Scott Bennett

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Scott Bennett


Room 202 , IMAS Taroona

+61 431939492 (phone)

Scott is a marine ecologist whose research focuses on how ecological structure and function of marine ecosystems changes across broad environmental gradients and in response to climate change. Scott primarily uses comparative experimental approaches in physiology, population biology and community ecology to understand the drivers of ecological change across space and time. In addition, Scott is passionate about the Great Southern Reef and its social-ecological importance for Australia.


Scott completed his PhD at The University of Western Australia in 2015, where he studied the ecological processes influencing kelp forest resilience to climate change along latitudinal gradients. Prior to his PhD, Scott completed his BSc Honours in Marine Biology at James Cook University in 2009, studying latitudinal patterns in fish herbivory along the Great Barrier Reef.

After his PhD, Scott moved to Spain on a Marie Curie Fellowship, funded through the European Commission, to study how thermal adaptation and geographical variation in thermal performance influences climate change vulnerability.

In 2020 Scott moved to the University of Tasmania on an ARC DECRA fellowship where he is studying how biogeography, thermal adaptation and species interactions influence the resilience of temperate reefs ecosystems to warming.

In addition to his work on reef ecology, in 2016 Scott coined the name Great Southern Reef to describe the interconnected temperate reef system, dominated by kelp forests that spans over 8000 kms of coastline across the southern half of Australia. Scott is interested in understanding and celebrating the diverse social, cultural, ecological and economic values of the Great Southern Reef through science, art and education.

Career summary


  • PhD Marine Ecology - The University of Western Australia: Ecological drivers of seaweed canopy resilience along a latitudinal climate gradient (Awarded 2015)
  • BSC (Hons) - James Cook University: Regional scale patterns in reef processes: algal-herbivore interactions on the Great Barrier Reef (Awarded 2009)
  • BSc Marine Biology - James Cook University (Awarded 2007)

Languages (other than English)

Spanish (fluent), Catalan (limited)


Professional practice

  • Australian Society of Fish Biology (ASFB)
  • Interdisciplinary Laboratory on Climate Change (LINCC)

Administrative expertise

  • Organising committee for International Temperate Reefs Symposium 2014 in Perth, and 2022 in Hobart
  • Lead researcher on European Union project on “Rethinking climate change vulnerability: Drivers & patterns of thermal tolerance & adaptation in the ocean”, where he led collaborative and comparative research project between multiple countries and research institutions across Europe.
  • Lead researcher on Australian Research Council DECRA, in collaboration with universities and researchers across Australia as well as leading international scientists.

Research Invitations

  • Scott was invited as a keynote speaker at the 11th International Temperate Reefs Symposium, Pisa, Italy, 06/2016.
  • Invited speaker at the following workshops and conferences:
  • Ocean deep, mountain high: the height, breadth and depth of physiological diversity: variation across latitudinal, altitudinal and depth gradients. Society of Experimental Biology. Florence, Italy, 01/07/2018
  • Tropicalisation of temperate seas and socio-ecological impacts workshop. Centro de Estudios Advanzados de Blanes (CEAB: CSIC), Blanes Spain. November 6-7, 2018
  • Marine invasive species workshop. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, 05/2017
  • Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) Palma, Spain, 04/2017.
  • Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA) Palma, Spain, 04/2017.
  • Phycomorph working group meeting: Advancing knowledge on seaweed growth and development. Limassol, Cyprus, 09/2016
  • Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, 15/15/2015

View more on Dr Scott Bennett in WARP


Research expertise:

  • Impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems
  • Comparative ecology across environmental gradients
  • Functional role of herbivory in marine ecosystems
  • Species interactions across environmental gradients

Fields of research:

  • Global change biology (319902)
  • Population ecology (310307)
  • Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) (310305)
  • Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) (310302)
  • Ecological physiology (310303)
  • Comparative physiology (310912)
  • Animal structure and function (310911)
  • Plant physiology (310806)
  • Phycology (incl. marine grasses) (310801)
  • Evolutionary impacts of climate change (310406)
  • Evolutionary ecology (310405)
  • Biological adaptation (310403)

Research Themes

Scott’s research is centred around understanding the ecology and effects of climate change on marine ecosystems and relates directly to the University’s focus on Marine, Antarctic and Maritime Research”. Through his work, Scott aims to improve predictions about how ocean warming will influence the performance of species and function of marine ecosystems by taking into consideration the role of local thermal adaptation and biogeography and species interactions. Scott’s work has a strong emphasis on important habitat forming species such as kelp forests and addresses the University’s research theme of Environment, Resources and Sustainability.

