Victoria Ashley-Wheeler

        Picture of Victoria Ashley-Wheeler

PhD student

I am a geneticist with an interest in utilizing genetics techniques for environmental monitoring and conservation purposes, particularly in marine environments. 

Contact details:
  • +44 (0)1631 559 000

  • Linkedin

Assessing benthic recovery following cessation of salmon farming using eDNA metabarcoding

Aquaculture plays a major role in the Scottish economy, as well as reducing the impact on wild fisheries. However, fin fish farming can be harmful to the benthos beneath it if the fish biomass is inappropriate for the region’s ability to disperse such material. The additional organic load created by the fish, as well as dropped food and used fish medicines, can smother life on the sea floor if not carefully managed. Monitoring of benthic health is a key requirement of aquaculture farms, during and after the lifetime of a fish farm, to ensure the invertebrate communities remain able to assimilate waste material.

Current monitoring approaches involve physical ID of organisms found in samples, which is both time consuming and requires significant taxonomic expertise. This time delay prevents dynamic management of the site, limiting its usefulness as a monitoring tool. I am looking at replacing this approach with one that uses environmental DNA. I will be using next generation sequencing to associate metabarcode signals with recovery status.



Dr Thomas Wilding - SAMS

Dr Barbara Morrissey – UHI (Rivers and Lochs Institute)

Professor Trevor Telfer – University of Stirling (Institute of Aquaculture)





University of the Highlands and Islands


2021 - Laboratory Analyst, Eurofins Biomnis


Higher Education

2020 - MSc Marine Conservation, University of Aberdeen

2012 - BSc (Hons) Genetics, University of Aberdeen