications under a warming future. Oecologia, accepted 19/9/22.
  2. Bosch NE, McLean M, Zarco-Perello S, Bennett S, Stuart-Smith RD, Vergés A, Pessarrodona A, Tuya F, Langlois T, Spencer C, Bell SY, Saunders BJ, Harvey ES, Wernberg T (2022) Persistent thermally-driven shift in the functional trait structure of herbivorous fishes: evidence of top-down control on the rebound potential of temperate seaweed forests? Global Change Biology, accepted 19/12/21.
  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. Pessarrodona A, Verges A, Bosch N, Bell SY, Smith S, Sgarlatta P, Wernberg T (2022) Tropicalization unlocks novel trophic pathways and enhances secondary productivity in temperate reefs. Functional Ecology, accepted 22/11/21.
  5. Wernberg T, Coleman MA, Babcock RC, Bell SY, Bolton JJ, Connell SD, Hurd CL, Johnson CR, Marzinelli EM, Shears NT, Steinberg PD, Thomsen MS, Vanderklift MA, Vergés A, Wright JT (2019) Biology and ecology of the globally significant kelp Ecklonia radiataOceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review, 57: 265–324.
  6. Bell SY, Fraser MW, Statton J, Kendrick GA (2019) Salinity stress drives herbivory rates and selective grazing in subtidal seagrass communities. PLoS One, 14(3): e0214308.

Achievements and awards

  • 2020: Grant winner, The Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment
  • 2020: Finalist, Ocean Awards 2020.
  • 2020: Successful nomination of The Great Southern Reef Mission Blue Hope Spot.
  • 2019: Winner, ‘Best Impact Presentation’, Species on the Move conference, South Africa.
  • 2019: Grant winner, Convocation Postgraduate Research Travel Award for 2019.
  • 2019: Work experience, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
  • 2019: Grant winner, The Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment.
  • 2019: Media, interview on the Great Southern Reef aired on PerthNow.
  • 2018: Grant winner, Sea World Research Foundation.
  • 2018: Supervisor, MS student Alanna Kursar.
  • 2018: Grant winner, Robson & Robertson Awards.
  • 2018: Grant winner, The PADI Foundation.
  • 2017: Grant winner, The Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment.
  • 2016: Research Training Program Scholarship for a PhD at UWA.