Response of Ecosystem Assembly and Function to Climate Change:

A multidisciplinary approach to understand community response to climate change in coastal rocky ecosystems


Funded through Marie Curie Actions (FP7-People-2012) International Incoming Fellowships (IIF)

Community response to change.


Marine macroalgae create important habitat structure and generate primary production that promote biodiveristy up the food web in coastal marine ecosystems.  Macroalgae also play a major role in coastal carbon cycling, both at temperate latitudes where there exists a wealth of algal biodiversity and biomass, and in the tropics where coralline algae are important to coral reef carbon dynamics.  In many ways, the fates of coastal marine communities are tied to the responses of macroalgae to environmental change.


Grazers play large roles in structuring coastal and intertidal communities, particularly through their interactions with macroalgae. Changes to the ocean environment may affect the growth rates or nutritional quality of algae, and cause changes in algal-grazer interactions.

Training and knowledge exchange.


Alongside scientific research, training is a large component of the Marie Curie fellowship initiative.  Indeed, research and training go hand in hand in today's interdisciplinary research environment.


Together with learning from collaboration with other scientists at Plymouth Marine Laboratory,  I have attended several workshops, including an early career workshop hosted at the Universidad Federal de São Paulo on inter-disciplinary approaches to global change and a workshop on random matrix competition theory at the University of Liverpool.


I am also learning a lot in my advisory role for MSc students in the Applied Marine Science and Environmental Consultancy programmes at Plymouth University.

Impact and outreach.


Clear, accurate information must be accessible for the public to form a correct assessment of climate change impacts.  This is important because any meaningful solution to anthropogenic effects on the environment will have impacts on our day-to-day choices.


In addition to providing information and talking with adults, I also visit STEM and Women in Science career fairs and interact with school groups.


For newspaper articles, interviews, and photo slideshows about my work, please visit my 'News' page.


To learn more about any upcoming events and ongoing science activities, please visit:

Marine Biodiversity Research at PML  Facebook Page

Marine Biology News Facebook Page

Bio for the Win Blog

Publications related to the REAFCC Project.



McCoy, SJ, A Stanillán-Sarmiento, MT Brown, S Widdicombe and GA Wheeler (2020) Photosynthetic responses of turf-forming red macroalgae to high-CO2 conditions. Journal of Phycology. doi: 10.1111/jpy.12922 [link]

McCoy, SJ and S Widdicombe (2019) Thermal plasticity is independent of environmental history in an intertidal seaweed. Ecology and Evolution, 9(23): 13402-13412. doi: 10.1002/ece3.5796 [OPEN ACCESS] [data]

Ravaglioli, C#, F Bulleri, S Ruhl, SJ McCoy, H Findlay and AM Queirós (2019) Ocean acidification and hypoxia alter organic carbon fluxes in marine soft sediments. Global Change Biology, 25(12): 4165-4178.  doi: 10.1111/gcb.14806 [link] [pdf]

Kolzenburg, R#, KR Nicastro, SJ McCoy, A Ford, GI Zardi, F Ragazzola (2019) Understanding the margin squeeze: Differentiation in fitness-related traits between central and trailing edge populations of Corallina officinalisEcology and Evolution, 9: 5787–5801.​  doi: 10.1002/ece3.5162  [OPEN ACCESS] [data]

Queirós, AM, N Stephens, S Widdicombe, K Tait, SJ McCoy, J Ingels, S Ruhl, R Airs, A Beesley, G Carnovale, P Cazenave, S Dashfield, E Hua, M Jones, P Lindeque, CL McNeill, J Nunes, H Parry, C Pascoe, A Rees, C Widdicombe, T Smyth, A Atkinson, D Krause-Jensen, PJ Somerfield (2019) Connected macroalgal-sediment systems: blue carbon and foodwebs in the deep coastal ocean.  Ecological Monographs, 89(3): e01366. doi: 10.1002/ecm.1366 [OPEN ACCESS] [si]

Yuan, X, SJ McCoy, Y Du, S Widdicombe, JM Hall-Spencer (2018) Physiological and behavioral plasticity of the sea cucumber Holothuria forskali (Echinodermata, Holothuroidea) to acidified seawater. Frontiers Physiology, 9: 1339. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01339 [OPEN ACCESS]

J Nunes, SJ McCoy, HS Findlay, FE Hopkins, V Kitidis, AM Queirós, L Rayner and S Widdicombe (2016) Two intertidal, non-calcifying macroalgae (Palmaria palmata and Saccharina latissima) show complex and variable responses to short-term CO2 acidification, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 73(3): 887-896.  doi: 10/1093/icesjms/fsv081