Brigitte Sommer

Brigitte Sommer
University of Technology Sydney | UTS · Faculty of Science

PhD, MSc, MEnvM

About

37
Publications
20,402
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2,975
Citations
Citations since 2017
22 Research Items
2800 Citations
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Publications

Publications (37)
Article
Environmental anomalies that trigger adverse physiological responses and mortality are occurring with increasing frequency due to climate change. At species' range peripheries, environmental anomalies are particularly concerning because species often exist at their environmental tolerance limits and may not be able to migrate to escape unfavourable...
Article
Full-text available
Ecosystems worldwide are becoming increasingly altered by environmental stress, yet little is known about how acute disturbances affect ecological communities that already persist under chronically stressful environmental conditions. Here, we use a trait-based approach to understand the effects of repeated flooding on the subtropical reefs of Herve...
Article
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Anthropocene coral reefs are faced with increasingly severe marine heatwaves and mass coral bleaching mortality events. The ensuing demographic changes to coral assemblages can have long-term impacts on reef community organisation. Thus, understanding the dynamics of subtropical scleractinian coral populations is essential to predict their recovery...
Article
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Climate change is causing the distribution and abundance of many organisms to change. In particular, organisms typical of the tropics are increasing in abundance in many subtropical regions, a process known as tropicalization. Here, we examine changes in coral abundance and assemblage structure in the Solitary Islands Marine Park (SIMP), over a 23-...
Article
Understanding how range-edge populations will respond to climate change is an urgent research priority. Here, we used a phylogenetic community ecology approach to examine how ecological and evolutionary processes shape biodiversity patterns of scleractinian corals at their high-latitude range limits in eastern Australia. We estimated phylogenetic s...
Preprint
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Aim Despite the awareness that climate change impacts are typically detrimental to tropical coral reefs, the effect of increasing environmental stress and variability on the population size structure of coral species remains poorly understood. This gap in knowledge limits our ability to effectively conserve coral reef ecosystems because size specif...
Preprint
Full-text available
As marine species adapt to climate change, their heat tolerance will likely be under strong selection. Yet trade-offs between heat tolerance and other life history traits could compromise natural adaptation or restorative assisted evolution. This is particularly important for ecosystem engineers, such as reef-building corals, which support biodiver...
Article
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High-latitude reefs are suboptimal coral habitats, but such habitats are increasingly considered to be potential refugia from climate change for range-shifting coral reef species. Notably, tropical reef fish have been observed along the south-east coast of Australia, but their establishment on temperate rocky reefs is currently limited by winter mi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Ocean warming is increasing the incidence, scale, and severity of global-scale coral bleaching and mortality, culminating in the third global coral bleaching event that occurred during record marine heatwaves of 2014-2017. While local effects of these events have been widely reported, the global implications remain unknown. Analysis of 15,066 reef...
Article
Full-text available
1. Size is a biological characteristic that drives ecological processes from micro- scopic to geographic spatial scales, influencing cellular energetics, species fit- ness, population dynamics, and ecological interactions. Methods to measure size from images (e.g., proxies of body size, leaf area, and cell area) occur along a gradient from manual a...
Article
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Reef-building corals show a marked decrease in total species richness from the tropics to high latitude regions. Several hypotheses have been proposed to account for this pattern in the context of abiotic and biotic factors, including temperature thresholds, light limitation, aragonite saturation, nutrient or sediment loads, larval dispersal constr...
Preprint
Full-text available
The current exposure of species assemblages to high environmental variability may grant them resilience to future increases in climatic variability. In globally threatened coral reef ecosystems, management seeks to protect resilient reefs within variable environments. Yet, our lack of understanding for the determinants of coral population performan...
Article
Ecosystem restoration has been practiced for over a century and is increasingly supported by the emergent applied science of restoration ecology. A prerequisite for successful ecosystem restoration is determining meaningful and measurable goals. This requires tools to monitor success in a standardized way. Photogrammetry uses images to reconstruct...
Article
Full-text available
Global warming is leading to range shifts of marine species, threatening the structure and functioning of ecological communities and human populations that rely on them. The largest changes are seen in biogeographic transition zones, such as subtropical reef communities, where species range shifts are already causing substantial community reorganis...
Article
Full-text available
