Macroalgal Physiology and Ecology

Ocean acidification and multiple stressors

Ocean acidification threatens the world’s marine ecosystems via altering key physiological functions such as calcification, photosynthetic processes, and the behavior of invertebrates and fishes. New Zealand’s iconic kelp ecosystems are particularly at rick from ocean acidification. My research group focuses on how kelp forest foundation species, including kelp and coralline algae, respond to future ocean acidification and other stressors. This work seeks to determine physiological mechanisms that impart tolerance to climate change, while at the same time understating the relative contributions of adaptive and acclamatory processes. A large component of this work involves determining the role that changes in means and variability in other environmental factors can play in mediating these effects. For example, determining how different components of environmental variability influence organism physiology.

Calcification and photosynthetic physiology

My group focuses on two physiological themes: 1) understanding the physiological mechanisms responsible for organism-level change, and 2) using organism physiology to predict ecosystem-level change. Prior to 2017 we had little understanding of coralline algal calcification physiological processes. My research group combines geochemical, physiological and genetic methods to further understand the mechanisms that drive calcification in coralline algae in collaboration with colleagues in Australia, France and the USA. My group also uses a combination of field and laboratory tools to assess how macroalgal dissolved inorganic carbon uptake is altered by irradiance, seawater carbonate chemistry, water motion, and temperature to better predict future shifts in macroalgal communities.

Kelp Forest Ecology

My interests also lay within general kelp forest ecology, particularly in macroalgal, pāua (abalone) and kina (sea urchin) interactions. Recent work has focused on how ocean warming and marine heatwaves can influence important foundation species in Australia, and my group will continue this work in New Zealand.

Prospective Students

I am always on the lookout for students interested kelp forest ecology, macroalgal physiology, and the impacts of climate change. I have supervised students mostly in the three topics above, but I am open to supervising motivated students with independent research topics. Most of my students are based at WUCEL. High GPAs are a prerequisite for receiving Wellington doctoral scholarship. Please contact me via email if you are interested in going my group.

Lecturer in Marine Biology
School of Biological Sciences · Marine Biology