Research in this cluster is concerned with two linked areas:

  1. the distribution of species, habitats and ecosystems and
  2. the materials, products and services (potential and existing) provided by natural resources.

Underpinning these areas is research on taxonomy, species distributions, community structure, functional studies on model organisms, habitat classification, monitoring and mapping. Research in these areas is a key supporting component of national and international commitments to conservation, environment and planning. Ecosystem services include processes such as soil and wetland function and fish stocks. Research in the bio-resources and biodiversity theme includes applied work on aquaculture and fisheries, conservation and land management. Understanding species distributions, abundances, molecular diversity and functional biology are integral parts of areas such as bio-discovery.

Algal and seaweed research are a major focus within this research cluster, with particular strengths in algal biotechnology, cell wall chemistry, cultivation, ecophysiology, taxonomy, and the sustainable utilisation of algal resources.

Priority Research Area Leader:

Dr. Power is leader of the Biodiversity and Bioresources priority thematic area. Her research interests include marine ecology (population level studies), the impacts of climate change on Irish rocky shores, and barnacles.

Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Anne Marie Power on our Itunes podcast channel:
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People

I am primarily interested in the evolution and ecology of cephalopods and other molluscs, particularly, but not limited to, the groups that have radiated in the Southern Ocean and the deep sea. This research has highlighted connections between the world’s oceans, linked evolutionary radiations to climatic events (through dated phylogenies), and is helping us understand how Southern Ocean fauna survived the massive disturbances caused by Pliocene-Pleistocene glacial cycles. More recently I have been leading multidisciplinary cruises to the canyon systems on the Irish continental margin aboard RV Celtic Explorer. Here I am particularly interested in poorly known (and difficult!) taxa such as sponges where congruence between morphology and molecular phylogenies is often difficult to find.
Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Louise Allcock on our Itunes podcast channel:
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‌Dr. Gerard Fleming

Microbial Oceanography Research Unit, Microbiology

+353 (0)91 493562

ger.fleming@nuigalway.ie

 

I lead the Microbial Oceanography Research Laboratory and have a particular interest in studying microbial diversity of the water column. A key component of these studies is the linking microbial diversity with function in the Deep Sea. The group also examine the response of benthic microbial assemblages to the input of organic matter using culture-independent molecular techniques and culture-based methodologies under conditions of deep sea pressure.

Research in the Applied Ecology Unit primarily deals with the management and conservation of a wide range of terrestrial habitats including woodlands, turloughs (disappearing lakes), wet grasslands, machair (rare coastal habitat), callows (flood meadows), riparian habitats, peatlands, stonewalls and HNV (High Nature Value) farmland. Members of the research team have a particular interest in the effects of management on terrestrial invertebrate and plant communities. In addition, the development of sustainable stocking densities for grazed ecosystems using questionnaires to determine past/current grazing practices and using direct animal observation and GPS collars is of particular interest. Another area of research is the use of invertebrates as biological control agents of agricultural pests and diseases. Considerable expertise has been developed in the Applied Ecology Unit in the use of sciomyzids (Diptera) as biological control agents of snail-borne trematode diseases and of horticultural slug species.

Dr. Mark G. Healy is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of Engineers Ireland, and is a lecturer (above the bar) in Civil Engineering at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Dr. Healy’s research work is primarily in the area of experimental environmental engineering and soil erosion. He has published 2 book chapters and 45 peer-reviewed, national and international journal papers. To date, with collaborators, he has successfully competed for research funding awards in excess of €3.4 million. Recent and on-going research projects on which Dr. Healy is PI include projects funded by EPA/COFORD, Teagasc , DAFF and IRCSET. His research interests include: surface and subsurface processes with a particular interest in erosion and surface runoff of nutrients, solids and metals, and leaching of nutrients through soil; greenhouse gas emissions; soil fertility; constructed wetlands; sand filtration; sequencing batch reactors; biosolids; composting; and the effects of forestry activities, such as clearfelling, on the environment (nutrient loss, use of buffer zones, greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere).

I am a marine ecologist with a particular interest in spatial ecology. I use experiments, survey, computer simulation and data analysis to understand patterns of population abundance and assemblage composition. My experience includes both benthic and pelagic ecology. The different approaches can be applied to address questions in conservation, fisheries, introduced species, monitoring, environmental management and compliance to legislation.

The main focus of my current research is on the interrelationship between nature conservation and other human land use, with particular focus on tourism. My current research project aims to establish the impacts of tourism on coastal sand dune systems, to asses the management of tourism with in coastal SACs containing such dune systems and to establish how SACs can be managed for conservation while allowing for other activities such as tourism to take place. This involves assessing the direct impacts of tourism on the habitats in coastal conservation areas, recording and comparing the current ground level management practices and stakeholders’ opinions on current the current situation, with the aim to compile a list of good practice management methods for use in other sites.

