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Jason Tanner

Biosecurity Working Group Leader


Jason Tanner


Areas of expertise:

Benthic ecology, Seagrass epifauna interactions, Population and community modelling, Landscape ecology, Environmental assessment.

Countries of work experience:

Australia, Jamaica, USA.


Experience and qualifications:

Dr Tanner has 17 years experience in marine ecology, working in both tropical and temperate systems. He has published 30 papers, most in high profile international journals.


In the last 7 years, he has played a key role in the development of the Marine Environment & Ecology Program, which he leads, as well as the Inland Waters and Oceanography programs. ME&E conducts research into environmental assessment of human activities in marine ecosystems, including aquaculture, pollution, dredging etc; the effects of marine invasive pests; and large marine predators. He has been heavily involved in several major projects in this time, include a large multidisciplinary study of the state’s coastal waters to identify and assess areas potentially suitable for the development of aquaculture. Other large projects include the environmental assessment of proposed dredging operations at Outer Harbour, and the assessment of the fate of wastes from aquaculture operations. He has run a number of projects to examine environmental effects of aquaculture and to develop models of finfish carrying capacity. In addition, he heads a major collaborative project to develop an integrated hydrodynamic, biogeochemical and sediment model of the Port Lincoln tuna farming area, and is habitat theme leader for the CLLAMM Ecology cluster, overseeing the development of a dynamic habitat model of the Coorong.


Prior to that, he spent 3 years working with SARDI examining habitat change in Gulf St Vincent. This focussed predominantly on the consequences of seagrass fragmentation for associated fauna, and working with the prawn industry to examine the impacts of commercial trawling on benthic fauna.


Another component of this work was the assessment of habitat distributions over large scales using remote video cameras. He has also done some work on the ecology of introduced marine species, to develop an understanding of the potential impacts these species may have on our ecosystems.


Prior to moving to SARDI, he spent 8 years researching the population and community ecology of benthic invertebrates on coral reefs, involving extensive field surveys and experimental work, as well as mathematical modelling. This is continuing, with the current focus being long–term (40 years) dynamics of corals.


Dr Tanner has also maintained close involvement with several universities, and participates in undergraduate and graduate teaching. At the undergraduate level, he has contributed to courses on coral reef ecology, marine ecology, biometrics and population modelling, while at the graduate level he has supervised 10 honours and 4 PhD students.


Professional appointments:

2002–present: Program Leader–Marine Environment & Ecology.

2000–present: Affiliate lecturer/Senior lecturer, School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide.

1999–2001: Marine Ecologist, SARDI Aquatic Sciences.

1996–1998: ARC postdoctoral fellow, Dept of Marine Biology, James Cook University.

1995: Research associate, James Cook Uni.


Research and consulting:

2007–: Environmental assessment for desalination plants.

2006–: Ecological risks associated with Caulerpa taxifolia.

2006–: Development of a dynamic habitat model of the Coorong.

2002–: Environmental assessment of proposed dredging operations at Outer Harbour.

2001–: Examination of the environmental impacts of aquaculture, potential mitigation strategies, and development of integrated models.

1999–: Habitat change in Gulf St Vincent.

1998–: Demographic consequences of clonality

1993–2000: Population ecology and long–term decline of corals in Jamaica.

1991–: Studies on the population and community ecology of corals and other benthic invertebrates on the Great Barrier Reef.


Selected recent publications:

Hughes TP,  AH Baird, EA Dinsdale, VJ Harriott, NA Moltschaniwskyj, MS Pratchett, JE Tanner & BL Willis. 2002. Detecting regional variation using meta–analysis and large scale sampling: latitudinal patterns in recruitment. Ecology. 83:436–451.

Connell JH, TP Hughes, CC Wallace, JE Tanner & KE Harms. 2004. A 35–year study of competition, species composition, and diversity of corals. Ecol. Monogr. 74:179–210.

Bellwood, DR, TP Hughes, SR Connolly & J Tanner. 2005. Environmental and geometric constraints on Indo–Pacific coral reef biodiversity. Ecol. Lett. 8:643–651.

Irving AD, JE Tanner & BK McDonald. 2007. Priority effects in determining faunal assemblage structure within seagrass. J Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 340:40–49.

Wear RJ & JE Tanner (2007) Spatio–temporal variability in faunal assemblages surrounding the dischare of secondary treated sewage. Estuarine, Coastal Shelf Sc. 73:630–638.

Spencer, M. & J.E. Tanner. In press. Lotka–Volterra competition models for sessile organisms. Ecology.

Tanner JE. 2002. The consequences of density–dependent heterotrophic feeding for a partial autotroph. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 227:293–304.

Tanner, JE. 2003. Patch shape and orientation influences on seagrass epifauna are mediated by dispersal ability. Oikos. 100:517–524.

Tanner JE. 2003. The influence of prawn trawling on sessile benthic assemblages in Gulf St Vincent, South Australia. Can. J. Fish. Aquatic Sci. 60:517–526.

Tanner JE. 2003. Stability of optimal harvest regime under stochastic variation in prawn demographic rates and fishing strategies. Mar. Freshwater Res. 54:635–642.

Tanner JE. 2005. Edge effects in fragmented seagrass meadows. Australian Ecology 30:210–218.

Tanner JE. 2005. Three decades of habitat change in Gulf St Vincent, South Australia. Trans. R. Soc. SA. 129:65–73.

Tanner JE. 2006. Landscape ecology of interactions between seagrass and mobile epifauna: The matrix matters. Estuarine Coastal Shelf Sci. 68:404–412.

Tanner, JE. 2007. The influence of introduced European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) on habitat selection by juvenile native blue crabs (Portunus pelagicus). Estuaries and Coasts. In press.


Dr Jason Tanner

SARDI Aquatic Sciences

Tel: 08 8207 5489

Fax: 08 8207 5481

E–mail: jason.tanner@sa.gov.au