Kyran P. Graves

Kyran P. Graves


I am a recent graduate from the University of Plymouth with a BSc in Marine Biology & Oceanography, and a ResM in Marine Science. Whilst at the University of Plymouth I developed an interest in deep-sea ecology, with a particular focus on mapping Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and Marine Spatial Planning.

During my BSc I undertook a placement year working with the Deep-Sea Conservation Research Unit (DeepSeaCRU) at the University of Plymouth. Here, I worked on developing new habitat suitability models (HSMs) to predict the distribution of Desmophyllum pertusum reef and Pheronema carpenteri aggregations, whilst also independently validating existing HSMs.

My final year BSc project investigated the role environmental factors, in particular internal waves, play on driving the distribution and density of Pheronema carpenteri aggregations in the Porcupine Seabight, Ireland. My ResM thesis built on the mapping work carried out during my placement year, creating distribution maps for a further ten biotopes/VMEs across UK & Irish waters. Furthermore, my ResM thesis demonstrated a number of ways HSMs can be used to inform marine spatial planning, such as estimating the efficacy of existing conservation measures, and highlight areas of potential seabed/VME recovery.

Kyran P. Graves

PhD title: Quantifying the Role of Deep-Sea Animal Forests in the Blue Carbon Budget

Recently, the role of coastal marine animal forests as potential carbon sinks has been highlighted. However, the coastal environment represents only a fraction of the ocean, with most of the ocean (~90%) considered deep sea. Within the deep-sea biome, various animal forests exist and are often dominated by long-lived black, bamboo, and gorgonian corals, or large structure forming sponges. The potential role of deep-sea animal forests in the carbon budget is largely unknown and historically overlooked, but the vast size of the deep-sea ecosystem suggests that role may be significant.

My PhD will focus on providing the first estimates of the role deep-sea animals play in the blue carbon budget using a range of lab, deep-learning, and modelling techniques. I hope to quantify the organic carbon content of selected deep-sea species, apply deep-learning techniques to deep-sea image and video analysis to generate species density datasets, model the density of species at the Atlantic basin scale, map the spatial distribution of carbon sinks, and assess the efficacy of existing  Marine Protected Area networks.


    Howell KL, Bridges AE, Graves KP, Allcock L and others (2022) Performance of deep-sea habitat suitability models assessed using independent data, and implications for use in area-based management. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 695:33-51.

    ICES. 2021. Working Group on Deep-water Ecology (WGDEC). ICES Scientific Reports. 3:89. 162 pp.

    Graves KP, Bridges AEH, Dabrowski T, Furey T, Lyons K, Howell KL (In Review) Oceanographic variability drives the distribution but not the density of the aggregation forming deep-sea sponge Pheronema carpenteri. Deep-Sea Research Part I.

    Graves KP, Brunner O, Davies J, Downie A-L, Furey F, La Bianca G, Howell KL (In prep) The Application of Habitat Suitability Modelling to Mapping VME Distribution in the Deep Sea to Inform Spatial Management.

    Rix J, Downie A-L, Graves KP, Piechaud N, Howell KL (In prep) Mapping the density of Kophobelemnon stelliferum aggregations forming Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems in Irish and UK waters.


  • 16th Deep Sea Biology Symposium

Awards and prizes

Best Marine Biology Project relating to issues in Marine Conservation (Undergraduate) – Awarded by the National Marine Aquarium