Dr Brigitte Sommer

Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Member of Sydney Environment Institute

A11 - Old Geology Building
The University of Sydney


Biographical details

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Marine Ecology), 2015 – The University of Queensland
  • First-class Honours in Marine Ecology, 2010 – Southern Cross University
  • Master of Environmental Management, 2009 – University of New England
  • Master of Marine Science and Management, 2008 – University of New England

Research interests

My research falls under the disciplines of community ecology, macroecology and biogeography and combines field ecology and statistical modelling to understand the processes that control the distribution and abundance of marine organisms and how they will be affected by climate change. I have a particular interest in ecosystems at the transition of biogeographical zones, where tropical and temperate species overlap at the limits of their environmental tolerances and geographical ranges. This includes corals at their high-latitude range limits in Australia and Japan, where environmental conditions are cooler, darker and more variable than in the tropics. These transition zones are considered climate change hotspots because they are faced with above-average observed and projected warming and are already being transformed by changes in species distributions and interactions.

My work on this topic has to date primarily focused on corals, using trait-based, phylogenetic community ecology and species distribution modelling approaches to study the ecology of corals in the tropical-to-temperate transition zones in Australia and Japan. I am now expanding this work to include other species with the view to gaining an ecosystem understanding of these dynamic systems and how they will respond to climate change. I am also involved in 3D mapping and modelling work from coral colony to reef scale to understand how complex marine ecosystems function.

Selected grants

2018

  • Forecasting the imminent invasion of tropical marine species along the New South Wales coastline; Sommer B, Figueira W; DVC Research/Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Scheme.

Selected publications & creative works

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Book Chapters

  • Jackson, J., Donovan, M., Cramer, K., Lam, V., Bak, R., Sommer, B., et al (2014). Part I: Overview and synthesis for the wider Caribbean region. In J. Jackson, M. Donovan, K. Cramer, V. Lam (Eds.), Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012, (pp. 55-154). Switzerland: Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.

Journals

  • Sommer, B., Beger, M., Harrison, P., Babcock, R., Pandolfi, J. (2018). Differential response to abiotic stress drives species distributions at biogeographic transition zones. Ecography, 41(3), 478-490. [More Information]
  • Precoda, K., Baird, A., Madsen, A., Mizerek, T., Sommer, B., Su, S., Madin, J. (2018). How does a widespread reef coral maintain populations in isolated environment? Marine Ecology Progress Series, 594, 85-94. [More Information]
  • Hughes, T., Kerry, J., Alvarez-Noriega, M., Alvarez-Romero, J., Anderson, K., Baird, A., Babcock, R., Beger, M., Bellwood, D., Byrne, M., Figueira, W., et al (2017). Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature, 543(7645), 373-377. [More Information]
  • Sommer, B., Sampayo, E., Beger, M., Harrison, P., Babcock, R., Pandolfi, J. (2017). Local and regional controls of phylogenetic structure at the high-latitude range limits of corals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284(1861), 1-10. [More Information]
  • Madin, J., Allen, A., Baird, A., Pandolfi, J., Sommer, B. (2016). Scope for latitudinal extension of reef corals is species specific. Frontiers of Biogeography, 8(1), 1-4.
  • Butler, I., Sommer, B., Zann, M., Zhao, J., Pandolfi, J. (2015). The cumulative impacts of repeated heavy rainfall, flooding and altered water quality on the high-latitude coral reefs of Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 96, 356-367. [More Information]
  • Beger, M., Sommer, B., Harrison, P., Smith, S., Pandolfi, J. (2014). Conserving potential coral reef refuges at high latitudes. Diversity and Distributions, 20(3), 245-257. [More Information]
  • Scheffers, A., Engel, M., May, S., Scheffers, S., Joannes-Boyau, R., Hanssler, E., Kennedy, K., Kelletat, D., Bruckner, H., Sommer, B., et al (2014). Potential and limits of combining studies of coarse- and fine-grained sediments for the coastal event history of a Caribbean carbonate environment. Geological Society Special Publication, 388, 503-531. [More Information]
  • Sommer, B., Harrison, P., Beger, M., Pandolfi, J. (2014). Trait-mediated environmental filtering drives assembly at biogeographic transition zones. Ecology, 95(4), 1000-1009. [More Information]
  • Butler, I., Sommer, B., Zann, M., Zhao, J., Pandolfi, J. (2013). The impacts of flooding on the high-latitude, terrigenoclastic influenced coral reefs of Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Coral Reefs, 32(4), 1149-1163. [More Information]
  • Baird, A., Sommer, B., Madin, J. (2012). Pole-ward range expansion of Acropora spp. along the east coast of Australia. Coral Reefs, 31, 1063-1063. [More Information]
  • Sommer, B., Harrison, P., Brooks, L., Scheffers, S. (2011). Coral community decline at Bonaire, Southern Caribbean. Bulletin of Marine Science, 87(3), 541-565. [More Information]
  • Beger, M., Babcock, R., Booth, D., Bucher, D., Condie, S., Creese, B., Cvitanovic, C., Dalton, S., Sommer, B., et al (2011). Research challenges to improve the management and conservation of subtropical reefs to tackle climate change threats. Ecological Management and Restoration, 12(1), e7-e10. [More Information]
  • Sommer, B., Harrison, P., Scheffers, S. (2010). Aggressive colonial ascidian impacting deep coral reefs at Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. Coral Reefs, 29(1), 245-245. [More Information]

Research Reports

  • Sommer, B., Beger, M., Pandolfi, J. (2014). Seasonal and temporal changes in reef fauna at Julian Rocks 2010 to 2013: Report to Cape Byron Marine Park, NSW Department of Primary Industries, (pp. 1 - 40). Brisbane, Australia: University of Queensland.

2018

  • Sommer, B., Beger, M., Harrison, P., Babcock, R., Pandolfi, J. (2018). Differential response to abiotic stress drives species distributions at biogeographic transition zones. Ecography, 41(3), 478-490. [More Information]
  • Precoda, K., Baird, A., Madsen, A., Mizerek, T., Sommer, B., Su, S., Madin, J. (2018). How does a widespread reef coral maintain populations in isolated environment? Marine Ecology Progress Series, 594, 85-94. [More Information]

2017

  • Hughes, T., Kerry, J., Alvarez-Noriega, M., Alvarez-Romero, J., Anderson, K., Baird, A., Babcock, R., Beger, M., Bellwood, D., Byrne, M., Figueira, W., et al (2017). Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature, 543(7645), 373-377. [More Information]
  • Sommer, B., Sampayo, E., Beger, M., Harrison, P., Babcock, R., Pandolfi, J. (2017). Local and regional controls of phylogenetic structure at the high-latitude range limits of corals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284(1861), 1-10. [More Information]

2016

  • Madin, J., Allen, A., Baird, A., Pandolfi, J., Sommer, B. (2016). Scope for latitudinal extension of reef corals is species specific. Frontiers of Biogeography, 8(1), 1-4.

2015

  • Butler, I., Sommer, B., Zann, M., Zhao, J., Pandolfi, J. (2015). The cumulative impacts of repeated heavy rainfall, flooding and altered water quality on the high-latitude coral reefs of Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 96, 356-367. [More Information]

2014

  • Beger, M., Sommer, B., Harrison, P., Smith, S., Pandolfi, J. (2014). Conserving potential coral reef refuges at high latitudes. Diversity and Distributions, 20(3), 245-257. [More Information]
  • Jackson, J., Donovan, M., Cramer, K., Lam, V., Bak, R., Sommer, B., et al (2014). Part I: Overview and synthesis for the wider Caribbean region. In J. Jackson, M. Donovan, K. Cramer, V. Lam (Eds.), Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012, (pp. 55-154). Switzerland: Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.
  • Scheffers, A., Engel, M., May, S., Scheffers, S., Joannes-Boyau, R., Hanssler, E., Kennedy, K., Kelletat, D., Bruckner, H., Sommer, B., et al (2014). Potential and limits of combining studies of coarse- and fine-grained sediments for the coastal event history of a Caribbean carbonate environment. Geological Society Special Publication, 388, 503-531. [More Information]
  • Sommer, B., Beger, M., Pandolfi, J. (2014). Seasonal and temporal changes in reef fauna at Julian Rocks 2010 to 2013: Report to Cape Byron Marine Park, NSW Department of Primary Industries, (pp. 1 - 40). Brisbane, Australia: University of Queensland.
  • Sommer, B., Harrison, P., Beger, M., Pandolfi, J. (2014). Trait-mediated environmental filtering drives assembly at biogeographic transition zones. Ecology, 95(4), 1000-1009. [More Information]

2013

  • Butler, I., Sommer, B., Zann, M., Zhao, J., Pandolfi, J. (2013). The impacts of flooding on the high-latitude, terrigenoclastic influenced coral reefs of Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Coral Reefs, 32(4), 1149-1163. [More Information]

2012

  • Baird, A., Sommer, B., Madin, J. (2012). Pole-ward range expansion of Acropora spp. along the east coast of Australia. Coral Reefs, 31, 1063-1063. [More Information]

2011

  • Sommer, B., Harrison, P., Brooks, L., Scheffers, S. (2011). Coral community decline at Bonaire, Southern Caribbean. Bulletin of Marine Science, 87(3), 541-565. [More Information]
  • Beger, M., Babcock, R., Booth, D., Bucher, D., Condie, S., Creese, B., Cvitanovic, C., Dalton, S., Sommer, B., et al (2011). Research challenges to improve the management and conservation of subtropical reefs to tackle climate change threats. Ecological Management and Restoration, 12(1), e7-e10. [More Information]

2010

  • Sommer, B., Harrison, P., Scheffers, S. (2010). Aggressive colonial ascidian impacting deep coral reefs at Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. Coral Reefs, 29(1), 245-245. [More Information]

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