Madison Bowden-Parry, postgraduate researcher, CDT SuMMeR: Cohort 1

Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources (CDT SuMMeR)

Madison Bowden-Parry, postgraduate researcher, CDT summer


I have a BA (Hons) in Marine and Natural History Photography from Falmouth University and an MSc in Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology from the University of Exeter. Over the last four years, I have worked in research and industry, within RA positions, local government and NGO roles. My experience spans marine education, conservation and research, science communication, and digital media for conservation storytelling. 

Research interests

My interests are predominantly centred around marine historical ecology, social-ecological systems, past ecosystem dynamics and shifting baselines. As an interdisciplinary researcher, I am interested in using mixed method approaches to generate a deeper understanding of change within, impact on and use of marine ecosystems, for application in contemporary restoration and management goals. 

PhD research: Investigating the history of Sussex kelp habitats and their impact on local communities 

Throughout my PhD, I will use a variety of approaches from marine historical ecology to investigate the long-term dynamics and decline of Sussex kelp forests. My project provides an important historical dimension to the Sussex Kelp Recovery Project, to understand the historical extent of kelp, and the subsequent timings and drivers of its decline along this section of coastline. Furthermore, the impact of this decline and its influence on local communities remains unknown.
My project seeks to understand the social-ecological significance of kelp habitats over time, by piecing together historical evidence from archival sources (e.g., newspapers, government records, ecological data, and other grey literature) and undertaking oral histories with fishermen and the local community to understand past values, perceptions, and other records of this habitat prior to its loss. 
In addition, oral history interviews will allow for characterisation of Sussex’s inshore fisheries and document their dynamics over time. Fishing has played an important role in the history and heritage of Sussex communities; understanding past fishing movements and activities, and their associated social, ecological, and cultural significance, is therefore important for understanding their value.
Finally, I will use remote sensing techniques to understand the spatial dynamics of kelp habitats across the past four decades to understand kelp extent, and changes throughout the 20th and 21st century. 

Why I applied for the CDT SuMMeR

The CDT SuMMeR’s programme provides the opportunity for postgraduate researchers to be at the forefront of marine, solution-focused research. I applied for the CDT SuMMeR programme because of the transdisciplinary research focus, their goal to “break down barriers between science and policy” and train the next generation of highly skilled, interdisciplinary scientists. The programme values diversity and prioritises building transdisciplinary research capabilities, where research is organised under ‘real-world’ impact to tackle the complex, multi-dimensional challenges of the sustainable management of UK marine resources.