Thomas Wernberg

Thomas Wernberg
University of Western Australia | UWA · Oceans Institute

M.Sc., Ph.D.

About

293
Publications
136,325
Reads
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20,167
Citations
Citations since 2016
145 Research Items
16567 Citations
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201620172018201920202021202201,0002,0003,000
201620172018201920202021202201,0002,0003,000
Additional affiliations
June 2005 - January 2010
Edith Cowan University
Position
  • Research Associate

Publications

Publications (293)
Article
Climatic extremes are becoming increasingly common against a background trend of global warming. In the oceans, marine heatwaves (MHWs)—discrete periods of anomalously warm water—have intensified and become more frequent over the past century, impacting the integrity of marine ecosystems globally. We review and synthesize current understanding of M...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the extent to which species’ traits mediate patterns of community assembly is key to predict the effect of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on ecosystem functioning. Here, we apply a trait-based community assembly framework to understand how four different habitat configurations (kelp forests, Sargassum spp. beds, hard corals, a...
Article
Full-text available
Genetic diversity can influence resilience and adaptative capacity of organisms to environmental change. Genetic diversity within populations is largely structured by reproduction, with the prevalence of asexual versus sexual reproduction often underpinning important diversity metrics that determine selection efficacy. Asexual or clonal reproductio...
Article
Full-text available
The magnitude and distribution of net primary production (NPP) in the coastal ocean remains poorly constrained, particularly for shallow marine vegetation. Here, using a compilation of in situ annual NPP measurements across >400 sites in 72 geographic ecoregions, we provide global predictions of the productivity of seaweed habitats, which form the...
Article
Full-text available
Kelp forests are experiencing substantial declines due to climate change, particularly ocean warming and marine heatwaves, and active interventions are necessary to halt this decline. A new restoration approach termed “green gravel” has shown promise as a tool to combat kelp forest loss. In this approach, substrata (i.e. small gravel) are seeded wi...
Article
Full-text available
Net primary productivity (NPP) plays a pivotal role in the global carbon balance but estimating the NPP of underwater habitats remains a challenging task. Seaweeds (marine macroalgae) form the largest and most productive underwater vegetated habitat on Earth. Yet, little is known about the distribution of their NPP at large spatial scales, despite...
Article
Full-text available
Cycling of organic carbon in the ocean has the potential to mitigate or exacerbate global climate change, but major questions remain about the environmental controls on organic carbon flux in the coastal zone. Here, we used a field experiment distributed across 28° of latitude, and the entire range of 2 dominant kelp species in the northern hemisph...
Article
Communities inhabiting biogeographic transition zones are shifting in composition as a result of progressive warming and heatwaves. In the marine environment, corals are expanding onto higher latitude reefs historically dominated by temperate kelp forests, initiating a shift towards warm‐affinity coral dominated states. Although these coral expansi...
Article
Algal turfs are the most abundant benthic covering on reefs in many shallow-water marine ecosystems. The particulates and sediments bound within algal turfs can influence a multitude of functions within these ecosystems. Despite the global abundance and importance of algal turfs, comparison of algal turf-bound sediments is problematic due to a lack...
Preprint
The paper — Seaweed ecosystems may not mitigate CO2 emissions (Gallagher et al., 2022) — claims that seaweed ecosystems are carbon sources rather than carbon sinks because ‘respiration subsidies’ (from inputs of allochthonous organic carbon) create negative net ecosystem production. That is, that seaweed ecosystems produce more CO2 than they draw d...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Macroalgal habitats are believed to be the most extensive and productive of all coastal vegetated ecosystems. In stark contrast to the growing attention on their contribution to carbon export and sequestration, understanding of their global extent and production is limited and these have remained poorly assessed for decades. Here we report a fi...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter introduces kelp forests, their ecology, and the core themes of kelp forest restoration knowledge and practice. It also provides an overview of how this guidebook is laid out, how it may be used, and introduces the Kelp Forest Alliance, which is an online platform and network for researchers and practitioners to collaborate and share th...
