PhD project

Using plant-sediment feedbacks to aid seagrass restoration in the face of climate change.

Supervised by Ezequiel Marzinelli (The University of Sydney) and Paul Gribben (UNSW)

Seagrass meadows are declining at alarming rates in Australia and globally. This loss of coastal habitat has resulted in the loss of key ecosystem functions such as nursery habitat for fish, nutrient cycling, coastal protection and carbon sequestration. Although many factors influence seagrass health, the most common threat to seagrasses is human activity (e.g. water pollution). Interestingly, restoration often fails, even after the initial aboveground stressors have been removed. A key explanation for this comes from terrestrial ecosystems where it has been clearly demonstrated that microbially-mediated plant-soil feedbacks can exert a much stronger influence on plant health than aboveground processes and are thus critical for the functioning and resilience of these ecosystems. These belowground microbial communities can benefit host plant growth and survivorship via increasing availability of plant nutrients, creating suitable environmental conditions, or by antagonism against pathogens.

In my PhD project I aim to understand these belowground processes (i.e. plant-sediment feedbacks) in marine ecosystems. Understanding these processes might be the missing piece needed to enhance seagrass restoration and this might result in a step-change in seagrass restoration success. 

%d bloggers like this: