My research interests lie at the intersection of ecology, biomechanics and behaviour. In particular, I investigate how the movement behaviours of intertidal and subtidal marine invertebrates affect their ecology and energetics, and our ability to manage their populations effectively. I am fascinated by the strategies that relatively simple animals use to survive and thrive in complex and variable environments, and hope to broaden my studies in the future to better understand how animals generally make movement decisions.
Lobster movement ecology, energetics and conservation
No-take marine reserves were first established in New Zealand in the 1970's, and were intended to protect populations of commercially and ecologically valuable species, such as snapper and spiny lobster. However, lobster populations within northern New Zealand's marine reserves are still in decline. In this project, my colleagues and I explore how lobster movement ecology and energetics may play a role.
Intertidal temperature variability
Increases in global air and sea surface temperatures are expected to have dramatic effects on the abundance and distribution of species in the coming years. Intertidal organisms, which episodically experience temperatures at or beyond their thermal limits, provide a model system in which to experimentally investigate these effects. In this area of my work, my colleagues and I determine how intertidal communities will change through space and time as they become exposed to future enironmental conditions.
The roles of competition, behavioral plasticity and personality in intertidal limpets
Determining how animals move, and why they go where they do, can be challenging, especially for large organisms that inhabit and travel across relatively large spaces. In the intertidal zone, organisms are small, and their habitats are relatively small in extent. As a result, accurate, detailed data can be collected, and used to characterize the movement ecology of intertidal organisms. As part of continuing work from my doctoral studies, my colleagues and I describe limpet movements in the field, and explore how those movements are affected by biological and physical factors.