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Oliver S. Ashford, PhD
Email: oashford@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 405-4298
Fax: (858) 822-0562
Address: 9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California 92093-0218

I am an ecologist with experience working in a myriad of environments, and with a variety of taxonomic groups; from tropical rainforests (soil-dwelling arthropods), to temperate coastal waters (microscopic protists), to the depths of the ocean (crustaceans, annelids, corals, sponges and xenophyophores). I enjoy asking fundamental ecological questions, and am equally comfortable working in rainforests, on research ships at high latitudes or in the lab on dry land. I have experience with both morphological and molecular (eDNA) taxonomy, and a selection of sampling gears, including box corers and multi-corers, mid-water and benthic trawls, and benthic lander camera systems. I'm interested in applying phylogenetic and functional evidence to ecological questions, and am proficient in phylogenetics, functional trait analyses, habitat suitability modelling, GIS analysis, stable isotope analysis, advanced modelling (e.g. Generalised Additive and Structural Equation models), as well as traditional community ecology analysis methods.

Current Research

My current research aims to interrogate the form of biodiversity - ecosystem functioning (BEF) relationships. These relationships are poorly understood in deep-water environments, especially within the macrofauna, but crucially they can provide us with detailed information about the vulnerability of the provision of deep-sea ecosystem services to anthropogenic disturbances, such as hydrocarbon extraction, fishing, and (potentially) seabed mining. Specifically, I am investigating a hypothesis developed over the course of my PhD that the form of BEF relationships varies in a predictable way depending on food availability. I am testing this in deep-sea macrofauna along a food availability gradient from Costa Rican methane seeps (high food) to background sediments (low food).

Other Research Interests

I concurrently maintain an interest in the impacts of bottom trawling on deep-sea fauna, understanding the environmental shapers of deep-sea communities (including predicting the impacts of climate change on deep sea fauna), and investigating the influence of benthic megafaunal invertebrates deep-sea macrofauna. I am also currently in the process of describing a new species of large Antarctic amphipod.


D.Phil Zoology, University of Oxford, 2017. 'Illuminating the deep: an exploration of deep-sea benthic macrofaunal ecology in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean'. Merton College. Supervisors: Professor Alex Rogers, Dr Andrew Kenny.

MSc (Distinction) Taxonomy and Biodiversity, Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum, 2012. Thesis title: 'An exploration of haplosporidian and paramyxean diversity using environmental DNA and culture-based techniques'.

MA (First-Class Honours) Natural Sciences Tripos (Zoology), University of Cambridge, 2011. Peterhouse. Thesis title: 'Litter manipulation and the soil arthropod community in a lowland tropical rainforest'.

Peer-reviewed Publications

Ashford, O.S., Kenny, A.J., Barrio Frojan, C.R.S., Downie, A-L., Horton, T., Rogers, A.D. (2019). 'On the influence of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem habitats on peracarid crustacean assemblages in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation Regulatory Area'. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:401. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00401.

Ashford, O.S., Kenny, A.J., Barrio Frojan, C.R.S., Bonsall, M.B., Horton, T., Brandt, A., Bird, G.J., Gerken, S., Rogers, A.D. 2018. 'Phylogenetic and functional evidence suggests that deep-ocean ecosystems are highly sensitive to environmental change and direct human disturbance'. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285: 20180923. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0923.

Brasier, M.J., Grant, S.M., Trathan, P.N., Allcock, L., Ashford, O.S., Blagbrough, H., Brandt, A., Danis, B., Downey, R., Eleaume, M., Enderlein, P., Ghiglione, C., Hogg, O., Linse, K., Mackenzie, M., Moreau, C., Robinson, L., Rodriguez, E., Spiridonov, V., Tate, A., Taylor, M., Waller, C., Wiklund, H., Griffiths, H.J. 2018. 'Benthic biodiversity in the South Orkney Islands Southern Shelf Marine Protected Area'. Biodiversity DOI:10.1080/14888386.2018.1468821.

Ashford, O.S., Davies, A.J., and Jones, D.O.B. 2014. 'Deep-sea benthic megafaunal habitat suitability modelling: A global-scale maximum entropy model for xenophyophores'. Deep Sea Research Part I 94: 31-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2014.07.012.

Hartikainen, H., Ashford, O.S., Berney, C., Okamura, B., Feist, S.W., Baker-Austin, C., Stentiford, G.D., Bass, D. 2014. 'Lineage-specific molecular probing reveals novel diversity and ecological partitioning of haplosporidians'. ISME Journal 8(1): 177-186. DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2013.136

Ashford, O.S., Foster, W.A., Turner, B.L., Sayer, E.J., Sutcliffe, L., Tanner, E.V.J. 2013. 'Litter manipulation and the soil arthropod community in a lowland tropical rainforest'. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 62: 5-12. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.03.001

Manuscripts in Review

Ashford, O.S., Kenny, A.J., Barrio Frojan, C.R.S., Horton, T., Rogers, A.D. 'Investigating the environmental drivers of deep-seafloor biodiversity: a case study of peracarid crustacean assemblages in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean'. Ecology and Evolution.

van der Grient, J.M.A., Ashford, O.S., Barrio Frojan, C.R.S., Kenny, A.J., Rogers, A.D. 'Trawling has complex effects on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the deep sea'. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Manuscripts in Prep

Boyle, M.J.W., Bishop, T.R., Luke, S.H., van Breugel, M., Evans, T.A., Pfeifer, M., Fayle, T.M., Hardwick, S.R., Lane-Shaw, R.I., Yusah, K.M., Ashford, I.C.R., Ashford, O.S., Garnett, E., Turner, E.C., Wilkinson, C.L., Chung, A.Y.C., Ewers, R.M. 'Interactions between microclimate and physiology shape rainforest ant communities after logging and conversion to oil palm'.

Ashford, O.S., van der Grient, J.M.A., Kenny, A.J., Barrio Frojan, C.R.S., Horton, T., Rogers, A.D. 'A new theory of the form of deep-sea biodiversity - ecosystem functioning relationships'.

Ashford, O.S., Horton, T., Roterman, C.N., Thurston, M., Griffiths, H.J., Brandt, A. 'A new species within the remarkable and rare amphipod family Podosiridae'.

Ashford, O.S., Guan, S., Capone, D., Rowley, K., Mendoza, G.F., Cordes, E., Orphan, V., Mullin, S., Lim, S., Dawson, K.S., CortÚs, J., Rouse, G.W., Sweetman, A.K., Levin, L.A. 'Do biodiversity - ecosystem functioning relationships change in form along gradients of resource availability?'.

Ashford, O.S., Guan, S., Capone, D., Rowley, K., Mendoza, G.F., Cordes, E., CortÚs, J., Orphan, V., Mullin, S., Lim, S., Dawson, K.S., Rouse, G.W., Levin, L.A. 'Faunal transition zones with distinct characteristics surround deep-sea methane seeps'.

Other Interests

I am a passionate musician, and as a violinist and guitarist, enjoy listening to and performing a variety of music, from Finzi to the Foo Fighters. I currently play in the Greater San Diego Chamber Orchestra. I also enjoy getting outdoors and exploring nature through hiking, camping, photography, mountain biking, fishing, sailing and surfing.

Please contact me for a full CV.

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Updated July 11th, 2019
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