Dr Megan Saunders

UQ Development Fellow

School of Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Affiliate Research Fellow

Global Change Institute
+61 7 336 53687


My research focuses on conservation coastal marine ecosystems. I use a combination of interdisciplinary modelling and field approaches to understand how marine ecosystems respond to environmental stressors. My current research focuses on 1) impacts of land-use change on coastal marine environments; 2) impacts of sea-level rise on coastal environments; 3) cost, feasibility and benefits of marine and riparian restoration; 4) science underpinning marine environmental policy; and 5) bio-physical modelling of coastal marine ecosystems. I currently hold a prestigious UQ Development Fellowship in the School of Chemical Engineering, and am a member of the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science and the Centre for Marine Science.

Research Interests

  • Effects of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems
  • Ridge to reef planning
  • Cost and feasibility of marine restoration
  • Restoring rivers to benefit marine ecosystems
  • Interdependency of ecosystems in response to climate change

Research Impacts

I collaborate with a number of industry partners to ensure that my research has real-world application. Outcomes of my research at UQ have influenced national environmental policy on environmental offsetting, extreme events, and management of the Great Barrier Reef. During my postdoctoral research at the University of Western Australia I led the research team that discovered a preferred prey the Western Rocklobster larvae, which underpins Australia's largest single species fishery. Outcomes of my PhD research are being used by governments in Canada and Norway to manage timing of kelp harvesting and spread of invasive marine species. I enjoy communicating my research to the public through popular articles, videos, media, and public presentations.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Dalhousie University


View all Publications


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • (2016) Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Javier, L., Woodroffe, C., Phinn, S. R., Hamylton, S., Callagan, D. P., Baldock, T. E. and Saunders, M. I. (2013). A sediment budget for Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. In: 8th International Conference (AIG) on Geomorphology: Abstracts Volume. The 8th IAG International Conference on Geomorphology: Geomorphology and Sustainability, Paris, France, (840-840). 27-31 August 2013.

  • CSIRO Marine and Coastal Carbon Biogeochemistry Cluster, Serrano, Oscar, Alongi, Daniel, Arias, Ariane, Cherukuru, Nagur, Connolly, Rod, Duarte, Carlos, Esteban, Alba, Eyre, Bradley, Ford, Phillip, Garcia-Orellana, Jordi, Grierson, Pauline, Hayes, Matthew, Rozaimi, Mohammad, Kendrick, Gary, Larkum, Anthony, Lavery, Paul, Lee, Shing Yip, Lovelock, Catherine, Macreadie, Peter, Marba, Nuria, Masque, Pere, Mazarrasa, Ines, McGowan, Hamish, Oubelkheir, Kadija, Petrou, Katherina, Ralph, Peter, Robertson, Alistar, Samper-Villarreal, Jimena, Sanders, Christian, Saunders, Megan, Skrzypek, Grzegorz, Steven, Andy, Tilbrook, Bronte and Trott, Lindsay (2013). Carbon sequestration, stoichiometry and storage potential of Australian coastal and marine ecosystems*. In: Program and Abstract Handbook: AMSA2013 Golden Jubilee Conference. AMSA 2013: Australian Marine Science Golden Jubilee Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, (202-202). 7-11 July 2013.

  • Samper-Villarreal, Jimena, Mumby, Peter, Lovelock, Catherine E. and Saunders, Megan (2013). Carbon storage in seagrass meadows across gradients in water quality. In: Program and Abstract Handbook: AMSA2013 Golden Jubilee Conference. AMSA 2013: Australian Marine Science Golden Jubilee Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, (197-197). 7-11 July 2013.

  • Saunders, Megan I., Baldock, Tom, Brown, Christopher J., Callaghan, David P., Golshani, Aliastair, Hamylton, Sarah, Leon, Javier, Lovelock, Catherine E., Lyons, Mitchell B., O'Brien, Katherine R., Mumby, Peter J., Phinn, Stuart R. and Roelfsema, Christiaan M. (2013). Direct and indirect impacts of predicted sea level rise on seagrass. In: Program and Abstract Handbook: AMSA2013 Golden Jubilee Conference. AMSA 2013: Australian Marine Science Golden Jubilee Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, (198-198). 7-11 July 2013.

  • Leon, J., Phinn, S. R., Woodroffe, C. D., Hamylton, S., Roelfsema, C. and Saunders, M. (2012). Data fusion for mapping coral reef geomorphic zones - possibilities and limitations. In: Raul Queiroz Feitosa, Gilson Alexandre Ostwald Pedro da Costa, Claudia Maria de Almeida, Leila Maria Garcia Fonseca and Hermann Johann Heinrich Kux, Proceedings of GEOBIA 2012: 4th International Conference on Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis. 4th International Conference on Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA 2012), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (261-266). 7-9 May 2012.

  • O'Brien, K. R., Grinham, A., Roelfsema, C. M., Saunders, M. I. and Dennison, W. C. (2011). Viability criteria for the presence of the seagrass Zostera muelleri in Moreton Bay, based on benthic light dose. In: MODSIM 2011: International Congress on Modelling and Simulation proceedings. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand (MODSIM 2011), Perth, Australia, (4127-4133). 12 - 16 December 2011.

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision