A bit about me …

 


I am a marine ecologist with interests in the intersection of human ecology, resource management, and marine systems. I have extensive experience studying nearshore and pelagic ecosystems, species, and ecosystem services in the Pacific Northwest and Eastern Pacific Ocean.

I recently completed my Ph.D in Resources, Environment, and Sustainability with Dr. Kai Chan at UBC. In my thesis I investigated how changes in resource distribution caused by an expanding sea otter population influence the ecosystem services accessible to communities on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. I used models of kelp forests, sea otter populations, and services to explore trade-offs between different sea otter management alternatives.

The analysis predicts that an otter‐dominated system will produce, in aggregate, between 30 and 90 M$ / year more than one dominated by invertebrates. Disaggregation by benefits and by location provides insight into trade‐offs and equity. For example, the value of increased finfish production from enhanced primary productivity is predicted to be almost double the losses incurred by the invertebrate fishery; while increased detail on the distribution of benefits supports the definition of novel, more equitable and legitimate indicators, allowing management alternatives to be more salient.

Development of the model led to advances in the applied and theoretical aspects of integrated model development. In my review chapter, Leaps of Faith: How Implicit Assumptions Compromise the Utility of Ecosystem Models for Decision-making, we show that uncertainties and design assumptions are mostly ignored in the popular modelling literature, illustrate the importance of model assumptions in assessing model uncertainty, and offer a conceptual model to support more consistent model design decisions.

In Chapter 3 we characterised key aspects of kelp ecology in Pacific Canadian waters, and showed how the trade‐off between precision and accuracy depends on whether one is pursuing knowledge or application.

Chapters 4 and 5 tell the story of the integrated model, respectively focusing on ecosystem service production, and the distribution of benefits. Our results show how spatial resolution is key to identifying indicators of social and ecological value. All told, my dissertation offers applied, theoretical, and methodological advances in the use of ecosystem models for integrated management.

I will provide additional links to papers as they appear in the literature.

Research interests

I am very interested in continuing the work we started on the West Coast. Extending the ecosystem service model to include stakeholder objectives would complete the data‐to‐decision model, and undoubtedly provide suggestions on how to refine the ecosystem model. Ultimately, I would be thrilled to see this work contribute to policy in the region, perhaps by supporting some kind of evidence-based decision analysis. I am also keep in re-applying the work in different jurisdictions, with different objectives and values.

A second theme to my interests is the interface between people and nature. Whether that is impacts and mitigation, or services, values, and benefits, or marine classification and spatial planning. New and potential projects will focus on this nexus.

I continue to work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on describing how and why marine animals are distributed in the oceans, and what may be suitable or potential habitat. I have investigated the distribution and habitat of large whales off the British Columbia coast, examined potential habitat for the critically endangered Northern Right Whale, and continue to investigate the distribution and ecological changes related to sea otter distributions.

Marine classification contributes significantly to such habitat studies, by reducing the very high complexity of the marine environment. Of course, its important to get the classification ‘right’ – that is, to classify it in a way that might be meaningful to the animals of interest.

Education and training

I have been in and out of academia over the years, constantly upgrading my education and improving my analytical skills while in school, and broadening my perspective and gaining experience while in the work force. This combination of academic achievement and practical experience delivering projects to meet client’s needs has provided me a substantial tool set with which to address many ecological questions.

SciTech Environmental Consulting

Much of my work experience has been gained by working directly with academic and government partners doing targeted ecological research. Work has included both short- and long-term projects, across a variety of marine ecosystems and species. Past projects are described here.

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