• The University of Western Australia (M470), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Personal profile


I am a marine ecologist studying the drivers and patterns of long-term change in coastal ecosystems. My research has largely focused on drivers and patterns of long-term change in coastal ecosystems. My expertise centers on climate-driven changes to kelp forests, including shifts to alternate ecosystems such as turf reefs and sea urchin barrens, and expansion along arctic coasts. I am also interested in the production and export of kelp detritus, and the role this blue carbon plays in the broader carbon cycle. My recent work has focused on restoration approaches in kelp forests through the new Green Gravel tool. My research also tackles interdisciplinary questions such as links between social and ecological systems during regime shifts, and ethical questions associated with emerging use of genetic restoration techniques. 

Current projects


2019 - 2022 

DECRA. Regime shifts from kelp forest to turfs: drivers, resilience and future.

This project is a Discovery Early Career Research Award funded by the Australian Research Council. Globally, marine ecosystems are increasingly pushed beyond critical thresholds of collapse, creating an urgent need to understand the drivers of sudden shifts in marine habitats and develop effective strategies to curb their loss. This DECRA will apply a comparative experimental and analytical approach to quantify linkages among multiple stressors driving kelp forest loss and expansion across three continents. Field and laboratory experiments will be used to develop and test ‘green gravel’, a novel restoration tool that aims to overcome reinforcing feedbacks (lack spores and hard substrate) preventing recovery of kelp forests. Findings will help identify solutions to address loss of kelp forests in Australia and globally.

Role: Chief Investigator


2019 - 2022

Turf Wars: fighting the new battle facing blue forests. 

This ARC Discovery project is led by Professor Thomas Wernberg with Dr. Melinda Coleman. Habitat loss is a leading threat to goods and services from the oceans. Globally, kelp forests are collapsing and being replaced by persistent unwanted algal ‘turfs’. Our understanding of this habitat shift is rudimentary, and solutions to mitigate the impacts virtually non-existent. This project will use ecological models and field experiments to uncover drivers and critical thresholds for turf expansion. Through stress experiments andgenomic analyses, it aims to discover resilient kelps that promote forest persistence under stress. By expanding our understanding of critical habitat transitions, and exploring new solutions, this project aims to enhance our capacity to respond to the ongoing degradation of Australia’s Great Southern Reef.

Role: Project Investigator, Chief Investigator: Prof. Thomas Wernberg


2019 - 2023

BlueConnect: Blue growth opportunities in changing kelp forests

This SANOCEAN project aims to create valuable training opportunities and research collaborations between South Africa and Norway that center around knowledge-based management of kelp forest resources under changing ocean conditions. This project will measure the ecosystem services provided by kelp forests in South Africa and Norway, and build capacity for coastal research, sustainable development and management of these resources through high-level post graduate training, collaborative research, as well as scientific knowledge transfer. This will better enable communities to anticipate and prepare for future changes and possibly even benefit from these expanding ecosystems.

Role: Project Leader


2019 - 2023

ArcticKelp: Fate of kelp forests in a rapidly changing Arctic

Kelp forests have been recorded throughout the Canadian Arctic, yet we know little of these habitats, and their fate in this era of rapid change represents a critical gap in our knowledge of Arctic coastal ecosystems. Research to date suggest that a warmer Arctic with less sea ice may increase the extent of kelp by providing extended periods of light and warmer waters for growth. However, melting sea ice and permafrost may offset this benefit by freshening and increasing water color and turbidity in coastal areas. This ArcticNet project will combine coastal surveys, scientific dive experiments, laboratory tests, community meetings, remote sensing, research cruises, and modelling approaches to map kelp forests in the Arctic, assess their importance for coastal ecosystems and coastal societies, and predict climate-driven impacts on them. Knowledge on Arctic kelp forests may help northern communities and societies anticipate and prepare for changes in the coastal zone and possibly even benefit from these new ecosystems.

Role: Project Manager. PI: Prof. Philippe Archambault


2017 - 2019

SUKER. Broad-scale ‘litter bag’ experiment in SUGAR kelp forests.

The aim of SUKER is to discover how residence time and turnover of blue carbon varies on regional scales. Funded by the Norwegian Blue Forest Network. This is a collaboration among 12 kelp forest research groups in the northern hemisphere. 

Role: Project Leader





¥ = joint first authors.

Pessarrodona A, Franco-Santos RM, Wright LS, Vanderklift MA, Howard J, Pidgeon E, Wernberg T, Filbee-Dexter K. (2023) Carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation using macroalgae: a state of knowledge review. Biological Reviews. Manuscript ID BRV-01-2023-0014

Ross FWR, Boyd PW, Filbee-Dexter K, Watanabe K, Ortega A, Krause-Jensen D, Lovelock C, Sondak CFA, Bach LT, Duarte CM, Serrano O, Beardall J, Tarbuck P, Macreadie PI (2023) Potential role of seaweeds in climate change mitigation. Science of the Total Environment. 163699

Castro de la Guardia L, Filbee-Dexter K, Reimer J, MacGregor KA, Garrido I, Singh RA, Belanger S, Konar B, Iken KI, Johnson LE, Archambault P, Sejr MK, Søreide JE, CJ Mundy (2023) Increasing depth distribution of Arctic kelp with increasing number of open water days with light. Elementa Science of the Anthropocene 11:00051

Filbee-Dexter K, Pessarrodona A, Duarte CM, Krause-Jensen D, Hancke K, Smale DA, Wernberg T. Seaweed forests are carbon sinks that may mitigate CO2 A response to Gallagher et al. (2023) ICES Journal of Marine Science. ICESJMS-2022-197

Sahin D*, Schoepf V, Filbee-Dexter K, Thomson DP, Radford B, Wernberg T. Heating rate explains species-specific coral bleaching severity during a simulated marine heatwave (2023) Marine Ecology Progress Series 706: 33-46 org/10.3354/meps14246

Bosch NE, Pessarrodona A, Filbee-Dexter K, Tuya F, Mulders Y, Bell SY, Langlois T, Wernberg T (2023) Habitat configurations shape the trophic and energetic dynamics of reef fishes in a tropical-temperate transition zone: implications under a warming future. Oecologia 200:455-470 doi.org/10.1007/s00442-022-05278-6

Filbee-Dexter K, Feehan CJ, Smale D, Krumhansl KA, Augustine S, de Bettignies F, Burrows MT, Byrnes JEK, Campbell J, Davoult D, Dunton KH, Franco JN, Garrido I, Grace SP, Hancke K, Johnson LE, Konar B, Pedersen MF, Moore PJ, Norderhaug KM, O’Dell A, Salomon AK, Sousa-Pinto I, Tiegs S, Yiu D, Wernberg T (2022) Cool high-latitude kelp forests display slow kelp decomposition and enhanced carbon-sink potential. PLoS Biology 20, e3001702 doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001702 [Editor’s pick for top paper in PLoS Biology in 2022]

Pessarrodona A*, Assis J, Filbee-Dexter K, Burrows MT, Gattuso, J-P, Duarte CM, Krause-Jensen D, Moore PJ, Smale DA & Wernberg T (2022) Global seaweed productivity. Sciences Advances 8: eabn2465 doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abn2465

Filbee-Dexter K, MacGregor KA, Lavoie C*, Garrido I, Goldsmit J4, de la Guardia LC, Howland K, Johnson LE, Konar B, McKindsey CW, Mundy CJ, Schlegel RW, Archambault P (2022) Sea ice and substratum shape extensive kelp forests in the Canadian Arctic. Frontiers in Marine Science 9:754074 doi:10.3389/fmars.2022.754074

Filbee-Dexter K, Wernberg T, Barreiro R, Coleman MA, de Bettignies T, Feehan CJ, Franco J, Hasler B, Louro I, Norderhaug KM, Staehr PAU, Tuya F, Verbeek J (2022) Leveraging the blue economy to transform marine forest restoration. Journal of Phycology 58:198-207 doi: 10.1111/jpy.13239

Bringloe TT, Fort A, Inaba M, Sulpice R, Ní Ghriofa C, Mols‐Mortensen A, Filbee-Dexter K, Vieira C, Kawai H, Hanyuda T, Krause‐Jensen D (2022) Whole genome population structure of North Atlantic kelp confirms high latitude glacial refugia. Molecular Ecology 31: 6473-6488 doi.org/10.1111/mec.16714

Alsuwaiyan NA*, Filbee-Dexter K, Vranken S, Burkholz C*, Cambridge M, Coleman MA & Wernberg T (2022) Green gravel as a vector of dispersal for kelp restoration. Frontiers in Marine Science 9:910417 doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.910417

Duarte CM, Gattuso JP, Hancke K, Gundersen H, Filbee-Dexter K, Pedersen MF, Middelburg JJ, Burrows MT, Krumhansl KA, Wernberg T, Moore PJ, Pessarrodona A, Ørberg SA, Sousa Pinto I, Assis J, Queirós AM, Smale DA, Bekkby T, Serrão EA, Krause-Jensen D (2022) Global estimates of the extent and production of macroalgal forests. Global Ecology and Biogeography 28:3711-3727 doi.org/10.1111/geb.13515

