Marine Environmental Science Research Group
Researchers at the Institute of Marine Sciences are at the forefront of international projects researching diverse marine topics from the molecular to the ecosystem/community level. In collaboration with scientists and industry from many different disciplines around the world, our research addresses some of the key environmental issues that we face in marine science as well as advancing our knowledge of biological processes in marine ecosystems. The overarching focus of our research is the interaction of humans with the marine environment. This is undertaken in a wide range of ecosystems and habitats from tropical mangroves to intertidal soft sediments and even the polar regions, but with particular emphasis on coastal areas. This theme can be broken down in to four main interconnected topics:
Our current research
Human impact on the marine environment
Humans are damaging marine ecosystems at an unprecedented rate and our research groups are at the forefront of understanding these impacts. A wide range of pollutants (microplastics, pharmaceutical compounds [e.g. Prozac], heavy metals, endocrine disruptors and anti-fouling paints to name a few) are being assessed by research groups to understand impacts on a range of different aquatic species and ecosystems. This will ultimately lead to better control of these substances and healthier seas.
One of the most important current world conservation issues is that of the impact of invasive species in terms of ecosystem function and economic cost. We currently have projects investigating the spread of aquatic alien flora and fauna, many of which arrived in the UK within the Solent European Marine Site.
Exploitation of the marine environment
The marine environment is a vast resource that has been plundered for millennia, however, we are only now beginning to understand the impact of many of these activities. Researchers are active in the fields of aggregate extraction, fisheries, bait collection); aquaculture (for the tropical marine aquarium trade and algae), biofuel production (using novel enzyme systems) and bioprospecting (identification of novel substances for medicinal use from marine organisms).
Marine resource management
Researchers from IMS are at the forefront of global Marine Protected Area (MPA) development and evaluation in areas as diverse as New Zealand and Indonesia as well as being heavily involved in the current UK marine conservation process. Protected iconic species (e.g. seals and wading birds) are also the focus of this research.
Fundamental research on marine systems
Supporting these three topics is the curiosity-driven research in a wide range of areas including: mangrove and coral reef ecology, plankton, algal biology,soft-sediment ecology, larval biology, trophic interactions, parasitism and vertebrate physiology.