Article
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Algal turfs are expected to increasingly dominate the benthos of coral reefs in the Anthropocene, becoming important sources of reef productivity. The sediments trapped within algal turfs are known to determine turf condition and influence a range of key ecological processes, particularly the feeding behavior of fishes. Yet, our understanding of th...
Article
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Habitat heterogeneity is considered a primary causal driver underpinning patterns of diversity, yet the universal role of heterogeneity in structuring biodiversity is unclear due to a lack of coordinated experiments testing its effects across geographic scales and habitat types. Furthermore, key species interactions that can enhance heterogeneity,...
Article
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The UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration is a response to the urgent need to substantially accelerate and upscale ecological restoration to secure Earth’s sustainable future. Globally, restoration commitments have focused overwhelmingly on terrestrial forests. In contrast, despite a strong value proposition, efforts to restore seaweed forests lag far...
Article
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Abstract Temperate reefs are increasingly affected by the direct and indirect effects of climate change. At many of their warm range edges, cool‐water kelps are decreasing, while seaweeds with warm‐water affinities are increasing. These habitat‐forming species provide different ecological functions, and shifts to warm‐affinity seaweeds are expected...
Article
Extreme climatic events can reshape the functional structure of ecological communities, potentially altering ecological interactions and ecosystem functioning. While these shifts have been widely documented, evidence of their persistence and potential flow-on effects on ecosystem structure following relaxation of extreme events remains limited. Her...
Article
The structure of ecological communities is rapidly changing across the globe due to climate‐mediated shifts in species distributions, with novel ecosystem states emerging as new species become dominant. While it is clear that such changes restructure habitat properties and their associated assemblages, how new nutritional resources and consumers ma...
Article
Temperate reefs are being tropicalized worldwide. In temperate Western Australia, a marine heatwave led to a regime shift from kelp (Ecklonia radiata) dominated to canopy-free reefs, together with an increase in tropical herbivorous fishes that contribute to keeping low kelp abundances and even prevent kelp reestablishment in northern regions. Howe...
Article
Ecklonia radiata is a dominant kelp across much of the southern hemisphere supporting vast economic, social and ecological values. It is also of emerging interest for aquaculture industries and in blue carbon sequestration. Despite its importance, genomic resources of this key species are scant, yet could provide important knowledge to better manag...
Chapter
Full-text available
Kelp forests are ecologically diverse habitats that provide vast ecosystem goods and services but are threatened by climate and anthropogenic stressors. Laminarian kelps have an alternating biphasic life cycle, and while there is a growing understanding of climate impacts on the macroscopic diploid sporophyte, impacts on the microscopic haploid gam...
Article
Marine heatwaves (MHWs), discrete periods of extreme warm water temperatures superimposed onto persistent ocean warming, have increased in frequency and significantly disrupted marine ecosystems. While field observations on the ecological consequences of MHWs are growing, a mechanistic understanding of their direct effects is rare. We conducted an...
Article
Extreme climatic events, including marine heatwaves (MHWs), are altering ecosystems globally, often with profound socioeconomic impacts. We examine how MHWs have affected the provision of ecosystem services and evaluate the socioeconomic consequences for human society. Ecological impacts range from harmful algal blooms and mass mortality events to...
Article
Full-text available
Anthropogenic climate change is a significant driver of change in marine ecosystems globally. To improve mechanistic understanding of the impact of climate-related stressors, experimental work on marine organisms has intensified in recent decades. A previous synthesis paper published nearly a decade ago established that Marine Climate Change Experi...
Article
Aim The influence of niche and neutral mechanisms on the assembly of ecological communities have long been debated. However, we still have a limited knowledge on their relative importance to explain patterns of diversity across latitudinal gradients (LDG). Here, we investigate the extent to which these ecological mechanisms contribute to the LDG of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Net primary productivity (NPP) plays a pivotal role in the global carbon balance, but estimating the NPP of underwater habitats remains a challenging task. Seaweeds (marine macroalgae) form the largest and most productive underwater vegetated habitat on Earth. Yet, little is known about the distribution of their NPP at large spatial scales, despite...
