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Marine Biology
SA 5005

+61 8 8303 3999
+61 8 8303 4364

Prof. Sean D. Connell

My work spans local-regional-biogeographic scales in tests of:


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Below are some extracted papers from my 'thesis'




I am constantly reminded of a lack of coherent research across time, space and taxonomic scales, and the need for a broader vision by those charged with the administration of science.  Most of us have life spans that are outlived by the systems we study and are painfully aware of disparity between our research breadth and complexity of nature. Consequently, my papers often reflect on how they may assist with a more coherent understanding of nature across time, space & biological organisation.




What is natural?

 Natural patterns: local through biogeographic scales

Natural patterns: mechanisms of maintenance

What is changing?

Changing patterns: 150 years of change

Change by humans: today's causes & consequences

Changes of the future: climate & non-climate stressors

  • Connell SD & Russell 2010  The direct effects of increasing CO2 and temperature on non-calcifying organisms: increasing the potential for phase shifts in kelp forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 277:1409-1415.
  • Russell et al. and SD Connell 2009. Synergistic effects of climate change and local stressors: CO2 and nutrient driven change in subtidal rocky habitats. Global Change Biology 15, 2153-2162.
  • Connell SD et al. 2013. The other ocean acidification problem: CO2 as a resource among competitors for ecosystem dominance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 368:20120442

What is robust?

Change impeded: where are ecosystems robust and where can we repair?

  • Falkenberg, Russell  SD Connell 2012. Strong species interactions resist the synergistic effects of local and global pollution in kelp forests. PloS One
  • Gorman & SD Connell 2009 Recovering subtidal forests in human-dominated landscapes.  J Applied Ecology 46: 1258-1265
  • Ghedini, G., BD Russell, and SD Connell. 2015. Trophic compensation reinforces resistance: herbivory absorbds the increasing effects of multiple disturbances. Ecology Letters 18:182-187.




Final word:  These papers were "...shaped by our colleagues' responses to our work across temperate Australia's major biogeographic break. By working both sides of this break we have been neither on the side of the ‘trophic crusader’ nor ‘benthic mafia’, but instead have been of nuisance to both" (Connell et al. 2011).

I find the changing research culture in ecological research both encouraging and discouraging.  I am encouraged by a culture that is reducing the penalty of collaboration and inheritance of data; both promote reconciliation and coherency through space and time.  I am less encouraged by the short-sighted use of research metrics that pull some towards outputs of high instant value.  As I conclude in Connell et al. (2008), "...we encourage some progress to fall on the shoulders of individuals with a focus on collective rather than personal goals, and on long-term progress".




I thank those who shared their time with me in the field (sea-by-day & swag-by-night) and inspired moments in the office & lab.  It is reassuring that our government has engaged us through policy development.  I hope these efforts help benefit those live from and enjoy the sea. 




Contact Information:

Telephone +61 8 830 36125
Email sean.connell
Fax +61 8 830 34364