Postgraduate Profiles

Christopher Thompson

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Thesis: Resetting the Baseline: the ecology of remote pelagic fish assemblages

Comprising 99% of the planet’s biosphere by volume, marine pelagic environments are the largest biotic realm on earth, providing significant value from commercial, food security, recreational and ecosystem services perspectives. In recent decades however, a suite of anthropogenic impacts including overfishing, climate change, pollution and mining have led to significant degradation of the world’s oceans, with fish stocks dwindling and the concept of what a pristine ecosystem becoming an abstract concept. This project aims to sample pelagic wildlife populations in a range of remote and relatively untouched locations worldwide, creating a picture of what healthy open ocean assemblages should look like and investigate the factors driving their distribution, diversity and abundance. It will additionally investigate correlations between surface water and deep-ocean communities and investigate the accuracy of fisheries based estimates of remote epipelagic populations. Through this research this project aims to reset the baseline on pelagic ecosystems highlighting what healthy oceans should look like, thereby providing meaningful conservation targets and highlighting areas which can be protected before they are degraded.

Why my research is important

This project will provide significant information on the distribution diversity and abundance of pelagic and deep water wildlife in remote regions.


Galapagos sharks approach a mid-water rig in the waters of Rapa Iti, French Polynesia.

Feb 2017

Feb 2020