A warm welcome to Jennifer Murphy!!!!
Supervised by Prof Carlos Rocha, Jennifer will be investigating the optimal geospatial pattern of aquatic polyculture in coastal marine ecosystems in order to maximise economic benefits and minimise environmental impacts of increased nutrient input into these systems. Funding is provided by the Irish Research Council in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Planned increased food production through both agriculture and aquaculture over the coming years will cause excess nitrogen to be transported to and generated in coastal environments. Marine ecosystem functionality is fundamentally necessary for increased food production, but the increased nutrient levels represent a significant threat to the ecosystem services provided in these areas. If not mitigated, negative environmental impacts may include eutrophication and harmful algal blooms, anoxia zones, fish kills, food-web alterations, and biodiversity loss.
By mimicking biodiversity found in nature, polyculture – or the cultivation of a mixture of different aquatic species in one area – may be used to reduce the impact excess nutrient levels. By determining nutrient sources and pathways, and understanding the responses of aquaculture to these sources, models of polyculture patterns will be built to inform coastal management in predicted future nutrient regimes.
Not only will this approach provide a tool for protecting the coastal marine ecosystem against the impacts of increased food production, it will safeguard and improve key economic activities in often otherwise marginal areas by maintaining ecosystem services, encouraging diversification of production, and increasing yields.
After completing a BA in Geology at Trinity College, I pursued careers in both exploration geology and business administration for a number of years. During extensive time spent in rural Ireland and while enjoying a stint of global travel, my observations of the anthropogenic stresses placed on water bodies inspired me to retrain by undertaking the MSc in Environmental Sciences at Trinity. My enthusiasm only bolstered by the year of hard work to obtain the MSc, I continue my training and I am delighted to be a part of the Geography Department.