Dr Ezequiel "Ziggy" Marzinelli
Field of Research: 
Marine ecology, restoration, host-microbiome interactions, kelp forests
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 8723
Level 4 East
Biological Sciences South (E26)

UNSW, Kensington 2052

Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), NTU.

See also: UNSW Research Gateway profileGoogle Scholar profile; and Operation Crayweed - Restoring Sydeny's underwater forests

Research & Current Projects

My research is focused broadly on marine ecology and conservation. I integrate theoretical and applied ecology with cutting-edge environmental genomics to understand the mechanisms that cause species’ declines and to restore degraded habitats.


Restoration of underwater forests

Large brown seaweeds (macroalgae) form extensive underwater forests that underpin biodiversity and key ecosystem functions and services on temperate rocky reefs worldwide. These productive forests are, however, declining globally due to multiple human impacts. ‘Crayweed’ (Phyllospora comosa) is an important habitat-forming alga that disappeared from the Sydney coastline in the early 1980’s, possibly due to poor water quality. Despite significant improvements in water quality since the 1990’s, crayweed has not re-established. This project – a.k.a. ‘Operation Crayweed’ – aims to determine the ecological processes and interactions that influence colonisation and survival of crayweed in order to restore crayweed forests and the biodiversity and functions they support.  

Host-microbiome interactions

Microorganisms are ubiquitous in the ocean and play a fundamental role in the life of dominant marine hosts. This project investigates the mechanisms by which microbial communities influence the functioning of seaweed hosts and protect them from environmental stress.

IMOS AUV benthic observing program

This project uses Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), which are part of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), to quantify benthic biodiversity at a continental scale. The aim is to determine the long-term and large-scale effects of Marine Protected Areas and climatic change on benthic biodiversity.


Dr Gregorio Bigatti (CONICET), Dr Alexandra Campbell, Dr Melinda Coleman (NSW DPI), Dr Renata Ferrari (USYD), Dr Brendan Kelaher (SCU), Prof. Peter Steinberg, Prof. Sanjay Swarup (SCELSE, NUS), Prof. Torsten Thomas, Dr Adriana Vergés, Prof. Thomas Wernberg (UWA), Prof. Stefan Williams (USYD) 


Southern Courier – Art exhibit makes big splash

Daily Telegraph – University of NSW project restores lost underwater forests

BBC News - 'Underwater Christmas trees' help restore key habitat

ABC News - Scientists work to restore seaweed forests off Sydney's coast

Sydney Morning Herald - Crowdfunding campaign to restore Sydney's lost crayweed forests


Dr Tamsin Peters - Research Assistants (SIMS)

Research Students


Georgina Wood (PhD candidate) – Does crayweed genetic diversity enhance restoration success? (Jointly supervised with Dr Adriana Vergés, co-supervised by Dr Melinda Coleman)

Lana Kajlich (PhD candidate) – Giving underwater forests a helping hand: can science communication and the arts drive communities to engage restoration? (Co-supervised with Dr Adriana Vergés, Prof. Peter Steinberg and Dr Alexandra Campbell)

Zhiguang “Galaxy” Qiu (PhD candidate) – Genomic and transcriptomic characterisation of the kelp Ecklonia radiata and its associated microbial community in response to different infection scenarios and environmental conditions. (Jointly supervised with Prof. Peter Steinberg and Dr Alexandra Campbell)


Dr Ana Bugnot (USyd) - The ecological interactions between native fauna and the invasive isopod Cirolana harfordi (Co-supervised with A/Prof. Ross Coleman and Dr Will Figueira)


Adam Camilleri (Honours candidate) – The impacts of sea urchins and structural complexity on the restoration of crayweed. (jointly supervised with Dr Adriana Vergés, co-supervised by Dr Renata Ferrari)

Nigel Coombes (BSc Honours, 2016) – Impacts of herbivores on crayweed restoration success (jointly supervised with Dr Adriana Vergés)

Mat Skye (BSc Honours, 2014) – What is the role of herbivory in mediating the latitudinal and depth distribution of Ecklonia radiata? (Co-supervised with Dr Adriana Vergés, Dr Alex Campbell and Dr Hamish Malcom)

Marty Leong (BSc Honours, 2013). Marine invertebrate communities and the restoration of missing underwater forests in Sydney. (Co-supervised with Dr Adriana Vergés and Dr Alexandra Campbell)


MSCI0501 The Marine Environment (Course co-Convenor and Lecturer)

MSCI6681 Topics in Australian Marine Science (Lecturer)

BIOS3091 Marine and Aquatic Ecology (Lecturer)

MSCI2001 Introductory Marine Science (Lecturer)

I also run and teach experimental design and data analysis courses at UNSW, SIMS and SCELSE, Singapore.



