Dr Sue-Anne Watson

Climate change impacts on marine invertebrates

Imagine you’re a scientist, diving into the freezing cold waters of the Antarctic. You’re not there to observe the larger organisms so closely associated with that part of the world – whales, seals and impossibly cute penguins – but the smallest: the marine invertebrates. What is it about these lesser-known creatures, the ones we rarely think of, that would entice you into those icy waters? What are the impacts of climate change on these ocean creatures? Have you ever heard of ocean acidification?

Dr Sue-Ann Watson, Senior Curator of Marine Invertebrates at Queensland Museum and senior research fellow at James Cook University, joins us to chat about her fascinating work.

Meet our guest

Sue-Ann works on a range of marine invertebrates (animals without backbones) including molluscs (e.g. snails, clams, cephalopods), echinoderms (e.g. sea urchins, sea cucumbers, sea stars), crustaceans (e.g. hermit crabs) and brachiopods. Some of her favourite study species – jumping snails, giant clams and pygmy squid – are all found here in North Queensland.

Her research focuses on the responses of marine organisms to change, both in space (along natural evolutionary gradients) and time (responses to environmental change). She is particularly interested in large scale evolutionary patterns and ecological trends in marine invertebrates and the effects of stressors such as ocean acidification, warming and water quality impacts including light availability (turbidity), nutrients and salinity on invertebrates, corals and fishes. Sue-Ann’s broad research interests include ecology, physiology, behaviour, biogeography and the potential for acclimation and adaptation to change in marine organisms.

View Sue-Ann's profile

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