Dr Louise Firth
Profiles

Dr Louise Firth

Lecturer in Marine Ecology

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Role

Lecturer in Marine Ecology


I am a marine ecologist who works in both natural and artificial coastal environments. I am interested in the relationship between humans and coastal ecosystems (Marine Community Ecology) and how this relationship has changed over time (Historical Ecology). I am particularly interested in developing novel ways of making space for nature in human-dominated environments (Eco-Engineering). See my TEDx talk for more information on Eco-engineering https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY_uPfNsUGM.


Qualifications

2015-date. Lecturer in Environmental Science, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, Plymouth University, UK


2014. Research Associate, Faculty of Natural & Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, UK

2012-2014. University Fellow, Zoology, Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland 

2009-2011. Postdoctoral Researcher with Prof. Steve Hawkins, School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, UK

2009. Consultant Scientist, APEM Ltd., Stockport, UK

2007-2008. Postdoctoral Researcher with Prof. Susan Bell, Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, USA

2007. Invited Postdoctoral Researcher with Prof. Gray Williams, Swire Institute of Marine Science, University of Hong Kong, PR China 

2003-2007. PhD in Marine Ecology. School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Ireland

1999-2003. BSc in Zoology, School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Ireland

Professional membership

2010-present: Member of the British Ecological Society

2009-present: Member of the Porcupine Marine Natural History Society

2004-present: Member of the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Roles on external bodies

2016-present: Editor for Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review


2014-2017: Associate Editor for Marine and Freshwater Research

2014-2017: Editor for Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

Teaching interests

My teaching interests cover biodiversity and community ecology in urban and natural systems, impacts of ocean sprawl on marine ecosystems and ecological engineering. 


I teach on a wide range of modules across Marine Biology, Marine Science, Biological Science and Environmental Science:

Marine Biology Modules
MBIO 001 - Issues in marine biology
MBIO 120 - Introduction to marine biology
MBIO 213 - Coastal biodiversity and ecology fieldcourse
MBIO 217 - Ecology of shallow water marine habitats
MBIO 327 - Marine ecology
MBIO 505 - Marine conservation theory

Biology modules:
BIO 5131 - Postgraduate research Skills and methods

Environmental Science modules:
ENVS 2006 - Natural ecosystems
ENVS 3011 - Climate change impacts & adaptation
ENVS 5004 - Environmental consultancy

Marine Science modules:
MAR 530 - Managing marine ecosystems
MAR 532 - Marine conservation practice
OS 205 - Managing human impacts in the marine environment

Staff serving as external examiners

External Examiner for PhD thesis, Rhodes University, South Africa (2019)
External Examiner for PhD Defence, University of Swansea, UK (2019)
External Examiner for MSc thesis, Rhodes University, South Africa (2019)
External Examiner for PhD Defence, University of Bournemouth, UK (2018)
External Examiner for MSc thesis, University of New South Wales, Australia (2017)
External Examiner for PhD Defence, University of Porto, Portugal (2015)
External Examiner for PhD Defence, University of Bologna, Italy (2013)

Research interests

My research on ‘Marine environmental change’ covers four key areas: (1) conservation, urban ecology and ecological engineering; (2) biodiversity and climate change; (3) marine community ecology and (4) historical ecology.


1. Conservation, urban ecology & ecological engineering
As a direct result of my involvement in the EU FP7 and Esmee Fairbairn funded projects THESEUS (www.theseusproject.org) and URBANE (www.urbaneproject.org), I develop novel engineering interventions for habitat creation to conserve native biodiversity in the built environment. I test hypotheses about drivers of community structure and functioning. I am actively involved in the World Harbour Project (http://sims.org.au/research/long-term-projects/world-harbour-project/), The Singapore Seawall Project and I lead the stakeholder committee on the Ecostructure Project (http://www.ecostructureproject.eu/)

2. Biodiversity and climate change. 
I have long been interested in the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on the distribution and biotic interactions of marine species. I am actively involved with the MarClim project (www.mba.ac.uk/marclim) in collaboration with Dr Nova Mieszkowska (MBA, Plymouth) and Prof. Steve Hawkins (University of Southampton). I test hypotheses about responses of marine ecosystems to multiple stressors related to climate change. I lead an on-going collaborative project "EuroNads" comprising 14 partners across Atlantic Europe. We are assessing spatio-temporal variation in breeding phenology of limpets in response to extreme weather events and climate change. 

