- The size spectra of oceanic and estuarine plankton communities and its role as an indicator of trophic dynamics
- The role of salps in marine ecosystem function
- The biological oceanography of the East Australian Current, it’s eddy field and associated coastal upwelling
- Ecological modelling of estuarine systems using biomechanical and scaling approaches
I am a postdoctoral researcher and split my time between the University of NSW and the University of Technology, Sydney. As a postdoctoral researcher in the FAMER laboratory
I am currently engaged in a range of projects including:
- The abundance and distribution of salps and their role in marine ecosystem function. Salps are the fastest growing metazoan (multi-celled) organism on the planet with growth rates approaching that of bacteria. They bloom in spring, dominating the planktonic biomass by many orders of magnitude. On recent research cruises aboard the RV Southern Surveyor off southeastern Australia (Spring 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010), salps were often the dominant plankton collected. However, very little is known about their distribution, or how these blooms impact the marine ecosystem. To read more about salps, click here to go to our salp page.
- A census of Tasman Sea eddies, their distribution along the East Australian Coast, and their encroachment onto the shelf. Cyclonic (Cold-core) and Anti-Cylonic (Warm-Core) eddies are present across the entire surface of the ocean. Through the accumulation of almost 20 years of satellite altimetry data (Sea Surface Height), we are able to undertake a thorough census of the number, size and speed of large eddies in the Tasman Sea. We are particularly interested in those which are close to the Australian Coast as they offer opportunities for the entrainment of nutrients, plankton and fish from coastal enriched waters. Students within the FAMER lab are currently investigating whether there is an increase in growth and survival of larval fish when they are entrained into this enriched water.
- Spatial and temporal trends in Chlorophyll a and Net Primary Productivity (NPP) along the NSW Coast. Using satellite Ocean Colour data we are assessing the spatial and temporal trends in Chlorophyll a and NPP along the NSW continental shelf and slope. Regions of increased phytoplankton biomass are expected to support higher abundances of zooplankton and larval fish. This has significant implications for our coastal fisheries.
- Using estuarine zooplankton size distribution as an indicator of catchment disturbance. Disturbed catchments are known to export higher levels of nutrients an sediments to the estuary than undisturbed catchments. These nutrients flow through the food chain influencing plankton communities, and benthic processes, often with negative impacts. Using samples at multiple temporal and spatial scales across a range of NSW estuaries, we assess catchment impacts on the estuary using size-distribution of zooplankton, as measured by an Optical Plankton Counter.
Previously I worked for the Water and Coastal Science Section at the NSW Department of Climate Change (NSW DECC), helping to develop the Coastal Eutrophication Risk Assessment Tool (CERAT). The aim of CERAT is to permit comparative assessments of the risk of NSW estuaries to eutrophication and to assist in decisions on broad scale management actions.