In Review [* = joint first author]

1. * Ferrari R, Marzinelli EM, Rezende Ayorza C, Jordan A, Figueira W, Byrne M, Malcom HA, Williams SB & Steinberg PD. Short-term effects of marine protected areas on benthic communities across spatial scales. Diversity and Distributions

2. Turney C, Fogwill C, Palmer J, van Sebille E, Thomas Z, McGlone M, Richardson S, Wilmshurst J, Fenwick P, Kunz V, Goose H, Wilson KJ, Carter L, Lipson M, Jones R, Harsch M, Clark G, Marzinelli EM, Rogers T, Rainsley E, Ciasto L, Waterman S & Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 Members (In review) 140-year tree-ring record of climate variability across the subantarctic Pacific Ocean. Nature Climate Change

3. Saxena G, Mitra S, Marzinelli EM, Xie C., Wei TJ, Steinberg PD, Williams RBH, Kjelleberg S, Lauro F & Swarup S (In review) Metagenomics insights of benthic microbial communities in an urban waterway and influenced by land-use and rain perturbations. Microbiome

4. Brzozowska AM, Quintana R, Maassen S, Goh Zhi Rong R, Chen Lee SS, Benke P,  Chin-Sing L, Marzinelli EM, Jańczewski D, Lay-Ming Teo S & Vancso GJ. Micro-topography against marine fouling: comparative study on patterns replicated in various polymeric materials. ACS Applied Surfaces and Interfaces

5.Guest JR, Vergés A, Bauman AG, Campbell AH, Chou LM, Feary DA, Low J, Marzinelli EM, Tun K & Steinberg PD (In review) Examining the relationship between fish herbivore biomass, coral and macroalgal cover on Singapore’s heavily disturbed reefs. PeerJ

Recent Publications [* = joint first author; underlined author = postgraduate student]


1. Vergés A, Doropoulos C, Malcolm HA, Skye M, Garcia-Pizá M, Marzinelli EM, Campbell AH, Ballesteros E, Hoey AS, Vila-Concejo A, Bozec YM & Steinberg PD (2016) Long-term empirical evidence of ocean warming leading to tropicalization of fish communities, increased herbivory and loss of kelp. PNAS In press (accepted 20/10/16)

2. Fogwill CG, van Sebille E, Cougnon EA, Turney CSM, Rintoul SR, Clark GF, Marzinelli EM, Rainsley EB & Carter L. (2016) Impacts of a developing polynya off Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, triggered by grounding of iceberg B09B. The Cryosphere In press (accepted 15/10/16)

3. Guest JR, Tun K, Low J, Vergés A, Marzinelli EM, Campbell AH, Bauman AG, Feary DA, Chou LM & Steinberg PD (2016) 27 years of benthic and coral community dynamics on turbid, highly urbanised reefs off Singapore Scientific Reports In press (accepted 13/10/16

4. Bugnot AB, Coleman RA, Figueira WF & Marzinelli EM (2016) Effects of the receiving assemblage and disturbance on the colonisation of an invasive species. Marine Biology In press (accepted 31/05/2016)

5. Marzinelli EM, Leong MR, Campbell AH, Steinberg PD & Vergés A (2016) Does restoration of a habitat-forming seaweed restore associated faunal diversity? Restoration Ecology 24: 81-90

6. Basford AJ, Feary DA, Truong G, Steinberg PD, Marzinelli EM & Vergés A (2016) Feeding habits of range-shifting herbivores: tropical surgeonfishes in a temperate environment. Marine and Freshwater Research 67: 75-83


