My research looks at the relationship between the physical environment and associated fauna in macroalgae reefs. It is widely accepted that more complex habitats host more diverse communities; however the mechanisms behind these relationships are poorly understood. Current group-based approaches have failed to consistently explain this relationship. In comparison, functional trait-based approaches have shown great promise, however their application to marine systems has been limited.
To date, most trait-based approaches have primarily been concerned with interspecific variation, however macroalgae are known to demonstrate high morphological variability and therefore it is likely that intraspecific variation will play a significant role in determining associated communities. My research investigates the use of these trait-based approaches to better understand the relationship between macroalgae and associated fauna, in terms of the role that macroalgae play in providing structurally complex habitat. I am particularly interested in the role that intraspecific variation might play in structuring associated communities.
Stelling-Wood TP, Clark GF, Poore AG. Responses of ghost crabs to habitat modification of urban sandy beaches. Marine environmental research. 2016 May 31;116:32-40.