Hannah Charness

Honours Candidate

Current Research

Kelp abundance has decreased in 38% of global ecoregions over the
past 50 years with significantly high rates of decline on temperate
rocky reefs. Degraded kelp beds struggle to recover in the face of
compounding biotic and abiotic stressors. The deterioration of Nova
Scotian kelp beds is attributed to several anthropogenically-driven
factors including warming ocean temperatures, invasive encrusting
bryozoan colonization, and increased storm intensity and frequency.
However, some areas of the Eastern Shore Islands of Nova Scotia
remain resistant to these pressures, maintaining functional ecosystem-
supporting kelp beds. Without a clear mechanism to explain their
resilience, the presence of these kelp beds may suggest effective
ecosystem connectivity in the form of recruitment and juvenile
survival, allowing for continual population regeneration. My honours
research aims to develop a methodology to measure the effects of
connectivity on kelp bed resilience by studying different juvenile kelp
populations and their success in varying environments across Nova
To manipulate connectivity, we transplanted two species of juvenile
kelp (Sacharina latissima and Laminaria digitata) to existing
populations. These juveniles were seeded from reproductive tissue
collected from two Nova Scotian kelp beds and grown in-lab before
being deployed across field sites with varying degrees of physical
stressors. By collecting data on growth and survival rates of the
transplanted recruits, we can determine how juvenile kelp from diverse
environments differ in their survivorship. Studying juvenile kelp
patterns furthers our understanding of the extent to which kelp bed
connectivity and resilience can be successfully influenced by the
introduction of new juvenile populations. Connectivity is an important
criterion in the designation of MPAs and must be incorporated into
management decisions. This data will be used to generate connectivity
models that can be applied to MPA allocation and inform future
experiments testing kelp bed resilience.


Nancy Witherspoon Memorial Summer Research Award (2022)
Dalhousie-BIOS Fall Program Scholarship (2021)
DOUGS Scholarship (2019)
Dalhousie IB Scholarship (2018-2020)
Golden Key International Honours Society (2019-2022)
Dalhousie University Deans List (2018-2022)
Dalhousie Entrance Scholarship (2018)
Governor Generals Award (2018)

Relevant Experience

Lab technician for MicroAlgal Process Evaluation Laboratory
Oceanography Department, Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
January 2022-May 2022

SuperNova Marine Science Educator
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
January 2021-May 2021

Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary Intern
Ottawa, Ontario
May 2020-August 2020

Contact information