Ivan Nagelkerken

Professor Ivan Nagelkerken


School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

I am a professor in marine ecology working in temperate and tropical coastal ecosystems, with a special focus on fishes. Over the past decade, I have examined how ecosystem connectivity affects the functioning and resilience of tropical coastal ecosystems including coral reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves. I have done most of this work in the Caribbean, Eastern Africa, and Australia. I held a Future Fellowship awarded by the Australian Research Council to study the effects of climate change on fishes and marine ecosystems, and I have continued this field of research until present day. Most of my climate change research is performed in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. My work contributes directly to today's environmental issues by providing answers to contemporary scientific questions as well as management and conservation related problems.

Climate change

Climate change stressors such as warming and acidification of the oceans are predicted to have dramatic impacts on the diversity, abundance, and distribution of fish species worldwide. We are only beginning to understand how these two stressors interactively affect the physiology and behaviour of fishes during different stages of their life cycle. The degree to which fishes adapt to or tolerate changing conditions will determine their persistence in their original habitats as well as their ability to extend their ranges to novel habitats or higher latitudes. My current research focuses on providing an understanding of how climate change stressors will affect the behaviour and physiology of fishes, how this will alter their interactions with their environment and other species, how this then modifies population dynamics and species communities, and what the implications are for the fisheries, biodiversity, functioning, and resilience of marine ecosystems in the near future. My research includes approaches and techniques such as aquarium studies, large mesocosms, natural analogues of climate change (CO2 vents and warming hotspots in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan), quantitative modelling, meta-analyses, and stable isotope (foodweb) analyses. 


Ecological connectivity plays a key role in the functioning and resilience of coastal ecosystems. Habitats such as such as seagrass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs are a ubiquitous feature of many clear-water tropical coastlines. Their juxtaposition within the coastal seascape often leads to an enhancement of fish diversity and abundance along their boundaries. I am specifically interested in the way in which fish movements connect neighbouring ecosystems and affect the functioning of recipient systems. Studying the nursery function of vegetated habitats for juveniles of coral reef fishes has formed a core area of my research. I have used techniques such as tagging, telemetry, and stable isotope analysis of fish otoliths and tissues to track fish movement and dispersal. In my current studies, I use this knowledge to answer questions about the effects of ecosystem connectivity on marine reserve functioning, population dynamics of reef fishes, and resilience of reefs in (South) Australia and Cocos Islands.

Student projects

I have a wide range of projects available for Ph.D., Honours, and Master's students with an interest in marine ecology, with research locations in South Australia, interstate (New South Whales and Queensland), and internationally (Japan and New Zealand). My main foci are on 1) climate change and marine ecosystems, and 2) ecosystem connectivity, but other projects are also open for discussion. My research is largely experimental, based on field, mesocosm, as well as laboratory work, and focusing on processes that operate at the levels of cells, individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems. I also have a keen interest in meta-analyses to answer contemporary macro-ecological questions. See some examples of potential student projects under 'Teaching'. I work together with a range of renowned experts in the field, providing students with a broad mentoring experience.


For international students interested in joining my lab in Australia see the postgraduate scholarships that are available at our University here and here


Selected recent news coverage

Paper in Proc Roy Soc B on behavioural changes in coral reef fishes that are invading temperate ecosystems due to climate change: Media release, podcast The Defrag.

Paper in Global Change Biology on how climate change can degrade shoaling behaviour in fishes: Media release

Paper in Evolutionary Applications showing the potential of fish to genetically adapt to ocean acidification: Media release

Nature Climate Change paper on how ocean acidification may slow tropicalisation of temperate Australian ecosystems: Cosmos magazine, Nature Ecology & Evolution blog

Paper in Small on how snails can build stronger shells under ocean acidification: Advances in Engineering

PLoS Biology paper on how ocean acidification can boost reproduction in fishes: Cosmos magazine, InDaily, FastCompany

Radio interview on effects of climate change on ocean foods webs: Radio Adelaide

Science paper on how marine food webs are altered under climate change: The Guardian, Science perspective, MEA, Press release UoA

Nature Ecology & Evolution paper on positive effects of ocean acidification on farming damselfish: Phys.Org

Nature Climate Change paper on buffering effect of complexity on climate change impacts: TheScientist, ArsTechnica

Radio interview on how ocean acidification attracts larval fishes to irrelevant and artificial sounds cues: ABC Radio, ABC news 

