Academic Staff - Associate Professor Ross Coleman

Ross Coleman Photo
Position: Director, Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities
Phone: +61 2 9351 2590
Fax: +61 2 9351 6713
Mobile Phone: +61 424 839 417
Location: Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities Marine Ecology Laboratories
Address: A11 - Edgeworth David Geology, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia

Marine Biology and Ecology Research Group, University of Plymouth
The Marine Biological Association of the UK

Areas of Interest

I am based in the Centre for Research in Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities. My personal research interests could be summarised as the ecology of defence, particularly inducible defences which are mobilised by the threat of an attack or the attack itself. Predator-prey relationships are often considered a key part of ecosystem processes. I am interested in fundamental questions such as what constitutes a signal between a predator and its food items and how the signal receiver, as well as the emitter, should respond to these signals. As many induced defences incur a cost in either energy expended or lost feeding opportunities, a prey/food organism should only activate defences when needed. It is important to identify these, as yet unknown, signals in an ecological setting before trying to establish general patterns. Responses to these signals can be behavioural, such as hiding from predators; physiological, such as increasing the level of noxious chemicals in the tissues of potential food/prey organisms; or they can be structural such as growing a thicker shell. The organisms I have used in developing experimental tests of hypotheses developed from these ideas include barnacles, limpets and seaweeds.

My other interests are marine conservation and human impacts on the intertidal. Sarah Carless, my PhD student at Plymouth, has discovered that recreational use of rocky shores does indeed reduce feeding by an ecologically important predator (the oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus), but these birds recover very quickly. So less frequent human activities on the shore are unlikely to mean these birds are deprived of food. Recreational fishing may also have an indirect effect on the marine environment. In the UK, there is a recently developed informal fishery for moulting Carcinus maenas (an intertidal crab which is invasive here in Australia) for use as bait by anglers. Emma Sheehan (another of my PhD students at Plymouth) is currently trying to understand the impact of this fishery on crab populations, the benthic infauna of estuaries and on feeding birds. Initial results show that estuaries which are fished for C. maenas seem to have higher densities of these crabs. Closing marine fisheries is a well established tool for marine conservation all over the world, but the success or otherwise of these closures is often justified in terms of fishery benefits or in terms of conservation value, a less tangible output. It is often difficult to persuade legislators and the general public of the need to conserve an environment they haven't seen or can fully engage in. With colleagues in Plymouth, I am attempting to put conservation of marine habitats such as seagrass beds and rocky subtidal reefs into a socio-economic framework by developing costed ecological goods and services (as well as fisheries benefits, the economic benefits derived from no-take angling, divers and the tourism infrastructure which that support them can be fully costed) in monetary terms. This will better inform stakeholders and enable less contentious decision making.

