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Dr Lea-Anne Henry


Research Fellow

School of Life Sciences

Phone: +44 (0)131 451 8267
  • Room 3.06
    William Perkin Building
  • School of Life Sciences
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Edinburgh
  • EH14 4AS
  • United Kingdom

Research profile


I am a marine ecologist and taxonomist working on the biodiversity of cold-water coral reefs formed by the colonial scleractinian Lophelia pertusa and the marine benthic Hydrozoa (hydroids).

My research adopts a multidisciplinary approach to studying cold-water coral reefs. Spatially explicit models of biodiversity are derived across multiple spatial scales using environmental data acquired from multibeam bathymetry, benthic lander platforms and imagery, and species data.

Deep-sea sampling provides an abundance of hydroids, which I have found are richly represented in cold-water coral habitats on the Darwin Mounds, Belgica Mounds, Mingulay Reef Complex, and off the southeastern US and Bahamas. Currently I am working on an Atlantic basin-scale analysis of the biodiversity and biogeography of the hydroid fauna associated with Lophelia to elucidate connectivity patterns and the role of large-scale forcing factors.

Selected publications


  • Wheeler AJ, Kozachenko M, Henry L-A, de Haas H, Huvenne VAI, Masson DG, Olu-Le Roy K (in press) The Moira Mounds, small cold-water coral banks in the Porcupine Seabight, NE Atlantic: an early stage growth phase for future coral carbonate mounds? Marine Geology doi 10.1016/j.margeo.2010.08.006
  • Henry L-A, Davies AJ, Roberts JM (2010) Beta diversity of cold-water coral reef communities off western Scotland. Coral Reefs 29: 427-436
  • Roberts JM, Davies AJ, Henry L-A, Dodds LA, Duineveld GCA, Lavaleye MSS, Maier C, van Soest RWM, Bergman MIN, Hühnerbach V, Huvenne VAI, Sinclair DJ, Watmough T, Long D, Green SL, van Haren H (2009) The Mingulay reef complex, northeast Atlantic: an interdisciplinary study of cold-water coral habitat, hydrography and biodiversity. Marine Ecology Progress Series 397: 139-151
  • Henry L-A, Nizinski, M, Ross, SW (2008) Occurrence and biogeography of hydroids (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa) from deep-water coral habitats off the southeastern United States. Deep-Sea Research Part I 55: 788-800
  • Roberts JM, Henry L-A, Long D, Hartley JP (2008) Cold-water coral reef frameworks, megafaunal communities and evidence for coral carbonate mounds on the Hatton Bank, north east Atlantic. Facies 54: 297-316
  • Henry L-A, Roberts JM (2007) Biodiversity and ecological composition of macrobenthos on cold-water coral mounds and adjacent off-mound habitat in the bathyal Porcupine Seabight, NE Atlantic. Deep-Sea Research Part I 54: 654-672
  • Kenchington EL, Kenchington TJ, Henry L-A, Fuller SD, Gonzalez P (2007) Multi-decadal changes in the megabenthos of the Bay of Fundy: the effects of fishing. Journal of Sea Research 58: 220-240
  • Henry L-A, Kenchington ELR, Kenchington TJ, MacIsaac KG, Bourbonnais-Boyce C, Gordon Jr, DC (2006) Impacts of otter-trawling on colonial epifaunal assemblages on a cobble bottom ecosystem on Western Bank (northwest Atlantic). Marine Ecology Progress Series 306: 63-78
  • Henry L-A, Roberts JM (2006) First record of Bedotella armata (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa) from the Porcupine Seabight: do Northeast Atlantic carbonate mound fauna have Mediterranean ancestors? Marine Biodiversity Records 1: e24
  • Henry L-A, Hart, MW (2005) Regeneration from injury and resource allocation in sponges and corals – a review. International Review of Hydrobiology 90: 125-158
  • Henry L-A, Kenchington ELR (2004) Differences between epilithic and epizoic hydroid assemblages on commercial scallop grounds in the Bay of Fundy, northwest Atlantic. Marine Ecology Progress Series 266: 123-134
  • Henry L-A, Kenchington, ELR (2004) Ecological and genetic evidence for impaired sexual reproduction and induced clonality in the hydroid Sertularia cupressina (Cnidaria:Hydrozoa) on commercial scallop grounds in Atlantic Canada. Marine Biology 145: 1107-1118
  • Henry L-A, Kenchington ELR, Lamanna A (2003) Taxonomic status of colour morphs and pan-American specimens of Paragorgia arborea (Linnaeus, 1758). Erlanger Geologische Abhandlungen 4: 45-46
  • Henry L-A, Kenchington ELR, Silvaggio A (2003) Effects of mechanical experimental disturbance on aspects of colony responses, reproduction and regeneration in the cold water octocoral Gersemia rubiformis. Canadian Journal of Zoology 81: 1691-1701
  • Henry L-A (2002) Intertidal zonation and seasonality of the marine hydroid Dynamena pumila (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa). Canadian Journal of Zoology 80: 1526-1536
  • Henry L-A (2001) Hydroids associated with deep-sea corals in the boreal north-west Atlantic. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 81: 163-164. 

