Rocky reef kelp forests are recognized globally as ecosystems that collapse and recover rapidly in response to environmental and biological perturbations. My research seeks to increase our understanding of the social-ecological dynamics associated with transitions occurring in the temperate kelp forests of British Columbia. Using field surveys, experiments, interviews and modeling I hope to identify thresholds that drive rocky reef community transitions, document the cascading effects of sea otter recovery on subtidal algal assemblages and characterize how coastal indigenous communities adapt to social and ecological trade-offs associated with sea otter recovery.
As human activities and overlapping uses of the marine environment increase, there is an resounding call for planning initiatives that strive to integrate ecosystem, social and governance objectives. My research in this area has focused on marine protected area (and network) design, exploring ways that MPAs can incorporate biodiversity and ecosystem resilience objectives while reconciling human uses and values. I have also been actively involved in community marine planning initiatives in different parts of BC.
In the context of climate change, it is becoming increasingly important to predict how temperature changes may affect fish reproduction, development and their ability to adapt. My masters thesis focused on how the early development stages of Fraser River sockeye salmon are affected by thermal stress, with the goal of increasing our understanding of the potential consequences and adaptations associated with climate-related river warming.