Associate Professor Paul Gribben
ARC Future Fellow and Deputy Director
Field of Research: 
Invasion Ecology, Trophic Interactions, Ecosystem Engineering, Indirect Effects
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 2677

Room 635
Biological Sciences Building (D26)
UNSW, Kensington 2052


Research & Current Projects


I am generally interested in understanding the processes that determine the structure of marine communities, and how individuals and communities respond to environmental stressors. My research is conducted in a range of ecosystems - from intertidal sandy shores to subtidal rocky reefs.

My general research themes include 1) ecology and evolution of the spread and impacts of marine invaders 2) disturbance ecology and the response of marine ecosystems to stress 3) the role of trophic interactions and ecosystem engineering in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem function. I also have an extensive background in aquaculture and fisheries conservation science.


Disturbance ecology and interactions between marine macrophytes

Although we tend to think of disturbance as having only negative effects, in fact, there are typically winners and losers when a stress – such as pollution or an invader – is applied to an ecosystem. The loss of kelp beds on the New South Wales coastline appears coincident with the apparent spread of a highly chemically defended native green alga. This research program, funded by the Environmental Trust, is investigating the role of disturbance in facilitating the spread of this alga and the effects it is having on coastal biodiversity.

Microbial mediation of interactions among marine organisms

The more we learn about marine ecosystems the more we understand that the outcomes of interactions between species are mediated by microbes and are not the result of direct interactions between them. Research funded by the ARC is testing whether sediment microbes play an important role in the success of invasive marine macrophytes, and how sediment microbes and infauna interact to control ecosystem function. 

Ecological and evolutionary impacts of invasive species 

One of my major research themes is determining the spread and impacts of invasive marine species. I work on a number of marine invaders nationally and internationally including crabs, gastropods and macrophytes. The research focusses on understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that lead to their successful establishment and spread, and direct and indirect effects invasive species have on native biota.

Community control by habitat-forming species

In marine coastal ecosystems, some 90% of all biota are found in habitat-forming species such as seaweeds, mussel beds and cunjevoi. Thus they are important tools for conservation. Much of this research program revolves around understanding how these ‘ecosystem-engineers’ control invertebrate biodiversity from local to intercontinental scales.


Research Students


Sofie Voerman (PhD candidate, UTS) – Disturbance ecology and the spread of a native seaweed

Daniel Bradley (PhD candidate UTS) – Respond of herbivores to the spread of a native marine alga

Hannah Lloyd (MSc candidate UTS) – Inter-continental patterns in marine invertebrate biodiversity


Michael Simpson (Honours, UTS). Impacts of the New Zealand porcelain crab Petrolisthes elongatus in Tasmania.

Brendan Lahnam (Honours, co-supervised with Assoc. Prof. Alistair Poore UNSW). Associational defences: Influence of Caulerpa filiformis on herbivore foraging.

Jason Hendrickx (Honours UTS). Competition between native and invasive gastropods on rocky intertidal shores in New South Wales.

Dilys Zhang (Honours UTS). Effects of pollution on marine macrophyte interactions.

Sam I’Ons (Honours UTS). Biogeographic comparison of a marine invader in Australia.

Matt West (Honours UTS).  The role of disturbance in the spread of marine invaders.

Hannah Lloyd (Honours UTS). Biogeography of marine invertebrates.

Chris Mabin (Honours co-supervised with Dr. Jeff Wright, UTAS). Effects of climate-driven EAC strengthening on kelp morphology and reproduction.

Lyndle Hardstaff (Honours co-supervised with Dr. Brad Murray UTS). Relationships between leaf flammability and leaf traits in native and exotic species of dry sclerophyll forest.

Pamela Morales (Honours UTS).  Are earthworms good indicators of rehabilitation in disturbed environments?

Michael Clements (UNSW). The effects of mat-forming invasive species on the community structure of foulers in soft-sediment habitat.

Loni Koukoumaftis (Honours, co-supervised with Dr. Jeff Wright UoW). Invasive seaweed increases the susceptibility of an infaunal bivalve to predation.



Gribben PE and KG Heasman. In Press. Developing fisheries and aquaculture industries for Panopea zelandica in New Zealand. Journal of Shellfish Research(INVITED REVIEW).

HughesAR, PE Gribben, D Kimbroand MJ Bishop. 2014. Independent yet context dependent effects of multiple foundation species on invertebrate community structure. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 508: 129-138.

Zhang D, TM Glasby, PJ Ralph and PE Gribben. 2014. Mechanisms influencing the apparent spread of a native marine alga. PLoS ONE 9(4): e94647. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094647

Gribben PE, RB Millar and AG Jeffs. 2014. Fertilization success of the New Zealand geoduck, Panopea zelandica: Effects of sperm concentration, gamete age, and contact time. Aquaculture Research. 45: 1380–1388

Gribben PE and JT Wright. 2014. Habitat-former effects on prey behaviour increase predation and non-predation mortality. Journal of Animal Ecology. 38(2): 388-396.

Bishop MJ, J Fraser and PE Gribben. 2013. Morphological traits and density of foundation species modulate a facilitation cascade in Australian mangroves. Ecology. 94(9): 1927–1936

Morales PK, IAM Yunusa, G Lugg, Z Li, PE Gribben and D Eamus. 2013. Restoration of earthworm communities in grassland and in succession of woody vegetation covers in a suburban rehabilitated waste-storage landscape. Landscape and Urban Planning. 120. 16– 24.

Gribben PE, S I’Ons, NE Phillips, S Geange, JT Wright and BR Murray. 2013. Biogeographic comparisons of the traits and abundance of an invasive crab throughout its native and invasive ranges. Biological Invasions. 5: 1877–1885

Mabin C, PE Gribben, A Fischer and JT Wright. 2013. Variation in the morphology, reproduction and development of the habitat-forming kelp Ecklonia radiata with changing temperature and nutrients. Marine Ecology Progress Series483: 117-131.

Biro P, J O’Connor, L Pedini, and PE Gribben. 2013. Personality and plasticity: consistent responses within-, but not across-temperature situations in crabs Behaviour.150: 799–811.

Gribben PE, JE Byers, JT Wright and TM Glasby. 2013. Positive versus negative effects of an invasive ecosystem engineer on different community components. Oikos. 122: 816-824 [EDITOR’S CHOICE ARTICLE].

Lloyd H, B Murray and PE Gribben. 2012.Trait and abundance patterns of two marine molluscs: the influence of abiotic conditions operating across multiple spatial scales Marine Ecology Progress Series.463: 205-214.

Byers JE, PE Gribben, C Yeager and EE Sotka. 2012. Impacts of an abundant introduced ecosystem engineer within mudflats of the southeastern US coast. Biological Invasions. 14: 2587–2600.

Bishop M, JE Byers, B Marcek and PE Gribben. 2012. Density-dependent facilitation cascades determine epifaunal community structure in temperate Australian mangroves. Ecology. 93(6): 1388-1401. [FEATURED ARTICLE]

Wright JT, PE Gribben, JE Byers and K Monro. 2012. Invasive ecosystem engineer modifies patterns of selection on native fauna. Ecology93(6): 1262-1268.

Gallucci F, P Hutchings, PE Gribben and G Fonseca. 2012. Habitat alteration and community-level effects of an invasive ecosystem engineer: a case study along the coast of NSW, Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series.449: 95–108.

Wright, JT, JE Byers and PE Gribben. 2012. Differences in anti-predator traits of a native bivalve following invasion by a habitat-forming seaweed. Marine and Freshwater Research63(3): 246-250.

Simberloff D and 140 others (including PE Gribben). 2011. Non-native: 141 authors disagree. Nature.475: 36.

Gribben PE, AG Jeffs, R de Nys and PD Steinberg. 2011. Relative importance of natural cues and substrate morphology for settlement of the New Zealand Green-shelledTM mussel Perna canaliculus. Aquaculture. 319: 240-246.

Byers JE, JT Wrightand PE Gribben. 2010. Variable direct and indirect effects of a habitat-modifying invasive species on mortality of native fauna. Ecology91: 1787-1798.

Wright JT, JE Byers, LP Koukoumaftsis, PJ Ralph and PE Gribben. 2010. Native species behaviour mitigates the impact of habitat-forming invasive seaweed. Oecologia. 163: 527–534.

Gribben PE, JT Wright, WA O’Connor,and PD Steinberg. 2009. Larval settlement preference of a native bivalve: the influence of an invasive alga vs. native substrata. Aquatic Biology.7: 217-227.

