Dr Megan Tierney

Marine Ecologist (Higher Predators)

Megan has a background in marine ecology and biodiversity monitoring, specialising in marine higher predators. She joined SAERI in 2014 to jointly run the GAP project which will collate, create and analyse data needed to underpin strategies to better inform and monitor potential impacts of the hydrocarbon industry on the marine environment. Prior to this, Megan spent 10-years working with the Australian Antarctic Division developing mitigation and management protocols for detecting and minimising the impact of environmental change and/or resource exploitation on the Southern Ocean ecosystem. In 2010 she joined the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) – the biodiversity assessment and policy support arm of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). While at UNEP-WCMC, Megan was involved with a range of activities including the development of biodiversity and ecosystem services indicators that have been used to assess global biodiversity loss, overseen the implementation of national ecosystem assessments, and developed regional capacity building programmes around these topics. From a work perspective, Megan most enjoys seeing the fundamentals of science turn into policy actions on the ground. She has also spent a number of years leading ship-based adventure-tourism expeditions to both Polar Regions, around the UK isles, Norway, Greenland and eastern Canada. She has a degree in Marine Biology and a PhD in Antarctic Marine Ecology. When not at work, Megan enjoys undertaking outdoor pursuits and kicking a football around in the backyard with her dog.

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Current projects

Addressing priority gaps in understanding ecosystem functioning for the developing Falkland Islands offshore hydrocarbon industry – the ‘GAP Project’. Megan Is managing the higher predators component of the project. Because of their position and role in ecosystem functioning, marine higher predators (i.e. those at the top of the food chain) are often considered good species to provide an indication of how healthy the environment is, and as such can be used to monitor potential impacts. Seabirds and marine mammals, particularly seabirds, are amongst the most susceptible group in relation to potential oil spill contamination, and oil spill events have frequently been recorded as having population-level impacts. There are a range of species/populations that are vulnerable to oil contamination in the Falkland Islands; penguins are particularly susceptible given their diving behaviour, and the Falklands supports large numbers of albatross (and significant proportions of global populations for a number of species). Over the course of the project, Megan will be collating, reviewing and analyse all existing marine higher predator data as well as conducting further tracking work of penguins and seals and incorporating this data into the existing data sets. She will also be conducting Ecological Risk Assessment for the higher predators in relation to the development of the oil and gas industry.