Dr Renata Ferrari Legorreta

SEI Researcher

School of Life and Environmental sciences

The emphasis of my research is to produce data that can be used to improve management and conservation of marine ecosystems. My PhD had an extensive fieldwork component (15 months), which produced a unique data set, combining high frequency sampling over a prolonged experimental period. This data was incorporated into coral population models and will enable management recommendations to be made for Caribbean coral reefs. Specifically, my PhD looked at ecological processes influencing alternate states in coral reefs, targeting questions like: how herbivory varies with fine scale reef structural complexity? What is the role of species, size and competition intensity in the battle between corals and macroalgae? And what is the influence of herbivory and season on the spatial and temporal change of macroalgal patch dynamics?

As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sydney, I work with a multidisciplinary group to understand the benthic dynamics of the marine habitats inside and outside marine protected areas, as well as their trajectory and change, with an emphasis on spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity and processes. The multidisciplinary nature of the team translates into working with the most complete data sets gathered through novel technologies, such as AUV stereo imagery. These allow us to ask ecological questions across multiple scales and to incorporate innovative approaches to understanding how key ecosystems function, such as incorporating 3D structural complexity measures as an explanatory variable and possibly a surrogate for biodiversity. This is only possible through collaboration with groups such as the Australian Centre of Field Robotics, the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences, The University of New South Wales, and the NSW Government Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water of the New South Wales government, among others.