Understanding the effects of ocean warming on physiology and ecosystem function integrates multiple global datasets ranging from satellite measurements of sea-temperature, reef biodiversity and abundance data, empirical experiments of physiological performance in response to temperature and quantitative measures of species interactions and ecological processes.  Scott’s research utilises and contributes to open-source databases of marine data to benefit environmental decision making and aligns with the University’s research theme of Data, Knowledge and Decisions.

In addition to the intrinsic ecological importance of reef ecosystems, they are also integral to societal and cultural practices and well-being. In Australia, temperate reefs span over 8000kms of rocky shoreline around the southern half of the continent, forming the Great Southern Reef. Almost 70% of Australians live along the shores of the Great Southern Reef and interact with it for diverse cultural, recreational or commercial reasons. In line with the University’s research theme on “Creativity, Culture and Society”, Scott collaborates with artists, educators, social scientists, economists and ecologists to examine the diverse values Australians hold for the Great Southern Reef.


Scott has a strong network of over 50 Australian and international collaborators and mentors from more than 15 countries including Australia, Spain, Greece, Denmark, Cyprus, Portugal, Norway, France, United Kingdom, USA, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada.

His network of collaborations has developed through global collaborations on projects and working groups studying the impacts of global change on marine ecosystems. Some broad collaborative projects include:

  1. Global impacts of exotic species on marine ecosystems
  2. Drivers & patterns of thermal tolerance & adaptation in the ocean
  3. Global patterns of species interactions along physical stress gradients in the ocean
  4. Effects of global warming on trophic interactions in the Mediterranean Sea


  • 2019: Awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (ARC DECRA) fellowship
  • 2017: #1 Ranked Early Career Researcher in Biology in Spain. Recipient of the Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral Fellowship. Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Madrid, Spain.
  • 2016: Publication in 'Science' prize. $10,000. The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  • 2016: Western Australian young achiever award finalist: Scott Print Environment and Sustainability Award; Government of Western Australia; Perth, Australia
  • 2015: Awarded Marie-Curie International Research Fellowship, European Commission.
  • 2015: Science and Education Valedictorian for PhD research; University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  • 2010: Academic medal for Honours Research; James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
  • 2008: Academic medal for Bachelor of Science Coursework; James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Current projects

  1. When and where are temperate reef communities vulnerable to ocean warming in Australia? This project looks at how ocean warming and marine heatwaves will impact temperate reefs, based on the thermal physiology, biogeography and trophic and non-trophic interactions among species critical to temperate reef function
  2. Values of the Great Southern Reef ( This project aims to capture and quantify the pluralist values that Australian’s hold for the Great Southern Reef. The project will systematically compare how people value temperate reefs across Australia to identify the geographical similarities and differences between peoples relationship with reefs. It also aims to quantify the economic value of market and non-market ecosystem services of the Great Southern reef.
  3. Current and future role of herbivory on temperate reefs.

Fields of Research

  • Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) (310305)
  • Ecological physiology (310303)
  • Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) (310302)
  • Phycology (incl. marine grasses) (310801)
  • Global change biology (319902)
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation (410199)
  • Natural resource management (410406)

Research Objectives

  • Ecosystem adaptation to climate change (190102)
  • Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments (180507)
  • Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems (180501)
  • Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems (180601)
  • Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems (180403)
  • Marine biodiversity (180504)
  • Fisheries - aquaculture (100299)
  • Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem) (190101)
  • Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems (180201)
  • Rehabilitation or conservation of coastal or estuarine environments (180206)


