Seabirds play a key role in the ecology of reef-island systems. Foraging at sea, seabirds transport large quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus onto the land on which they roost and breed. These seabird-derived nutrients shape ecosystem functions both on land and in the adjacent coral reef environments.
To better understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of land-sea nutrient flows, there is interest in scaling up from field-based sampling of nutrients to remote sensing with drones and satellites. Previous studies have shown that nutrient content in forests can be mapped at a landscape-scale using remote sensing technologies. However, mapping nutrient flows in shallow coastal waters is challenging due to, inter alia, the confounding effects of the seafloor on the optical signal.
In my research, I investigate how remote sensing could be leveraged to map nutrient connectivity in coastal marine environments. Specifically, my research is focused on mapping water quality and land-sea connectivity in shallow coral reef environments around the islands of Te Ao Mā’ohi (French Polynesia). Applying cutting-edge methods in remote sensing, machine learning, and bio-optical modelling, the ultimate aim of my research is the satellite-based mapping of land-sea connectivity and seascape spatial patterns in shallow coral reef environments in the Pacific.
Growing up sailing in the Baltic Sea sparked my love for the marine environment. Seeing the environmental degradation caused by pollution and excessive nutrient loading in the Baltic Sea inspired me to strive for a career in marine science.
Island Reef ConnectionsImplications of Nutrient Flow and Feedback Across the Seabird-Island-Reef System