MacCreadie PI, Roberts AI, Spinks B, Adams MP, Atchison JM, Bell-James J, Bryan BA, Chu L, Filbee-Dexter K, Drake L, Duarte CM, Friess DA, Gonzalez F, Grafton RQ, Helmstedt KJ, Kaebernick M, Kelleway J, Kendrick GA, Kennedy H, Lovelock CE, Megonigal JP, Maher DT, Pidgeon E, Rogers AA, Sturgiss R, Trevathan-Tackett SM, Wartman M, Wilson MA, Rogers K (2022) Operationalizing marketable blue carbon. One Earth 5: 485-492 doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2022.04.005

Kartveit KH, Filbee-Dexter K, Steen H, Christensen L, Norderhaug KM (2022) Efficient spatial kelp biomass estimations using acoustic methods. Frontiers in Marine Science 9: 1065914 doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.1065914

Bringloe TT, Wilkinson DP, Goldsmit J, Savoie AM, Filbee‐Dexter K, Macgregor KA, Howland KL, McKindsey CW, Verbruggen H (2022) Arctic marine forest distribution models showcase potentially severe habitat losses for cryophilic species under climate change. Global Change Biology 28: 3711-3727 doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16142

Mulders Y, Filbee-Dexter K, Bell S, Bosch N, Pessarrodona A*, Sahin D*, Vranken S, Zarco-Perello S, Wernberg T (2022) Intergrading reef communities across discrete seaweed habitats in a temperate - tropical transition zone: lessons for species reshuffling in a warming ocean. Ecology and Evolution 12:e8538

Pessarrodona A*, Filbee-Dexter K, Krumhansl KA, Moore PJ, Wernberg T (2022) A global dataset of seaweed net primary productivity. Scientific Data 9: 484 doi.org/10.1038/s41597-022-01554-5

Feehan C, Filbee-Dexter K, Wernberg T (2021) Embrace kelp forests in the coming decade. Science 373:863 doi.org/10.1126/science.abl3984

Pessarrodona A*, Filbee-Dexter K, Alcoverro T, Boada J, Feehan C, Fredriksen, S, Grace S P, Nakamura Y, Narvaez CA, Norderhaug KM, Wernberg T (2021) Homogenization and miniaturization of habitat structure in temperate marine forests. Global Change Biology 27:5262-5275org/10.1111/gcb.15759

Bringloe T, Zaparenkov D, Starko S; Grant W, Vieira C, Kawai H, Hanyuda T, Filbee-Dexter K, Klimova A, Klochkova T, Krause-Jensen D, Olesen B, Verbruggen H (2021) Whole genome sequencing reveals forgotten lineages and recurrent hybridizations within the kelp genus Alaria (Phaeophyceae). Journal of Phycology 57:1721-1738 doi.org/10.1111/jpy.13212

Goldsmit J, Schlegel R, Filbee-Dexter K, Howland K, Johnson LE, McKindsey CW, MacGregor KA, Mundy CJ, Archambault P (2021). Kelp in the Eastern Canadian Arctic: current and future predictions of habitat suitability and cover. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:1453 doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.742209

Schlegel RW, Darmaraki S, Benthuysen JA, Filbee-Dexter K, Oliver ECJ (2021) Marine cold spells. Progress in Oceanography 198:102685 doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2021.102684

Alsuwaiyan NA*, Vranken S, Filbee-Dexter K, Cambridge M, Coleman M, Wernberg T (2021) Genotypic variation in response to extreme events may facilitate kelp adaptation under future climates. Marine Ecology Progress Series 672:111-121 doi.org/10.3354/meps13802

LeClerc JC, de Bettignies T, de Bettignies F, Christie H, Franco JN, Leroux C, Davoult D, Pedersen MP, Filbee-Dexter K, Wernberg T (2021) Local flexibility in feeding behavior and contrasting microhabitat use of an omnivore across latitudes. Oecologia 196:441-453 doi.org/10.1007/s00442-021-04936-5

Bosch NE, Wernberg T, Langlois TJ, Stuart-Smith RD, Edgar GJ, Smale DA, Moore PJ, Franco JN, Thiriet P, Feunteun E, Ribeiro C, Neves P, Freitas R, Filbee-Dexter K, Norderhaug KM, Garcıa A, Otero-Ferrer F, Espino F, Haroun R, Tuya F (2021) Niche and neutral assembly mechanisms contribute to latitudinal diversity gradients in reef fishes. Journal of Biogeography 48:268-2698 doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14237

Santos IR, Burdige DJ, Jennerjahn TC, Bouillon S, Cabral A, Serrano O, Wernberg T, Filbee-Dexter K, Guimond J, Tamborski JJ (2021) The renaissance of Odum’s outwelling hypothesis in ‘Blue Carbon’ science. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 255:107361 doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2021.107361 [ESI Highly-Cited paper (top 1%)]

Pedersen MF, Filbee-Dexter K, Frisk NL, Sárossy Z, Wernberg T. (2021). Carbon sequestration potential increased by incomplete anaerobic decomposition of kelp detritus. Marine Ecology Progress Series660:53-67 doi.org/10.3354/meps13613

Vilas D, Coll M, Pedersen T, Corrales X, Filbee-Dexter K, Pedersen MF, Norderhaug KM, Fredriksen S, Wernberg T, Ramírez-Llodra E (2021) Future trajectories of change for an Arctic deep-sea ecosystem connected to coastal kelp forests. Restoration Ecology 29:e13327 doi.org/10.1111/rec.13327

Filbee-Dexter KWernberg T, Grace SP, Thormar J, Fredriksen S, Narvaez CN, Feehan CJ, Norderhaug KM (2020) Marine heatwaves and the collapse of marginal North Atlantic kelp forests. Scientific Reports 10:13388. org/10.1038/s41598-020-70273-x

Norderhaug KM, Filbee-Dexter K, Freitas C, Birkely SR, Christensen L, et al. (2020) Ecosystem-level effects of large-scale disturbance in kelp forests. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 656:163-180 doi.org/10.3354/meps13426

Filbee-Dexter KWernberg T(2020) Substantial blue carbon in overlooked Australian kelp forests. Scientific Reports 10: 12341. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69258-7

Filbee-Dexter K (2020) Ocean forests hold unique solutions to our current environmental crisis. One Earth 2:398-401 doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2020.05.004

Krause-Jensen D, Archambault P, Assis J, Bartsch I, Bischof K, Filbee-Dexter K, Dunton KH, Maximova, O, Ragnarsdóttir SB, Sejr MK and Simakova U (2020) Imprint of climate change on pan-Arctic marine vegetation. Frontiers in Marine Science 7:617324 doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.61732

Ramirez-Llodra E, Pedersen T, Filbee-Dexter K, Hauquier F, Guilini K, Mikkelsen N, Borgersen G, Gyseghem MV, Vanreusel A, Vilas D (2020) Community structure of deep fjord and shelf benthic fauna receiving different detrital kelp inputs in northern Norway. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 168:103433 doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2020.103433

Coleman MA, Wood G, Filbee-Dexter KMinne AJP, Goold HD, Verges A, Marzinelli EM, Steinberg PD, Wernberg T (2020) Restore or redefine: future trajectories for restoration. Frontiers in Marine Science: Marine Conservation and Sustainability, 7: 237.

Fredriksen S, Filbee-Dexter K,Norderhaug KM, Steen H,Bodvin T,Coleman MA,Moy F,Wernberg T. 2020. Green gravel: a novel restoration tool to combat kelp forests decline. Scientific Reports. SREP-19-11773B

Filbee-Dexter K, Pedersen MF, Fredriksen S, Norderhaug KM, RindeE, Kristiansen T, AlbretsenJ, Wernberg T. 2020. Carbon export is facilitated by sea urchins transforming kelp detritus. Oecologia. 192:213-225.

Pedersen MF, Filbee-Dexter K, Norderhaug KM, Fredriksen S, Frisk NL, Fagerli CW, Wernberg T. 2020. Detrital carbon production and export in high latitude kelp forests.  Oecologia. 192:213-225

Vilas D, Coll M, Pedersen T, Corrales X, Filbee-Dexter K, Pedersen MF, Norderhaug KM, Fredriksen S, Wernberg T, Ramírez-Llodra E. 2020. Kelp-carbon uptake by Arctic deep-sea food webs plays a noticeable role in maintaining ecosystem structural and functional traits. Journal of Marine Systems 203:103268

Filbee-Dexter K, Smajdor A. 2019. Ethics of assisted evolution in marine conservation. Frontiers in Marine Science. 6:20.

Wernberg T, Filbee-Dexter K. 2019. Missing the marine forests for the trees. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 8: 17180.

Wernberg T, Filbee-Dexter K. 2019. Grazers extend blue carbon transfer by slowing sinking speeds of kelp detritus. Scientific Reports. 8: 17180.

Filbee-Dexter K, et al. (2019) Arctic kelp forests: resilience and future. Global Planetary Change 172:1-14

Francis FT¥, Filbee-Dexter K¥, Yan HF, Côté IM (2019). Invertebrate herbivores: Overlooked allies in the recovery of degraded coral reefs? Global Ecology and Conservation. e00593.

