- 2018–Present Post-doctoral researcher & co-principle investigator, ZSL & University of Oxford
- 2017–Present Stipendiary Lecturer at St Peter’s College, University of Oxford
- 2015–Present Committee Member of Reef Conservation UK
- 2016–2017 Post-doctoral researcher, University of Oxford & Science Coordinator, Nekton Foundation
- 2012–2015 PhD (NERC Case funded), University of Oxford with case partner ZSL
- 2010–2012 EDGE Coral Reef Project Co-ordinator, Conservation Programmes, ZSL
I am interested in applied ecology and evolution in marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs, with the ultimate aim of aiding conservation and management. I often use genetic tools to do this, such as metabarcoding and population genetics techniques. I have a keen interest in reef biodiversity and biogeography patterns, how this relates to ecosystem function, and the environmental drivers that affect it. My work also focuses on reef resilience in response to disturbances, e.g. sea surface temperature anomalies resulting in coral bleaching and mortality, and the effect of remote and protected areas on reef resilience. I particularly enjoy taking an interdisciplinary approach to studying marine ecosystems.
The majority of my research currently focuses on reef biodiversity and connectivity in the Chagos Archipelago, a remote archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean. All of the islands comprising the Archipelago are uninhabited, except one, which means that there is very little direct human impact on the reefs. My research forms part of an exciting project, for which I am the co-principle investigator, funded by The Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science. I work collaboratively with Professor Rob Dunbar’s team at Stanford University on this project, taking an interdisciplinary approach to investigating reef biodiversity, connectivity and productivity with the main goal of contributing to our understanding of the conservation value of Chagos Archipelago’s reefs.
Reef connectivity & environmental drivers:
I am currently investigating how coral populations are connected within the Chagos Archipelago through their larvae dispersal and how this influences their recovery from major disturbances such as the recent 2015 and 2016 global mass coral bleaching event. Using population genomic techniques, I am investigating this question to help explain recovery patterns and to potentially identify networks of coral connectivity which may be hotspots for more intensive protection in the future. Hydrodynamics data on the reefs in BIOT is also being collected by my colleague Prof Rob Dunbar and his team at Stanford University enabling us to work collaboratively to understand what is driving this potential connectivity. We also intend to widen this study out to other areas in the Indian ocean in the future to investigate the idea of the Chagos Archipelago being a stepping-stone across the Indian Ocean for coral dispersal.
Reef biodiversity & ecosystem function:
I have always been fascinated by the diversity of life on coral reefs much of which remains unidentified. This led me to undertake my PhD thesis investigating the community structure and diversity of coral associates on corals, one of the most understudied components of reef biodiversity. To increase our understanding of the true diversity of life which reefs support and increase our understanding of what drives these community composition patterns we are now using autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS) and metabarcoding techniques to quantify the diversity of the small invertebrates, often termed the cryptofauna. We are also aiming to form a picture of plankton biogeography patterns around atolls in the Chagos Archipelago, using novel Environmental DNA techniques. Plankton, as the base of the food chain, are extremely important because they support the wealth of marine life, even the commercially important fish species.
Head CEI, Bayley D, Roche R, Turner J, Rogers AD, Koldewey H, Rowlands G, Tickler DM, and Andradi-Brown DA (2019) Coral bleaching impacts from back-to-back 2015-2016 thermal anomalies in the remote central Indian Ocean. Coral Reefs. DOI: 10.1007/s00338-019-01821-9
Andradi-Brown DA, Dinesen Z, Head CEI, Tickler DM, Rowlands G, Rogers AD (2019) The Chagos Archipelago. In: Loya, Y, Puglise KA, Bridge TCL (Eds.) Mesophotic coral ecosystems. Springer, New York, pp 215-230. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-92735-0_12
Head CEI, Koldewey H, Pavoine S, Pratchett MS, Rogers AD, Taylor M. and Bonsall MB (2018) Trait and Phylogenetic Diversity Provide Insights into Community Assembly of Reef-Associated Shrimp (Palaemonidae) at Different Spatial Scales across the Chagos Archipelago. Ecology and Evolution. 1-10. 10.1002/ece3.3969
Head CEI, Bonsall MB, Koldewey H, Jenkins TL, Pratchett MS, and Rogers AD (2018) Exceptional biodiversity of the cryptofaunal decapods in the Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.07.063.
Andradi-Brown DA, Head CEI, Exton D, Hunt C, Hendrix A, Gress E, Rogers AD (2017) Identifying zooplankton community changes between shallow and upper- mesophotic reefs in Mesoamerican barrier reef, Caribbean. PeerJ. 5. DOI 10.7717/peerj.2853.
Head CEI, Bonsall M, Koldewey H, Pratchett MS, Speight M, Rogers AD (2015) High prevalence of obligate coral-dwelling decapods on dead corals in the Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean. Coral Reefs. 34: 3. DOI 10.1007/s00338-015- 1307-x.
Roche RC, Pratchett MS, Carr P, Turner JR, Wagner D, Head C, Sheppard CRC (2015) Localized outbreaks of Acanthaster planci at an isolated and unpopulated reef atoll in the Chagos Archipelago. Marine Biology. 162: 1695-1704.
Curnick D, Head CEI*, Crabbe J, Gollock M, Harding S, Hoeksema B, Koldewey H, Johnson K, Jones R, Obura D, Rosen B, Smith D, Taylor M, Turner J, Wren S, Redding D (2015) Setting Evolutionary-based conservation priorities for a phylogenetically data-poor group (Scleractinia). Anim Cons. 18. DOI 10.1111/acv.12185. *Joint first author
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