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James Boon

PhD: Aliens in the twilight zone: using robots to study and manage invasive lionfish on Caribbean mesophotic coral ecosystems.

Location: University of Nottingham

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I completed a BSc (Hons) degree in Conservation Biology at Plymouth University and an MSc in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York. My past research projects have explored enzyme activities in non-native bumblebees, global patterns in recreational trophy fishing, and changes in fisheries management targets. I am broadly interested in the effects of environmental change on marine communities, the management of invasive species and applied ecology.

My PhD aims to characterise and manage invasive lionfish (Pterois spp.) on Caribbean mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs: 30-150 m). To achieve this, we will use prototype robots, with the ability to reach depths beyond 200m, to capture lionfish and conduct surveys of mesophotic communities. We aim to exploit this exciting new capability to determine the role of MCEs in invasive lionfish population dynamics and reveal their impact on the wider MCE fish community. From these data, we will then develop a spatially structured demographic model to inform best management practices. Our findings will be integrated into lionfish management strategies to support local Caribbean communities and businesses.