Radio interview on effects of climate change on marine foods webs: Radio Adelaide

PLoS Biology paper on climate change effects on marine food webs: Reuters, Cosmos magazine, PLoS Research news, Deutschlandfunk (in German), Technology Networks

VIDEO abstract (by Animate your Science) of our Curr Biol study on fish biodiversity loss under ocean acidification (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096098221730725X): 

Current Biology paper on fish biodiversity loss under ocean acidification: The Lead, der Spiegel, de Volkskrant, The Advertiser, Mongabay

Article on food web collapse under climate change in: The Conversation and the Daily Beast

Global Change Biology paper on food web collapse under climate change: Radio Adelaide, The Lead, The New York Times

Research on ocean soundscapes featured in the children's science show SCOPE (start at 16 min.)

Article on the silencing of the oceans: The Conversation

Radio interviews - nutrient pollution and ocean acidification affect marine soundscapes: ABCEastside 89.7 FM2SER 107.3 FM, SBS Radio (in Dutch)

Landscape Ecology article on degradation of marine soundscapes: The Lead, 7 News

Channel 9 prime time news story: climate change effects on shark hunting

Proc Roy Soc B article on ocean acidification effects on fish - jellyfish symbiosis: Discover magazineIFL Science, Azula

VIDEO abstract by my PhD students (Jennifer Pistevos / Tullio Rossi) on effects of climate change on sharks 

Proc Roy Soc B article on ocean acidification effects on shrimp sound production: New Scientist magazine, Popular Mechanics magazineCosmos magazine, IFL Science 

Radio Adelaide (the Wire): interview on effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs and fishes

Biology Letters article on ocean acidification and altered hearing in fish: ABC Science

Radio Adelaide: interview on effects of ocean acidification on larval fish behaviour

Proc Roy Soc B article on ocean acidification effects on larval fish audition and behaviour: Sciencedaily

Radio Adelaide: interview on effects of ocean acidification on shark hunting

Nature Scientific Reports article on effects of ocean acidification/climate change on shark hunting and growth: Daily mail, International business times, ABC News 

Proc Natl. Acad. Sci USA article on global alteration of ocean ecosystem functioning due to increasing CO2: CNN, The Lead Australia

Article on acidifying and warming oceans in: The Conversation

Radio interview on ocean acidification with: Voice of America

Channel 7 news: news coverage of ocean acidification study on marine ecosystems

Radio Adelaide: interview on ocean acidification research (English)

SBS Radio: interview on ocean acidification research (Dutch)

Wired magazine: story on climate change and ocean acidification effects on marine and terrestrial ecosystems

Nature Climate Change article on ocean acidification effects on fishes and ecosystems: IFL ScienceThe LeadMIC

NRM Research & Innovation Network: article introducing the new concept of 'seascape nurseries'

VIDEOs by one of my PhD students (Tullio Rossi): Ocean acidification effects on larval fish behaviour and Lost at sea


  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2017 - ongoing Professor University of Adelaide (Australia)
    2012 - 2016 Associate Professor University of Adelaide (Australia)
    2005 - 2011 Adjunct Professor Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
    2000 - 2011 Assistant Professor Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands)
    1997 - 2000 PhD student Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands)
    1996 - 1997 Research associate University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
    1994 - 1996 Marine ecologist & Assistant marine park manager Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity Foundation - CARMABI (Curacao)
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2013 Fellowship Future Fellowship (Australian Research Council) - Australia 714,528 A$
    2005 Fellowship Vidi research fellowship (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) - Netherlands 600,000 euro
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2000 Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands PhD
    1994 University of Groningen Netherlands MSc

Course teaching

Foundations in Research I
Ecology II
Marine Ecology III
Marine Biology III
Freshwater Ecology III

Honours Advanced Ecology and Environmental Science (Hons)


Potential student projects

Climate Change

Multiple projects are available to study climate change effects (e.g. ocean warming, ocean acidification, extreme weather events) on marine animals and ecosystems. While the focus is largely on fishes, research includes the ecological interactions with other vertebrate and invertebrate species as well as interactions with their aquatic habitats. Advanced field as well as lab experiments are done on a variety of ecologically or economically important species (e.g. barramundi, snapper, mulloway, Port Jackson sharks). Projects focus on the physiology (e.g. growth, metabolism, otoliths, oxidative stress), behaviour (e.g. predator-prey interactions, feeding behaviour) and the ecology (e.g. habitat use, competition, invasive species, trophic cascades) of marine organisms. Complex experiments on community structuring and ecosystem functioning are done in our state-of-the-art mesocosms and natural laboratories (ocean warming hotspots and volcanic CO2 vents). The overall focus of my research is to understand and better predict the long-term impacts of global change on marine species and functioning of coastal ecosystems. This research theme has received much international and local media attention, has a multi-disciplinary approach, and includes field-work components.