Wallen KE, Filbee-Dexter K, Pittman JB, et al. (2019) Integrating team science into interdisciplinary graduate education: an exploration of the SESYNC Graduate Pursuit. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 9: 218–233

Christie H, Gundersen H, Rinde E, Filbee‐Dexter K, Norderhaug KM, Pedersen T, Bekkby T, Gitmark JK, Fagerli CW (2019) Can multitrophic interactions and ocean warming influence large‐scale kelp recovery? Ecology and Evolution 9: 2847-2862

Filbee-Dexter K, Wernberg T (2018) Rise of turfs: a new battle front of globally declining kelp forests. BioScience. 68: 64–76. [ESI Highly-Cited paper (top 1%)]

Filbee-Dexter K, Wernberg T, Norderhaug KM, Ramirez-Llodra E, Pedersen MF (2018). Movement of pulsed resource subsidies from kelp forests to deep fjords. Oecologia. 187: 291-304    

Filbee-Dexter K¥, Symons C¥, Jones K, Haig H, Pittman J, Alexander S, Burke M (2018) Quantifying ecological and social drivers of ecological surprise. Journal of Applied Ecology. 55: 2135-2146 [Selected for post in J Appl Ecology Blog]

Scheibling RE, Patriquin D, Filbee-Dexter K (2018) Distribution and abundance of the invasive seagrass Halophila stipulacea and associated benthic macrofauna in Carriacou, Grenadines, Eastern Caribbean. Aquatic Biology.   

Filbee-Dexter K, Pittman J, Haig HA, Alexander SM, Symons CC, Burke M (2017) Ecological surprise: concept, synthesis, and social dimensions. Ecosphere. 8: e02005.

Filbee-Dexter K, Scheibling RE (2017). The present is the key to the past: linking regime shifts in kelp beds to the current distribution of deep-living sea urchins. Ecology. 98: 253-264.

Filbee-Dexter K, Scheibling RE (2016). Spatial patterns and predictors of drift algal subsidy in deep subtidal environments. Estuaries and Coasts. 39: 1724-1734. 

Filbee-Dexter K, Feehan CJ, and Scheibling RE (2016). Large-scale degradation of a kelp ecosystem in an ocean warming hotspot. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 543: 141-152. 

Filbee-Dexter K, RE Scheibling (2014) Sea urchin barrens as alternative stable states of collapsed kelp ecosystems. Marine Ecology Progress Series 495: 1–25 [FEATURE ARTICLE, ESI Highly-Cited paper (top 1%)*

Filbee-Dexter K, Scheibling RE (2014) Detrital kelp subsidy supports high reproductive output of deep-living sea urchins in a sedimentary basin. Aquatic Biology. 23: 71-86.

Francis FT-Y, Filbee-Dexter K, Scheibling RE (2014) Aggregations of stalked tunicates Boltenia ovifera form biogenic habitat in the rocky subtidal zone in Nova Scotia. Marine Biology 161: 1375–1385

Filbee-Dexter K, Scheibling RE (2012). Hurricane-mediated defoliation of kelp beds and pulsed delivery of kelp detritus to offshore sedimentary habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 455: 51-64. 



Wernberg T, Krumhansl, K, Filbee-Dexter K, and Pedersen, M. (2019) Status and trends for the world’s kelp forests. In: World Seas: An Environmental Evaluation, Vol III, 2e. Ed. C. Sheppard. Elsevier.



Filbee-Dexter K 2016. Distribution and abundance of benthic habitats within the Sambro Ledges Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 3190: vi+ 26p.



Filbee-Dexter K, 2019. Underwater Arctic forests are expanding with rapid warming. The Conversation Canada. https://theconversation.com/underwater-arctic-forests-are-expanding-with-rapid-warming-113016

Wernberg T, Filbee-Dexter K. 2018. Opinion: Part of our ocean is dying. The Washington Post. 23/10/2018 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Biology, PhD, Role of deep-living sea urchins in alternative state dynamics of kelp ecosystems , Dalhousie University

Award Date: 31 Aug 2016

Biology, BSc, Bachelor of Science - Honours with Distinction, Dalhousie University

Award Date: 1 May 2010

External positions

Researcher, Institute of Marine Research

Industry keywords

  • Environmental
  • Government
  • Oceans

Research expertise keywords

  • Marine ecology
  • Kelp forests
  • Blue carbon
  • Climate change impacts on marine ecosystems
  • Arctic ecosystems
  • Regime shifts
  • Ecosystem services


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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