Climate change is driving a universal redistribution of species on Earth. In marine systems, ocean warming is causing the decline of kelp forests in Australia and across the globe. The loss of kelp is mediated by direct effects of global warming and by increases in herbivory by range-expanding tropical fish. As a consequence, temperate kelp forests are being replaced by low-biomass algal turfs, and associated ecological communities are becoming increasingly "tropicalised."


At UNSW, our lab is investigating the ecosystem-wide effects of tropicalisation in Eastern Australian reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef. Within this context, the project: “How is Climate Change & the Tropicalisation of Temperate Reefs Impacting Invertebrate Biodiversity?” will investigate the following:

  • The relationship between reef habitat formers
  • Structural complexity of reefs
  • Invertebrate biodiversity
  • Biomass along a tropicalisation gradient

Student Benefits

You’ll benefit through working with a supportive team of UNSW Biological, Earth and Environmental Science academics, industry scientists and PhD candidates. In addition to general research skills, we expect you to develop the ability to undertake subtidal research and quantitative ecological analysis (previous experience is an asset).

Fieldwork will be carried out in the beautiful Solitary Islands Marine Park, a tropical-temperate transition zone where kelp forests and coral-domination reefs are only a few kilometres apart.

Supervisors: A/Prof Adriana Verges and Aaron Eger (PhD candidate)