Book Chapters

  •  Henry L-A. (2007) Hydroids. In, “Encyclopedia of Tidepools”. Gaines SD, Denny M (eds). University of California Press. Pp. 284-285 

Technical Reports

  • Gordon Jr DC, Kenchington ELR, Gilkinson KD, Fader GBJ, Bourbonnais-Boyce C, MacIsaac KG, McKeown DL, Henry L-A, Vass WP (2008) Summary of the Western Bank otter trawling experiment (1997-1999): effects on benthic habitat and communities. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2822: vii+70p
  • Henry L-A, Roberts JM (2004) The biodiversity, characteristics and distinguishing features of deep-water epifaunal communities from the Wyville-Thomson Ridge, Darwin Mounds and Faeroes Plateau. Report to the Atlantic Frontier Environment Network, 44pp
  • Roberts JM, Coates A, Duncan J, Henry L-A, Hughes DJ, Lamont P (2004) MINCH grab sample report. Mapping Inshore Coral Habitats. Report to the Scottish Executive and Scottish Natural Heritage, 27pp
  • Henry L, Kenchington E, Gordon DC Jr, MacIsaac K, Bourbonnais C (2002) Indicators of benthic biodiversity for the eastern Scotian Shelf. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2433: ix+61p.

I did a B.Sc. Honours with the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa in Canada in 1998. My thesis project was to quantify patterns in the aquatic macrobenthic communities inhabiting streams in the Ottawa-Hull region. Species richness and composition of these lotic invertebrates were significantly related to aquatic chloride concentration, which is largely derived from rock salt used to safeguard vehicles in the extreme winter climates of Ottawa.

I proceeded to a M.Sc. degree in Zoology with the Department of Zoology at the University in Toronto in Canada in 2000, in conjunction with the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. I examined the rich biodiversity of the hydroid fauna inhabiting the Passamaquoddy Region of the Bay of Fundy, and the seasonality and ecology of the intertidal hydroid Dynamena pumila. This species is quite a robust beast, surviving a wind chill of -20°C and shearing ice flow in the winter, and intense reflecting sunlight and humidity up to 30°C in the summer. I also established a taxonomic consultancy with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in the US to identify hydroids as part of the Smithsonian’s successful international invasive species programme, a collaboration that I maintain today.

My Ph.D. in Biology with Dalhousie University in Canada in conjunction with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography examined the effects of bottom fishing on the biodiversity, distribution and life history aspects of sessile benthic communities in the Canadian maritimes. I am also became a charter member for the Canadian Centre for Marine Biodiversity, a virtual centre for various stakeholders of Canada’s three oceans.

My Ph.D. research initiated my sustained interest in the biodiversity associated with cold-water corals, and lead to an EC-funded Marie Curie post-doctoral fellowship at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban. Today I continue this research at the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and participate on the ICES Working Group on Deep-Water Ecology.

Further information

Awards and Funding

  • Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man’s Impact on European Seas (funding for 2010-2012)
  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (funding for 2010)
  • European Commission-Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship (awarded 2005-2007)
  • Atlantic Frontier Environmental Network (funding for 2004)
  • NSERC Post-Graduate Scholarship (awarded 2001 – 2003)
  • NSERC Post-Graduate Department of Fisheries and Oceans Supplement (awarded 2002 – 2003)
  • Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy (funding for 2003)
  • Dalhousie University Graduate A-Student Scholarship (awarded 2003)
  • Dalhousie University Graduate Conference Grant (awarded 2002)
  • Ecological Society of America Conference Grant (awarded 2002)
  • Huntsman Graduate Research Scholarship (awarded 1999 – 2000)
  • University of Toronto Pure and Applied Sciences Grant (awarded 1999)
  • University of Toronto Open Fellowship (awarded 1998 – 2000).

Referee Appointments in Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • Biological Conservation, Deep Sea Research Part I, Ecography, Helgoland Marine Research, ICES Journal of Marine Science, Marine Ecology Progress Series, PLoS One, Zootaxa.