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, M.M. (2016) Evidence for water-mediated mechanisms in coral–algal interactions. Proc. R. Soc. B.  283(1836); DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1137. 
  • Skinner, C., Newman, S.P., Box, S., Narozanski, A., Polunin, N.V.C. (in review) Chronic spearfishing may indirectly affect reef health through reductions in parrotfish bite rates.


  • 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)