My main research interest is in the field of mammal ecology. I have worked on a number of squirrel ecology projects, with particular reference to red and grey squirrel competition, their distribution, red squirrel conservation and the management of grey squirrel populations. The most recent work in the Mammal Ecology Group has investigated the use of translocation as a conservation tool for red squirrels. The ecology of small mammal populations, the control of pest species, the ecology of invasive species, mammal monitoring techniques and their applications and mammal parasitology are other areas of interest.
Click here to listen to a radio interview with Dr. Colin Lawson on our Itunes podcast channel:
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Molecular phylogenetics & population genetics of marine invertebrates with particular interest in sponges and echinoderms; taxonomy, classification and evolution in general; biodiscovery & biotechnology using Irish marine resources; molecular evolution of viruses.

My research in the Plant Ecology lab focuses on sustainable land-use for conservation. Current research is on biodiversity in upland farms in Connemara, focusing on commonages and peatland ecosystems. The hay meadows Shannon callows depend on specific management to maintain plant and invertebrate diversity, which is currently being researched. Climate change is a specific interest and is the focus of an upland study on alpine heath and northern hepatic (liverwort) mats in mountains of the west of Ireland. I also have an interest in species-rich grassland management for biodiversity, salt marsh ecology, woodland structure and biodiversity and will be teaching on the Tropical Biology Association field course in Uganda in July 2012.

Research in the Applied Ecology Unit primarily deals with the management and conservation of a wide range of terrestrial habitats including woodlands, turloughs (disappearing lakes), wet grasslands, machair (rare coastal habitat), callows (flood meadows), riparian habitats, peatlands, stonewalls and HNV (High Nature Value) farmland. Members of the research team have a particular interest in the effects of management on terrestrial invertebrate and plant communities. In addition, the development of sustainable stocking densities for grazed ecosystems using questionnaires to determine past/current grazing practices and using direct animal observation and GPS collars is of particular interest. Another area of research is the use of invertebrates as biological control agents of agricultural pests and diseases. Considerable expertise has been developed in the Applied Ecology Unit in the use of sciomyzids (Diptera) as biological control agents of snail-borne trematode diseases and of horticultural slug species.

The fundamental processes that have enabled plants to colonise and adapt to life on land are amongst the most exciting questions in evolutionary biology. The primary cell wall performs many essential biological roles (including tissue cohesion, defence, ion exchange, the production of oligosaccharins and the regulation of cell expansion) placing it at the frontier of evolutionary processes. Indeed, the demands placed on the cell wall, and therefore its optimal composition, have changed during periods of rapid evolution. Notable changes in cell wall composition are associated with plant terrestrialisation and vascularisation. Work in this lab aims to characterise cell wall composition to enable improved insight into the mechanisms of plant terrestrialisation and vascularisation.

Dr Stengel is Head of Botany and Plant Sciences and leads the Algal BioSciences Research Cluster at NUI Galway.

Expertise and interests: algal biology, ecology and biotechnology.

Research interests include the sustainable utilisation of algae (seaweeds and microalgae), and the role of algae in marine ecosystem functioning and climate change research (e.g. ocean acidification; ocean-atmosphere interactions; iodine cycle).

Research concentrates on ecological and metabolic responses of algae (seaweeds and microalgae) and seagrasses to their environment (climate change; anthropogenic influences such as harvesting; water quality), the targeted cultivation of macro- and microalgae for the optimised production of seaweed and algal biomass, and primary and secondary metabolites of commercial interest.

Recent and current projects include NutraMara (Marine Functional Foods Research Initiative), and several Marine Institute, EI, EPA and DAFM-funded projects (e.g. Pro-SeaVeg, SMART-Food, AsMara), an SFI-investigator project on seaweed iodine, and projects on seaweed biomass assessment. Dr Stengel also currently leads a Marine Biotechnology ERA-net project (‘Neptuna’).

Our research interest focus on the specialized metabolites, also called natural products, produced by marine organisms and especially marine invertebrates. We have expertise on the purification by HPLC and structure elucidation by NMR and MS of these small molecules. Such natural products may find applications in the pharmaceutical or cosmetical sectors through established collaborations. We are also engaged in several projects in chemical ecology in order to understand their metabolic pathways but also their ecological role in the environment. Keywords: Natural Product Chemistry, Bioactive Natural Products, Chemical Ecology, Marine Invertebrates, Sponges, Microalgae, Metabolic Pathways, Metabolomics