Research Associate
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
University of California Santa Cruz
MSc (Marine Biology)
School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University
B.A. (Biology-Environmental Studies), Whitman College


Research Interests:

I explore methods to incorporate dynamic processes into reserve design. Many reserve systems currently in place incorporated static patterns of biodiversity during the design process. This is inherently problematic: patterns of biodiversity fluctuate across space and time, and reserves systems that do not consider these dynamics risk becoming outdated and ineffective. For example, reserves designed to incorporate species’ movements over time are more likely to offer long-term protection than reserves designed to incorporate species occurrences at one point in time.

One of the barriers to conservation planning for dynamic processes is the definition of useful surrogates that reflect processes’ spatial dimensions and requirements for management. My research focuses on the integration of GIS and remote sensing products to define surrogates that retain information on spatial and temporal variability. I use time-series of remotely sensed variables – or derived products such as species distribution models – to quantify how features move over space and time.These time-series analyses give insight into trends in the near-future, and allow for management decisions informed by the ways in which a changing climate affects resources of conservation interest.


Bob Pressey (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)

Scott Heron (NOAA Coral Reef Watch; Marine Geophysical Laboratory, JCU)

Dani Ceccarelli (Marine Ecology Consultant)

Alistair Hobday (CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere)

Steve Schill (TNC, Brigham Young University)

Elliott Hazen (NOAA SWFSC ERD)

Steven Bograd (NOAA SWFSC ERD)




Brodie, S., Jacox, M. G., Bograd, S. J., Welch, H., Dewar, H., Scales, K. L., … & Lewison, R. L. (2018). Integrating dynamic subsurface habitat metrics into species distribution models. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5, 219.

Hazen, E. L., Scales, K. L., Maxwell, S. M., Briscoe, D. K., Welch, H., Bograd, S. J., … & Kohin, S. (2018). A dynamic ocean management tool to reduce bycatch and support sustainable fisheries. Science advances, 4(5), eaar3001.

Welch, H., & McHenry, J. (2018). Planning for dynamic process: An assemblage‐level surrogate strategy for species seasonal movement pathways. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 28(2), 337-350.

Welch, H., Pressey, R. L., & Reside, A. E. (2017). Using temporally explicit habitat suitability models to assess threats to mobile species and evaluate the effectiveness of marine protected areas. Journal for Nature Conservation.

Welch H, Pressey RL, Heron SF, Ceccarelli D, Hobday AJ. Regimes of chlorophyll-a in the Coral Sea: implications for evaluating adequacy of marine protected areas. Ecography. doi: 10.1111/ecog.01450

Pop science

Welch H. 2018. To conserve ocean life, marine reserves need to protect species that move around. The Conversation.

Welch H. 2016. Three ways to improve U.S. marine protected areas. PLOS Blogs.


GIS and remote sensing lab: Analyzing historical chlorophyll-a trends in the Caribbean (click here for accompanying data)

Species seasonal movements in the Mid-Atlantic, USA

International Congress for Conservation Biology presentation, July 26th, Cartagena, Colombia:


Examples of GIS-based products:


Stylized map of The World based on NOAA’s ETOPO1 data.


The Northeast Atlantic Seafloor

Stylized map of the Northeast Atlantic Seafloor.


Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 3.06.45 PM
Quantifying patterns of chlorophyll a in the Caribbean to identify priorities for management.


bearHeatmap of 2012 movement density for female black bear “Pout” (Ursus americanus) in Grafton County, NH, USA


cube surface

Exaggerated multibeam CUBE surface showing fine-scale bathymetry near Seattle, WA, USA


Backscatter survey tracks measuring seafloor hardness for inclusion in benthic habitat classifications, New Jersey state waters, USA