Climate change and marine ecosystems

We use long-term data, in-situ gradients, ex-situ experimental manipulations and synthetic approaches to determine the impacts of environmental change, particularly decadal scale warming and marine heatwaves, on marine biodiversity and the structure and function of shallow-water marine ecosystems.

Current Projects

  • Describing the structure, function and resilience of UK kelp forests
  • The impacts of climate change on kelp forests
  • Towards an ecosystem-based fisheries management approach to kelp harvesting in Chile and Peru
  • Blue-carbon potential of marine macrophytes (kelp & fucoids)
  • Impacts of marine heatwaves (MHWs) for marine biodiversity – find out more about our MHWs working group

Video of some of our kelp work from Orkney to Plymouth in collaboration with Dr Dan Smale, MBA

Biological habitat enhancement of coastal engineering

There is an increase in coastal and offshore engineering in response to climate change. In the UK the Marine Act (2009) states that in addition to  “avoid(ing) harm to marine ecology and biodiversity” marine planing should “provide opportunities for building-in beneficial features for marine ecology and biodiversity”. We are interested in developing low-cost interventions at the design stage or during maintenance works to increase beneficial features of marine biodiversity.

Current Projects

  • Ecostructure project – identifying the drivers of diversity deficits on artificial coastal structures and testing existing and novel eco-engineering interventions in an Irish Sea context
  • Previous the effects of incorporating low-cost rock pool interventions for increasing biodiversity on coastal defence – see our CIRIA one big challenge award for more Innovative design
  • there is increasing interest from the scientific community in habitat enhancement of coastal/offshore engineering, but what is the perception of ecological engineering more broadly (i.e. statutory bodies, consultants, engineers etc)
  • the development of novel material design to mitigate the impacts on climate change and for incorporation within engineered structures