Accessibility statement

Lucy McMahon
PhD Student



I am a marine scientist with broad research interests in the structure, function and resilience of marine and coastal ecosystems, notably salt marshes and seagrass beds. In particular, I am concerned with the effect of environmental change on ecosystem function, and subsequently the provision of ecosystem services. I am keen to undertake research that has strong focus on informing coastal management and conservation.

Throughout my academic career, I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of marine ecosystems across the globe including salt marshes, sand dunes, rocky shores, kelp forests and coral reefs. My previous work has included the persistence of Sabellaria alveolata (Honeycomb worm) reefs in North-west England, the effect of the Flamborough Head no-take zone on the intertidal rocky shore community and environmental drivers for salt marsh lateral extent. During my MSc, I developed a fascination with the services provided by coastal ecosystems and their resilience to anthropogenic driven environmental change. This interest has led to me to my current, interdisciplinary research which focuses on salt marsh ‘blue carbon’ in a changing environment.

I am also enthusiastic about science communication, education and ocean optimism. Please find me on Twitter (@­_LucyMcMahon)


Academic career

2018 - Present

PhD student

University of York

2016 - 2017

MSc Marine Environmental Management

University of York

2012 - 2015

BSc Marine Biology

University of Liverpool



Drivers of belowground blue carbon dynamics in salt marshes

Salt marsh ecosystems dominate low energy coastlines throughout the world’s temperate regions. These ecosystems are highly valuable and recognised for the provision of numerous ecosystem services. Of these services, ‘blue carbon’, which refers to carbon that has been captured and stored by marine and coastal ecosystems, has gained salt marshes global interest for their role in climate change mitigation. The overarching aim of my PhD is to improve understanding of the major drivers for blue carbon accumulation and storage at both spatial and temporal scales, with a particular focus on the role of climate driven sea-level rise. In turn, this knowledge will better enable us to effectively manage salt marshes for their climate mitigation capabilities. To meet this aim, I will be conducting fieldwork on natural salt marshes in the US and restored salt marshes in the UK. This work will be supplemented by an additional chapter on blue carbon accumulation from salt marshes across the globe with pre-existing sea-level reconstructions.


Funding Body: Natural England Research Council (NERC)

DTP: Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment (ACCE)


Professor Roland Gehrels (Environment Department, University of York), Dr Rob Mills (Environment Department, University of York), Dr Kelly Redeker (Biology Department, University of York), Annette Burden (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology).