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Dr Kathryn McMahon

Research Fellow

Contact Information Telephone: (61 8) 6304 5145, Mobile: 0403 820 104, Email:, Campus: Joondalup, Room: JO19.336
Staff Member Details
Telephone: (61 8)  6304 5145  
Mobile: 0403 820 104  
Campus: Joondalup  
Room: JO19.336  


Kathryn is a Research Fellow within the Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research in the School of Natural Sciences.

Current Teaching

  • Environmental Investigations and Monitoring
  • Coastal and Marine Management

Background / Employment History

  • 2012-present: Research Fellow, Edith Cowan University
  • 2011-2012: Lecturer, Edith Cowan University
  • 2005-2010: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Edith Cowan University
  • 2001-2005: Casual Lecturer and Tutor, University of Queensland
  • 1997-1999: Environmental Officer, Water and Rivers Commission, Western Australia
  • 1995: Research Assistant, University of Western Australia

Professional Memberships

  • Australian Marine Sciences Association
  • Australian Society for Phycology and Aquatic Botany
  • Australian Coastal Society
  • Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation

Research Areas and Interests

I have three main streams of research in coastal biology and ecology largely focusing on seagrass ecosystems. I use a variety of tools and methods such as ‘manipulated’ and ‘observational’ field and laboratory studies using ‘eco-physiological’ and ‘molecular’ tools.

1. Human impacts in coastal ecosystems

  • Largely focusing on impacts through light reduction, climate change, and dredging
  • How do plants respond to different stressors (developing sub-lethal indicators)?
  • What levels of stress can they cope with?
  • What are the consequences of disturbance?

2. Seagrass-grazing interactions

  • How much is consumed?
  • How do plants cope with grazing?

3. Seagrass evolution and taxonomy

  • What are the evolutionary relationships in seagrasses, particularly Posidonia and Halophila?

Staff Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland, 2005.
  • Bachelor of Science Honours, The University of Western Australia, 2000.


Recent Research Grants

  • Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands Investigation,  South West Catchment Council,  Grant,  2014 - 2018,  $234,853.
  • Resilience of seagrasses in tropical systems exposed to human impacts,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Industry Collaboration Grant - 2016,  2015 - 2017,  $174,627.
  • Ecological connectivity of Kimberley marine communities - WAMSI Kimberley Research Program,  The Australian Institute of Marine Science,  Western Australian Marine Science Institution Grant,  2014 - 2016,  $207,129.
  • The effects of light quality caused by dredging on seagrass habitats,  Equity Trustees Limited,  Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment,  2015 - 2016,  $4,000.
  • Defining thresholds and indicators of Primary Producer response to dredging related pressures,  Western Australian Marine Science Institution,  Grant,  2013 - 2016,  $1,687,148.
  • Protection of coastal ecosystems and marine resource management,  The Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education ,  CRN - Grant,  2011 - 2016,  $890,684.
  • Quantification of the Biodiversity of the Lake MacLeod Northern Ponds,  Dampier Salt Limited Perth Division,  Grant-Dampsalt,  2010 - 2015,  $433,711.
  • Undertaking Geographe Bay Keep Watch seagrass monitoring program,  Geographe Catchment Council Inc,  Grant - Geocatch,  2015,  $14,393.
  • Undertaking Geographe Bay Keep Watch seagrass monitoring program,  Geographe Catchment Council Inc,  Grant - Geocatch,  2014,  $15,851.
  • Improving capacity to predict impacts of dredging - modelling light and the response of seagrasses,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Industry Collaboration - Grant,  2011 - 2013,  $197,377.
  • Seagrass Monitoring Program for Geographe Bay 2012 and 2013,  Geographe Catchment Council Inc,  Grant - Geocatch,  2012 - 2013,  $33,700.
  • Seagrass Monitoring Program for Geographe Bay 2011,  Department of Water (WA),  Grant,  2011 - 2012,  $3,121.
  • Developing indicators of nutrient-enrichment impacts on nearshore coastal reefs,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Industry Collaboration - Grant,  2011 - 2012,  $110,073.
  • Predicting climate change impacts on seagrasses - the effect of temperature and ocean acidification,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Early Career Researcher - Grant,  2010 - 2011,  $24,995.
  • Research Study into Seagrass Wrack Movement at Geographe Bay ,  University of Western Australia,  Grant,  2008 - 2010,  $415,000.
  • Latitudinal Gradients in Tolerance to Multiple Stressors of a Temperate Seagrass,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Early Career Researcher - Grant,  2008 - 2010,  $24,966.
  • Impact of Dredging on Coral Communities,  Woodside Energy Ltd,  Grant,  2008 - 2009,  $118,220.
  • Attributes of a Sustainable Reef: Seagrass and Associated Megafauna,  Great Barrier Reef Foundation,  Grant,  2009,  $3,000.
  • Determining Seagrass Distribution in the Swan-Canning River - Testing Methods,  Department of Water (WA),  Grant,  2008,  $10,194.
  • Species diversity and distribution in the seagrass genus, Posidonia using morphological and molecular characters,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Early Career Researcher - Grant,  2007 - 2008,  $14,625.
  • Recovery of Amphibolis seagrass following periods of light reduction,  Department of Environment and Conservation WA,  Grant,  2007 - 2008,  $16,000.
  • Habitat Use by Black Swans in the Swan River Estuary,  Ernest Hodgkin Trust,  Scholarship,  2006 - 2007,  $2,182.

