Top of page
Global Site Navigation

School of Science

Local Section Navigation

Help us improve our content by rating this page.

Page rating system

Please leave a comment about your rating so we can better understand how we might improve the page.

You are here: Main Content

Dr Kathryn McMahon

Senior Lecturer

Contact Information Telephone: +61 8 6304 5145, Mobile: 0403 820 104, Email:, Campus: Joondalup, Room: JO19.350
Staff Member Details
Telephone: +61 8 6304 5145
Mobile: 0403 820 104
Campus: Joondalup  
Room: JO19.350  


Kathryn is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Science and Deputy Director of the Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research.

Current Teaching

  • Environmental Investigations and Monitoring
  • Coastal and Marine Management

Background / Employment History

  • 2016-present: Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University
  • 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?


  • Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Marine Science, The University of Queensland, 2005.
  • Bachelor of Science. Hons (Botany), The University of Western Australia, 2000.


Recent Research Grants

  • Genetic diversity and resilience of estuarine seagrasses,  Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (WA),  Scholarships to Support Industry Engagement PhD Projects,  2018 - 2021,  $55,500.
  • Conserving Critical Seagrass Habitat for Iconic Wildlife: An Integrated Assessment across the Pilbara,  Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions WA,  Scholarships to Support Industry Engagement PhD Projects,  2016 - 2021,  $20,500.
  • Keep Watch – Seagrass Health Monitoring 2017-2021,  Geographe Catchment Council Inc,  Grant - Geocatch,  2017 - 2021,  $90,250.
  • RESEARCH TOPIC: Resilience of tropical seagrasses,  University of Western Australia,  McNamara World Heritage PhD Top-Up Scholarship,  2018 - 2020,  $150,000.
  • Impact of nutrients and stormwater on periphyton in a shallow embayment,  Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (WA),  Sponsorship,  2017 - 2019,  $4,000.
  • Conserving critical seagrass habitat for dugong: an integrated assessment across the Pilbara,  Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions WA,  Botanic Parks and Gardens - Grant,  2017 - 2019,  $600,202.
  • Visiting Fellow A/Professor Kate O'Brien,  Edith Cowan University,  Edith Cowan University, School of Science Visiting Fellow Grant Scheme,  2018,  $1,500.
  • Determining the cumulative effect of putative pathogenic microbes, high temperatures and herbivory on the ecologically important kelp, Ecklonia radiata,  Ecological Society of Australia,  Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment,  2017 - 2018,  $6,000.
  • Nutrient sources for primary producers in Roebuck Bay,  Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (WA),  Grant,  2016 - 2018,  $27,960.
  • Resilience of seagrasses in tropical systems exposed to human impacts,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Industry Collaboration Grant - 2016 (Round 1),  2015 - 2018,  $174,627.
  • Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands Investigation,  South West Catchment Council,  Grant,  2014 - 2018,  $234,853.
  • Australian-wide risk assessment of carbon dioxide emissions from seagrass habitat under current and future global change threats ,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Collaboration Enhancement Scheme - 2016 Round 1,  2016 - 2017,  $6,000.
  • Defining thresholds and indicators of Primary Producer response to dredging related pressures,  Western Australian Marine Science Institution,  Grant,  2013 - 2017,  $1,687,148.
  • Provision of Preliminary Investigation into Macroalgae and Seagrass Wrack at Jurien Bay Boat Harbour - DOT306815,  Department of Transport (WA),  DoT WA - Grant,  2016 - 2017,  $89,399.
  • Defining thresholds and indicators of Primary Producer response to dredging related pressures,  Western Australian Marine Science Institution,  Grant,  2013 - 2016,  $1,687,148.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ‘Keep Watch’ Geographe Bay Seagrass Health Monitoring Program 2015/16,  Geographe Catchment Council Inc,  Grant - Geocatch,  2015 - 2016,  $18,050.
  • Quantification of the Biodiversity of the Lake MacLeod Northern Ponds,  Dampier Salt Limited Perth Division,  Grant-Dampsalt,  2010 - 2016,  $433,711.
  • The effects of light quality caused by dredging on seagrass habitats,  Ecological Society of Australia,  Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment,  2015 - 2016,  $4,000.
  • 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.
  • Seagrass Monitoring Program for Geographe Bay 2012 and 2013,  Geographe Catchment Council Inc,  Grant - Geocatch,  2012 - 2013,  $33,700.
  • 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 2011,  Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (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.
  • Latitudinal Gradients in Tolerance to Multiple Stressors of a Temperate Seagrass,  Edith Cowan University,  ECU Early Career Researcher - Grant,  2008 - 2010,  $24,966.
  • Research Study into Seagrass Wrack Movement at Geographe Bay ,  University of Western Australia,  Grant,  2008 - 2010,  $415,000.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Determining Seagrass Distribution in the Swan-Canning River - Testing Methods,  Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (WA),  Grant,  2008,  $10,194.
  • 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)


