Kira Krumhansl

Ecology of coastal foundation species



Over the past year, I’ve been working as a Biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. My research has focussed on understanding how environmental conditions and oceanographic processes drive the distribution, productivity, and status of zooplankton and seagrass species. Prior to that, I worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Hakai Institute and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, where I conducted research examining how giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) canopy harvest impacts the productivity, resilience, and provisioning of ecosystem services by kelp forests, and how the effects of this disturbance are mediated by environmental conditions.

Throughout my time at SFU and beyond, I’ve been part of a National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) working group, which has focussed on bringing together knowledge and data to assess the impacts of climate change on kelp forest ecosystems. One of the flagship projects was an analysis of all available time series of kelp abundances to evaluate changes through time (Krumhansl et al. 2016, PNAS). Ongoing projects include an assessment of ecosystem-level effects of environmental drivers and kelp loss in kelp forests across the globe, as well as an evaluation of kelp species biomass distributions across their temperate and polar range.

Prior to going to SFU, I was an applied benthic ecologist at the Centre for Water Resources Studies (CWRS) at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My research at the CWRS took me all over arctic and sub-arctic Nunavut, where I studied the response of soft-sediment communities in coastal areas to human disturbance. Our work has informed the management of wastewater treatment systems throughout the Canadian North.

I completed my PhD at Dalhousie University in 2012 under the supervision of Dr. Robert Scheibling, My research examined the environmental and biological factors that influence the production of detritus from kelp forests ecosystems, and explored the linkages between kelp forests and adjacent systems through the transfer of detritus.

Over the past several years, I’ve also worked intensively as science coordinator at Education Development Center on a variety of projects that aim to bring real scientific data into high school classrooms in a fun and accessible way (Ocean Tracks; Zoom in to Science with Data). As part of one of these projects, called Ocean Tracks, we developed an interactive web interface that allows students to follow great white sharks, bluefin tuna, and elephant seals around the Pacific Ocean, and analyze their movements in relation to oceanographic phenomena. IMG_3950

My research has taken me to some of the most beautiful places on earth: remote Pacific atolls on a sailing ship, the deep sea aboard the Alvin, the remote high arctic in Nunavut, and the rocky, rugged coastlines of Nova Scotia and British Columbia. I am happy to call the underwater world my office, and to contribute knowledge towards the conservation and management of coastal marine ecosystems in my own backyard and around the globe.


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