  1. Wernberg T†., Bennett S†., de Bettignies T., Cure K., Depczynski M., Fromont J., Fulton C., Santana-Garcon J, Harvey E., Holmes T., Kendrick G.A., Lozano-Montes H., Radford B., Saunders B., Smale D., Thomsen M., Tuckett C., Tuya F., Vanderklift M., Wilson S. 2016. Climate-driven regime shift of a temperate marine ecosystem. Science 353(6295): 169-172. JIF = 37.205. †Shared lead authorship.
  2. Bennett, S., Duarte, C.M., Marbà, N., Wernberg, T. 2019. Integrating within-species variation in thermal physiology into climate change ecology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2018.0550.  JIF = 5.66.
  3. Bennett, S., T. Wernberg, B. Arackal-Joy, T. d. Bettignies, and A. H. Campbell. 2015. Central and rear edge populations can be equally vulnerable to warming. Nature Communications. 6:10280 doi: 10.1038/ncomms10280. JIF = 12.124
  4. Bennett, S., T. Wernberg, R. J. Anderson, J. J. Bolton, T. d. Bettignies, G. A. Kendrick, K. L. Rodgers, N. T. Shears, J. C. Leclerc, L. Lévêque, D. Davoult, and H. C. Christie. 2015. Canopy interactions and physical stress gradients in subtidal communities. Ecology Letters 18(7): 677-686. JIF = 9.449
  5. Bennett, S., T. Wernberg, S. D. Connell, A. J. Hobday, C. R. Johnson, and E. S. Poloczanska. 2016. The 'Great Southern Reef': social, ecological and economic value of Australia's neglected kelp forests. Marine and Freshwater Research 67: 47-56. JIF = 1.757

Total publications


Journal Article

(1 outputs)
2021Bennett S, Santana-Garcon J, Marba N, Jorda G, Anton A, et al., 'Climate-driven impacts of exotic species on marine ecosystems', Global Ecology and Biogeography, 30, (5) pp. 1043-1055. ISSN 1466-822X (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/geb.13283 [eCite] [Details]


Grants & Funding

Scott has been awarded over $1.4M in research funding, including three competitive postdoctoral research fellowships to lead independent research projects through the European Commission, Spanish Government and the Australian Research Council.

A selection of key grants include:

  • 2020-2022: Bennett S. $426,718. When and where are temperate reef communities vulnerable to ocean warming? Discovery Early Career Research Award, Australian Research Council.
  • 2018-2020: Bennett S. $105,320. Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral fellowship. Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Madrid, Spain.
  • 2018-2020: Bennett S., Andrews S., Griffin K., Fretz D., Wernberg T., Vergés A. $29,596. Connecting coastal communities: Sharing the diverse social-ecological importance of Australia’s Great Southern Reef. National Geographic Society.
  • 2017-2019: Marba N., Santana-Garcon J., Bennett S., Alcoverro T., Arthur R., Vergés A. $151,074. Effects of global warming on trophic interactions in the Mediterranean Sea (INTERBIOCLIMA). BBVA Foundation
  • 2016-2019: Marba N., Hendriks I., Bennett S., Vaquer-Sunyer R., Duarte C.M., Apostolaki E. $324,660. Impacts of global warming on macrophyte dominated coastal ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea; evaluation of their adaptive capacity.
  • 2016-2018: Bennett S. $267,719. Rethinking climate change vulnerability: Drivers & patterns of thermal tolerance & adaptation in the ocean. MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS Individual Fellowship

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



When and where are temperate reef communities vulnerable to ocean warming? (2020 - 2022)$426,718
This project will test in the laboratory and the field, when and where ocean warming will exceed the thermal limits of marine species and why certain species show greater sensitivity to warming temperatures than others. This project expects to generate robust estimates about how temperature sensitivity varies between populations across species ranges and identify the ecological implications for habitat loss in areas where thermal limits differ between key species. Expected outcomes include an enhanced capacity to detect when and where vulnerability hotspots will emerge that could jeopardise the immense social, ecological, and economic value of Australias temperate reefs, next to which 70% of Australians live, along 8,000 km of coastline.
Australian Research Council ($426,718)
Fellowship-Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Bennett S
2020 - 2022
Grant Reference

Research Supervision

Scott has supervised three Masters and two BSc Honours theses and sat on the review committee for four doctoral theses.

Students interested in the following research topics or related themes are welcome to get in contact.

  • Effects of ocean warming and marine heatwaves on the thermal physiology, biogeography and trophic and non-trophic interactions on temperate reefs
  • Current and future role of herbivory on temperate reefs.
  • How do environmental gradients influence non-trophic interactions and the structure and function of temperate reefs?
  • Geographical patterns in social and societal values toward the Great Southern Reef.
  • Economic value of market and non-market ecosystem services of the Great Southern reef.




PhDComparative Effects of Ocean Warming on Kelp-Herbivore Interactions Across Australian Temperate Reefs2021