  • Waycott, M., McMahon, K., Lavery, P., (2014), A Guide to Southern Temperate Seagrasses., 213, Collingwood, Australia, CSIRO Publishing.

Journal Articles

  • Wu, PP., McMahon, K., Rasheed, MA., Kendrick, GA., York, PH., Chartrand, K., Caley, MJ., Mergersen, K., (2018), Managing seagrass resilience under cumulative dredging affecting light: Predicting risk using dynamic Bayesian networks. Journal of Applied Ecology, 00(na), 1-12, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13037.
  • Wu, PP., Caley, MJ., Kendrick, G., McMahon, K., Mergersen, K., (2017), Dynamic Bayesian network inferencing for non-homogeneous complex systems. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series C: Applied Statistics, article in press(article in press), p. 18, London, United Kingdom, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, DOI: 10.1111/rssc.12228.
  • Abdolahpour, M., Ghisaberti, M., Lavery, P., McMahon, K., (2017), Vertical mixing in coastal canopies. Limnology and Oceanography, 62(1), 26-42, Wiley-Blackwell, DOI: 10.1002/lno.10368.
  • Fraser, MW., Short, J., Kendrick, G., McLean, D., Keesing, J., Byrne, M., Caley, MJ., Clarke, D., Davis, AR., Erftemeijer, PL., Field, S., Gustin-Craig, S., Huisman, J., Keough, M., Lavery, P., Masini, R., McMahon, K., Mengersen, K., Rasheed, M., Statton, J., Stoddart, J., Wu, P., (2017), Effects of dredging on critical ecological processes for marine invertebrates, seagrasses and macroalgae, and the potential for management with environmental windows using Western Australia as a case study. Ecological Indicators, 78(2017), 229-242, Netherlands, Elsevier BV, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.03.026.
  • Hernawan, U., Van Dijk, K., Kendrick, G., Feng, M., Biffin, E., Lavery, P., McMahon, K., (2017), Historical processes and contemporary ocean currents drive genetic structure in the seagrass Thalassia hemprichii in the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Molecular Ecology, 26(4), 1008-1021, UK, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd., DOI: 10.1111/mec.13966.
  • Strydom, S., McMahon, K., Kendrick, G., Statton, J., Lavery, P., (2017), Seagrass Halophila ovalis is affected by light quality across different life history stages. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 572(2017), 103-116, Germany, Inter-Research, DOI: 10.3354/meps12105.
  • Strydom, S., McMahon, K., Lavery, P., (2017), Response of the seagrass Halophila ovalis to altered light quality in a simulated dredge plume. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 121(1-2), 323-330, United Kingdom, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.05.060.
  • York, PH., Smith, TM., Coles, RG., McKenna, SA., Connolly, RM., Irving, AD., Jackson, EL., McMahon, K., Runcie, JW., Sherman, CD., Sullivan, BK., Trevathan-Tackett, SM., Brodersen, KE., Carter, AB., Ewers, CJ., Lavery, P., Roelfsema, CM., Sinclair, EA., Strydom, S., Tanner, JE., Van Dijk, K., Warry, FY., Waycott, M., Whitehead, S., (2017), Identifying knowledge gaps in seagrass research and management: An Australian perspective. Marine Environmental Research, 127(June 2017), 163-172, DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2016.06.006.
  • Wu, PP., Mengersen, K., McMahon, K., Kendrick, GA., Chartrand, K., York, PH., Rasheed, MA., Caley, MJ., (2017), Timing anthropogenic stressors to mitigate their impact on marine ecosystem resilience. Nature Communications, 8(November), Article number 1263, London, United Kingdom, Nature Publishing Group, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01306-9.
  • Hyndes, G., Heck, KL., Verges, A., Harvey, ES., Kendrick, GA., Lavery, P., McMahon, K., Orth, RJ., Pearce, A., Vanderklift, M., Wernberg, T., Whiting, S., Wilson, S., (2016), Accelerating Tropicalization and the Transformation of Temperate Seagrass Meadows. Bioscience, 66(11), 938-948, DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biw111.
