PhD Opportunity: Investigating Ocean Warming at the University of Tasmania

The University of Tasmania is hiring a PhD student to study the comparative effects of ocean warming on kelp-herbivore interactions across Australian temperate reefs

The Research Project

Ocean warming is driving radical changes to coastal ecosystems worldwide. However, not all locations or species are affected equally by warming, meaning that important ecological processes may manifest differently through space and time. Among the most important biotic relationships on temperate reefs are plant–herbivore interactions involving foundation species such as kelps and fucoids, and herbivores such as fishes and sea urchins. Herbivores play a core role on temperate reefs, overgrazing structural seaweed canopies and reinforcing alternative turf- or barren-dominated ecosystem states.

Moreover, warm-affiliated herbivores are rapidly extending their range into cool-temperate ecosystems, resulting in new plant–herbivore interactions with diverse implications. Currently, we have a rudimentary understanding of the effects of temperature on species interactions and how interactions change across the thermal distribution of species.

Differences in thermal performance between trophic levels has the potential to fundamentally modify the intensity of species interactions both across species ranges' and in response to warming. For example, higher thermal sensitivity of seaweeds than consumers could facilitate over-grazing and exacerbate the loss of kelp forests and diverse seaweed communities.

This project aims to determine how the thermal performance of dominant kelps and herbivores, changes across the biogeographical distribution of species and what this means for temperate reef resilience in a warmer future.


  • High proficiency in scientific writing with 1+ first author peer-reviewed publications
  • Training and experience analysing big data
  • SCUBA certification + >30 hrs experience underwater.

Application Deadline:
For more information and how to apply, click here.

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