James Lavender
PhD Candidate
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 3447

Room 570, D26 Building
UNSW, Kensington 2052

Member of the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology Lab (AMEE)

Latitudinal diversity gradients

The latitudinal diversity gradient of increasing species richness from the poles to the tropics is a pervasive pattern in ecology. A number of hypotheses have been proposed to explain this pattern, however, a considerable debate remains as to the underlying casual mechanisms. Few studies have experimentally examined the various hypotheses over a large latitudinal gradient.

My research focus involves surveys and experimental manipulations of subtidal hard-substrate communities over an extensive latitudinal gradient (Port Douglas, Qld to Bermagui, NSW). I have undertaken a caging study excluding large predators from these sessile communities, to whether the strength of biotic interactions increases towards the tropics. This addresses the hypothesis of greater biotic pressures in the tropics contributes to higher species richness. An additional study is examining latitudinal variation in the response of sessile communities to physical disturbance. Communities in warmer climates are expected to recover more quickly from disturbance due to greater growth and reproduction.


Professor Emma Johnston


Dr Katherine Dafforn

Melanie Bishop (Macquarie University)