  • Lynch, AJ., Thackway, R., Specht, A., Beggs, PJ., Brisbane, S., Burns, EL., Byrne, M., Capon, SJ., Casanova, MT., Clarke, PA., Davies, JM., Dovers, S., Dwyer, RG., Ens, E., Fisher, DO., Flanigan, M., Garnier, E., Guru, SM., Kilminster, K., Locke, J., Mac Nally, R., McMahon, K., Mitchell, PJ., Pierson, JC., Rodgers, EM., Russell-Smith, J., Udy, J., Waycott, M., (2015), Transdisciplinary synthesis for ecosystem science, policy and management: The Australian experience. Science of the Total Environment, 534(2015), 173-184, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Elsevier BV, DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.100.
  • Jahnke, M., Pagés, J., Alcoverro, T., Lavery, P., McMahon, K., Procaccini, G., (2015), Should we sync? Seascape-level genetic and ecological factors determine seagrass flowering patterns. Journal of Ecology, 103(6), 1464-1474, Oxford, United Kingdom, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd., DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12470.
  • Kilminster, K., McMahon, K., Waycott, M., Kendrick, GA., Scanes, P., McKenzie, L., O'Brien, KR., Lyons, M., Ferguson, A., Maxwell, P., Glasby, T., Udy, J., (2015), Unravelling complexity in seagrass systems for management: Australia as a microcosm. Science of the Total Environment, 534(2015), 97-109, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.061.
  • 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, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, DOI: 10.1215/21573689-2844703.
  • 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, CSIRO Publishing, DOI: 10.1071/MF13126.
  • 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, Public Library of Science, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111454.
  • 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, Royal Society of London, 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, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2014.02.015.
  • 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, Inter-Research, DOI: 10.3354/meps10554.
  • 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, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.01.030.
  • 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, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2012.11.009.

Conference Publications

  • Abdolahpour, M., Ghisalberti, M., Lavery, P., McMahon, K., (2016), The importance of creating dynamically-scaled models of aquatic vegetation in the laboratory. Proceedings of the 11th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics, Paper 25992, Melbourne, Victoria, University of Melbourne.
  • Wu, P., Mengersen, K., McMahon, K., Kendrick, G., Caley, J., (2015), Predicting the temporal response of seagrass meadows to dredging using Dynamic Bayesian Networks. MODSIM2015, 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation., 1282-1288, The Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc..

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
  • Doctor of Philosophy,  Investigating The Effects Of Changes In Light Quality On Different Life History Stages Of Seagrasses
  • Doctor of Philosophy,  Gene Flow And Genetic Structure Of The Seagrass Thalassia Hemprichii In The Indo-australian Archipelago.

Associate Supervisor

  • Doctor of Philosophy,  Trophic Implications Of Light Reductions For Amphibolis Griffithi Seagrass Communities
  • Master of Science (Biological Sciences),  Effects Of Temperature And Location On The Photosynthesis-irradiance Relationship Of The Seagrass Halophila Ovalis
  • Doctor of Philosophy,  Residence Time In Coastal Canopies
  • 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
Skip to top of page