Dr Sue-Ann Watson

Sue-Ann is Senior Curator (Marine Invertebrates) at the Queensland Museum Network, based at the Museum of Tropical Queensland campus in Townsville. Her position is co-appointed with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

Sue-Ann works on a range of marine invertebrates (animals without backbones) including molluscs (e.g. snails, clams, cephalopods), echinoderms (e.g. sea urchins, sea cucumbers, sea stars), crustaceans (e.g. hermit crabs) and brachiopods. Some of her favourite study species – jumping snails, giant clams and pygmy squid – are all found here in North Queensland.

Her research focuses on the responses of marine organisms to change, both in space (along natural evolutionary gradients) and time (responses to environmental change). She is particularly interested in large scale evolutionary patterns and ecological trends in marine invertebrates and the effects of stressors such as ocean acidification, warming and water quality impacts including light availability (turbidity), nutrients and salinity on invertebrates, corals and fishes. Sue-Ann’s broad research interests include ecology, physiology, behavior, biogeography and the potential for acclimation and adaptation to change in marine organisms.


She has been the recipient of a number of awards including Queensland Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year (2014) and was a finalist in the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Research (2015). 

In 2019 Dr Watson contributed to Museum of Tropical Queensland's feature biodiversity exhibition Natural Curiosity: Discovering the secrets of Queensland's greatest collections. She talks regularly on the topic of ocean acidification and global change on molluscs. Listen to a recent interview here.

Twitter @watsonsueann


Research Publications

Manríquez, P.H., Jara, M.E., González, C.P., Jeno, K., Domenici, P., Watson, S.-A., Duarte, C., Brokordt, K. (2022). Multiple-stressor effects of ocean acidification, warming and predation risk cues on the early ontogeny of a rocky-shore keystone gastropod. Environmental Pollution. 302, 118918. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.118918

Watson, S.-A. & Neo, M.L. (2021). Conserving threatened species during rapid environmental change: using biological responses to inform management strategies of giant clams. Conservation Physiology (invited perspective article for the Special Issue on Threatened Species). 9: coab082. 
doi: 10.1093/conphys/coab082  and see our article in The Conversation

Thomas, J.T., Spady, B.L., Munday, P.L. & Watson, S.-A. (2021). The role of ligand-gated chloride channels in behavioural alterations at elevated CO2 in a cephalopod. Journal of Experimental Biology. 224 (13): jeb242335. 
doi: 10.1242/jeb.242335

Uthicke, S., Patel, F. Petrick, C., Watson, S.-A., Karelitz, S.E. & Lamare, M.D. (2021) Cross-generational response of a tropical sea urchin to global change and a selection event in a 43-month mesocosm study. Global Change Biology. 27: 3448–3462. 
doi: 10.1111/gcb.15657

Campanyà-Llovet, N., Le Guitton, M., Watson, S.-A. (2021). Long-term and seasonal changes in the life-history biology of the abyssal holothurian Pseudostichopus aemulatus from the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (North-East Atlantic). Deep Sea Research Part I. 174, 
103537. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr.2021.103537

Manríquez, P.H, Jara, M.E.; González, C.P.; Seguel, M.E.; Domenici, P.; Watson, S.-A.; Anguita, C.; Duarte, C.; Brokordt, K. (2021). The combined effects of climate change stressors and predatory cues on a mussel species. Science of the Total Environment. 77, 145916. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145916

Campanyà-Llovet, N., Le Guitton, M., Watson, S.-A. (in press). Long-term and seasonal changes in the life-history biology of the abyssal holothurian Pseudostichopus aemulatus from the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (North-East Atlantic). Deep Sea Research Part I.

Manríquez, P.H, Jara, M.E.; González, C.P.; Seguel, M.E.; Domenici, P.; Watson, S.-A.; Anguita, C.; Duarte, C.; Brokordt, K. (2021). The combined effects of climate change stressors and predatory cues on a mussel species. Science of the Total Environment. 77, 145916. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145916

Manríquez, P.H., González, C., Seguel, M., Garcia-Huidobro, M.R., Lohrmann, K.B., Domenici, P., Watson, S.-A., Duarte, C., Brokordt, K. (2021). The combined effects of ocean acidification and warming on a habitat-forming shell-crushing predatory crab. Science of the Total Environment. 758, 143587. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143587 

Bouyoucos, I.A., Watson, S.-A., Planes, S., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Schwieterman, G.D., Whitney, N.M. & Rummer, J.L. (2020). The power struggle: assessing interacting global change stressors via experimental studies on sharks. Scientific Reports. 10, 19887. 
doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-76966-7

Munday, P.L., Dixson, D.L., Welch, M.J., Chivers, D.P., Domenici, P., Grosell, M., Heuer, R.M., Jones, G.P., McCormick, M.I., Meekan, M., Nilsson, G.E., Ravasi, T., Watson, S.-A. (2020). Methods matter in repeating ocean acidification studies. Nature. 586, E20-E24. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2803-x Full text viewable here.

Spady, B.L., Watson, S.-A. (2020). Bigfin reef squid demonstrate capacity for conditional discrimination and projected future carbon dioxide levels have no effect on learning capabilities. PeerJ. 8:e9865. doi: 10.7717/peerj.9865

Hannan, K.D., Miller, G.M., Watson, S.-A., Rummer, J.L., Fabricius, K.E., Munday, P.L. (2020). Diel pCO2 variation among coral reefs and microhabitats at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs. 39, 1391–1406. 
doi: 10.1007/s00338-020-01973-z

Nilsson, G.E., Dixson, D.L., Domenici, P., McCormick, M.I., Sørensen, C., Watson, S.-A., & Munday, P.L. (2012). Author correction: Near-future carbon dioxide levels alter fish behaviour by interfering with neurotransmitter function. Nature Climate Change. 10: 790. 
doi: 10.1038/s41558-020-0836-7

Thomas, J.T., Munday, P.L. & Watson, S.-A. (2020). Toward a mechanistic understanding of marine invertebrate behaviour at elevated CO2. Frontiers in Marine Science. 7: 345. 
doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00345

Horwitz, R.#, Norin, T.#, Watson, S.-A., Pistevos, J.C.A., Beldade, R., Hacquart, S., Gattuso, J.-P., Rodolfo-Metalpa, R., Vidal-Dupiol, J., Killen, S.S. & Mills, S.C. (2020). Near-future ocean warming and acidification alter foraging behaviour, locomotion, and metabolic rate in a keystone marine mollusc. Scientific Reports. 10: 5461. 
doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-62304-4 (#Joint first authors)

Jarrold, M.D., Welch, M.J., McMahon, S.J., McArley, T., Allan, B.J.M., Watson, S.-A., Parsons, D.M., Pether, S.M.J., Pope, S, Nicol, S, Smith, N., Herbert, N. & Munday, P.L. (2020). Elevated CO2 affects anxiety but not a range of other behaviours in juvenile yellowtail kingfish. Marine Environmental Research. 157: 104863. 
doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2019.104863

Spady, B.L., Munday, P.L. & Watson, S.-A. (2020). Elevated seawater pCO2 affects reproduction and embryonic development in the pygmy squid, Idiosepius pygmaeusMarine Environmental Research. 153: 104812. 
doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2019.104812

Wolfe, K., Anthony, K., Babcock, R.C., Bay, L., Bourne, D., Burrows, D., Byrne, M., Deaker, D., Diaz-Pulido, G., Frade, P.R., Gonzalez-Rivero, M., Hoey, A., Hoogenboom, M., McCormick, M.I., Ortiz, J.-C., Razak, T., Richardson, A.J., Sheppard-Brennand, H., Stella, J., Thompson, A., Watson, S.-A., Webster, N., Audas, D., Beeden, R., Bonanno, V., Carver, J., Cowlishaw, M., Dyer, M., Groves, P., Horne, D., Thiault, L., Vains, J., Wachenfeld, D., Weekers, D., Williams, G., Mumby, P.J.  (in press). Priority species to support the functional integrity of coral reefs. Oceanography and Marine Biology and Annual Review.