Research Output

  • Coleman, R.A. (Accepted 13/2/2008) Over-Estimations of Food Abundance: Predator Responses to Prey Aggregation. Ecology
  • Coleman, R.A. & Hockey, P.A.R. (In Press, Accepted 14/3/2007) Effects of an alien invertebrate species and wave action on prey selection by African Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus moquini). Austral Ecology
  • Gilbey, V., Attrill, M.J. & Coleman, R.A. (2008) Juvenile Chinese mitten crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) in the Thames Estuary: distribution, movement and competitive interactions with the native crab Carcinus maenas. Biological Invasions 10, 67-77. Doi:10.1007/s10530-007-9110-4
  • Spooner, E.A., Coleman, R.A. & Attrill, M.J. (2007) Sex differences in body morphology and multi-trophic interactions involving the foraging behaviour of the crab Carcinus maenas. Marine Ecology: An Evolutionary Perspective 28, 394-403
  • Matias, M.G., Underwood, A.J. & Coleman, R.A. (2007) Interactions of components of habitats alter composition and variability of assemblages. Journal of Animal Ecology 76, 986-994
  • Foggo, A., Higgins, S., Wargent, J.J & Coleman, R.A. (2007) Tri-trophic consequences of UV-B exposure: plants, herbivores and parasitoids. Oecologia 154, 505-512
  • Coleman, R.A., Ramchunder, S.J., Moody, A.J. & Foggo, A. (2007) An enzyme in snail saliva induces herbivore-resistance in a marine alga. Functional Ecology 21, 101-106. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2006.01210.x
  • Coleman, R.A., Ramchunder, S.J., Davis, K.M., Moody, A.J. & Foggo, A. (2007) Herbivore-induced infochemicals influence foraging behaviour in two intertidal predators. Oecologia 151, 454-463. doi: 10.1007/s00442-006-0601-2.
  • Please see Erratum: Coleman, R.A., Ramchunder, S.J., Davis, K.M., Moody, A.J. & Foggo, A. (2007) Herbivore-induced infochemicals influence foraging behaviour in two intertidal predators. Oecologia. DOI 10.1007/s00442-007-0754-7
  • Cartwright, S.R., Coleman, R.A. & Browne, M.A. (2006) Ecologically relevant effects of pulse application of copper on the limpet Patella vulgata L. Marine Ecology Progress Series 326, 187-194.
  • Dalesman, S., Rundle, S.D., Coleman, R.A. & Cotton, P.A. (2006) Cue association and anti-predator behaviour in a pulmonate snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. Animal Behaviour 71, 789-797. DOI:10.1016/j.anbehav.2005.05.028
  • Coleman, R.A., Benedetti-Cecchi, L., Åberg, P., Arenas, F., Arrontes, J, Castro, J, Hartnoll, R.G., Jenkins, S.R., Paula, J., Della Santina, P., Underwood, A.J, Hawkins, S.J. (2006) A Continental scale evaluation of limpet grazing on rocky shores. Oecologia 147, 556-564. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-005-0296-9
  • Lee, J.T., Coleman, R.A. & Jones, M.B. (2006) Population dynamics and growth of juveniles of the velvet swimming crab Necora puber (Decapoda: Portunidae). Marine Biology 148, 609-619. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-005-0107-1
  • Coleman, R.A., Hawkins, S.J. & Wood, H.L. (2006) Testing the reproductive benefits of aggregation: The limpet Patella vulgata shows no evidence of synchrony in gonad development. Marine Ecology Progress Series 306, 201-207.
  • Lee, J.T., Coleman, R.A. & Jones, M.B. (2005) Vertical migration during tidal transport of megalopae of Necora puber in coastal shallow waters. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 65, 396-404. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2005.05.022.
  • Jenkins, S.R., Coleman, R.A., Burrows, M.T., Hartnoll, R.G. and Hawkins, S.J. (2005) Regional scale differences in determinism of limpet grazing effects. Marine Ecology Progress Series 287, 77-86.
  • Borell, E.M., Foggo, A. & Coleman, R.A. (2004) Herbivore-induced resistance in intertidal macroalgae: Do models developed in terrestrial systems predict herbivore induced resistance in marine plants? Oecologia , 140, 328-344 (DOI: 10.1007/s00442-004-1589-0)
  • Lee, J.T., Widdows, J. & Jones, M.B., Coleman, R.A. (2004) Settlement of megalopae and early juveniles of the velvet swimming crab Necora puber (Decapoda; Portunidae) in flow conditions. Marine Ecology Progress Series 272, 191-202.
  • Coleman, R.A., Browne, M. & Theobalds, T. (2004) Prey aggregation functioning as a group defense via vibration-vigilance: Limpet tenacity changes in response to simulated predator attack. Ecology 85 (4), 1153-1159
  • Coleman, R.A. , Underwood, A.J. & Chapman, M.G. (2004) Absence of Costs of Foraging Excursions in Relation to Limpet Aggregation. Journal of Animal Ecology 73(5), 577-584 (DOI: 10.1111/j.0021-8790.2004.00834.x).
  • Rundle, S.D., Spicer, J.I., Coleman, R.A. , Vosper, J. & Soane, J. (2004) Environmental calcium modifies induced defences in snails. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. B (Suppl.) 271, S67-S70 (DOI 10.1098/rsbl.2003.0106).
  • Coleman, R.A. , Salmon, N.A. & Hawkins, S.J. (2003) Sub-dispersive human disturbance of foraging oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus. Ardea 91, 263-268.
  • Jenkins, S.R., Åberg, P., Cervin, G., Coleman, R.A., Delaney, J., Hawkins, S.J., Hyder, K., Myers, A.A., Paula, J., Power, A-M., Range, P. & Hartnoll, R.G.. (2001) Population dynamics of the intertidal barnacle Semibalanus balanoides at three European locations: Spatial scales of variability. Marine Ecology Progress Series 217, 207-217.
  • Jenkins S.R., Arenas F., Arrontes J., Bussell J., Castro J., Coleman, R.A., Hawkins S.J., Kay S., Mart'nez B., Oliveros J., Roberts M.F., Sousa, S., Thompson, R.C. & Hartnoll, R.G. (2001) A European scale analysis of seasonal variability in limpet grazing activity and microalgal abundance. Marine Ecology Progress Series 214 193-203.
  • Coleman, R.A. & Hawkins, S.J. (2000) Limpet relocation from home-scars in relation to position in a group. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK 80, 1133-1134.
  • Jenkins, S.R., Åberg, P., Cervin, G., Coleman, R.A., Delaney, J., Della Santina, P., Hawkins, S.J., LaCroix, E., Myers, A.A., Lindegarth, M., Power, A-M., Roberts, M.F. & Hartnoll, R.G. (2000) Spatial and temporal variation in settlement and recruitment of the intertidal barnacle Semibalanus balanoides (L.) (Crustacea: Cirripedia) over a European scale. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 243, 209-225.
  • Coleman, R.A., Hawkins, S.J., Durell, S.E.A. Le V. dit & Goss-Custard, J.D. (1999) Limpet (Patella spp.) consumption by Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus): A preference for solitary prey items. Marine Ecology Progress Series 183, 253-261.
  • Coleman, R.A. , Barker, A.M. & Fenner, M. (1999) Parasitism of the herbivore Pieris brassicae L. (Lep., Pieridae) by Cotesia glomerata L. (Hym., Braconidae) does not benefit the plant by reduction of herbivory. Journal of Applied Entomology 123, 171-177.
  • Coleman, R.A., Barker, A.M., Fenner, M. & King, F.C. (1997) Relative effect of different host feeding site on long-range host location and electroantennogram response in the parasitoid Cotesia glomerata (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Journal of Applied Entomology 121, 487-494.
  • Coleman, R.A., Barker, A.M. & Fenner, M. (1997) A test of possible indirect mediation of wound-induced resistance in cabbage against Pieris brassicae. Oikos 80, 43-50
  • Coleman, R.A., Barker, A.M. & Fenner, M. (1996) Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. Capitata) fails to show wound-induced defence against adapted and non-adapted herbivores? Oecologia 108, 105-112.

Invited Chapters

  • Coleman, R.A. (2007) Homing. In Encyclopaedia of Tidepools (ed. S. Gaines & M. Denny). (in press) University of California Press, Berkeley

Other Publications

  • Coleman, R.A., Jackson, E., & Frost, M.T. (2005) In: R.N. Gibson and R.J.A. Atkinson, Editors, Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review vol. 41, Taylor and Francis (2003) ISBN 0 415 25463 9 etc., 390 pp. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 315, 235-238.


  • Hoskin, M., Coleman, R., and Hiscock, K., (2004). Pilot work to refine sampling protocols for monitoring the Lundy Island No Take Zone. Report to English Nature.
  • Coleman, R.A. and Chapman M.G. (2005) Ecological monitoring of Waterbird refuge phase-1. Report for Sydney Olympic Park Authority.
  • Hoskin, M.G., Coleman, R.A., Hiscock, K & von Carlshausen, E. (2006) Monitoring the Lundy No-Take Zone: The first 3 years. Report to English Nature, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs & World-Wide Fund for Nature.
  • Coleman, R.A. (2006) Subtidal Flora and Fauna at Davis Marina. Report for Davis Marina.
  • Coleman, R.A. (2006) Ecological monitoring of Waterbird refuge phase-1 part 2. Report for Sydney Olympic Park Authority