Prior to the start of my PhD, I completed an undergraduate course in Marine Biology / Zoology, transferring onto a Masters of Marine Biology (mmBiol) at Bangor University, achieving a first class. During the Masters course, I developed a focus on how metabolic and physiological processes within marine organisms are affected by climate change and how their role within an ecosystem may change. The resultant alterations to ecosystem connectivity in relation to human coastal communities then became a keen interest of mine. My current research intends to assess the potential social impacts and welfare issues for coastal communities in relation to altered marine ecosystems.
Large concentrations of jellyfish are increasingly being recorded worldwide. The main drivers of this are hypothesised to be as a result of increasing ocean temperatures and increases in prey availability. These factors are often influenced by anthropogenic activities that alter the characteristics of the oceans in favour of gelatinous zooplankton. The impacts of a bloomed population and jellyfish invasions on marine ecosystems and ecosystem services have historically been substantial, affecting a wide array of industries such as coastal tourism and recreation. Extensive jellyfish blooms have recently been recorded in the Mediterranean with ecological modelling predicting more common blooming events to occur in coastal areas off Britain and Ireland. Drawing on a combination of risk-based modelling and social science methods, my research is considering the following key research questions:
- What do existing risk based models and frameworks reveal about the likelihood of future jellyfish population explosions off the coasts of Britain and Ireland?
- How may the impacts of jellyfish blooms alter these coastal ecosystems?
- What potential future economic losses could industries in risk areas incur following such blooms?
- How may stakeholder and public views and understandings of possible blooms impact on future policy options?