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 global warming and ocean acidification, on marine biodiversity and the structure and function of shallow-water marine ecosystems.

Current Projects

  • the effects of multiple stressors on the strength and direction of biotic interactions
  • the effects of temperature and disturbance on the productivity, structure & functioning of UK kelp forests
  • the effects of temperature on the physiological responses of trailing edge and range centre macrophytes
  • the effects of climate change on the phenological responses of a keystone grazer (limpets) across Europe
  • the development of novel metrics of climate change for predicting marine biological responses to climate change
  • population genetics of UK kelp species
  • a holobiont approach to exploring kelp detrital communities

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

  • 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