Biography

I am an interdisciplinary researcher and lecturer, focusing on the sedimentological dynamics and ecological structure and functioning of intertidal coastal environments.

My research interests lie in understanding the complex physical, biological and chemical interactions that determine how natural environments function, using intertidal habitats such as mudflats and mangrove forests as model systems.  This research is interdisciplinary, drawing on disciplines as diverse as sedimentology, ecology and remote sensing.  There are 2 main themes to my research:
 

  • The mediation of coastal dynamics by complex interactions between physical, biological and chemical components.
  • Methodological and technological advances and applications to support this research.

For more details on my research see the research tab above.

My lecturing draws on my research expertise, focussing on geoscience with some ecology.  I teach at all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate.  I also lead outreach and engagement courses, including running a summer school on issues relating to erosion in the coastal zone. 
For more information on my teaching and engagement activities see the tabs above.
 

PhD Studentships Available


Biotic mediation of intertidal sedimentary processes
 

 

Career History

  • 2009 - present: Lecturer in Coastal Physical Processes, University of East Anglia.  Employed as a lecturer in the Environmental Sciences School at the University of East Anglia.  I gained Royal Society funding for the project FloWave - an erosion device for simulating combined linear and oscillatory flows in collaboration with Sediment Services UK and Partrac UK.  Lecturer on various ENV undergraduate and postgraduate modules, for more details see the teaching tab above.
  • 2004 - 2008: Research Fellow, University of Sydney.  Employed as a Research Fellow, I continued to work on the Mangrove Structure and Function project.  I was also successful in gaining ARC funding for the 3 year multidisciplinary project: 'Understanding biodiversity by experimental analysis of links between physical, chemical and biological properties of intertidal sediments,' with collaborators at the University of Sydney.  Co-lecturer on the University of Sydney postgraduate course ENVI5904: Understanding Environmental Uncertainty.
  • 2001 - 2003: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Sydney.  Employed as part of a long-term project to improve understanding of the ecological structure and functioning of mangrove forests, mudflats and salt marshes.  I led the sedimentological component of the successful University of Sydney large equipment grant: 'Analytical system for integrating function and structure of complex intertidal biodiversity.'
  • 1999 - 2001: Postdoctoral Research Assistant, University of St. Andrews.  Employed on the EU project CLIMEROD, also worked on the BIOPTIS project and led the St. Andrews component of the successful BIOFLOW international flume network grant application.  Tutor on the Maths for Biologists course.
  • 1995 - 1999: University of St. Andrews, Ph.D. in Marine Biology: 'Microbial mediation of intertidal sediment stability.'  I worked on a number of large research projects, including PROMAT and INTRMUD.
  • 1995: University of St. Andrews, BSc (Hons) in Geology and Environmental Biology (1st class).

All Publications

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Spalding, M., Mcivor, A., Beck, M., Koch, E., Möller, I., Reed, D., Rubinoff, P., Spencer, T., Tolhurst, T., Wamsley, T., van Wesenbeeck, B., Wolanski, E., Woodroffe, C.

(2014)

Coastal ecosystems : A critical element of risk reduction

in Conservation Letters

7.

pp. 293-301

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Hale, R., Jacques, R., Tolhurst, T.

(2014)

Cryogenic defaunation of sediments in the field

in Journal of Coastal Research

UEA Repository

(Article)


Hale, R., Mavrogordato, M., Tolhurst, T., Solan, M.

(2014)

Characterizations of how species mediate ecosystem properties require more comprehensive functional effect descriptors.

in Scientific reports

UEA Repository

(Article)


Maggi, E., Jackson, A., Tolhurst, T., Underwood, A., Chapman, M.

(2013)

Changes in microphytobenthos fluorescence over a tidal cycle: implications for sampling designs

in Hydrobiologia

701.

pp. 301-312

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Tolhurst, T., Chapman, M., Underwood, A., Cruz, J.

(2012)

The effects of five different defaunation methods on biogeochemical properties of intertidal sediment

in Biogeosciences Discussions

9.

pp. 1377-1406

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Tolhurst, T., Chapman, M., Underwood, A., Cruz, J.

(2012)

Technical note: The effects of five different defaunation methods on biogeochemical properties of intertidal sediment

in Biogeosciences

9.

pp. 3647-3661

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Fagherazzi, S., Fitzgerald, D., Fulweiler, R., Hughes, Z., Wiberg, P., McGlathery, K., Morris, J., Tolhurst, T., Deegan, L., Johnson, D.

(2011)

Ecogeomorphology of Salt Marshes, in Treatise on Geomorphology

In: Ecogeomorphology.

Elsevier

UEA Repository

(Chapter)


Fagherazzi, S., Fitzgerald, D., Fulweiler, R., Hughes, Z., Wiberg, P., McGlathery, K., Morris, J., Tolhurst, T., Deegan, L., Johnson, D.

(2011)

Ecogeomorphology of Tidal Flats, in Treatise on Geomorphology

In: Ecogeomorphology.

Elsevier

UEA Repository

(Chapter)


Mayer-Pinto, M., Coleman, R., Underwood, A., Tolhurst, T.

(2011)

Effects of zinc on microalgal biofilms in intertidal and subtidal habitats

in Biofouling

27.

pp. 721-727

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Chapman, M., Tolhurst, T., Murphy, R., Underwood, A.

(2010)

Complex and inconsistent patterns of variation in benthos, micro-algae and sediment over multiple spatial scales

in Marine Ecology Progress Series

398.

pp. 33-47

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Mayer-Pinto, M., Underwood, A., Tolhurst, T., Coleman, R.

