Dr Kirsty McQuaid
One Ocean Hub Research Fellow
School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth, in the Marine Conservation Research Group. I work on deep-sea ecosystems, trying to better understand the environmental drivers of biological variation in megafauna communities, and using this information to support habitat classification, mapping and Marine Spatial Planning. I am currently working on One Ocean Hub, a large, collaborative, transdisciplinary project aimed at transforming our approach to ocean governance and research. As part of this work I will be exploring epibenthic megafauna communities in South Atlantic Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, and carrying out habitat classification and MSP.
Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) Minerals Working Group member (2019 - present)
Deep-sea Biology Society
Roles on external bodies
Invited member of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Marine Ecosystem Classification & Mapping Committee (2020-2025)
My research focuses on deep-sea benthic ecology, habitat classification and habitat mapping, aimed at improving environmental management of human activities in the deep sea, particularly through marine spatial planning. This work is focused mainly in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.
My PhD research was aimed at improving understanding of the epibenthic megafauna communities in abyssal areas targeted for deep-sea mining of polymetallic nodules, and supporting the environmental management of mining activities through recommendations on environmental survey design and spatial planning. I explored the megafauna community associated with nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ, eastern central Pacific) through analysis of historic black and white imagery, and investigated appropriate sampling units to support baseline environmental sampling in this area. I also produced a habitat classification of the CCZ management area and assessed the habitat representativity of the current protected area network in this region.
This PhD research was funded by UK Seabed Resources Ltd, as part of the International Seabed Authority’s training programme for capacity building in developing nations. My supervisory team consisted of Prof Kerry Howell (Plymouth University), Prof Martin Attrill (Plymouth University), Dr Adrian Glover (Natural History Museum), and Prof Craig Smith (University of Hawai’i at Manoa).
McQuaid KA, Attrill MJ, Clark MR, Cobley A, Glover AG, Smith CR & Howell KL. 2020. Using habitat classification to assess representativity of a protected area network in a large, data-poor area targeted for deep-sea mining. Frontiers in Marine Science 7: 1066. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2020.558860.
Dunn et al. 2018. A strategy for the conservation of biodiversity on mid-ocean ridges from deep-sea mining. Science Advances 4(7). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar4313.
Glover et al. 2016. The London workshop on the biogeography and connectivity of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e10528. DOI: 10.3897/rio.2.e10528.
McQuaid KA,Griffiths CL. 2014. Alien reef-building polychaete drives long-term changes in invertebrate biomass and diversity in a small, urban estuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2013.12.016.
Cole VJ, McQuaid KA, McQuaid CD. 2012. Examination of small- and large-scale influences on the diet of an omnivorous polychaete indicates weak effects of upwelling. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 436-437: 28-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2012.08.013.
McQuaid K, Washburn T, Howell K. 2020. 'Habitat mapping and environmental data’ in Deep CCZ Biodiversity Synthesis Workshop Report. Friday Harbor, Washington, USA, 1-4 October 2019, 207pp. Available: https://www.isa.org.jm/event/deep-ccz-biodiversity-synthesis-workshop.
Sink KJ, Wilkinson S, Atkinson L, Leslie R, Attwood C, McQuaid K. 2013. Spatial management to support protection of benthic ecosystems in the South African demersal trawl fishery. South African National Biodiversity Institute assessment, South Africa, 20pp.