Gribben PE, JE Byers, M Clements, LA McKenzie, PD Steinberg and JT Wright. 2009. Behavioural interactions between ecosystem engineers control community species richness. Ecology Letters.12: 1127-1136.

McKinnon JG, PE Gribben, AR Davis, DF Jolley and JT Wright. 2009. Differences in soft-sediment macrobenthic assemblages invaded by Caulerpa taxifolia compared to uninvaded habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series.380: 59-71.

Gribben PE, JT Wright, WA. O’Connor, MA Doblin, B Eyre and PD Steinberg. 2009. Reduced performance of native infauna following recruitment to a habitat-forming invasive marine alga. Oecologia.158: 733-745.

Wright JT and PE Gribben. 2008. Predicting the impact of an invasive seaweed on fitness of native fauna. Journal of Applied Ecology.45: 1540-1549.

Wright JT, LA McKenzie, PE Gribben 2007. A decline in the abundance and condition of a native bivalve associated with Caulerpa taxifolia invasion. Marine and Freshwater Research. 58: 263-272.

Nylund GM, PE Gribben, R de Nys, PD Steinberg and H Pavia. 2007. Surface chemistry versus whole cell extracts - antifouling tests with seaweed metabolites. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 329: 73-84.

Aragón-Noriega EA, J Chávez-Villalba, PE Gribben, E Alcántara-Razo,AN Maeda-Martínez, EM Arambula-Pujol, AR Garcia-Juárez and R Maldonado-Amparo.2007. Morphometric relationships, gametogenic development and spawning of the geoduck clam Panopea globosa (Bivalvia: Hiatellidae) in the Central Gulf of California. Journal of Shellfish Research. 26: 423-431.

Gribben PE and JT Wright. 2006. Sublethal effects on reproduction in native fauna: are females more vulnerable to biological invasion? Oecologia149: 352-361.

Gribben PE and JT Wright. 2006. Invasive seaweed enhances recruitment of a native bivalve: roles of refuge from predation and habitat choice. Marine Ecology Progress Series 318: 177-185.

Gribben PE, DJ Marshall and PD Steinberg 2006. Less inhibited with age: Larval age effects modifies response to natural settlement inhibitors. Biofouling 22(2): 101-106.

Gribben PE, T Charlton, L Yee, R de Nys and PD Steinberg. 2006. Development of novel technologies to combat fouling in aquaculture. Journal of Shellfish Research:732. 

Gribben PE 2005. Gametogenic development and spawning of the razor clam, Zenatia acinaces in northeastern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 39: 1287-1396.

Gribben PE and RG Creese. 2005. Age, growth and mortality of the New Zealand geoduck, Panopea zelandica (Bivalvia: Hiatellidae) in two North Island populations. Bulletin of Marine Science 77: 119-135.

Gribben PE, J Helson and AG Jeffs.  2004. Reproductive cycle of the New Zealand geoduck, Panopea zelandica, in two North Island populations. Veliger. 47: 59-71.

Gribben PE, J Helson and R Millar. 2004. Population abundance estimates of the New Zealand geoduck clam, Panopea zelandica, using North American methodology: Is the technology transferable? Journal of Shellfish Research 23: 683-691.

Gribben PEand B Hay. 2003.  Larval development and biology of the New Zealand geoduck, Panopea zelandica. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 37: 231-239.

Gribben PE and RG Creese. 2003. Protandry in the New Zealand Geoduck, Panopea zelandica. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development

Gribben PE 2002. Potential for developing aquaculture industries for the New Zealand geoduck, Panopea zelandica. In Aquaculture Europe 2002: Seafarming - Today and Tomorrow, EAS Special Publication No. 32.

Gribben PE, RG Creeseand SH Hooker. 2002. Growth rates of the venus clam Ruditapes largillierti grown under experimental culture conditions in New Zealand. Aquaculture 213: 187-197.

Gribben PE, RG Creese and SH Hooker. 2001. The reproductive cycle of the New Zealand venus clam Ruditapes largillierti. Journal of Shellfish Research 20: 1101-1108.


Hedge L, E Johnston, G Birch, D Booth, RG Creese, MA Doblin, W Figueira, PE Gribben, P Hutchings, M Mayer Pinto, E Marzinelli, T Pritchard, PD Steinberg, 2013. Living Harbour. Dynamic Science: A Systematic Review of the Science of Sydney Harbour, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Sydney, Australia. ISBN: 978-0-646-91493-0