Dr Alex Campbell
Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Field of Research: 
Marine ecology, environmental change, disease, species interactions
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 8775

Room 501B, D26 Building
UNSW, Kensington 2052


Research & Current Projects

My research focuses on interactions between habitat-forming organisms in marine ecosystems and the things that eat, grow on or infect them. I’m particularly interested in how changing environmental conditions alter these interactions and what ecological and biological consequences such alterations have at individual, community and ecosystem scales. A recent focus of my research has been climate-mediated diseases, which are increasing with frequency and severity in diverse habitats globally. Although I’m broadly interested in marine habitat formers (including corals and seagrasses), most of my research to date has involved seaweeds. These marine macrophytes form underwater forests and are the basis of coastal, temperate marine ecosystems, supporting other organisms from the ‘bottom-up’ by providing food and shelter. Seaweeds are showing evidence of global decline and this could have potential far-reaching ecological and socio-economic implications. A broad aim of my work is to address this problem by trying to understand the mechanisms behind declines and the roles of environmental change, seaweed chemical defences and microorganisms. An underlying hypothesis directing much of my research is that environmentally mediated diseases (rather than environmental changes directly) may be a cause of declines of seaweeds and other habitat-forming organisms around the globe. My aim is to understand processes that may help predict, prevent or ameliorate losses of these important organisms from ecologically valuable ecosystems.

Current Projects:

Stress, virulence and bacterial disease in temperate seaweeds: the rise of the microbes. Collaborators: Torsten Thomas (BABS, UNSW), Suhelen Egan (BABS, UNSW), Peter Steinberg (SIMS, UNSW), Melinda Coleman (DPI), Tamsin Peters (UNSW), Rebecca Neumann (UNSW), Tilmann Harder (UNSW) & Adriana Vergès(UNSW), Ezequiel Marzinelli (UNSW)

Restoration of a missing underwater forest on subtidal Sydney reefs. Collaborators:Ezequiel Marzinelli (UNSW, SIMS), Melinda Coleman (DPI), Brendan Kelaher (Batemans Marine Park), Adriana Vergès (UNSW) and Peter Steinberg (UNSW, SIMS)

Marine trophic interactions in a human-dominated world: effects of ocean acidification and ocean warming on kelp and seagrass - herbivore interactions. Collaborators:Peter Steinberg (SIMS, UNSW), Ezequiel Marzinelli (UNSW), Adriana Vergès (UNSW), Jeff Wright (AMC), Alistair Poore (UNSW)

Herbivory of marine macrophytes. Collaborators: Alistair Poore (UNSW), Emmett Duffy (VIMS), John Stachowicz (UC Davis), Eric Sotka (COFC), Pamela Reynolds (UNC), Veijo Jormalainen (UTU), Mat Vanderklift (CSIRO), Graham Edgar (UTas), Richard Taylor (Leigh) & Ross Coleman (USyd)

Diversity in the face of adversity: assessing impacts of urbanisation on equatorial tropical reefs in the coral triangle. Collaborators: James Guest (NTU), David Feary (UTS), Adriana Vergès (UNSW), Andrew Baumann (NTU), Peter Steinberg (UNSW, NTU)


Research Students 

Tamsin Peters (PhD candidate) - Environmental change and disease in a habitat forming macroalga (with Prof. Peter Steinberg and Dr Melinda Coleman, Batemans Marine Park).

Galaxy Qiu (PhD candidate) (Primary supervisor Professor Peter Steinberg)



BIOS3091  Marine and Aquatic Ecology

BIOS2031  Biology of Invertebrates

MSCI0501  The Marine Environment (course co-convenor)



Campbell, A. H., Vergés, A., & Steinberg, P. D. (in review) Demographic and community consequences of bacterially-induced bleaching in a habitat-forming seaweed. In review at Ecology

Poore, A. G. B., Campbell, A. H., Coleman, R. A., Edgar, G. J., Jormalainen, V., Reynolds, P. L., Sotka, E, E., Stachowicz, J. J., Taylor, R. B., Vanderklift, M. A. & Duffy, E. J. (2012). Global patterns in the impact of marine herbivores on benthic primary producers. Ecology Letters (in press).

Harder, T., Campbell, A. H.,Egan, S. and Steinberg, P. D. (2012). Chemical mediation of ternary interactions between marine holobionts and their environment as exemplified by the red alga Delisea pulchraJournal of Chemical Ecology (in press).

Wernberg, T., Smale, D. A., Vergès, A., Campbell, A. H., Russel, B. D., Coleman, M. A., Ling, S. D., Steinberg, P. D., Johnson, C. R., Kendrick, G. A. & Connell, S. D. (2012)Marine Climate Change in Australia, Impacts and Adaptation Responses 2012 Report Card (in press).

Campbell, A. H., Vergés, A., Harder, T. & Steinberg, P. D. (2012) Causes and ecological consequences of a climate-mediated disease inWildlife and climate change: toward robust conservation strategies for Australian fauna’ (Lunney and Hutchings, Eds). Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW, Australia (in press)

Steinberg, P. D., Rice, S. A., Campbell, A. H., McDougal, D. & Harder, T. (2011) Interfaces between bacterial and eukaryotic “neuroecology”.Integrative and Comparative Biology 51:794-806

Campbell, A. H., Nielsen, S., Harder, T., Kjelleberg, S. & Steinberg, P. D. (2011) Climate change and disease: bleaching in a chemically defended seaweed. Global Change Biology, 17(9): 2958-2970.

Wernberg, T., Russell, B. D., Moore, P. J, Ling, S. D., Smale, D. A., Campbell, A. H., Coleman, M. A., Steinberg, P. D., Kendrick, G. A., Connell, S. D. (2011). Impacts of climate change in a global hotspot for temperate marine biodiversity and ocean warming. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 400(1-2): 7-16.

Case, R. J., Longford, S., Campbell, A. H., Low, A., Tujula, N., Steinberg, P. D. & Kjelleberg, S. (2011) Temperature induced bacterial virulence and bleaching disease in a chemically-defended marine macroalga. Environmental Microbiology 13(2): 529-537 (cover article).

Wernberg, T., Campbell, A. H., Coleman, M. A., Connell, S. D., Kendrick, G. A., Moore, P. J., Russell, B. D., Smale, D. A., Steinberg, P. D. (2009) Marine Climate Change in Australia, Impacts and Adaptation 2009 Report Card: Macroalgae and temperate rocky reefs.

Poore, A. G. B., Campbell, A. H., and Steinberg, P. D. (2009) Natural densities of mesograzers fail to limit growth of macroalgae or their epiphytes in a temperate algal bed. Journal of Ecology 97: 164-175.