Rachel Boschen, Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Victoria, Department of Biology and School of Earth and Ocean Sciences

My research interests include community ecology, functional diversity, deep-sea mining impacts, and the design and management of marine protected areas. My previous research has investigated seafloor community structure, population genetic connectivity, and ecological risk. I actively participate in groups seeking responsible management of the deep-sea, including DOSI and VentBase.

Supervisor(s): Prof Verena Tunnicliffe

Start to Finish: 01/2016 to 12/2017

CHONe Project: 1.2.3: Implementing a functional trait approach to the risk assessment framework of an MPA

Project Title: Implementing a functional trait approach to the risk assessment framework of an MPA

Project Description:

I am using functional traits to determine differences in tubeworm-associated communities within the Endeavour hydrothermal vent Marine Protected Area (EHV MPA). This work will enable communities to be compared by their functional profile, instead of by their species composition. Knowing the role (function) of species in a community will enable us to understand how changes in community structure can alter community function. Our insights into functional diversity will inform the environmental management of the EHV MPA.

The specific project/thesis aims are:

  1. Determine functional trait profiles for macro- and meiofaunal species associated with vent tubeworms
  2. Compare community functional diversity for different tubeworm habitats
  3. Use insights from functional traits analyses to suggest refinements the existing Ecological Risk Assessment for EHV MPA

It will be interesting to compare the outcomes from this project to others using functional approaches to ecosystem assessment in different settings (2.1.3 & 2.2.3). Our findings could also be informative for those seeking indicators for the effectiveness of management approaches (1.1.4 & 1.1.5). Investigating the spatial distribution of functional diversity and sensitivity within the EHV MPA could also link to projects using mapping tools to detect habitat distribution (1.2.6 & 1.2.5).