Alexandra Kinnby sitting at the edge of the beach and holding a seaweed in her hand.
Alexandra Kinnby has received a large grant from Formas to continue her research on how bladder wrack and other macroalgae are affected by climate change in the sea.
Photo: Susanne Liljenström

Alexandra Kinnby receives Formas grant on ocean acidification and seaweed


Alexandra Kinnby, researcher at the Department of Marine Sciences, has been awarded a research grant from Formas of SEK 5.4 million. Together with prominent researchers in Canada and Australia, she will study the effects of ocean acidification on bladder wrack and other macroalgae.

Alexandra Kinnby defended her dissertation in the spring of 2021 on a thesis that dealt with how climate change affects our seaweed belts. One of her conclusions was that bladder wrack grow faster but become more fragile in acidified seawater. The algae thus become weaker and are more easily torn apart by waves and winds.

In her new project, Alexandra Kinnby will study whether this phenomenon also occurs in other macroalgae, but also look at how different life stages are affected by ocean acidification and other climate changes.

"It feels fantastic to get a chance to implement a project based on findings from my doctoral thesis. It's a project I've been thinking about for a long time", says Alexandra Kinnby.

Planning for experiments in Sweden and Canada

In practical terms, Alexandra Kinnby will collect different species of macroalgae and expose them to future ocean acidification conditions. Factors she will investigate include how growth, strength and tissue structure are affected.

She will do the research together with international colleagues, with practical experiments in both Sweden and Canada.

"I will collaborate with Christopher Harley and Patrick Martone at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. I will also be working with Catriona Hurd at the University of Tasmania, Australia".

"It will be great fun to have the opportunity to collaborate with people who are both outstanding researchers but also role models from whom I can learn a lot!"

Important knowledge in a changing climate

Alexandra Kinnby hopes the project will increase the understanding of how a changing climate can affect species that play a very important role in our coastal ecosystems.

"Macroalgae are habitat-forming species and in this way they play an important role in our ecosystems. In addition, algae are becoming increasingly common to cultivate in aquaculture, and then it is important to know how these species will be affected when our climate changes. The results may also have implications for restoration and management."

Interview: Susanne Liljenström

Project Facts

The Formas project "Will macroalgae survive in the ocean of the future? Effects of ocean acidification on macroalgae forests" is a so-called Mobility grant for early-career researchers. The aim is to strengthen young researchers' opportunities for career development by giving them the opportunity to develop their skills and abilities in collaborating with others.

More about Formas Mobility grant for early-career researchers.