My PhD research
Kelp decline and Sussex communities
Understanding long-term change within marine ecosystems requires an interdisciplinary approach to research, one that employs various approaches from the historical, ecological and social disciplines. This enables deeper understanding of past human-ocean interactions, past ecosystem quality and function and the scale of which humans have impacted these environments.
This is particularly important for marine ecosystems that are difficult to survey, including kelp forests. For my PhD, I will investigate the long-term dynamics and decline of kelp forests along the coast of West Sussex, a habitat that historically covered 17,000 ha across ~30km of coastline. As of 2019, only 4% of this habitat remained.
Our current knowledge of the historical extent of kelp, and the subsequent timings and drivers of its decline along this section of coastline are limited. Additionally, the influence that kelp, and its decline, has had on local communities and fisheries also remains unknown.
I will utilise a variety of approaches from marine historical ecology to understand this change, and the insights gained from my PhD will be used to inform future restoration and management of this habitat, as part of the Sussex Kelp Recovery Project.
Partners: Blue Marine Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.
Funding: Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources (CDT SuMMeR).