Dr Sally Bracewell
Research Associate
Contact details:

Member of the Subtidal Ecology and Ecotoxicology Research Group

Species traits and community dynamics across a latitudinal gradient

Understanding the mechanisms governing biogeographic variation in the composition of communities is a central goal of community ecology. However, the spatial dynamics of populations has generally been limited to the taxonomic level (species richness/diversity), which underestimates the ecological and evolutionary characteristics of species present within an assemblage, thus limiting our understanding of species’ roles within a community.

Recent functional and phylogenetic based approaches to estimating biodiversity encompass the variability of biological traits and evolutionary histories among species within an assemblage. Measuring the dispersion of species in ecological or evolutionary space can be useful when trying to understand the ecological processes involved in structuring communities over time and space and in response to disturbance. These indices have emerged as useful tools, but are rarely applied to marine communities. 

Using a large-scale latitudinal gradient, spanning 3,000km of Australia’s East Coast, I will examine the spatial and temporal turnover (β-diversity) of traits in subtidal communities at 10 locations, whilst also investigating how factors, such as complexity and habitat size, influence the functional and phylogenetic diversity of species within these communities. 



Supervisors -

Professor Emma Johnston

Dr Graeme Clark


Co-Supervisor -

Associate Professor Alistair Poore



Bracewell, S. A., et al. (2013). "Predicting Free-Space Occupancy on Novel Artificial Structures by an Invasive Intertidal Barnacle Using a Removal Experiment." PLoS ONE 8(9): e74457

Bracewell, S. A., et al. (2012). "Cleft, Crevice, or the Inner Thigh: ‘Another Place’ for the Establishment of the Invasive Barnacle Austrominius modestus (Darwin, 1854)." PLoS ONE 7(11): e48863