Article
Full-text available
Humans are rapidly transforming the structural configuration of the planet's ecosystems, but these changes and their ecological consequences remain poorly quantified in underwater habitats. Here, we show that the loss of forest‐forming seaweeds and the rise of ground‐covering ‘turfs’ across four continents consistently resulted in the miniaturizati...
Article
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Marine fisheries in coastal ecosystems in many areas of the world have historically removed large-bodied individuals, potentially impairing ecosystem functioning and the long-term sustainability of fish populations. Reporting on size-based indicators that link to food-web structure can contribute to ecosystem-based management, but the application o...
Chapter
Marine heatwaves (MHWs) are discrete, unusually warm-water events which can have devastating ecological impacts. In 2011, Western Australia experienced an extreme MHW, affecting >2000 km of coastline for >10 weeks. During the MHW temperatures exceeded the physiological threshold for net growth (~23 °C) for kelp (Ecklonia radiata) along large tracts...
Article
Full-text available
As the environment is getting warmer and species are redistributed, consumers can be forced to adjust their interactions with available prey, and this could have cascading effects within food webs. To better understand the capacity for foraging flexibility, our study aimed to determine the diet variability of an ectotherm omnivore inhabiting kelp f...
Article
Climate change is increasingly impacting ecosystems globally. Understanding adaptive genetic diversity and whether it will keep pace with projected climatic change is necessary to assess species' vulnerability and design efficient mitigation strategies such as assisted adaptation. Kelp forests are the foundations of temperate reefs globally but are...
Article
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Seaweed growth is often limited by light. Artificial light supply has been well studied in terrestrial agriculture, however, much less is known about its effect in seaweed aquaculture. In this study, the effects of four artificial light sources (white, red, green, and blue LEDs light) on a brown alga Sargassum fusiforme and a green alga Ulva pertus...
Article
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The term ‘Blue Carbon’ was coined about a decade ago to highlight the important carbon sequestration capacity of coastal vegetated ecosystems. The term has paved the way for the development of programs and policies that preserve and restore these threatened coastal ecosystems for climate change mitigation. Blue carbon research has focused on quanti...
Article
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Marine macrophytes, including seagrasses and macroalgae, form the basis of diverse and productive coastal ecosystems that deliver important ecosystem services. Moreover, western countries increasingly recognize macroalgae, traditionally cultivated in Asia, as targets for a new bio-economy that can be both economically profitable and environmentally...
Article
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Kelps are highly productive macroalgae that form habitats along one quarter of the worlds’ coastlines. Emerging evidence suggests that kelps have potential to sequester carbon through the export of detritus to deep marine sinks, yet how much of this detrital carbon is remineralized through grazing and microbial decomposition before it reaches these...
Article
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Global warming is facilitating the range‐expansion of tropical herbivores, causing a tropicalization of temperate marine ecosystems, where tropical herbivores can suppress habitat‐forming macrophytes, supporting the resilience of canopy‐free ecosystem states. However, currently we lack a thorough understanding of the mechanisms that, on one hand, s...
Article
Environmental stressors related to climate change and other anthropogenic activities are impacting Arctic marine ecosystems at exceptional rates. Within this context, predicting future scenarios of deep‐sea ecosystems and their consequences linked with the fate of coastal areas is a growing need and challenge. We used an existing food‐web model dev...
Article
Full-text available
Prolonged high-temperature extreme events in the ocean, marine heatwaves, can have severe and long-lasting impacts on marine ecosystems, fisheries and associated services. This study applies a marine heatwave framework to analyse a global sea surface temperature product and identify the most extreme events, based on their intensity, duration and sp...
Article
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
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Reversing the decline of coastal marine ecosystems will rely extensively on ecological restoration. This will in turn rely on ensuring adequate supply and survival of propagules — for the main habitat-forming taxa of coastal marine ecosystems these are mainly fruits, seeds, viviparous seedlings, zoospores or larvae. The likelihood of propagule surv...
