Image of Dr Monica McCard

Dr Monica McCard

School of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Faculty of Science

As an aquatic ecologist, my primary research revolves around studying the spread and consequences of non-native species, with a recent emphasis on environmental stressors and impacts like pollution. Invasive species offer a unique opportunity to test various ecological and evolutionary theories, as well as how to apply ecological knowledge to effectively manage these significant threats. Moreover, studying invasive species can yield valuable insights into addressing other global challenges, such as climate change.

I have led research projects investigating the context-dependent impacts of non-native species in freshwater environments, as well as exploring predator-prey dynamics within aquatic communities. A particular focus of mine has been conducting research on the feeding impacts of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans). For over three decades, lionfish have emerged as one of the most devastating invasive aquatic species in history. Throughout the Western Atlantic, these venomous fish have wreaked havoc on reefs and disrupted ecosystems, causing widespread damage that has gone largely unimpeded and unchallenged. In fact, lionfish have been identified as the most ecologically harmful invaders in southern European waters, inflicting significant impacts on biodiversity. The success of lionfish in colonizing new territories can be attributed to a combination of factors. They possess traits such as early maturation and reproduction, enabling them to rapidly populate new areas. Additionally, their venomous spines act as a deterrent to potential predators, giving lionfish a competitive edge. This, in turn, allows them to swiftly establish themselves on reefs, leading to a reduction in biodiversity within the affected areas.

My motivation for working on non-native species lies in generating scientific knowledge that can directly inform conservation and management decisions.


2023, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom, PhD
2017, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom, PGCE in Science and additional teaching in Maths
2015, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom, BSc (hons) Marine Biology
2014, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Ireland, NFQ Level 9 (ECTS) Applied Marine Biological Sampling and Data Collection
2009, Belfast Metropolitan College, United Kingdom, Access Diploma in Science and Tchnology

Academic appointments

Lecturer in Environmental Science, School of Biological and Environmental Science, Liverpool John Moores University, 2023 - present
Lecturer in Science and Maths, South Eastern Regional College, 2018 - 2023

Journal article

Coughlan NE, Dickey JWE, Dick JTA, Médoc V, McCard M, Lacroix G, Fiorini S, Millot A, Cuthbert RN. 2022. When worlds collide: Invader-driven benthic habitat complexity alters predatory impacts of invasive and native predatory fishes. The Science of the total environment, 843 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Dickey JWE, Coughlan NE, Dick JTA, Médoc V, McCard M, Leavitt PR, Lacroix G, Fiorini S, Millot A, Cuthbert RN. 2021. Breathing space: deoxygenation of aquatic environments can drive differential ecological impacts across biological invasion stages. Biological Invasions, 23 :2831-2847 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

McCard M, South J, Cuthbert RN, Dickey JWE, McCard N, Dick JTA. 2021. Pushing the switch: functional responses and prey switching by invasive lionfish may mediate their ecological impact Biological Invasions, 23 :2019-2032 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Dickey JWE, Cuthbert RN, South J, Britton JR, Caffrey J, Chang X, Crane K, Coughlan NE, Fadaei E, Farnsworth KD, Ismar-Rebitz SMH, Joyce PWS, Julius M, Laverty C, Lucy FE, MacIsaac HJ, McCard M, McGlade CLO, Reid N, Ricciardi A, Wasserman RJ, Weyl OLF, Dick JTA. 2020. On the RIP: using Relative Impact Potential to assess the ecological impacts of invasive alien species NeoBiota, 55 :27-60 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

South J, McCard M, Khosa D, Mofu L, Madzivanzira TC, Dick JTA, Weyl OLF. 2019. The effect of prey identity and substrate type on the functional response of a globally invasive crayfish NeoBiota, 52 :9-24 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Cuthbert R, Coughlan NE, Dickey J, Rea M, Laverty C, South J, Crane K, McCard M, Dick JTA. 2019. Shell shocked: high potential impacts on native prey by non-native turtles irrespective of benthic habitat context Aquatic Invasions, 14 :758-774 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

South J, Dick JTA, McCard M, Barrios-O’Neill D, Anton A. 2017. Predicting predatory impact of juvenile invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) on a crustacean prey using functional response analysis: effects of temperature, habitat complexity and light regimes Environmental Biology of Fishes, 100 :1155-1165 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Conference presentation:

Do lionfish have personality traits and does this predict impact?, ICAIS 2024, Nova Scotia Canada, Oral presentation. 2024

Functional response metrics explain and predict high but differing ecological impacts of juvenile and adult lionfish, ICAIS 2024, Nova Scotia Canada, Oral presentation. 2024

Panel - Ocean literacy for the Blue Economy and Beyond, Coastal Transitions, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT - AVERY POINT, USA, Oral presentation. 2023

External PGR examinations performed:

University of Technology, Sydney, PhD, Exploring the role of novel coral nursery infrastructure as fish habitat on the Great Barrier Reef. 2024

Research Grants Awarded:

Operation Wallacea, Investigating the impacts of lionfish on Tela and Utila in Honduras, Grant value (£): Money in kind equal to £6,000, Duration of research project: 3 years. 2024

National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) - Nuclear Decommissioning Authority PhD Bursary 2024, Building resilience to coastal flooding resulting from climatic changes: the application to decommissioning NDA assets, Dr Sarah Percival (LJMU), Dr Kostas Kiriakoulakis (LJMU), Dr Joshua Griffiths (NNL), Prof Nick Smith (NNL), Grant value (£): 87,532.57, Duration of research project: 3 years. 2024

Media Coverage:

The official blog of Functional Ecology, a British Ecological Society Journal - published my blog on my recent expedition to Honduras working on lionfish 2023

External committees:

British Ecological Society Invasion Science Group, British Ecological Society, Deputy Chair, 2023

External collaboration:

Operation Wallacea, Dr Dan Exton. 2023

Teaching qualification:

Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). 2017