7. Marzinelli EM, Campbell AH, Zozaya Valdes E, Vergés A, Nielsen S, Wernberg T, de Bettignes T, Bennett S, Caporaso JG, Thomas T & Steinberg PD (2015) Continental-scale variation in seaweed host-associated bacterial communities is a function of host condition, not geography. Environmental Microbiology 17:4078-4088

8. Marzinelli EM, Williams SB, Babcock RC, Barrett NS, Johnson CR, Jordan A, Kendrick GA, Pizarro OR, Smale DA & Steinberg PD (2015) Large-scale geographic variation in distribution and abundance of Australian deep-water kelp forests. PLOS ONE 10:e0118390

9. * Campbell AH, Marzinelli EM, Gelber J & Steinberg PD (2015) Spatial variability of microbial assemblages associated with a dominant habitat-forming seaweed. Frontiers in Microbiology 6:230

10. Bugnot AB, Coleman RA, Figueira WF & Marzinelli EM (2015) Community-level impacts of the invasive isopod Cirolana harfordi. Biological Invasions 17:1149-1161

11. Mayer-Pinto M, Underwood AJ & Marzinelli EM (2015) The matrix influences direct and indirect effects of an anthropogenic disturbance on marine organisms. Environmental Research 136:15-20

12. Saxena G, Marzinelli EM, Naing NN, He Z, Liang Y, Tom L, Mitra S, Ping H, Joshi UM, Reuben S, Mynampati KC, Mishra S, Umashankar S, Zhou J, Andersen GL, Kjelleberg S & Swarup S (2015) Ecogenomics reveals metals and land-use pressures on microbial communities in the waterways of a megacity. Environmental Science & Technology 49:1462-1471

13. Clark GF, Marzinelli EM, Fogwill C, Turney C & Johnston EL (2015) Effects of sea-ice cover on marine benthic communities: a natural experiment in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica. Polar Biology 38:1213-1222

14. Mayer-Pinto M, Johnston EL, Hutchings PA, Marzinelli EM, Ahyong S, Birch GF, Booth DJ, Creese RG, Doblin MA, Figueira WF, Gribben PE, Pritchard TR, Roughan M, Steinberg PD & Hedge LH (2015) Sydney Harbour: A review of anthropogenic impacts on the biodiversity and ecosystem function of the world’s largest urbanised esturay. Marine and Freshwater Research 66: 1088-1105

15. Johnston EL, Mayer-Pinto M, Hutchings P, Marzinelli EM, Ahyong S, Birch GF, Booth DJ, Creese RG, Doblin MA, Figueira WF, Gribben PE, Pritchard TR, Roughan M, Steinberg PD & Hedge LH (2015) Sydney Harbour: What we do and don’t know about a mega-diverse estuary. Marine and Freshwater Research 66: 1073-1087

16. Bewley M, Friedman A, Ferrari R, Marzinelli EM, Hill N, Hovey R, Barrett N, Pizarro O, Figueira W, Meyer L, Babcock R, Bellchambers L, Byrne M & Williams S (2015) Australian seafloor survey data, with images and expert annotations. Scientific data 2:150057

17. Wahl M, Molis M, Hobday AJ, Dudgeon S, Neumann R, Steinberg PD, Campbell AH, Marzinelli EM & Connell SD (2015) The responses of brown macroalgae to environmental change from local to global scales: direct versus ecologically mediated effects. Perspectives in Phycology 2:11-30

18. Clark GF, Kelaher BP, Dafforn KA, Coleman MA, Knott NA, Marzinelli EM & Johnston EL (2015) What does impacted look like? High diversity and abundance of epibiota in modified estuaries. Environmental Pollution 196:12-20

19. Bravo G, Márquez F, Marzinelli EM, Mendez MM & Bigatti G (2015) Effect of recreational diving on Patagonian rocky reefs. Marine Environmental Research 104:31-36


20. Marzinelli EM, Campbell AH, Vergés A, Coleman MA, Kelaher BP & Steinberg PD (2014) Restoring seaweeds: does the declining fucoid Phyllospora comosa support different biodiversity than other habitats? Journal of Applied Phycology 26:1089-1096

21. * Campbell AH, Marzinelli EM, Vergés A, Coleman MA & Steinberg PD (2014) Towards restoration of missing underwater forests. PLOS ONE 9:e84106

