Dr Ezequiel Marzinelli

Dr Ezequiel Marzinelli

Adjunct Lecturer
Field of Research
Marine ecology, restoration ecology, host-microbiome interactions / microbial ecology, urban ecology




My research is focused broadly on marine community ecology. My primary research goal is to understand how ecological processes and environmental changes influence interactions between microbes and their hosts, particularly habitat-forming species, and how disruptions to these interactions affect associated biodiversity. I combine large-scale surveys with experiments to gain mechanistic understanding of the causes and consequences of species’ declines, and to provide sensible, practical solutions.


  • PhD in Marine Science/Ecology, University of Sydney, 2010
  • Licenciatura in Biological Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, 2005




Research Goals

  • To understand the effects of natural and human disturbances on ecological processes and interactions
  • To understand interactions between micro-organisms and habitat-forming species
  • To understand the relationship between microbial community structure and function
  • To provide ecological information for conservation and restoration of degraded habitats

Research in Detail

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.

Current core projects:

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.


Current collaborators:

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)


In the Media:

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


Research Grants

  • ARC Linkage, 2016. Steinberg P, Marzinelli E, Vergés A, Campbell A, Coleman M. Restoration of the Sydney's missing underwater forests.
  • Environmental Trust 2016, NSW OEH. Marzinelli E, Coleman M, Vergés A, Campbell A, Steinberg P. Large-scale restoration of underwater forests in Sydney.
  • Recreational Fishing Trust 2016, NSW DPI. Steinberg P, Marzinelli E, Campbell A, Vergés A, Coleman M. Restoring underwater forests along the Sydney coastline.
  • Environmental Trust 2014, NSW OEH. Steinberg P, Marzinelli E, Coleman M, Vergés A. Towards restoration of missing underwater forests.
  • UNSW E&ERC Grant 2014. Campbell A, Marzinelli E, Vergés A. Multiple natural enemies and the decline of kelps in warming oceans.
  • UNSW Science Faculty Research Grant 2014. Vergés A, Marzinelli E, Campbell A. Dissappearing kelps: direct vs indirect effects of climate change on the range contraction of underwater forests.
  • Recreational Fishing Trust 2013, NSW DPI. Steinberg P, Marzinelli E, Campbell A, Vergés A. Restoration of missing underwater forests in Sydney.
  • UNSW Science Faculty Research Grant 2013. Hill R, Marzinelli E, Campbell A, Lachnit T. Emerging viral infections in a widespread ecosystem engineer.
  • UNSW Early Career Researcher Grant 2012. Vergés A, Campbell A, Marzinelli E. Shifting marine species interactions in a temperate-tropical transition zone.
  • SIMS Sydney Harbour Research Program Seed Funding Grants 2012. Bishop M, Falkner I, Poore A, Holmes S, Bugnot A, Clark G, Dafforn K, Fowler A, Marzinelli E. Designing seawalls to maintain land-sea connectivity.
  • UNSW E&ERC New Collaborations Fund 2012. Marzinelli E, Clark G, Dafforn K, Hedge L, Mayer-Pinto M, Johnston E. Engineering artificial habitats to enhance ecosystem services and mitigate impacts.
  • Recreational Fishing Trust 2011, NSW DPI. Steinberg P, Marzinelli E, Campbell A, Wayne A, Kwee E. Restoration of missing underwater forests in Sydney.
  • UNSW Early Career Researcher Grant 2011. Vergés A, Campbell A, Marzinelli E. Influence of herbivory on the success of kelp restoration.
  • UNSW Early Career Researcher Grant 2010. Vergés A, Steinberg P, Campbell A, Marzinelli E. Marine trophic dynamics in a human-dominated world: Effects of ocean acidification and increased temperature on kelp-herbivore interaction strength.
  • UNSW E&ERC Research Grant 2010. Dafforn K, Campbell A, Clark G, Marzinelli E. Habitat-forming kelps and human impacts in estuaries.
  • Rhum Travelling Fellowship 2009. Marzinelli E. Modelling ecological processes.
  • The Explorers Club Exploration Fund 2007. Marzinelli E. The ecology of bryozoans on marine algae: natural vs artificial habitats.
  • The Explorers Club Youth Activity Fund 2004. Marzinelli E. Ecology and reproduction of the red sea urchin from Argentina.


Current Student Projects (PhD and Honours)


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)

Rebecca Neumann (PhD candidate) – Environmental stress, chemical defences and disease in the habitat-forming kelp Ecklonia radiata (Co-supervised with Prof. Peter Steinberg and Dr Tilmann Harder)



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)


Supervision Opportunities/Areas

I am very keen on talking to potential Honours and/or PhD students interested in marine ecology. Projects can be within the broad topics listed above or can be new, exciting ideas of your own.


Advice for prospective students

The Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation (CMB) is a very collaborative, multidisciplinary group, with research interests that extend across the areas of macro-ecology, microbial ecology and evolution, and chemistry. We strongly encourage potential students to talk to past and present students and staff to get an idea on how the lab is like.




Courses I teach

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

MSCI6681 Topics in Australian Marine Science (Lecturer)

BIOS3091 Marine and Aquatic Ecology (Guest Lecturer)

MSCI2001 Introductory Marine Science (Guest Lecturer)

I also regularly teach courses on Experimental Design and Statistics in the CMB, at the SIMS summer course and at SCELSE (NUS & NTU, Singapore).


Professional affiliations and service positions

International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME)

Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA)

Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Review Editor for Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution and Frontiers in Marine Science.

Journal reviewer for Ecology; Ecological Monographs; Oecologia; Marine Ecology Progress Series; PLoS ONE; Marine Biology; Marine Environmental Research; Aquaculture; Journal of Phycology; Restoration Ecology and others.

Health & Safety Commitee member, Sydney Institute of Marine Science.




Australian Government 2006 Endeavour International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS)

University of Sydney 2006 International Postgraduate Awards (IPA)

University of Buenos Aires Beca Estímulo 2005

9385 8723

Room 501H, Biological Sciences Bldg D26