This is a four-year project, funded by £1,500,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation and >£1,000,000 from the Bertarelli Foundation, to understand the physical processes that influence the ecosystems found throughout the Chagos Archipelago, a very large (640,000 km2) Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Indian Ocean. For more than a decade, the area has been covered by a 640,000 km² MPA, which incorporates a no-take zone, meaning it has endured little negative impact in terms of day-to-day human activity. The remote location of the Chagos Archipelago means that there are minimal human impacts, and thus it is one of the most pristine marine environments on earth. However, as with the rest of the planet, it is being affected by climate change and has a legacy of fishing.
Our research will use this near-pristine environment as a planetary-scale laboratory to learn how a thriving marine ecosystem develops in its natural state. We will work to understand how mostly intact marine ecosystems function and explore how conservation practices put in place as part of the MPA might benefit other areas of the marine environment.
The research brings together oceanographers, marine biologists, hydrographic surveyors and biogeochemists from the University of Plymouth and the Manta Trust
, an international charity established by Plymouth graduate Guy Stevens.