Marine Biodiversity (Full)

Our rocky shores are a place of incredible biodiversity, home to juvenile fish, colourful seaweeds and cryptic octopuses. This project will teach you about where different rocky shore species live and why. Understanding the distribution of species within a habitat is important and can be used to monitor the impacts of climate change.

Species distributions are important for understanding how whole ecosystems function. The rocky shore is a great place to see this concept in action because there is a huge variety in environmental factors (temperature, water retention, habitat type) over a very small area. Marine ecologists use these same foundational skills across a wide variety of ecological fields, such as monitoring the effects of climate change and sea level rise and how these are impacting species distributions and interactions

What Students will do

Students will have the opportunity to carry out an experiment in the field, learning how to take random samples to ensure that the data is representative of the whole area. You will also learn how to ID some of the most common species on the rocky shore and some basic statistical analysis. With a range of possible organisms and factors to investigate, this project can be tailored to individual interests of the students. If accessibility is an issue, we still encourage students to join, and alternate arrangements regarding data collection will be made.

Subjects [useful, not essential]

  • Biology
  • Earth & Environmental Science

Prerequisite Study

  • None

Areas of Student Interest

  • Marine Biology
  • Field-based Science
  • Ecological Statistics

Lead Academic: Dr Mariana Mayer Pinto - Scientia Fellow, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science 

Mariana's research focuses on understanding the mechanisms underpinning biodiversity and the functioning of marine ecosystems. In particular, she is interested in how anthropogenic stressors, such as contamination and urbanisation, affect the marine environment with the ultimate goal of developing evidence-based solutions for not only mitigating their impacts, but also restoring and rehabilitating marine ecosystems.



Mentor: Orla McKibbin 

Originally from Queensland, Orla completed both her Bachelor of Science and Honours year at UNSW. She is particularly interested in applied marine ecology, and tangible solutions to global marine issues. She is currently waiting for summer to arrive and trying to learn to knit (as well as completing her PhD). Her research is investigating how coastal marine ecosystems are impacted by habitat modifications, and what we can do to increase seawall community functioning.



Mentor: Maddy Langley 

Maddy completed her Bachelor of Science at UNSW in 2018, after an exciting honours year involving marine SCUBA-diving field work to study the relationship between seaweeds, bacteria, and herbivorous fish. Following this, Maddy worked as a research assistant with projects Operation Crayweed and Operation Posidonia. This sparked a love of seagrasses and seaweeds, and a passion for conserving these vital habitats. Maddy is now a PhD student at UNSW, researching seagrass habitat ecology and restoration. Some of her research areas include environmentally friendly boat moorings, and marine habitat conservation policy.