About the project


To better characterise the southwest Australian marine coastal and shelf ecosystem structure and function, and enhance our shared capacity to understand, predict and assess ecosystem response to anthropogenic and natural pressures.


To produce: 

  • Downscaled hydrodynamic models to explore influences on benthic habitat, and the cross-shore and longshore exchange of water, nutrients and particles between the lagoon and shelf regions
  • Coupled hydrodynamic and biogeochemical models and a quantitative nutrient budget for coastal waters at shelf and lagoon scales;
  • Improved descriptions and conceptual biogeochemical models for shelf and lagoon waters incorporating  seasonal  and  interannual  variability  and  improved  representation  of  benthic primary production and bentho-pelagic coupling; and
  • Simple models for assessing and predicting impacts of physical forcing factors, primarily nutrients, on key benthic functional groups/habitats informed by experiments and observations conducted across a range of naturally varying and anthropogenically altered gradients related to nutrient enrichment.

Research Articles

Caputi, N., R. Melville-Smith, S. de Lestang A. Pearce and, M. Feng (2010). The effect of climate change on the western rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus) fishery of Western Australia. Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences

Caputi, N., S. de Lestang, M. Feng and A.F. Pearce (2009). Seasonal variation in the long-term warming trend in water temperature off the Western Australian coast. Marine and Freshwater Research 60: 

Feng, M. D. Slawinski, L. Beckley, J. Keesing (2010) Retention and dispersal of shelf waters influenced by interactions of ocean boundary current and coastal geography. Marine and Freshwater Research 61: 1259–

Feng, M. and K. Wild-Allen (2010). The Leeuwin Current. P197-210. In: K-K. Liu, L. Atkinson, R. Quinones and L. Talaue-McManus (Eds.) Carbon and Nutrient Fluxes in Continental Margins: A Global Synthesis. IGBP Book Series. Springer, Berlin. 744 pp.

Feng, M. (2009). Eddy induced cross-shelf phytoplankton transport along the downwelling coast off Western Australia. Journal of Tropical Oceanography 28(5): 6-10. doi: 10.11978/j.issn.1009-5470.2009.05.006

Feng, M., A.M. Waite and P.A. Thompson (2009). Climate variability and ocean production in the Leeuwin Current system off the west coast of Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 92: 67-81.

Feng, M., A. Biastoch, C. Böning, N. Caputi and G. Meyers (2008). Seasonal and interannual variations of upper ocean heat balance off the west coast of Australia. J. Geophys. Res. 113: C12025, doi:10.1029/2008JC004908.

Forehead, H.I., P.A. Thompson, (2010). Microbial communities of subtidal shallow sandy sediments change with depth and wave disturbance, but nutrient exchanges remain similar. Marine Ecology Progress Series Vol. 414:

Gartner, A., P. S. Lavery, K. McMahon, A. Brearley, H. Barwick (2010). Light reductions drive macroinvertebrate changes in Amphibolis griffithii seagrass habitat. Marine Ecology Progress Series Vol. 401: 87–100.

Greenwood, J. (2010). Evidence that increased nitrogen efflux from wave-influenced marine sediment enhances pelagic phytoplankton production on the inner continental shelf of Western Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research. 61, 625-632.

Greenwood, J. (2009). Shallow water dissolution of settling calcite at station ALOHA. Limnology and Oceanography, 54 (5), 1420-1424.

Greenwood, J. and K. Soetaert (2008). Interannual variability in the seasonal cycle of chlorophyll in the Leeuwin Current off the southwest Western Australian coast. Journal of Marine Research 66(3): 373-390.

Hanson, C.E., M.J. McLaughlin, G.A. Hyndes and J. Strzelecki (2009). Selective uptake of prokaryotic picoplankton by a marine sponge (Callyspongia sp.) within an oligotrophic coastal system. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 84: 289-297.

Hassler, C.S., J.R. Djajadikarta, M.A. Doblin, J.D. Everett, P.A. Thompson (2011). Characterisation of water masses and phytoplankton nutrient limitation in the East Australian Current separation zone during spring 2008. Deep-Sea Research II 58: 664-677.

