Professor Dustin Marshall


Professor Dustin Marshall is an Australian Research Fellow and head of the Marine Evolutionary Ecology Group in the School of Biological Sciences, Monash University.

Prior to working at Monash University, Dustin was at the University of Queensland, after a post-doctorate at the University of New South Wales and brief research stints at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.

Dustin is an editor of three journals — Ecology Letters, Functional Ecology and Evolution — and the deputy Editor-in-Chief of Oikos.

Dustin is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Victorian Government, Australia.

Dustin has published more than 80 scientific publications.

Research interests

I am interested in variation, be it genetic or phenotypic, and how that variation affects the evolution and ecology of marine organisms.

My original research focus was on marine life-histories, specifically how phenotypic links among life-history stages affect the population dynamics of marine populations.

Since then, my interests have spread to include using quantitative genetics approaches to understand the limits of adaptation in marine organisms and the evolution of life histories.

I’ve become interested in how evolutionary processes affect the dynamics of marine communities as well how marine communities function more generally.

I think there are some unifying themes in our apparently disparate research programs, but I think it will take a few years for these threads to be drawn together. One thing that does unify the program already however is the study system — we focus almost entirely in sessile marine invertebrates. Specifically, we work on ‘fouling’ organisms, a term that covers the critters that grow on man-made structures in temperate coastal regions. This system is not particularly glamorous but is extremely tractable for asking ecological and evolutionary questions.

If you are interested in joining the lab, please email me.

Monash University researcher profile – Prof Dustin Marshall

Google Scholar profile — Dustin Marshall

Dr Keyne Monro (post-doctoral research fellow)

KeyneThumbnail600x600pxMy research interests are general questions about microevolutionary processes such as selection and adaptation, and the evolutionary ecology of benthic marine organisms.

Monash University researcher profile – Dr Keyne Monro

Dr Robin Svensson (post-doctoral research fellow)

RobinThumbnail600x600pxMy main research interests are invasion biology, ecological disturbance and chemical ecology.

Much of my work has focused on tests of well-known hypotheses in these areas, such as the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis, the Dynamic Equilibrium Model and the Novel Weapons Hypothesis.

I primarily conduct manipulative field experiments in marine sessile systems, but I have also worked with bacterial communities and mathematical modelling.

 Google Scholar profile — J Robin Svennson

Rolanda Lange (post-doctoral research fellow)

Environmental predictability, local adaptation, and phenotypic plasticity regulate connectivity in marine environments, which are often dominated by sessile organisms which propagate by planktonic larvae.

Both local adaptation and trans-generational plasticity can reduce an organisms ability to conquer novel habitats it is maladapted to.

I aim to understand the interplay of mechanisms that enable or hinder organisms to conquer new environments.

Marcelo Lagos (PhD student)

MarceloThumbnail600x600pxMy principal interests are: The eco-physiology of intertidal animals, which are the specifics traits that allow them to live in this hostile habitat; and the dynamics of non-indigenous invasive species from a community and evolutionary perspective. Here my question is how their eco-physiological characteristics can determine their invasive abilities?

Theodore Chang (PhD student)

TedThumbnail600x600My broad interest is in community ecology and marine invertebrate zoology.

My project combines these interests and focuses on studying the variation of marine hard-bottom invertebrate assemblages. In particular, I try to answer the question: are these assemblages historically contingent or environmentally deterministic?

Amanda Petterson (PhD student)

AmandaThumbnail600x600pxMy general research interests lie within the field of marine invertebrate larval ecophysiology and evolution.

Currently, I am investigating maternal energy investment in offspring and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of reproductive strategies. My primary questions are: how costly are maternal reproductive strategies; and what are the consequences of these reproductive strategies for maternal fitness?

Through the use of a model organism — the marine bryozoan, Bugula neritina — I hope to contribute to a better understanding of life history evolution.

Karin Svanfeldt (PhD student)

KarinThumbnail600x600pxMy general interest is the evolution and ecology of colonial marine invertebrates and my current project focuses on regeneration and the aspects of senescence in the encrusting bryozoan Watersipora subtorquata.

Previously I’ve worked on DNA-damage caused by UV radiation and the ability to repair these damages in extracted cells of the scleractinian coral Seriatopora hystrix, where evidence for a DNA-repair capacity that is possibly exceeding that of any other known species was found. I’ve also been working with sustainable coral reef restoration methodologies and molecular species identification.

I find aging, internal clocks, postponed senescence and the possibility for immortality fascinating, especially in combination with the ecology of colonial organisms and the interaction between modules of the same colony.

Annie Guillaume (Honours student)

Evatt Chirgwin (Honours student)

Amy Hooper (Research Assistant)

AmyThumbnail600x600pxI recently completed my honours in biology, where I investigated male mate choice in Southern bottletail squid, Sepiadarium austrinum.

Broadly, I am interested in sexual selection and the evolution of mating strategies.

My current work in the MEEG lab investigates the coevolution of reproductive traits in marine broadcast spawners.

Matthew Thompson (Research Assistant)

MattThumbnail600x600pxIn Honours, I investigated both the mechanism underlying phenotypic plasticity in a marine bryozoan, and whether the phenotypic response to conspecific density is adaptive.

In my time in the MEEG lab I have worked with Dr Keyne Monro to quantify plasticity of Diplosoma listerianum and worked on still water larval culture of Galeolaria caespitosa and Pomatoceros taeniata.

Hayley Cameron (Research Assistant)


I am broadly interested in the evolution of life-history strategies in marine animals and plants, and marine community ecology.

My current work within the MEEG lab includes field and laboratory experiments investigating: the role of oxygen competition in structuring benthic marine communities; how competitive interactions between two bryozoan species may be mediated by size-related traits; and whether larval settlement time and density of a resident bryozoan species can affect assembly of the broader community.