Recent Publications (within the last five years)

Journal Articles

  • Hedley, J., McMahon, K., Fearns, P., (2014), Seagrass Canopy Photosynthetic Response Is a Function of Canopy Density and Light Environment: A Model for Amphibolis griffithii. PLoS ONE , 9(10), Article no. e111454, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111454.
  • Choney, G., McMahon, K., Lavery, P., Collier, N., (2014), Swan grazing on seagrass: abundance but not grazing pressure varies over an annual cycle in a temperate estuary. Marine and Freshwater Research, 65(8), 738?749, Australia, DOI: 10.1071/MF13126.
  • McMahon, K., Van Dijk, KJ., Ruiz-Montoya, L., Kendrick, G., Krauss, S., Waycott, M., Verduin, J., Lowe, R., Statton, J., Brown, E., Duarte, C., (2014), The movement ecology of seagrasses. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1795), Article number 20140878, 9p, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0878.
  • McMahon, K., Lavery, P., (2014), Canopy-scale modifications of the seagrass Amphibolis griffithii in response to and recovery from light reduction. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 455(June), 38-44 , Netherlands, DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2014.02.015.
  • Oldham, CE., McMahon, K., Brown, E., Bosserelle, C., Lavery, P., (2014), A preliminary exploration of the physical properties of seagrass wrack that affect its offshore transport, deposition and retention on a beach. Limnology and Oceanography: Fluids and Environment, 4(1), 120-135, DOI: 10.1215/21573689-2844703.
  • Gartner, A., Tuya, F., Lavery, P., McMahon, K., (2013), Habitat preferences of macroinvertebrate fauna among seagrasses with varying structural forms. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 439(January 2013), 143-151, Amsterdam, Netherlands, DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2012.11.009.
  • McMahon, K., Collier, C., Lavery, P., (2013), Identifying robust bioindicators of light stress in seagrasses: A meta-analysis. Ecological Indicators, 30(1), 7-15, Netherlands, DOI:
  • Lavery, P., McMahon, K., Weyers, J., Boyce, M., Oldham, CE., (2013), Release of dissolved organic carbon from seagrass wrack and its implications for trophic connectivity. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 494(2013), 121-133, Ohne, Germany, DOI: 10.3354/meps10554.
  • McMahon, K., Lavery, P., Mulligan, M., (2011), Recovery from the impact of light reduction on the seagrass Amphibolis griffithii, insights for dredging management. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 62(2), 270-283, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2010.11.001.
  • Gartner, A., Lavery, P., McMahon, K., Brearley, A., Barwick, H., (2010), Light reductions drive macroinvertebrate changes in Amphibolis griffithii seagrass habitat. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 401(1), 87-100, Olendorf/Luhn, Germany, DOI: 10.3354/meps08367.

Research Student Supervision

Principal Supervisor

  • Master of Science (Environmental Management),  The Impact Of Black Swan (cygnus Ataratus) Grazing On The Seagrass Halophila Ovalis In The Lower Swan River Estuary

Associate Supervisor

  • Doctor of Philosophy,  Trophic Implications Of Light Reductions For Amphibolis Griffithi Seagrass Communities
  • Master of Science (Environmental Management),  Influence Of Hydrological And Environmental Conditions On Mangrove Vegetation At Coastal And Inland Semi-arid Areas Of The Gascoyne Region
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