Charles Sheppard OBE. Ph.D.

Institution:
University of Warwick

Profile

Anne Sheppard and I have been building a time-series of data since the 1970s, which are now key to global assessments measuring the impact of climate change on reefs.

These include measurements of coral cover, sea temperature, other important benthic groups and numbers of coral juveniles. Measurements which are performed at several depths and around all atolls. They track and monitor the repeated collapses and recovery of BIOT’ reefs during marine heatwaves and this has shown BIOT to contain particularly resilient reefs which previously have recovered well from destructive warming episodes.

I have been instrumental in developing scientists’ interest in the archipelago, building up a now considerable amount of research performed there. I developed this large research programme on islands and reefs for the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) government through a series of expeditions. I have also written and led several environmental management plans for the BIOT government.  These in turn led to the proclamation of the territory as a giant marine protected area.

This work programme was recognized by government assessors as being in the ‘top 20’ out of 7,000 assessed research programmes in the UK.  With a long series of magazine articles and public lectures on BIOT I also have spread the word more widely on the territory, which contains the UK’s highest marine biodiversity.

The absence of many local, direct impacts makes this one of very few places to determine the effects of climate change on coral reefs, especially rising sea temperature, in the absence of most confounding human impacts.

Charles Sheppard

Biography

2013 Present
Participated in the now annual research expeditions to the Chagos archipelago
1990 2015
Reader, then Professor at Warwick University
2003 2013
Reader, then Professor at Warwick University BIOT Government’s marine science and conservation advisor
1999 2013
Organised and then participated in ~10 research expeds to Chagos Archipelago, building up a critical mass of 100 leading scientists.
1983 1990
Focussed on Arabian Gulf and Red Sea reef ecology and taxonomy.
1980 1983
Postdoctoral fellowship at Australian Institute of Marine Science on coral competition and the controls on and space allocation on reefs, and coral distribution.
1975 1979
Early research in Chagos, which fortuitously set up a baseline before climate change started to have visible impacts.

My Project

  • Coral Reef Resilience
    Monitoring Coral Reefs in the British Indian Ocean Territory

Other interests

Of equal focus and output, has been a long period of reef research in the Arabian Area, often but not only as consultant to most Arabian Governments, and numerous marine-impacting industries. Likewise, advisor to several Caribbean island states on tropical scientific marine management issues, such as: effects of damaging activity, speed of ecosystem recovery, consequences of impacts such as food security, shoreline erosion and economic dependence.

My Publications