Dr Julie Anne Hope
2016 - Ph.D Marine ecology, University of St Andrews, 2011 - Bsc Marine Ecology, University of Aberdeen
Research | Current
Coastal ecosystems provide multiple ecosystem services (ES) including carbon fixation & oxygen production, nutrient cycling, improving water quality, energy transfer and coastal protection. These ES benefit our lives in various ways but it is often difficult to quantify ecosystem functions and processes in terms of the ES, or benefits, provided to society and decision makers. My research over the next few years will focus on linking various ecosystem functions to the delivery of ES in NZ coastal soft sediments, with a particular focus on the role of the microphytobenthos (MPB). MPB are photosynthesising microalgae and cyanobacteria which live on the sediment surface. They are an important component of shallow water ecosystems and their role as primary producers is often forgotten as they are not as visible like larger macroalgae. However, these microscopic organisms contribute up to 50% of marine primary production, and are therefore important for carbon cycling. This energy is then transferred to larger organisms, such as bivalves and worms in the sediment and on to larger more charismatic organisms such as fish and birds. These tiny algae are also responsible for stabilising our coastline with an excreted polymer that sticks sediment together and makes it more resistant to erosion. This polymer also attracts and binds particles from the water column helping to reduce the sediment load and contaminants in our coastal waters.
Despite these key contributions to the functioning of our coastal systems, there is little information on the contribution of these organisms to multiple ecosystem services and the value of these MPB to humans. To address this gap, a combination of surveys and manipulative experiments in the laboratory and field will allow me to quantify the important role of MPB under various environmental conditions, and assess their interaction with larger organisms (worms and bivalves) as well as the physical and biogeochemical processes in the system.
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Malarkey, J., Baas, J. H., Hope, J. A., Aspden, R. J., Parsons, D. R., Peakall, J., ... Lichtman, I. D. (2015). The pervasive role of biological cohesion in bedform development. Nature Communications, 6, 6257-6257. 10.1038/ncomms7257