Personal profile

Research overview

Ecology, biodiversity and dynamics of marine systems

My research concerns the ecology and dynamics of marine systems with a strong focus on the "biodiversity-ecosystem function" debate and the dynamics of marine microbiota. This work is supported by extensive field studies and laboratory mesocosms often using multiple stressors. This adds aspects of climate change research including the combined effects of temperature and CO2 on system response. The primary productivity of coastal systems is an important functional response and is also under investigation using fluorescence techniques. This work includes interdisciplinary studies of "biogenic stabilisation" by microbes and microphytobenthos, through the extracellular polymers produced by biofilms that increase the critical threshold for sediment re-suspension. We have also developed novel techniques to measure the stability of sediments in situ, and the relative adhesion capacity of different biofilms and surfaces. Recently, we have also been using molecular techniques to examine the effects of both natural (e.g. bioturbation) and anthropogenic (e.g. toxins, plastics, climate change) stressors on marine microbial systems. This is now encompassing work with industry on the ecology of man-made offshore structures (oil and gas installations and wind farms). 

Future research

Biodiversity -ecosystem function relationships and the productivity of coastal systems under scenarios of global change

Industrial relevance

Methods of determining sediment stability,. Environmental impact assessment of coastal regions, electron microscopy of specimen, consultancy of coastal issues

Academic/Professional Qualification

Ph.D., University of Bath; B.Sc., University of Glasgow; Amercian Society of Limnology and Oceanography; International Society for Diatom Research

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

Chair EMBRC General Assembly, European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC)

1 Nov 2018 → …

Chair SOTEAG, SOTEAG Shetland Oil Terminal Advisory Group

1 Jun 2012 → …


  • QK Botany
  • Microphytobenthos
  • Biofilms
  • Ecology
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem function
  • Climate change
  • QL Zoology
  • Macrofauna
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem function
  • QE Geology
  • sediment dynamics
  • biogenic stabilisation


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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