Spady, B.L., Nay, T.J., Rummer, J.L., Munday, P.L. & Watson, S.-A. (2019). Aerobic performance of two tropical cephalopod species unaltered by prolonged exposure to projected future carbon dioxide levels. Conservation Physiology. 7: coz024. 
doi: 10.1093/conphys/coz024

Watson, S.-A., Allan, B.J.M., McQueen, D.E, Nicol, S., Parsons, D.M., Pether, S.M.J., Pope, S., Setiwan, A.N., Smith, N., Wilson, C. & Munday, P.L. (2018). Ocean warming has a greater effect than acidification on the early life history development and swimming performance of a large circumglobal pelagic fish. Global Change Biology. 24: 4368–4385. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14290

McCormick, M.I., Watson, S.-A., Simpson, S.D. & Allan, B.J.M (2018). Effect of elevated CO2 and small boat
noise on the kinematics of predator–prey interactions . Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 285: 20172650. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2650

Spady, B.L., Munday, P.L. & Watson, S.-A. (2018). Predatory strategies and behaviours in cephalopods are altered by elevated CO2. Global Change Biology. 24: 2585–2596. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14098 (Cover image)

Watson, S.-A., Morley, S.A. & Peck, L.S. (2017). Latitudinal trends in shell production cost from the tropics to the poles. Science Advances. 3: e1701362. 

Watson, S.-A., Fabricius, K.E. & Munday, P.L. (2017). Quantifying pCO2 in biological ocean acidification experiments: a comparison of four methods. PLoS ONE. 12(9): e0185469. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185469

Torda, G., Donelson, J.M., Aranda, M., Barshis, D.J., Bay, L., Berumen, M., Bourne, D., Cantin, N., Foret, S., Matz, M., Miller, D., Moya, A., Putnam, H., Ravasi, T., van Oppen, M., Vega-Thurber, R., Vidal-Dupiol, J., Voosltra, C.R., Watson, S.-A., Whitelaw, E., Willis, B. & Munday P.L. (2017). Rapid adaptive responses to climate change in corals. Nature Climate Change. 7, 627–636. 
doi:10.1038/nclimate3374 (Cover image)

Ferrari, M.C.O., McCormick, M.I., Watson, S.-A., Meekan, M.G., Munday, P.L. & Chivers, D.P. (2017). Predation in high CO2 waters: are prey fish from high-risk environments less susceptible to ocean acidification? Integrative and Comparative Biology. 57 (1): 55-62. doi: doi.org/10.1093/icb/icx030

Allan, B.J.M., Domenici, P., Watson, S.-A., Munday, P.L. & McCormick, M.I. (2017). Warming has a greater effect than elevated CO2 on predator prey interactions in coral reef fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 284: 20170784. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0784

Wessels, W., Sprungala, S., Watson, S.-A., Miller, D. J. & Bourne, D.G. (2017). The microbiome of the octocoral Lobophytum pauciflorum: minor differences between sexes and resilience to short-term stress. FEMS Microbiology Ecologydoi: 10.1093/femsec/fix013

Allen, J.D., Schrage, K.R., Foo, S.A., Watson, S.-A. & Byrne, M. (2017). The Effects of Salinity and pH on Fertilization, Early Development and Hatching in the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar. Diversity Special Issue on Crown-of-Thorns Seastars. 9, 13; doi: 10.3390/d9010013

Watson, S.-A., Fields, J. & Munday P.L. (2017). Ocean acidification alters predator behaviour and reduces predation rate. Biology Letters Invited Paper for the Special Feature on 'Ocean Acidification'. 13: 20160797. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0797

Nadler, L.E., Killen, S.S., McCormick, M.I., Watson, S.-A. & Munday, P.L. (2016). Effect of elevated carbon dioxide on shoal familiarity and metabolism in a coral reef fish. Conservation Physiology4 (1): cow052. doi: 10.1093/conphys/cow052

Munday, P.L, Welch, M.J., Allan, B.J.M., Watson, S.-A., McMahon, S. & McCormick, M.I. (2016). Effects of elevated CO2 on predator avoidance behaviour by reef fishes is not altered by experimental test water. PeerJ. 4:e2501. 

Moya, A., Howes, E.L., Lacoue-Labarthe, T., Teyssié, J.-L., Miller, D.J., Munday, P.L., Watson, S.-A., Torda, G., Hanna, B., Ong, J.-S., Forêt, S., Bijma, J. & Gattuso, J-P. (2016). Near-future pH conditions severely impact calcification, metabolism and the nervous system in the pteropod Heliconoides inflatus. Global Change Biologydoi: 10.1111/gcb.13350

Watson, S.-A. (2015). Giant clams and rising CO2: Light may ameliorate effects of ocean acidification on a solar-
powered animal. PLoS ONE10(6): e0128405. 0.1371/journal.pone.0128405




Senior Curator (Marine Invertebrates)


PhD (University of South Hampton)