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, and partnership with, 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 this habitat over time, by piecing together historical evidence from archival sources (e.g., fisheries data, ecological and spatial data and archival popular media articles) and undertaking semi-structured interviews with the local community and fishing community, to generate a deeper understanding of past values, perceptions, services and disservices of this habitat and its change over time and space. Additionally, I will use remote sensing techniques to understand the spatial dynamics of this habitat across the past four decades to understand kelp extent, and changes throughout the 20th and 21st century.
This mixed-method approach will provide a holistic view of the dynamics of an important marine habitat over time and provide valuable evidence and insights to inform future restoration and management goals as part of the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project.