Academic Year 2021-2022
Institution University of Aberdeen


School: School of Biological Sciences

Project: Establishing Marine Biodiversity Baselines for Blue Carbon Habitats

Supervisors: Professor Stuart Piertney, Dr Kara LaytonDr Julia Sigwart

Undergraduate Education: MSci Biology and Marine Biology, University of Southampton

Postgraduate Education: N/A

Research: My project focuses on using DNA based methods to monitor marine biodiversity which could aid in conserving and restoring seagrass meadows in the UK.

Seagrasses create biodiverse inshore habitats which capture carbon dioxide and store it as “blue carbon” – carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems. These habitats are therefore an important nature based solution to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Additionally, seagrass meadows act as nursery areas for commercially exploited fish species and stabilize marine sediments which reduces coastal erosion.

Since biodiversity underpins the functioning of an ecosystem, establishing what species inhabit seagrass meadows and how they change over time is critical in monitoring their ongoing health.

My research aims to use eDNA metabarcoding to assess the biodiversity of seagrass meadows in the UK. The project focuses on marine invertebrates since their biodiversity is more poorly understood.


  • Establish a comprehensive DNA barcode reference library for marine invertebrates living on UK seagrass meadows.
  • Compare the diversity and abundance of marine invertebrates in standardized samples to samples analysed by eDNA metabarcoding.
  • Compare the detection of different invertebrate taxa by eDNA metabarcoding from aqueous verses sediment samples.

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