Issy Key

I am an ecologist interested in the ecosystem functioning and services of temperate seagrass meadows. For my PhD I am investigating the biodiversity of seagrass meadows in Scotland, looking across trophic levels and bridging marine and terrestrial realms. I am particularly interested in understanding the role of seagrass in supporting ‘charismatic species’, focussing on birds and otters. I am using a range of field methods including baited underwater video cameras, sediment cores and bird surveys. I am working closely with Project Seagrass and NatureScot, who form part of my supervisory team, as well as various conservation initiatives around the Scottish coast including Seawilding at Loch Craignish, the South Skye Seas Initiative and the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Montrose Basin.

Prior to starting my PhD, I worked as a researcher and coordinator at the Nature-based Solutions Initiative, University of Oxford, where my major focus was synthesising evidence on the biodiversity outcomes of nature-based solutions. I have also enjoyed several fieldwork positions, including on Skomer Island in Wales and Wytham Woods in Oxford. I hold an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, specialising in evolution, ecology and conservation.


Engaging people in science, and more broadly encouraging a love of nature, is one of the main motivations for my research. I enjoy creating material for both children and adults. For example, I was a consultant for the upcoming Usborne book, Ecology For Beginners, and contributed artwork to a video introducing the nature-based solutions concept. I teach on the  Geosciences Outreach undergraduate course at the University of Edinburgh, and am also a co-founder of the climate education charity Climate Science. During my PhD, I hope to create new outreach materials to excite people about seagrass meadows and help them connect with their local marine environment.

Contact details


Fieldwork adventures:


Seddon, N., Smith, A., Smith, P., Key, I., Chausson, A., Girardin, C., House, J., Srivastava, S. & Turner, B. (2021). Getting the message right on nature-based solutions to climate change. Global Change Biology, 27(8), 1518-1546.
Chausson, A., Turner, B., Seddon, D., Chabaneix, N., Girardin, C. A., Kapos, V., Key, I., Roe, D., Smith, A., Woroniecki, S. & Seddon, N. (2020). Mapping the effectiveness of nature‐based solutions for climate change adaptation. Global Change Biology, 26(11), 6134-6155.


Natural Environment Research Council; E4 Doctoral Training Partnership

NatureScot (CASE partner)