School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Ecology Research Students

Christina Skinner
Christina Skinner

Project description

I'm investigating the role coral reef predators play in linking coral reefs and adjacent marine ecosystems. Marine capture fisheries are a major source of protein to millions in the tropics.

Higher trophic-level predators, like groupers and snappers, are key to subsistence reef fisheries. Yet globally their populations and the health of many coral reefs are declining.

These large predators, through foraging and movement, are thought to play a vital role in:

  • linking marine ecosystems
  • maintaining marine biodiversity and ecosystem integrity

This project explains the extent of connectivity between reef and pelagic ecosystems, through:

  • underwater visual census (UVC)
  • baited remote underwater video (BRUV)
  • bulk and compound-specific stable isotope analysis (SIA)

It will determine the main reef- and pelagic-associated production sources sustaining these species. It will reveal their distributions and habitat preferences in an oceanic atoll.

Projected declines in ocean productivity from climate change scenarios make this research vital. It could have serious ramifications for reef predator communities dependent on pelagic production.

Detailed knowledge of food web dynamics is crucial. We need to understand the impacts of anthropogenic and climate-induced change in marine ecosystems.


  • Jorissen H, Skinner C, Osinga O, de Beer D, Nugues MM (2016) Evidence for water-mediated mechanisms in coral–algal interactions. Proc. R. Soc. B 283(1836): 20161137.
  • Skinner C, Newman SP, Box S, Narozanski A, Polunin NVC (2019) Chronic spearfishing may indirectly affect reef health through reductions in parrotfish bite rates. J. Fish Biol. 94(4): 585-594.
  • Skinner C, Newman SP, Mill AC, Newton J, Polunin NVC (2019) Prevalence of pelagic dependence among coral reef predators across an atoll seascape. Journal of Animal Ecology. 88(10): 1564-1574
  • Skinner C, Mill AC, Newman SP, Newton J, Cobain MRD, Polunin NVC (2019) Novel tri-isotope ellipsoid approach reveals dietary variation in sympatric predators. Ecology and Evolution. 9(23): 13267-13277
  • Skinner C, Mill AC, Newman SP, Alsagoff SN, Polunin NVC (2020) The importance of oceanic atoll lagoons for coral reef predators. Marine Biology 167:19


  • Scuba diving, free diving, travelling, meeting new people and trying new food!


  • PADI Divemaster with Deep and Nitrox speciality, PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider
  • BSAC Diver Coxswain, BSAC Dive Equipment Care and Maintenance
  • NPLQ lifeguard
  • Personal sea survival techniques (2009), approved by Maritime & Coastguard Agency
  • British Divers Marine Life Rescue Marine Mammal Medic (2010)