3. Marine community ecology.
My overarching research interest marine community ecology. I am interested in testing hypotheses about the processes that shape patterns of distribution of organisms. The Reehab Project (www.honeycombworms.org) is assessing the factors affecting the distribution of the honeycomb worm Sabellaria alveolata across Atlantic Europe. 

4. Historical ecology
I am interested in how human attitudes to and interactions with the natural environment have changed over time. 

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Current students
Axelle Amstutz, PhD, School of Biological Science, Plymouth University, 2016-2019. (co-supervisor). "Facing up to climate change: the role of aspect in species colonisation, persistence and ecosystem processes" 

Amelia Curd, PhD, IFREMER and University of West Brittany, 2016-2019. (co-supervisor). "Assessment of the distribution and ecological status of Sabellaria alveolata reefs in Europe" 


Past students
Dr Kathryn O'Shaughnessy, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, Plymouth University, 2016-2019. (Director of studies). "Green engineering of coastal infrastructure: a design for life"

Dr Aimee Walls, Zoology, National University of Ireland Galway, 2017 (co-supervisor). "An ecosystem approach to kelp farming".

Dr Rebecca Morris, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, 2016 (co-supervisor). "Retrofitting biodiversity: Ecological engineering for management of urbanised systems".

Dr Ally Evans, Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, 2015 (co-supervisor). "Artificial coastal defence structures as surrogate habitats for natural rocky shores".


Grants & contracts

Firth LB, Chee SY. Royal Society International Exchanges. "Eco-engineering of artificial habitats in Penang, Malaysia". 2016/2018. £12,000.

Firth LB
, Chee SY. British Ecological Society Small Grant. "Eco-engineering: design with nature, Malaysia". 2015/2018. £5000.

Dubois S, Davies AJ, Lima FP, Firth LB. Total Fondacion, "REEHAB - Assessment of the distribution and ecological status of Sabellaria alveolata reefs in Europe". 2015-1019. €150,000.

Firth LB. Linnean Society Percy Sladen Memorial Fund. "On the distribution and biodiversity associated with Sabellaria alveolata (L.): the Irish case study". 2015/2016. £800.

Hawkins SJ, Powrie W, Nicholls RJ, Thompson, RC, Firth LB. University of Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, HEIF Research Collaboration Stimulus Fund 2014/15. £18,000

Walls A, Firth LB. The Marine Institute Marine Research Programme (Networking & Travel Grant: NT/14/10), “UPMC Roscoff, Marine Summer School – taxonomy of marine fauna”, 2014. €750

Firth LB. Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme. “ShorTIE: Shore Thing Ireland”, 2014. €6000

Firth LB. LabexMer, Visiting researcher to Dr Stanislas Dubois, IFREMER Brest, France, 2014. €3200

Firth LB. National University of Ireland Galway, School of Natural Science Project Call, “Biodiversity of biogenic habitats”, 2013. €1500

Firth LB. Environment Fund for Biodiversity Awareness Grant Scheme 2013 (Notice Nature). “Eco-engineering: Design with Nature”, 2013. €5000

Walls A, Firth LB, Edwards M, Johnson MJ. “An ecosystem approach to seaweed farming”, 2013-2017. €64,000

Firth LB. The Marine Institute Marine Research Programme (Networking & Travel Grant: NT/13/40), “MarClim, Lofoten”, 2013. €750

Spain-Butler A & Firth LB. National University of Ireland, Galway, College of Science Summer Internships, 2013. €3500

Firth LB. The Marine Institute Marine Research Programme (Networking & Travel Grant: NT/13/16), “Sabellaria alveolata: distribution and associated biodiversity in Ireland”, 2013. €750

Browne K & Firth LB. National University of Ireland, Galway, College of Science Summer Internships, 2013. €3500

Firth LB & Geffen A. Royal Irish Academy Mobility Grants Scheme: “Phenology & biogeography: key grazers in a changing world”, 2013. €2500

Firth LB & Noel L. Irish Research Council and Campus France Ulysses Programme: “Sabellaria alveolata: distribution and associated biodiversity in Ireland and France”, 2012. €5000

Firth LB & Mieszkowska N. Porcupine Marine Natural History Society Small Grant Scheme: “Sabellaria alveolata in northwest Britain: an assessment of the distribution and abundance following two consecutive cold winters", 2012. £1000

Grant L & Firth LB. National University of Ireland, Galway, College of Science Summer Internships, 2012. €3500

Hawkins SJ & Firth LB. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Scientific Diving Facility in support of dive surveys of the Liverpool Dock Complex: “Long-term studies of dock ecosystems following restoration: contribution of urban biodiversity to ecosystem services”, 2012. £30,000

Firth LB & Moore P. Biosciences and Environment and Agriculture Alliance (BEAA) and Climate Change Consortium Wales (C3W) in support of collaborative project on phenology and climate change, 2011-2012. £650

Moore P & Firth LB. Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) PhD studentship: “Artificial defence structures as surrogate habitats for natural rocky shores: giving nature a helping hand”, 2011-2013. £70,000

Firth LB. Wirral Council. Biodiversity experiment on the coastal defences at New Brighton, 2010, £1500

Firth LB & Crowe TP. The Marine Institute Networking and Transfer of Technology Scheme (Other grant: NTT/05/10) 2005, €2000

Firth LB. The Irish Research Council for Science and Engineering Technology (RS/2003/115) Population dynamics of key species in rocky intertidal habitats – patellid limpets in a warming world, 2003-2007. €70,000

Key publications are highlighted

Journals
Articles
Valdor P, Gomez A, Juanes J, Kerléguer C, Steinberg P, Tanner E, MacLeod C, Knights A, Seitz R & Airoldi L 2019 'A global atlas of the environmental risk of marinas on water quality' Marine Pollution Bulletin , DOI
Strain EMA, Alexander KA, Kienker S, Morris R, Jarvis R, Coleman R, Bollard B, Firth LB, Knights AM & Grabowski JH 2018 'Urban blue: A global analysis of the factors shaping people's perceptions of the marine environment and ecological engineering in harbours' Science of the Total Environment 658, 1293-1305 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Curd A, Pernet F, Corporeau C, Delisle L, Firth LB, Nunes FLD & Dubois SF 2018 'Connecting organic to mineral: How the physiological state of an ecosystem-engineer is linked to its habitat structure' Ecological Indicators 98, 49-60 , DOI PEARL
Walls AM, Edwards MD, Firth LB & Johnson MP 2018 'Ecological priming of artificial aquaculture structures: Kelp farms as an example' Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom , DOI PEARL
Evans AJ, Firth LB, Hawkins SJ, Hall AE, Ironside JE, Thompson RC & Moore PJ 2018 'From ocean sprawl to blue-green infrastructure - A UK perspective on an issue of global significance' Environmental Science and Policy 91, 60-69 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Hanlon N, Firth L & Knights AM 2018 'Time-dependent effects of orientation, heterogeneity and composition determines benthic biological community recruitment patterns on subtidal artificial structures' Ecological Engineering 122, 219-228 , DOI PEARL
Morris RL, Martinez AS, Firth LB & Coleman RA 2018 'Can transplanting enhance mobile marine invertebrates in ecologically engineered rock pools?' Marine Environmental Research , DOI PEARL
Morris RL, Chapman MG, