Simon Nutbrown, Cornelia

Project Title

Using genetics physiology and modelling to improve marine ecosystem conservation


Maerl beds are accretions of coralline red algae which are an important ecosystem both economically- for example in the support of fish stocks, and ecologically- providing an important habitat for many species and as a source of blue carbon. Despite all known maerl beds being classified as 'Endangered' or 'Vulnerable' and being listed as UK BAP Priority Habitat by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), the west coast of Scotland is a stronghold for maerl.

This project aims to combine the use of genetics, physiology and modelling to improve the knowledge base for maerl beds with the ultimate aim of informing maerl bed conservation strategies. Information such as full habitat distribution, carbon sequestration capabilities and genetic connectivity of the beds will all be of great use in determining effective conservation strategies. The project will use a combination of laboratory, field and aquarium experiments to achieve these aims.


Heidi Burdette and Teresa Fernandes (Heriot-Watt), Pete Hollingsworth (Royal Botanic Gardens) and John Baxter (Scottish Natural Heritage)