Dr Donna Roberts


Dr Roberts is a postdoctoral fellow with the ocean acidification team at ACE.

For over a decade, Dr Roberts has focused on the microscopic world in and around Antarctica – the plants and animals at the very bottom of the food chain that underpin entire ecosystems.

Currently, she is researching just how vulnerable the Southern Ocean ecosystem is to ocean acidification and how strongly even small changes in ocean pH will affect marine life, particularly pteropods: marine snails more poetically known as ‘sea butterflies’.

She focuses on the little things to illuminate some of the biggest issues facing the planet, particularly the increasingly worrying picture of ocean health in a changing climate.

Her research interests include:

–        Ocean acidification impacts on Southern Ocean plankton,

–        Antarctic and Southern Ocean plankton biodiversity and taxonomy,

–        Antarctic and Southern Ocean palaeoclimate, and

–        Science communication.


*pdf available upon request


Howard, W.R., Roberts, D., Moy, A.D., Lindsay, M.C.M., Hopcroft, R.R., Trull, T.W. and Bray, S.G. 2011.  Distribution, abundance and seasonal flux of pteropods in the Sub-Antarctic Zone, Deep Sea Research II – SAZ-SENSE Voyage Special Edition.*

Roberts, D., Howard, W.R., Moy, A.D., Roberts, J.L., Trull, T.W., Bray, S.G. and Hopcroft, R.R. 2011. Interannual pteropod variability in sediment traps deployed above and below the aragonite saturation horizon in the Sub-Antarctic Southern Ocean. Polar Biology doi 10.1007/s00300-011-1024-z *

Verleyen, E., Hodgson, D.A., Sabbe, K., Cremer, H., Emslie, S.D., Gibson, J., Hall, B., Imura, S., Kudoh, S., Marshall, G.J., McMinn, A., Melles, M., Newman, L., Roberts, D., Singh, S.M., Sterken, M., Tavernier, I., Verkulich S., Van de Vyver, E., Van Nieuwenhuyze, W., Vyverman, W. and Wagner, B. 2011. Post glacial regional climate variability along the East Antarctic coastal margin – evidence from shallow marine and coastal terrestrial records. Earth Science Reviews 104: 199-212.*


Verleyen, E., Vyverman, W., Sterken, M., Hodgson, D.A., De Wever, A., Juggins, S., Van de Vijver, B., Jones, V.J., Vanormelingen, P., Roberts, D., Flower, R., Kilroy, C., Souffreau, C. and Sabbe, K. 2009. The importance of dispersal related and local factors in shaping the taxonomic structure of diatom metacommunities. Oikos 118(8): 1239-1249.*


Roberts, D., Howard, W. R., Moy, A. D., Roberts, J. L., Trull, T. W., Bray, S. G. and Hopcroft, R. R. 2008. Interannual variability of pteropod shell weights in the high-CO2 Southern Ocean. Biogeosciences Discussions 5: 4453-4480. *


Roberts, D., Craven, M., Cai, M., Allison, I. and Nash, G. 2007. Protists in the marine ice of the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antartcica. Polar Biology 30(2): 143-153. *

Saunders, K.M., McMinn, A., Roberts, D., Hodgson, D.A. and Heijnis, H. 2007. Recent human-induced salinity changes in Ramsar-listed Orielton Lagoon, south-east Tasmania, Australia: a new approach for coastal lagoon conservation and management. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 17(1): 51-70. *

Post, A., Hemer, M., O’Brien, P., Roberts, D. and Craven, M. 2007. History of benthic colonisation beneath the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Marine Ecology Progress Series 344: 29-37. *

Hemer, M., O’Brien, P., Post, A., Craven, M., Truswell, E. and Roberts, D. 2007. Sedimentation beneath a major embayed Antarctic Ice Shelf (Amery ice Shelf, east Antarctica): Results from two sub-ice-shelf sediment cores. Antarctic Science 19 (4): 497-506. *

Vyverman, V., Verleyen, E., Sabbe, K., Vanhoutte,K., Sterken, M., Hodgson, D., Mann, D., Juggins, S., van de Vijver, B., Jones, V., Flower, R., Roberts, D., Chepurnov, V., Kilroy, C., Vanormelingen, P. and de Wever, A. 2007. Historical processes constrain patterns in global diatom diversity. Ecology 88(8): 1924-1931.*


Gibson, J.A.E., Roberts, D. and Van de Vijver, B. 2006. Salinity control of the distribution of diatoms in lakes of the Bunger Hills, East Antarctica. Polar Biology 29(8): 694-704. *

Hodgson, D.A., Roberts, D., McMinn, A., Verleyen, E., Terry. B., Corbett, C. and Vyverman, W. 2006. Recent rapid salinity rise in three East Antarctic lakes. Journal of Paleolimnology 36(4): 385-406. *


