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Understanding variation in marine protected areas: a spatio-temporal study of species richness and oceanographic patterns across the Galápagos Islands

Project Description

Human impacts across the world’s oceans are causing profound changes in ecosystem structure and species distributions. Understanding such ecosystem-wide changes requires a comprehensive baseline that can be widely used to track, manage and minimise perturbations. Progress in ocean biodiversity research has to date been limited by inconsistent data collection and inadequate levels of interaction between oceanography and biology. This project will combine the study of environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect marine species richness patterns with cutting-edge oceanographic modelling.
The rapid development of eDNA metabarcoding methods (i.e. the study of genetic material recovered from environmental samples such as seawater and sediment, to simultaneously identify species) has allowed the reliable sequencing of genomic material across the entire tree of life. This project will use eDNA metabarcoding to provide the first large-scale study of species richness patterns, from microbes to whales, of the Galápagos Islands. The objectives are:
1. Quantify oceanographic drivers shaping species richness patterns and population connectivity.
2. Predict impacts of contemporary climate dynamics on marine ecosystems.
3. Unravel the effects of human impacts on marine species richness patterns.
Our approach will allow forecasting future changes in ocean currents and evaluate their effects on coastal and shelf-sea ecosystems across the archipelago.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibility and how to apply.


Brannigan L, Marshall DP, Naveira Garabato AC, Nurser AJG (2015) The seasonal cycle of submesoscale flows. Ocean Modelling 92: 69-84.
Holman LE, de Bruyn M, Creer C, Carvalho GR, Robidart J, Rius M (2019) Detection of introduced and resident marine species using environmental DNA metabarcoding of sediment and water. Scientific Reports 9:11559
Mashayek A, Ferrari R, Merrifield S, Ledwell JR, St. Laurent L, Naveira Garabato AC (2016) Topographic enhancement of vertical turbulent mixing in the Southern Ocean. Nature Communications 8:14197.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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