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Dr. Abby Gilson

School of Natural Sciences (Zoology Building)
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2

Research Interests

My research combines intensive long-term field surveys and in-situ experiments with manipulative mesocosm experiments to address questions broadly spanning the fields of marine ecology and global change biology, with a specific focus on ecosystem functioning in benthic systems. In particular, I am interested in the effects of climate change stressors on rocky intertidal systems and macroalgal communities. I received a PhD from Queens University Belfast in 2020, during which I focused on the role of intertidal kelp beds in the coastal carbon cycle and detrital food web and the consequences of direct and indirect climate change stressors on kelp forest communities. After finishing my PhD, I received a National Research Foundation fellowship and a Rhodes University fellowship to work with Prof. Christopher McQuaid at Rhodes University, South Africa. Here, I focused on the role of top-down vs. bottom-up processes in shaping algal-herbivore interactions in intertidal communities and their effects on ecosystem functioning. I also studied the relationship between morphology and environmental variables in warm-temperate kelp beds and their associated biodiversity. As part of the Beyond Biofuel team, I will be using ecological theory to investigate ways of refining the seaweed aquaculture process and investigating the potential for seaweed aquaculture to mitigate climate change effects.

Recent Publications

Gilson, A.R., White, L.J., Burrows, M.T., Smale, D.A., & O’Connor, N.E. (2023). Seasonal and spatial variability in rates of primary production and detritus release by intertidal strands of Laminaria digitata and Saccharina latissima on wave-exposed shores on the northeast Atlantic. Ecology and Evolution 13, 10146. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.10146

Gilson, A.R., & McQuaid, C. (2023). Top-down versus bottom-up: Grazing and upwelling regime alter patterns of primary productivity in a warm-temperate system. Ecology, 4180. DOI: 10.1002/ecy.4180

Gilson, A.R., Smale, D.A., Burrows, M.T., & O’Connor, N.E. (2021). Ocean warming and species range shifts affect rates of ecosystem functioning by altering consumer-resource interactions. Ecology 102, e03341. DOI: 10.1002/ecy.3341

Gilson, A.R., Smale, D.A., Burrows, M.T., & O’Connor, N.E. (2021). How does kelp-derived detritus enter the food web? The role of macroalgal functional traits and the relative importance of microbes versus detritivores. Marine Ecology Progress Series 674, 89-102. DOI: 10.3354/meps13825

Gilson, A.R., Dick, J.T., & Kregting, L. (2021). Marine heat waves differentially affect functioning in native (Ostrea edulis) and invasive (Crassostrea [Magallana] gigas) oysters in tidal pools. Marine Environmental Research 172, 105497. DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2021.105497

Gilson, A.R., & Davies, A.J. (2020). Habitat modification by Ascophyllum canopy negatively impacts macrofaunal communities on soft-sediment shores. Marine Environmental Research 162, 105193. DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2020.105193