Understanding Marine Biodiversity


As a signatory to the International Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada is committed to developing an inventory of its biodiversity resources and to preserving these resources. Within the marine environment, our understanding of the processes that regulate and maintain biodiversity is very limited, and even less is known about cold ocean ecosystems. My research will attempt to address this shortcoming by focusing on early life history stages and the processes that influence success, failure and the subsequent pattern of biodiversity. My research will be centred primarily in coastal Newfoundland, in a variety of habitats that include a diverse mix of temperate and arctic species.


I will focus on three research objectives. The first is to determine what larval transport and survival can tell us about patterns of recruitment and distribution in cold ocean environments. Second, I will examine the question of how larval settlement contributes to patterns of biodiversity in cold ocean environments, as well as what aspects of temporal and spatial variation in the natural environment influence these patterns. Finally, I will address the larger issue of whether we need to be concerned about biodiversity loss when we consider the health and functioning of the ecosystem, or whether species are largely interchangeable in terms of the roles they play.


Ultimately, my research will advance our understanding of cold ocean systems, provide better tools to manage and conserve ocean resources, and help Canada meet its international commitments on biodiversity.