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Rebekah Newstead

Photograph of Rebekah Newstead
  • Researching: Feeding and grazing ecology of the mesozooplankton of the Amundsen Sea polynya, Antarctica
  • Room: Nautilus 327
  • Phone: +44 1248 388209
  • E-mail: r.newstead


I am studying at the School of Ocean Sciences for a NERC funded PhD investigating the feeding ecology of mesozooplankton from the Amundsen Sea Polynya (AP), Antarctica under the supervision of Dr Stephanie Wilson, Dr Luis Giminez and Dr Simon Creer. Before this I completed a BSc in Marine Biology at Bangor University, graduating with a First Class degree in 2012. My research interests involve marine ecology and biological oceanography, and through my Ph.D, using genetic techniques as a tool investigate the role of biology in ecological function.

Before deciding to embark on a research career I was fortunate enough to work as a diving instructor in a handful of warm water, tropical locations. During this time an exposure to marine conservation issues drove me to study Marine Biology at Bangor. And whilst the waters may not be tropical the easy access to the wonderful coastal and mountain landscapes on the doorstep have fulfilled my enjoyment of the outdoors through hiking, fell running and triathlons whilst I have been studying here.


I am currently working on my PhD investigating the feeding ecology of mesozooplankton from the Amundsen Sea Polynya (AP), Antarctica.

Polynyas are seasonally recurring areas of open water surrounded by sea ice. They are a foci for energy and nutrient transfer between the atmosphere, the polar surface ocean and the deep sea. The remote Amundsen Sea Polynya is on average, the most productive per m-2 in Antarctica.

The mesozooplankton of Antarctic marine ecosystems form an important component of food web dynamics and carbon export. Understanding how the consumption of phytoplankton is divided between the dominant grazers will be important in determining carbon export through the food web and the transport of carbon to depth.

To quantify the magnitude of mesozooplankton feeding within the AP gut chlorophyll has been extracted from samples collected during the ASPIRE research cruise. These results are compared with the physical parameters of the polynya system to understand driving factors in mesozooplankton grazing. To further explore food web dynamics I am using next generation sequencing to analyse copepod and krill gut contents. I am using a metabarcoding/ metagenetic approach. DNA is extracted from samples and the DNA barcodes mass amplified before being sent to a next generation Illumina MiSeq sequencer for analysis.