Dr Nicola Foster
School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
I am a Research Fellow at the University and I study coral populations across a broad depth range, from shallow, tropical coral reefs (<30 m), to the relatively unexplored mesophotic coral ecosystems (30-200 m), and beyond to the cold-water corals of the deep sea (>200 m). I am particularly interested in variation in diversity and community structure along the depth gradient, and the horizontal and vertical connectivity of populations via larval dispersal, and the implications of this on conservation and management of the marine environment. Currently, I am working on two key projects. I am investigating the changes in diversity and distribution of mesophotic reefs in the British Indian Ocean Territory in relation to depth and oceanographic drivers. In this project, I will assess the genetic connectivity of sessile reef species across the depth gradient from shallow to mesophotic depths to determine the potential of mesophotic reefs to resupply shallow reefs with larvae following mortality. In the second project (DeepLinks), we are investigating how patterns of population connectivity vary with depth in the deep sea, and how this influences species diversity, using a combination of molecular techniques, modelling and community analysis.
2019 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
2019 Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practise, University of Plymouth
2007 PhD University of Exeter - Population dynamics of the dominant Caribbean reef-building coral, Montastraea annularis.
2002 MSc University of Wales, Bangor - Marine Environmental Protection.
2000 BSc (Hons) University of Wales, Bangor - Marine Biology.
International Society for Reef Studies
Society for Conservation Biology
Marine Biological Association
Deep-sea Biology Society
I am currently involved in delivering occasional lectures within a selected number of modules within my department (MBIO221 Marine Molecular Biology, MBIO315 Biological Oceanography, MBAM5106 Advanced Research in Marine Biology, MBAM5108 Marine Ecology and Conservation), and I also assist with practical sessions, fieldtrips and workshops.
My broad research interests focus on marine ecology, population dynamics, population connectivity and conservation genetics. In particular, I am interested in using population genetic studies to inform conservation planning and management of the marine environment.
Grants & contracts
Researcher/Co-investigator - NERC Grant: Influence of population connectivity on depth-dependent diversity of deep-sea benthic biota (£574,000; 2015-2018)
Key publications are highlightedJournals