Irvine, T., J. Keesing, N. D’Adamo, M.C. Aquarone and S. Adams (2008). West-Central Australian Shelf LME. In: K. Sherman and G. Hempel (Eds.) The UNEP Large Marine Ecosystem Report: A perspective on changing conditions in LMEs of the world’s Regional Seas. UNEP Regional Seas Report and Studies No. 182. United Nations Environment Programme. Nairobi, Kenya. p 321-336.

Irvine, T., J. Keesing, N. D’Adamo, M.C. Aquarone and S. Adams (2008). Southwest Australian Shelf LME. In: K. Sherman and G. Hempel (Eds.) The UNEP Large Marine Ecosystem Report: A perspective on changing conditions in LMEs of the world’s Regional Seas. UNEP Regional Seas Report and Studies No. 182. United Nations Environment Programme. Nairobi, Kenya. p 839-852.

Keesing, J.K, Graham F., Irvine, T. and Crossing, R. (2011) Synchronous aggregated pseudocopulation of the sea star Archaster angulatus Muller and Troschel, 1842 (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) and its reproductive cycle in south-western Australia. Marine Biology 158: 1163-1173.

Lawrence, J.M., J.K. Keesing and T.R. Irvine (in press). Population characteristics and biology of two populations of Archaster angulatus (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) in different habitats off the central-western Australian coast. Journal of the Marine Biological Association UK

Li, F., C. M. Griffiths, C. P. Dyt, P. Weill, M. Feng and C. Jenkins (2009). Multigrain seabed sediment transport modelling for the southwest Australian Shelf. Marine and Freshwater Research 60: 774-785.

Limbourn, A.J., R.C. Babcock, D.J. Johnston, P.D. Nichols and B. Knott (2009). Spatial and temporal variation in lipid and fatty acid profiles of western rock lobster pueruli at first settlement: Biochemical indicators of diet and nutritional status. Marine and Freshwater Research. 60:810-823.

Lourey M.J. and H. Kirkman (2009). Short lived dissolved nitrate pulses in a shallow Western Australian coastal lagoon. Marine and Freshwater Research 60: 1068-1080.

Paterson, H. L., M. Feng, A.M. Waite, D. Gomis, L.E. Beckley, D. Holliday, and P.A. Thompson (2008). Physical and chemical signatures of a developing anti-cyclonic eddy in the Leeuwin Current, Eastern Indian Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research 113: C07049.

Rousseaux, C., P. Thompson, J. Greenwood, and J.-P. Descy (submitted). Diel vertical migration of dinoflagellates as a mechanism to decrease the impact of microzooplankton grazing. Marine and Ecology Progress Series.

Symonds, G., L. Zhong and N. Mortimer. Effects of wave exposure on circulation in a temperate reef environment. Journal of Geophysical Research.

Thompson, P.A., Wild-Allen, K., Lourey, M., Rousseaux, C., Waite, A.M., Feng, M., Beckley, L.E. (in press 2011). Nutrients in an oligotrophic boundary current: Evidence of a new role for the Leeuwin Current. Progress in Oceanography,

Thompson, P.A., P. Bonham, A.M. Waite, L.A. Clementson, N. Cherukuru, C. Hassler, M.A. Doblin (2011). Contrasting oceanographic conditions and phytoplankton communities on the east and west coasts of Australia. Deep-Sea Research II 58: 645–663.

Thompson, P.A., I. Jameson, S.I. Blackburn (2009). The influence of light quality on akinete formation and germination in the toxic cyanobacterium Anabaena circinalis. Harmful Algae 8: 504–512.

Thompson, P.A., M.E. Baird, T. Ingleton and M.A. Doblin (2009). Long-term changes in temperate Australian coastal waters and implications for phytoplankton. Marine Ecology Progress Series 394: 1-19. 

Vanderklift M.A. and T. Wernberg T. (2010). Stable isotopes reveal a consistent consumer-diet relationship across hundreds of kilometres. Marine Ecology Progress Series 403: 53-61.

Vanderklift, M.A., P.S. Lavery and K.I. Waddington (2009). Intensity of herbivory on kelp by fish and sea urchins varies between inshore and offshore reefs. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 376: 203-211. DOI:



Program: WAMSI 2001-2011

Completed: June 2011

Location: Western Australian coast, Marmion Lagoon, Leeuwin Current

Project Leader: Dr John Keesing (CSIRO)



Final Report