I am currently working on a PhD investigating the impact of microplastics on polar marine zooplankton. My research focus is twofold:
1.Investigate the physiological response of zooplankton to microplastics
Incubation experiments are looking at the impact of microplastics on zooplankton health, defining toxicity and measuring ingestion/egestion rates. It is important to understand these impacts in a more realistic environmental context and we hope to do this by looking at the potential synergistic impact of microplastics with ocean acidification.
2.Quantify the role of zooplankton in transporting microplastics from the surface ocean to depth
Investigations into the amount of microplastic in sinking particulate matter, specifically the contribution included in zooplankton faecal pellets and carcasses and to what degree their incorporation influences the movement of carbon through the water column.
The research is case-partnered with the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP WCMC) and one of the aims is therefore to contribute to the understanding of the spatial and temporal distribution of marine microplastics to help monitor plastic pollution. It is vital that research in this field is communicated to policy makers and this collaboration with UNEP WCMC will enable the findings of this PhD to be reported beyond the academic community.
I would consider myself an environmentalist first and foremost and therefore am committed to carrying out research which builds on our understanding of the human interaction with our natural environment. A BSc in Environmental Geoscience, a Masters in Marine Science and Policy and a lifelong passion for the work carried out at the British Antarctic Survey has focused my research on the polar oceans. The Southern and Arctic Oceans play vital roles in global biogeochemcial cycles and marine foodwebs. This makes it particularly important to identify the sensitivity of these systems to human pressures and natural perturbations.
My research is in the field of marine biogeochemistry which looks at the interaction of organisms with the surrounding water chemistry and how changes to one may affect the other. My Masters research, for example, looked at the impact of ocean acidification on the contribution of pteropods to carbonate flux in the Southern Ocean. Carbonate flux describes the process of inorganic carbon often in the form of calcium carbonate, being transported from the surface ocean to depth. Pteropods are a marine mollusc and make their shell from aragonite which is the relatively soluble form of calcium carbonate. This makes them particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification as any significant reduction in pH has been shown to have negative effects on the survivability of these organisms. Their key role as a food source across many levels of the food chain and as a vector for transporting carbon from the surface to the deep, epitomises both the importance and the vulnerability of these small and often microscopic organisms. As with all small but mighty zooplankton, their size is certainly disproportionate to their significance and part of the reason why they are so fascinating!
Publications from NERC Open Research Archive
Jones-Williams, Kirstie, Galloway, Tamara, Cole, Matthew, Stowasser, Gabriele ORCID record for Gabriele Stowasser, Waluda, Claire, Manno, Clara ORCID record for Clara Manno. (2020) Close encounters – microplastic availability to pelagic amphipods in sub-Antarctic and Antarctic surface waters. Environment International, 140. 10.1016/j.envint.2020.105792
Celebrating International Day of Women & Girls in Science
News 11 February, 2019