Subtropical coral assemblages are threatened by similar extreme thermal stress events to their tropical counterparts. Yet, the mid- and long-term thermal stress responses of corals in subtropical environments remain largely unquantified, limiting our capacity to predict their future viability. The annual survival, growth and recruitment of 311 indi...
Chapter
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The subtropical coral reefs of Moreton Bay support a rich diversity of corals and micro-benthic organisms. These high-latitude reef communities exist in marginal environments that include relatively cooler, more light-limited, and more variable environmental conditions than those in the tropics. Holocene reef coral communities formed episodically o...
Article
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Without drastic efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate globalized stressors, tropical coral reefs are in jeopardy. Strategic conservation and management requires identification of the environmental and socioeconomic factors driving the persistence of scleractinian coral assemblages—the foundation species of coral reef ecosystems. Here, we...
Article
Thousands of offshore oil and gas structures are approaching the end of their operating life globally, yet our understanding of the environmental effects of different decommissioning strategies is incomplete. Past focus on a narrow set of criteria has limited evaluation of decommissioning effects, restricting decommissioning options in most regions...
Article
Full-text available
In a changing global environment, previously suboptimal habitats may become climate refuges for species. For instance, the ranges of some tropical reef corals are already expanding poleward. Understanding the demographic strategies by which isolated or marginal populations persist is therefore important, especially since such populations are often...
Article
During 2015-2016, record temperatures triggered a pan-tropical episode of coral bleaching, the third global-scale event since mass bleaching was first documented in the 1980s. Here we examine how and why the severity of recurrent major bleaching events has varied at multiple scales, using aerial and underwater surveys of Australian reefs combined w...
Article
Understanding range limits is critical to predicting species responses to climate change. Subtropical environments, where many species overlap at their range margins, are cooler, more light-limited and variable than tropical environments. It is thus likely that species respond variably to these multi-stressor regimes and that factors other than mea...
Article
Full-text available
In their recent paper, Muir et al. (Science, 2015, 348, 1135-1138) demonstrate that the maximum depths of staghorn coral assemblages are shallower at higher latitudes, a trend that correlates with winter light levels. Based on these findings, the authors hypothesize that light availability limits the current latitudinal extent of the group and will...
Article
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The coastal deposits of Bonaire, Leeward Antilles, are among the most studied archives for extreme-wave events (EWEs) in the Caribbean. Here we present more than 400 electron spin resonance (ESR) and radiocarbon data on coarse-clast deposits from Bonaire’s eastern and western coasts. The chronological data are compared to the occurrence and age of...
Article
Full-text available
Abiotic filtering is a major driver of gradients in the structure and functioning of ecosystems from the tropics to the poles. It is thus likely that environmental filtering is an important assembly process at the transition of biogeographical zones where many species occur at their range limits. Shifts in species abundances and association pattern...
Article
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This study examines the impacts of an acute flooding event on the marginal, high-latitude, terrigenoclastic influenced coral reefs of Hervey Bay in southeast Queensland, Australia. In January 2011, the Mary River near Hervey Bay experienced its eleventh highest flood on record. The Mary River catchment has been highly modified since European coloni...
Article
Full-text available
AimHigh-latitude coral reef communities composed of tropical, subtropical and temperate species are heralded as climate change refuges for vulnerable tropical coral reef species, giving them high, but as yet unrealized, conservation priority. We review the ecology of subtropical reefs in the context of climate change and evaluate management strateg...
Article
Full-text available
[Extract] Global temperature has warmed approximately 0.35 °C over the last 50 years. In response, many tropical species are expanding their ranges pole-ward. For example, a number of tropical fish species have recently established populations in temperate regions along the east coast of Australia, as rises in sea temperatures enable them to surviv...
Article
Full-text available
We assessed the status of coral reef benthic communities at Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, in December 2008 and January 2009 through ∼5 km of photo transects taken at depths of 5, 10, and 20 m at 14 locations around the island. Univariate and multivariate analyses detected significant variation in benthic communities among depths and locations, as...
Article
This paper reports on a workshop conducted in Australia in 2010, entitled ‘Management, Conservation, and Scientific Challenges on Subtropical Reefs under Climate Change’. The workshop brought together 26 experts actively involved in the science and management of subtropical reefs. Its primary aim was to identify the areas of research that need to b...
Article
Summary This paper reports on a workshop conducted in Australia in 2010, entitled ‘Management, Conservation, and Scientific Challenges on Subtropical Reefs under Climate Change’. The workshop brought together 26 experts actively involved in the science and management of subtropical reefs. Its primary aim was to identify the areas of research that n...

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