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Courtney May, BSc

Hi! I am a research Masters student in the Mariani lab, investigating the use of jellyfish as natural biodiversity samplers. Jellyfish capture prey as they float and DNA metabarcoding can be a powerful tool to unravel their diet. However, their action can also result in the accumulation of trace DNA from organisms dwelling in the pelagic realm.  I will be analysing the stomach contents and tenctacle tissue from jellyfish collected from different locations, using DNA metabarcoding techniques, comparing them with water samples from the surrounding environment. This will give us the opportunity to examine the pelagic biodiversity ‘captured’ by the jellyfish “floating & feeding” behaviour.

I am excited to be a part of this project because I would like to help develop techniques that can be used to characterise ocean ecosystems and better inform marine management.  


I have an interest in marine ecology and management of marine systems. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Leeds where I wrote my dissertation on The Influence of Connectivity Models on Conservation Priorities in Marine Spatial Planning, using data from the Coral Triangle. This was inspired by my interest in coral reefs, which I also pursue through a project I am part of at the Smithsonian Natural history Museum, comparing the susceptibility of different stony corals to disease.

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