Dr. Heather Hunt from the University of New Brunswick, Canada

Dr. Heather Hunt is a marine ecologist whose research focuses on patterns of marine biodiversity, particularly benthic invertebrates, and human impacts on coastal ecosystems. She is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of New Brunswick, Canada. Current research in her lab is examining effects of climate change (temperature and pH) on benthic invertebrates and fishes, impacts of salmon aquaculture on biodiversity in cobble habitat, and spatial variation in microplastic contamination in intertidal sediments and bivalves in the Bay of Fundy, Canada.

While on sabbatical at the CMS at the University of Tasmania (Jan-Apr 2019), Heather Hunt will be collaborating with Prof Gretta Pecl to explore the use of citizen science reports of marine species outside their usual ranges as early indicators of climate-driven range shifts. They will be using data from the Redmap (Range Extension Database and Mapping Project) (www.redmap.org) citizen science project, that allows the Australian public to submit photographs and other data about unusual observations of marine species, which are identified by experts. They plan to use the REDMAP database to examine the relationship between citizen-science reported “first sightings” of marine species outside of their usual range in Australia and available ocean climate data, including temperature. Repeated or consistent out-of-range observations of individuals may indicate the arrival of species whose range is shifting and provide an early indication of a range shift. Heather Hunt is interested in the potential of applying the REDMAP model of using citizen science to collect observations of species outside of their usual ranges to the Bay of Fundy in Canada, as it would provide very useful data for detection of potential range shifting species, while also engaging and communicating with the Canadian public about marine climate change.

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