Article
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Climate change is modifying species distributions around the world, forcing some species poleward, where they can alter trophic interactions. Many tropical herbivorous fishes have successfully expanded their ranges into temperate ecosystems, and while it is clear they drive increases in herbivory rates in specific localities, little is known about...
Article
Full-text available
Extreme climatic events including marine heatwaves (MHWs) are becoming more frequent and severe in the Anthropocene. However, our understanding of how these events affect population dynamics of ecologically important species is limited, in part because extreme events are rare and difficult to predict. Here, we quantified the occurrence and severity...
Article
Full-text available
Extreme events are increasing globally with devastating ecological consequences, but the impacts on underlying genetic diversity and structure are often cryptic and poorly understood, hindering assessment of adaptive capacity and ecosystem vulnerability to future change. Using very rare “before” data we empirically demonstrate that an extreme marin...
Article
Full-text available
Marine heatwaves (MHWs) are prolonged extreme oceanic warm water events. They can have devastating impacts on marine ecosystems — for example, causing mass coral bleaching and substantial declines in kelp forests and seagrass meadows — with implications for the provision of ecological goods and services. Effective adaptation and mitigation efforts...
Article
Full-text available
Recognition of the potential for vegetated coastal ecosystems to store and sequester carbon has led to their increasing inclusion into global carbon budgets and carbon offset schemes. However, kelp forests have been overlooked in evaluations of this ‘blue carbon’, which have been limited to tidal marshes, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds. We det...
Preprint
Full-text available
Compelling new evidence shows that kelp production contributes an important and underappreciated flux of carbon in the ocean. Major questions remain, however, about the controls on the cycling of this organic carbon in the coastal zone, and their implications for future carbon sequestration. Here we used field experiments distributed across 28° lat...
Article
Full-text available
Global habitat deterioration of marine ecosystems has led to a need for active interventions to halt or reverse the loss of ecological function. Restoration has historically been a key tool to reverse habitat loss and restore functions, but the extent to which this will be sufficient under future climates is uncertain. Emerging genetic technologies...
Article
Full-text available
Kelp forests are in decline globally and large-scale intervention could be required to halt the loss of these valuable ecosystems. To date kelp forest restoration has had limited success and been expensive and unable to address the increasing scale of ecosystem deterioration. Here we developed and tested a new approach: “green gravel”. Small rocks...
Article
Full-text available
Kelp forests dominate the rocky coasts of temperate Australia and are the foundation of the Great Southern Reef. Much like terrestrial forests, these marine forests create complex habitat for diverse communities of flora and fauna. Kelp forests also support coastal food-webs and valuable fisheries and provide a suite of additional ecosystem service...
Article
Extreme events have profound ecological impacts on species and ecosystems, including range contractions and collapse of entire ecosystems. Although theory predicts that extreme events cause loss of genetic diversity, empirical demonstrations are rare, obscuring implications for future adaptive capacity of species and populations. Here, we use rare...
Article
Full-text available
With the increasing imperative for societies to act to curb climate change by increasing carbon stores and sinks, it has become critical to understand how organic carbon is produced, released, transformed, transported, and sequestered within and across ecosystems. In freshwater and open-ocean systems, shredders play a signi cant and well-known role...
Article
Full-text available
The production and fate of seaweed detritus is a major unknown in the global C-budget. Knowing the quantity of detritus produced, the form it takes (size) and its timing of delivery are key to understanding its role as a resource subsidy to secondary production and/or its potential contribution to C-sequestration. We quantified the production and r...
Article
Disturbances often control community structure by removing large dominant species, allowing new species to colonize. Disturbances vary in intensity and extent, and their effects on resident communities can depend on local environmental conditions. We tested the effects of disturbance intensity and extent on different functional groups of understory...
Article
Full-text available
Globally, anomalously warm temperature events have increased by 34% in frequency and 17% in duration from 1925 to 2016 with potentially major impacts on coastal ecosystems. These "marine heatwaves" (MHWs) have been linked to changes in primary productivity, community composition and biogeography of seaweeds, which often control ecosystem function a...