Joanne  Preston, PhD, MS

Joanne Preston, PhD, MS

University of Portsmouth

Reader in Marine Ecology & Evolution

Expertise: Marine EcologyCoastal EcosystemEnvironment

I am a Reader in Marine Ecology and Evolution based in the Institute of Marine Sciences, part of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Portsmouth.

My research is focused on the interconnected restoration ecology of coastal habitats, particularly oyster reefs, seagrass and saltmarsh. This requires understanding species’ ecology: how marine organisms function and interact with the environmental pressures such as climate change, microplastics, disease, invasive species and excessive nutrients (eutrophication).

Our coastal habitats have suffered significant and devastating losses over the last 50-200 years, and part of my research is study how biodiversity is created in the marine environment so that we’re better equipped to protect, maintain and enhance it. My research aims to quantify both biodiversity function and other ecological services provided by coastal habitats, such as water quality regulation, fish nursery function and carbon and nutrient storage.

Recently I have applied my knowledge and expertise in molluscan ecology and evolution to restoration of the native oyster Ostrea edulis. In 2017 I founded the UK and Ireland Native Oyster Restoration Network in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London. The aim of the network is to catalyse a national approach to oyster habitat restoration via action, communication and providing evidence for policy change. I'm an advisory board member for the European Native Oyster Restoration Alliance and a member the Aquaculture Research Collaborative Hub UK, an academia-led network developing a UK aquaculture community.

I also provide scientific leadership for the Solent Oyster Restoration Project, run in collaboration with Blue Marine Foundation. Over 60,000 oysters have been restored to the Solent so far. I enjoy communicating this research in engaging ways – most recently on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. I'm a keen advocate of effective science communication to support changes in policy and the sustainable management of marine resources.

I'm a reviewer for several scientific journals and an editor for Restoration Ecology, the journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration. We are currently co-writing the European Monitoring Guidebook for Native Oyster Restoration Projects, due to be published in November 2020. I am the lead editor for the Restoration Handbook for European Native Oyster Habitat, commissioned by the Environment Agency, to be published in September 2020.

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