Roberts, D., McMinn, A., Cremer, H., Gore, D.B. and Melles, M. 2004. The Holocene evolution and palaeosalinity history of Beall Lake, Windmill Islands (East Antarctica) using an expanded diatom-based weighted-averaging model. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 208(1-2): 121-140. *

Hodgson, D.A., Doran, P.T., Roberts, D. and McMinn, A. 2004.  Paleolimnological studies from the Antarctic and Subantarctic islands. In: Pienitz, R., Douglas, M.S.V. and Smol, J.P. (eds).  Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research Series: Volume 8, Long-term Environmental Change in Arctic and Antarctic Lakes, Springer Academic Publishers. Chapter 14: 419-474. *


Cremer, H., Roberts, D., McMinn, A., Gore, D. and Melles. M. 2003. The Holocene diatom flora of marine bays in the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica.  Botanica Marina 46(1): 82-106. *

Cremer, H., Gore, D., Melles. M. and Roberts, D. 2003. Palaeoclimatic significance of late Quaternary diatom assemblages from southern Windmill Islands, East Antarctica.  Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 195(3-4): 261-280. *

Verleyen, E., Hodgson, D.A., Vyverman, W., Roberts, D., McMinn, A., Vanhoutte, K. and Sabbe, K. 2003. Modelling diatom responses to climate induced fluctuations in the moisture balance in continental Antarctic lakes. Journal of Paleolimnology 30(2): 195-215. *

Hodgson, D.A., McMinn, A., Kirkup, H., Cremer, H., Gore, D., Melles, M., Roberts, D. and Montiel, P. 2003.  Colonisation, succession and extinction of marine floras during a glacial cycle – a case study from the Windmill Islands (East Antarctica) using biomarkers. Paleoceanography 18(3): 1067-1081. *


Roberts, D., van Ommen, T. D., McMinn, A., Morgan, V. and Roberts, J. 2001. Late Holocene East Antarctic Temperatures Reconstructed from Ice Core and Lake Sediment Proxies. The Holocene 11(1): 117-120. *

Roberts, D., McMinn, A., Johnston, N., Gore, D.B., Melles, M. and Cremer, H. 2001. An analysis of the limnology and sedimentary diatom flora of fourteen lakes and ponds from the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica. Antarctic Science 13(4): 410-419. *

McMinn, A., Howard, W. and Roberts, D. 2001. Late Pliocene dinoflagellate cyst and diatom analysis from a high resolution sequence in DSDP Site 594, Chatham Rise, south west Pacific. Marine Micropalaeontology 43(3-4): 207-221.

Cremer, H., Gore, D., Kirkup, H., McMinn, A., Melles, M., Roberts, D. and Hubbertsen H-W. 2001. The Late Quaternary environmental history of the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica – initial evidence from the diatom record. Proceedings of the 16th International Diatom Symposium, Economou-Amilli A (eds), Athens, Greece: 471-484.


Roberts, D., McMinn, A and Zwartz, D.  2000. An initial palaeosalinity history of Jaw Lake, Bunger Hills based on a diatom-salinity transfer function applied to sediment cores. Antarctic Science 12(2): 172-176. *

McMinn, A., Bleakley, N., Steinburner, K., Roberts, D. and Trenerry L. 2000.  Effect of permanent sea ice cover and different nutrient regimes on the phytoplankton succession of fjords of the Vestfold Hills Oasis, eastern Antarctica. Journal of Plankton Research 22(2): 287-303. *


Roberts, D. and McMinn, A. 1999. Diatoms of the saline lakes of the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. Bibliotheca Diatomologica 44, 83pp.

Roberts, D
. and McMinn, A. 1999. A diatom-based palaeosalinity history of Ace Lake, Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. The Holocene 9(4): 401-408. *

Roberts, D., Roberts, J.L., Gibson, J.A.E., McMinn, A. and Heijnis, H. 1999.  Palaeohydrological modelling of Ace Lake, Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. The Holocene 9(5): 515-520. *


Roberts, D. and McMinn, A. 1998.  A weighted-averaging regression and calibration model for inferring lakewater salinity from fossil diatom assemblages in saline lakes of the Vestfold Hills: implications for interpreting Holocene lake histories in Antarctica. Journal of Paleolimnology 19(2): 99-113. *


Roberts, D. and McMinn, A.  1997. Palaeosalinity reconstruction from saline lake diatom assemblages in the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. In: Lyons, W., Howard-Williams, B. & Hawes, I. (eds.) Ecosystem Processes in Antarctic Ice-Free Landscapes.  Polar Desert Ecosystems Conference Proceedings, July 1- 4, 1996, Christchurch, New Zealand, p 207-220.


Roberts, D. and McMinn, A. 1996.  Relationships between surface sediment diatom assemblages and water chemistry gradients in saline lakes of the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica.  Antarctic Science 8(4): 331-341. *

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