Sensory ecology and fish behaviour

The majority of marine species have a two-phase life cycle, one of which is an oceanic larval phase. Larvae possess excellent navigational capabilities and can have a large influence on where they end up after settlement. Several projects are available that investigate the attraction of larval fish species towards olfactory and sound cues from coastal habitats (e.g. rocky reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, kelp). Projects also focus on how human deterioration of coastal habitats may affect settlement behaviour of marine larvae, including the effect of anthropogenic sound on hearing and the effect of coastal water quality on olfaction by fish and invertebrate larvae.

Nursery function of coastal ecosystems

Mangrove and seagrass ecosystems have long been recognised for their nursery role for a variety of coastal fish and crustacean species. Many of these species are of commercial importance or perform important ecological roles. Projects are available to study the underlying mechanisms of nursery habitat use (i.e. based on experiments), or understand how coastal ecosystems and estuaries locally enhance juvenile abundances/diversity of fisheries species (i.e. based on patterns revealed from field work) and how this depends on different levels of protection (e.g. sanctuary type) systems.


Student supervision (see under 'Supervision' for overview of PhD students)

Previous Honours students

  1. Amy Rice (2023)
  2. Callum Axford (2022)
  3. Chloe Hayes (2020)
  4. Shannon Coppersmith (2020)
  5. Louise Hosking (2020)
  6. Angus Mitchell (2019)
  7. Judd Elmawey (2017)
  8. Georgina Kenning (2016)
  9. Georgia Macaulay (2016)
  10. Georgia Walden (2015)
  11. Nicholas Innes (2015)
  12. James Jacob (2015)
  13. Tim Lynch (2015)
  14. Jordan Jones (2014)
  15. Ellie Neindorf (2014)
  16. Alicia Strous (2014)

Previous Master of Science students

  1. Julie Anquetin (2019)
  2. Tiphaine Alemany (2019)
  3. Clement Baziret (2017)
  4. Renske Jongen (2017)
  5. Anne Regtien (2016)
  6. Christelle Noirot (2016)
  7. Gauthier Burckard (2016)
  8. Jasper Bunschoten (2016)
  9. Marta Sternang (2016)
  10. Emma Marangon (2015)
  11. Philip Cremer (2015)
  12. Jules Kleitz (2015)
  13. Thomas Hue (2015)
  14. Angelique Bonnet (2015)
  15. Robbert-Jan Geertsma (2015)
  16. Laurene Merillet (2015)
  17. Melchior Rutte (2014)
  18. Maxime Olmos (2014)
  19. Lieke Egbers (2012)
  20. Micah Herriot (2011)
  21. Caroline Dubé (2011)
  22. Valerie Chamberland (2011)
  23. Roel van der Heijden (2010)
  24. Sanne van Delft (2010)
  25. Rob Fraaije (2009)
  26. Martijntje Schippers (2009)
  27. Niek Bosch (2009)
  28. Roel van Eck (2009)
  29. Estrella Gonzalez Tapias (2009)
  30. Ines Schulten (2009)
  31. Pauline Lossbroek (2009)
  32. Andjin Siegentaler (2009)
  33. Dieuwke Hoeijmakers (2009)
  34. Arend van Dijk (2009)
  35. Niels Rijneveld (2009)
  36. Nanne van Hoytema (2008)
  37. Piet Blankers (2008)
  38. Jan de Brouwer (2008)
  39. Laura Govers (2008)
  40. Jeffrey Oldenburger (2008)
  41. Madelon van de Kerk (2008)
  42. Nick Rossen (2008)
  43. Eva van Engelen (2008)
  44. Sarah Smith (2008)
  45. Susanne van Herwijnen (2008)
  46. Peter Smittenaar (2008)
  47. Niek Slooter (2008)
  48. Rob Fraaije (2008)
  49. Ruud van Hintum (2008)
  50. Laura Govers (2007)
  51. Michel Trommelen (2007)
  52. Coen Wagner (2007)
  53. Ben Grifioen (2007)
  54. Maarten van der Beek (2007)
  55. Hanneke Ligtenberg (2007)
  56. Renate Labberton (2007)
  57. Ben Backx (2007)
  58. Wouter Pardijs (2007)
  59. Bas Budel (2006)
  60. Astrid Hoogstraten (2006)
  61. Eefke Mollee (2006)
  62. Jasper de Bie (2006)
  63. Rik van der Kant (2006)
  64. Jeroen Meijer (2006)
  65. Ingmar Hans (2006)
  66. Eva Kokkelmans (2006)
  67. Susanne Ruseler (2006)
  68. Twan van den Beld (2006)
  69. Karianne Hol (2006)
  70. Peter Voskamp (2005)
  71. Natascha Leenstra (2005)
  72. Guido Atsma (2005)
  73. Jeroen Bosveld (2005)
  74. Maaike Smelter (2004)
  75. Mieke Cuppens (2004)
  76. Jeroen Vogels (2004)
  77. Eveline de Wit (2004)
  78. Tjerk van Rooij (2004)
  79. An De Schrijver (2004)
  80. Daphne de Graaff (2004)
  81. Mischa Peeters (2004)
  82. Annelies Pustjens (2003)
  83. Marjolijn Christianen (2003)
  84. Monique Grol (2003)
  85. Vincent de Jong (2003)
  86. Tim Kolbrink (2003)
  87. Otavio Cafundó de Moraes (2003)
  88. Kim Vermonden (2003)
  89. Daphne de Graaff (2003)
  90. Mischa Peeters (2003)
  91. Jeroen Bosman (2003)
  92. Emma Versteegh (2003)
  93. Marieke Verweij (2003)
  94. Arjan de Groene (2002)
  95. Ilse Cornelissen (2002)
  96. Max van de Ven (2002)
  97. Annelies Pronker (2002)
  98. Nils van Kessel (2001)
  99. Horst Wolter (2001)
  100. Robert Thijssen (2001)
  101. Leon Westerd (2001)
  102. Kevin Linnane (2001)

Previous Summer research undergraduate students

  1. Jamie Priest (2020)
  2. Amelia Roberts (2019)
  3. Mariel Everson (2015)
  4. Mei Lyn Herbertt (2013)
  5. Jordan Jones (2012)


