Scott Bennett

Scott graduated to a highly prestigeous European Marie Curie postdoc fellowship and moved to Spain after a short postdoc at Curtin University. He recently returned to Australia as an ARC DECRA Fellow at the University of Tasmania.

Environmental stress and species interactions (PhD 2015)


My thesis looked at the role that ecological processes such as herbivory, competition and facilitation play in structuring seaweed canopies. I was particularly interested in how these relationships responded to environmental gradients and how these interactions affect community structure and ecosystem function. My research investigated the capacity of canopy forming seaweeds to withstand increasing ocean temperatures and whether changes in canopy structure (i.e species composition) among different climates, alters the function of the canopy within reef ecosystems.

I addressed these questions by using a macro-ecological and comparative experimental approach, looking at seaweed growth and community interactions along a latitudinal gradient from the south west coast of Australia (34oS) to Ningaloo Reef (21oS).

Supervisors: Thomas Wernberg, Gary Kendrick

Scotty measuring scytos

Scytothalia transplant


  • 2011-2015: PhD candidate (Environmental stress and species interactions), University of Western Australia, Australia
  • 2009: Honours (Regional scale patterns in reef processes: algal-herbivore interactions on the Great Barrier Reef ), James Cook University, Australia
  • 2007: BSc (Marine Biology), James Cook University, Australia

Peer reviewed papers

Citation statistics: Google Scholar

14. 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.

13. Bennett S, Wernberg T, Bijo AJ, de Bettignies T, Campbell AH (2015) Central and rear edge populations can be equally vulnerable to warming. Nature Communications, 6:10280.

12. Bennett S, Wernberg T, Connell SD, Hobday AJ, Johnson CR, Poloczanska ES (2015) The ‘Great Southern Reef’: socio-ecological and economic value of Australia’s neglected kelp forests. Marine and Freshwater Research, 67(1): 47-56.

11. Marzinelli EM, Campbell AH, Zozaya Valdes E, Vergés A, Nielsen S, Wernberg T, de Bettignies T, Bennett S, Caporaso JG, Thomas T, Steinberg PD (2015). Continental-scale variation in seaweed host-associated bacterial communities is a function of host condition, not geography. Environmental Microbiology, 17: 4078–4088.

10. Bennett S, Wernberg T, Harvey ES, Santana-Garcon J, Saunders B (2015) Tropical herbivores provide resilience to a climate mediated phase-shift on temperate reefs. Ecology Letters, 18: 714-723.

9. Bennett S, Wernberg T, de Bettignies T, Kendrick G, Anderson R, Bolton J, Rodgers K, Shears N, Leclerc J-C, Lévêque L, Davoult D, Christie H (2015) Canopy interactions and physical stress gradients in subtidal communities. Ecology Letters, 18: 636–645.

8. Bennett S, Wernberg T (2014) Canopy facilitates seaweed recruitment on subtidal temperate reefs. Journal of Ecology 102 (6): 1462-1470.

7. Andrews S, Bennett S, Wernberg T (2014) Reproductive seasonality and early life temperature sensitivity reflect vulnerability of a range-contracting seaweed. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 495: 119-129.

6. Wernberg T, Smale D, Tuya F, Thomsen M, Langlois T, de Bettignies T, Bennett SRousseaux C (2013) An extreme climatic event alters marine ecosystem structure in a global biodiversity hotspot. Nature Climate Change  3: 78-82

5. Vergés A, Bennett S, Bellwood DR (2012) Fish diversity among macroalgae-consuming fishes in coral reefs: a transcontinental comparison. Plos One 7 (9), e45543

4. Mascaro O, Bennett S, Marba N, Nikolic V, Romero J, Duarte CM, Alcoverro T (2012) Uncertainty analysis along the ecological quality status of water bodies: The response of the Posidonia oceanica multivariate index (POMI) in three Mediterranean regions. Marine Pollution Bulletin 64: 926-931

3. Bennett S, Roca G, Romero J, Alcoverro T (2011) Ecological status of seagrass ecosystems: an uncertainty analysis of the meadow classification based on the Posidonia oceanica multivariate index (POMI). Marine Pollution Bulletin 62:1616-1621

2. Bennett S, Bellwood DR (2011). Latitudinal variation in macroalgal consumption by fishes on the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Ecology Progress Series 426: 241-252

1. Bennett S, Vergés A, Bellwood DR (2010) Branching coral as a macroalgal refuge in a marginal coral reef system. Coral Reefs 29: 471-480.

Other publications

3. Wernberg T, Hobday A, Johnson C, Poloczanska E, Bennett S, Connell S (2015) Australia’s ‘other reef’ is worth more than $10 billion per year – have you heard of it? The Conversation 17/8/15 [pdf].

2. Bennett, S. (2014) PERSPECTIVE: Can’t see the kelp forest for the…corals? Time to value our temperate reefs. ScienceNetwork WA.

1. Bennett S., Wernberg T., de Bettignies T. (2014). 10th international temperate reefs symposium: abstract book. The University of Western Australia [pdf].


Lab lunch Scott & Juls August 2014

Spanish-Australian fusion (aka paella on the barbie): Scott and Juls follow through on the proud tradition of WernbergLab cultural appreciation cooking sessions. Not shown: an amazing tapas of Spanish omelette, ham, octopus, olives and sausage. Great way to finish the City to Surf – well done to all lab runners, walkers, stalkers and water boys!

Scott and Thomas

Scott Bennett PhD graduation 17 September 2015

Scott valedictory

Scott delivering his valedictory address: “Life is a journey of learning, knowing how to learn and to think broadly is most important. UWA and working in the world’s best natural laboratory – The Great Southern Reef – has provided this skill”. Good on ya’ for getting the GSR in there Scotty!