22. Bugnot AB, Coleman RA, Figueira WF & Marzinelli EM (2014) Patterns of the non-indigenous isopod Cirolana harfordi in Sydney Harbour. PLOS ONE 9:e86765

23. Vergés A, Steinberg PD, Hay ME, Poore AG, Campbell AH, Ballesteros E, Heck KL, Booth D, Coleman MA, Feary D, Figueira W, Langlois T, Marzinelli EM, Mizerek T, Mumby P, Nakamura Y, Roughan M, van Sebille E, Sen Gupta A, Smale D, Tomas F, Wernberg T & Wilson SK (2014) The tropicalisation of temperate marine ecosystems: climate-mediated changes in herbivory and community phase shifts. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 281:20140846


24. Marzinelli EM, Burrows MT, Jackson AC & Mayer-Pinto M (2012) Positive and negative effects of habitat-forming algae on survival, growth and intra-specific competition of limpets. PLOS ONE 7:e51601

25. Marzinelli EM (2012) Artificial structures influence fouling on habitat-forming kelps. Biofouling 28:339-349

26. Marzinelli EM, Underwood AJ & Coleman RA (2012) Modified habitats change ecological processes affecting a non-indigenous epibiont. Marine Ecology Progress Series 446:119-129


27. Marzinelli EM, Underwood AJ & Coleman RA (2011) Modified habitats influence kelp epibiota via direct and indirect effects. PLOS ONE 6:e21936

28. Johnston EL, Marzinelli EM, Wood CA, Speranza D & Bishop JDD (2011) Bearing the burden of boat harbours: heavy contaminant and fouling loads in a native habitat-forming alga. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62:2137-2144

until 2010

29. Marzinelli EM, Zagal CJ, Chapman MG & Underwood AJ (2009) Do modified habitats have direct or indirect effects on epifauna? Ecology 90:2948-2955

30. Marzinelli EM, Bigatti G & Penchaszadeh PE (2008) Egg strain in the sea urchin Pseudechinus magellanicus (Echinoidea: Temnopleuridae). Revista de Biología Tropical /International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation 56:335-339

31. Bigatti G, Marzinelli EM & Penchaszadeh PE (2008) Seasonal reproduction and sexual maturity in Odontocymbiola magellanica (Neogastropoda: Volutidae). Invertebrate Biology 127:314-326

32. Marzinelli EM, Bigatti G, Giménez J & Penchaszadeh PE (2006) Reproduction of the sea urchin Pseudechinus magellanicus (Echinoidea: Temnopleuridae) from Golfo Nuevo, Argentina. Bulletin of Marine Science 79:127-136

33. Bigatti G, Marzinelli EM, Cledón M & Penchaszadeh PE (2004) Gonadic cycle of Pseudechinus magellanicus (Philippi, 1857) (Echinoidea: Temnopleuridae) from Patagonia, Argentina. In: Heinzeller T & Nebelsick J (eds) Echinoderms: München. Taylor & Francis Group, London, UK, p. 11-14


  1. Hedge LH, Johnston EL, Ahyong ST, Birch GF, Booth DJ, Creese RG, Doblin MA, Figueira WF, Gribben PE, Hutchings PA, Mayer-Pinto M, Marzinelli EM, Pritchard TR, Roughan M & Steinberg PD (2014) Sydney Harbour: A systematic review of the science. The Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Sydney, Australia. pp. 76
  2. Marzinelli EM, Campbell AH, Vergés A, Coleman MA & Steinberg PD (2016) Restoring Sydney’s underwater forests: Crayweed transplant success. Project summary, Ecological Management & Restoration. URL: https://site.emrprojectsummaries.org/2016/03/07/restoring-sydneys-underw... Access date: 7 March 2016
  3. Edwards L, Hill N, Althaus F, Rees T, Jordan A, Colquhoun J, Schönberg C, Case M, Scott F, Edgar G, Ferrari R, Fromont J, Przeslawski R, Hayes K, Marzinelli EM, Friedman A, Toohey L, Hibberd T, Hovey R, Kendrick G. CATAMI classification scheme for scoring marine biota and substrata in underwater imagery. V1.3 (2013). NECTAR, ANDS, Super Science and the Education Investment Funds. pp. 23