Sam Thompson

Biodiversity and Societal Benefits of Restricted Access Areas

Marine parks and protected areas can provide biodiversity and societal benefits. Restricted access areas around oil and gas infrastructure have the potential to also contribute to biodiversity and societal benefits. To better understand the value of such areas, my project will aim to accurately define population estimates for protected, threatened and endangered species, connectivity of habitat forming species and associations of key-fishery species. My project aims to provide comparable biodiversity data from MPAs and restricted access areas through a variety of methods including Stereo-BRUV, ROV and eDNA. Integrating historical data with this multidisciplinary approach, I hope to provide unique datasets and time-series across a range of spatial and temporal scales to monitor, understand and predict ecosystem structure, thus informing marine policy and regulation development.

About me

In 2014, I graduated with a bachelor of Science with a first class honours in biochemistry from the University of Kent, England. During this time I developed a keen interest in genetics and undertook a phylogenetic research project (computational) related to myosin motor domains and the marine chordate amphioxus. I then found work for the next few years as an analytical chemist for a pharmaceutical company, working on late-stage in-vitro R&D for a dry-powder inhaler for asthma/COPD. In 2018, I completed a master of science in biological oceanography, conducting preliminary research into abyssal ecosystem structure at potential deep-sea mining locations in the central Pacific Ocean. Having moved to Perth in 2019 for work (and the weather), I discovered this project at UWA investigating biodiversity and societal benefits of restricted access areas - providing a unique opportunity to combine interests in genetics, marine ecology and laboratory method development. I would like to use the skills and knowledge I will gain from this project to enhance understanding of how eDNA can be used as an ecosystem monitoring tool and how it can be more effectively combined with classical techniques to increase observational ability, therefore allowing us to better elucidate drivers of change within marine and terrestrial ecosystems.


Dr. Tim Langlois


Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre
School of Biological Sciences (M470)
35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009