Salvador Zarco-Perello

Persistence and impact of tropical herbivorous fish on temperate ecosystems (PhD 2021)

My research is concerned with the tropicalization of temperate marine ecosystems around the world due to climate change. Global warming is driving the expansion of distributions and increases in abundances towards temperate ecosystems of species regularly found on tropical ecosystems. Among these are herbivorous fish, important ecosystem engineers with the potential to modify the habitat structure by consuming the vegetation, reducing the shelter and food that other species may depend upon. My research aims to assess three main aspects revolving around the long-term impact of tropical herbivorous on temperate ecosystems: (1) Persistence: reproduction, growth, recruitment and habitat associations of tropical herbivorous fish, (2) Impact: temporal variability of seaweed consumption, and (3) Future scenarios: forecast further distribution expansions and possible hot-spots of high levels of herbivory in south-western Australia in the future.

Supervisors: Thomas Wernberg, Tim Langlois, Mat Vanderklift (CSIRO), Tom Holmes (DBCA).


  • 2016: MSc Marine Biology, The University of Western Australia.

Peer reviewed publications

  1. Zarco-Perello S, Fairclough D, Dowling C, DiBattista J, Rachel A, Wernberg T, Brett T (2022) Maximization of fitness by phenological and phenotypic plasticity in range expanding rabbitfish (Siganidae). Journal of Animal Ecology, in press 7/4/22. 
  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. Barrientos S, Zarco-Perello S, Piñeiro-Corbeira C, Barreiro R, Wernberg T (2021) Feeding preferences of range-shifting and native herbivorous fishes in temperate ecosystems. Marine Environmental Research, accepted 19 Oct 2021.
  5. Zarco-Perello S, Bosch NE, Bennett S, Vanderklift MA, Wernberg T (2021) Persistence of tropical herbivores in temperate reefs constrain kelp resilience to cryptic habitats. Journal of Ecology, accepted 3/2/21
  6. Zarco-Perello S, Carroll G, Vanderklift MA, Holmes T, Langlois T, Wernberg T (2020) Range-extending tropical herbivores increase diversity, intensity and extent of herbivory functions in temperate marine ecosystems. Functional Ecology, accepted 6/8/20.
  7. Zarco-Perello S, Langlois TJ, Holmes T, Vanderklift MA, Wernberg T (2019) Overwintering tropical herbivores accelerate detritus production on temperate reefs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286: 20192046. [press release].
  8. Zarco-Perello S, Enríquez S (2019)  Remote underwater video reveals higher fish diversity and abundance in seagrass meadows, and habitat differences in trophic interactions. Scientific Reports, 9: 6596
  9. Zarco-Perello S, Wernberg T, Langlois T, Vanderklift MA (2017) Tropicalization strengthens consumer pressure on habitat-forming seaweeds. Scientific Reports, 7: 820.
  10. Zarco-Perello S, Simões N (2017) Ordinary kriging vs inverse distance weighting: spatial interpolation of the sessile community of Madagascar reef, Gulf of Mexico. PeerJ 5, e4078.
  11. Zarco-Perello S, Moreno-Mendoza R, Simões N (2014) Checklist of Fishes from Madagascar Reef, Campeche Bank, México. Biodiversity Data Journal 2, e1100.
  12. Zarco-Perelló S, Mascaró M, Garza-Pérez R, Simoes N (2013) Topography and coral community of the Sisal Reefs, Campeche Bank, Yucatán, México. Hidrobiológica 23 (1), 28-41
  13. Zarco-Perello S, Pratchett M, Liao V (2012) Temperature-growth performance curves for a coral reef fish, Acanthochromis polyacanthusGalaxea, Journal of Coral Reef Studies 14 (1), 97-103.

Achievements and awards

  • 2020: Grant winner, Convocation Postgraduate Student Travel Award.
  • 2020: Grant winner, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment.
  • 2019: Grant winner, Travel Award, Postgraduate Students Association, UWA.
  • 2018: Grant winner, Robson & Robertson Award.
  • 2018: Grant winner, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment.
  • 2017: Research Training Program Scholarship for a PhD at UWA.


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