  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2023 Principal Supervisor The effects of ocean acidification on the structure of marine trophic pyramids. Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Mary Ellen Brownridge
    2023 Co-Supervisor Establishing and mitigating climate impacts on Australia's freshwater granite rock-hole ecosystems. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Chih-Yun Liu
    2022 Co-Supervisor To Investigate the Influence of Climate Change on Reef Fish Nutritional Content. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Beth Rose Dawson
    2022 Principal Supervisor Effect of habitat type and schooling on climate-induced range extensions of tropical fish into temperate Australian marine ecosystems Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Ms Jamie Leigh Priest
    2022 Principal Supervisor Impact of Climate Change on the Detritus and Invertebrates of Estuarine Habitats Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Shashindu Keshawa Dodampahala
    2021 Principal Supervisor The effects of climate change on the physiology of tropical and temperate fishes. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Chloe Hayes
    2021 Co-Supervisor Marine invertebrates in changing oceans Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Erin Laura Pichler
    2019 Principal Supervisor Climate Change Impacts on Fishes and Consequent Effects on Population Dynamics and Ecosystem Functioning Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Vittoria Cipriani
    2018 Principal Supervisor The effects of climate change on coastal fish Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Minami Sasaki
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2020 - 2023 Principal Supervisor Ocean Acidification and Seasonal Temperatures Counter Positive Novel Species Interaction and Warming Effects on Tropicalising Temperate Fish Communities Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Angus Mitchell
    2019 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Understanding the Effects of Ocean Warming and Acidification on Mangrove Communities Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Georgia Ann Claire Walden
    2017 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Behavioural Plasticity and Species Interactions as Key Drivers of Tropical Fish Range-Extensions on Temperate Reefs Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Ericka Coni
    2017 - 2019 Principal Supervisor The effects of tropical fish range-extensions on temperate communities Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Ms Kelsey Margaret Kingsbury
    2015 - 2020 Principal Supervisor How marine organisms cope with changing climate Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Almendra Rodriguez Dominguez
    2015 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Response of Temperate Marine Food Webs to Climate Change and Ocean Acidification: Bridging the Gap between Experimental Manipulation and Complex Foodwebs Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Md. Hadayet Ullah
    2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Ecological Responses to Ocean Acidification and Warming: Scaling up from Individuals to Communities Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Silvan Goldenberg
    2014 - 2019 Principal Supervisor The Role of Herbivores in a Near Future Ocean: Positive and Negative Effects of Climate Change on Herbivore Ecological Function Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Camilo Moitinho Ferreira
    2012 - 2016 Principal Supervisor The Effects of Ocean Acidification on Sound Production and Reception in Marine Animals Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Tullio Rossi
    2012 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Early life behaviour & sensory ecology of predatory fish under climate change and ocean acidification Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Jennifer Chryseis Alcestis Pistevos
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2022 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Latitudinal performance of vagrant tropical fish: ontogenetic shifts in habitat use, growth and trophic space. University of Technology Sydney - Doctorate Full Time Alex Rigg
    2015 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Determinants of habitat use by fish in mangroves: using habitat characteristics to predict fish communities Edinburgh Napier University - Doctorate Full Time Caroline Wanjiru
    2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Context dependence in fauna-habitat relationships James Cook University Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Michael Bradley
    2015 - 2018 External Supervisor Relationship between the spatial variation of meiobenthic communities and landscape attributes Universidade Federal Do Paraná Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Marco Brustolin
    2006 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Importance of mangroves and seagrass beds as nurseries for coral reef fishes in Tanzania Radboud University Nijmegen / University of Dar es Salaam Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Ismael Kimirei
    2006 - 2010 Principal Supervisor Sensory mechanisms, habitat selection and habitat use in tropical juvenile coral reef fish Radboud University Nijmegen / University of Dar es Salaam Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Mathias Igulu
    2006 - 2010 Principal Supervisor Fishes on the move - sensory modalities and movement behavior in a tropical seascape Radboud University Nijmegen Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Chantal Huijbers
    2005 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Crossing habitat boundaries – mechanisms underlying cross-habitat utilization by reef fishes Radboud University Nijmegen Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Monique Grol
    2004 - 2007 External Supervisor Ecology and toxicology of mangrove fauna in Tanzania with particular reference to the mudskipper Radboud University Nijmegen / University of Dar es Salaam Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Guus Kruitwagen
    2003 - 2009 External Supervisor Use of tidal flats by fish populations in two sections of the estuary of Paranaguá, Southern Brazil Universidade Federal do Paraná Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Helen Pichler
    2003 - 2008 Principal Supervisor Habitat linkages in a tropical seascape – the use of mangrove and seagrass habitats by juvenile reef fishes and their migration to the coral reef Radboud University Nijmegen Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Marieke Verweij
    2002 - 2006 Principal Supervisor Connectivity between fish assemblages of seagrasses beds, mangroves and coral reefs – evidence from the Caribbean and the western Indian Ocean Radboud University Nijmegen Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Martijn Dorenbosch
    2001 - 2007 Principal Supervisor Utilisation by fishes of shallow-water habitats including mangroves and seagrass beds along the Tanzanian coast Radboud University Nijmegen / University of Dar es Salaam Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr. Blandina Lugendo
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2021 - ongoing Chair Mid-year Honours coordinator The University of Adelaide Australia
    2018 - 2018 Board Member Academic Promotions Committee - Faculty of Sciences The University of Adelaide Australia
    2017 - ongoing Board Member HSW Committee - School of Biological Sciences University of Adelaide Australia
    2017 - ongoing Board Member Research Committee - School of Biological Sciences University of Adelaide Australia
    2014 - ongoing Member IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group / Species Survival Commission International Union for Conservation of Nature -
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2013 - ongoing Member Environment Institute Australia
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2022 - ongoing Associate Editor Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment Ecological Society of America United States
    2018 - ongoing Consulting Editor Marine Ecology Progress Series - -
    2017 - 2018 Associate Editor Scientific Reports Springer Nature United Kingdom
    2014 - 2016 Associate Editor Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science - -
    2009 - 2017 Associate Editor Marine Ecology Progress Series - -
    2007 - ongoing Associate Editor Hydrobiologia Springer Germany
  • Position: Professor
  • Phone: 83134137
  • Email: ivan.nagelkerken@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 83134364
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Darling, floor 1
  • Org Unit: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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