Wernberglab wordle 2013-2018a

Word-cloud of Wernberg Lab abstracts from 2013 to Feb 2018 (n=61).

Our focus is the ecology of shallow subtidal ecosystems, and we work mostly on large habitat-forming seaweeds because of their ecological importance as foundation species in many communities.

Our work is motivated by a fascination with science, the marine environment and its inhabitants, and the need to understand the general processes that drive the structure and functioning of ecosystems.

Our aim is to make discoveries and gain insights that will help scientists, managers, politicians and the broader community understand and identify how marine ecosystems respond to anthropogenic stressors. We believe a mechanistic understanding and informed foresight are critical to the success of conservation, mitigation and adaptation strategies aimed at reducing the negative consequences, to humans and ecosystems, of changing environments.

Our approach bridges physiology, ecology and biogeography because ecological phenomena are inherently multi-scale in time, space and biological organisation. We use quantitative methods, combining surveys of distribution and interactions with laboratory and field experiments, to tease apart the local through global processes of change and drivers of ecological patterns.

Our home ground is the western Great Southern Reef, a magnificent ecosystem and natural laboratory extraordinaire! However, we play in marine ecosystems all over the world.

Research themes
  • Ecological implications of climate change and climate variability, extreme events (e.g., marine heatwaves);
  • Current and future patterns of global change (climate change, invasive species, eutrophication); range-shifts, tropicalisation of temperate marine ecosystems;
  • Broad-scale patterns of distribution and underlying drivers; biogeography and macro-ecology of temperate marine organisms; ecology of transition zones;
  • Interactions between seaweeds, their environment and other organisms;
  • Effect of climate and human stressors on the resilience (resistance and recovery) of communities to disturbances; thresholds in ecological function and ecosystem services;
  • Ecological costs of physiological adjustments to stress; constraints on scope for adaptation and acclimatisation; the role of genetic diversity and sub-cellular
  • The ecology of invasive species and their impacts on native communities;
  • Trophic linkages between habitats from export and consumption of detached reef algae;
  • The role of seaweeds and kelp forests in the global carbon cycle (blue carbon), and implications for climate mitigation strategies;
  • Future-proof restoration of degraded kelp forests.

The Great Southern Reef