(2010)

Effects of metals on aquatic assemblages: What do we really know?

in Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

391.

pp. 1-9

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Tolhurst, T., Defew, E., Dye, A.

(2010)

Lack of correlation between surface macrofauna, meiofauna, erosion threshold and biogeochemical properties of sediments within an intertidal mudflat and mangrove forest

in Hydrobiologia

652.

pp. 1-13

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Murphy, R., Tolhurst, T.

(2009)

Effects of experimental manipulation of algae and fauna on the properties of intertidal soft sediments

in Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

379.

pp. 77-84

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Murphy, R., Tolhurst, T., Chapman, M., Underwood, A.

(2009)

Seasonal distribution of microphytobenthos on mudflats in New South Wales, Australia measured by field spectometry and PAM fluorometry

in Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science

84.

pp. 108-118

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Tolhurst, T.

(2009)

Weak diurnal changes in the biochemical properties and benthic macrofauna of urbanised mangrove forests and mudflats

in Hydrobiologia

pp. 1-17

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Tolhurst, T., Black, K., Paterson, D.

(2009)

Muddy sediment erosion - insights from field studies

in Journal of Hydraulic Engineering

135.

pp. 73-78

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Murphy, R., Tolhurst, T., Chapman, M., Underwood, A.

(2008)

Spatial scales of variation of benthic micro-algae on emersed estuarine mudflats determined by field-baes remote sensing

in Marine Ecology Progress Series

pp. 45-55

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Murphy, R., Underwood, A., Tolhurst, T., Chapman, M.

(2008)

Field-based remote-sensing for experimental intertidal ecology: Case studies using hyperspatial and hyperspectral data for New South Wales (Australia)

in Remote Sensing of Environment

112.

pp. 3353-3365

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Tolhurst, T., Consalvey, M., Paterson, D.

(2008)

Changes in cohesive sediment properties associated with the growth of a diatom biofilm

in Hydrobiologia

pp. 225-239

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


Tolhurst, T., Watts, C., Vardy, S., Saunders, J., Consalvey, M., Paterson, D.

(2008)

The effects of rain on the erosion threshold and biogeochemical properties of intertidal sediments

in Continental Shelf Research

pp. 1217-1230

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)


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Key Research Interests

My research is focussed on two main themes:

1) The mediation of coastal dynamics by complex interactions between physical, biological and chemical components.
This research investigates physical, biological and chemical properties and processes in coastal habitats and how these are mediated by complex interactions.  Of particular interest is how biota alters the erosion of sediments via biostabilisation and biodestabilisation.
Intertidal mudflats, salt marshes and mangrove forests have an intimate association between the organisms (micro-algae and macrofauna) and their habitat (the sediment).  The organisms signficantly modify the sediments they inhabit and vice versa.  These habitats are particularly at threat from global climatic change and sea level rise and are considered to be indicator habitats for climate change.
This research interest started with my undergraduate project, where I investigated how diatoms (microscopic algae) stabilised sediments, protecting the sediment from erosion.  I continue to pursue this research question today.  More recently, I have been investigating how macrofauna species act on the sediment in isolation, how changes in species density affect their actions and how combinations of species interact to alter the mudflat habitat and process therein, using a range of biogeochemical measurements and erosion devices.
Investigating the influence of biota on sedimentary properties and processes not only addresses fundamental sedimentological and ecological questions, but is vital for developing models of sediment dynamics, understanding ecosystem services and for managing coastal habitats.

2) Methodological and technological advances and applications.
Coastal habitats provide unique challenges for researchers, requiring specialised equipment and methods.  The second main theme of my research is the development and application of novel technologies and methodologies to facilitate research, some of which are outlined below.  My extensive tests and calibrations of erosion devices have led to new experimental approaches that have improved the accuracy of these measurements.  I helped develop and calibrate an improved Cohesive Strength Meter device for measuring sediment erosion (based on the original design of Paterson 1989).  This device is now commercially produced by PARTRAC, UK. info@partrac.com.  More recently, I have developed a new erosion device FloWave, which creates a combined oscillatory and unidirectional flow to simulate the effects of combined tidal flow and wave action.  I have collaborated with Dr R. Murphy, the University of Sydney richard.murphy@sydney.edu.au to develop new remote sensing techniques for measuring algae in intertidal sediments, using colour-infrared photography and new derivative based approaches to spectroradiometry.
Development of these new technologies and methodologies has improved our understanding of how coastal ecosystems function and respond to anthropogenic impacts.


Publications: EPrints Digital Repository

Teaching Interests

I am interested in interdisciplinary teaching, with a focus on coastal ecosystems, which draws on disparate disciplines to better understand our environment.  Of particular interest is how biota interacts with and modifies their habitat to mediate physical processes such as erosion of sediments.

Professional Activities

  • Marine Knowledge Exchange Network - The 2013 storm surge: physical impacts and economic implications, Keynote speaker, July 2014.
  • Conference talk - Biotic and abiotic interactions driving the erodibility of intertidal sediments: EPS and sand. Ocean Sciences Meeting, Hawaiii, February 2014.
  • Environment Agency drop in public meeting - UEA research on the 2013 storm surge.
  • Natural Coastal Protection - Expert Workshop Meeting, Cripps Court, Magdalene College, Cambridge March 2012.

Key Responsibilities

  • SCI Web Working Group
  • ENV Web Manager and Development
  • ENV Library Liaison/Library Committee
  • ENV Marketing and Communications Committee
  • Organiser of the Slapton 1st Year Fieldcourse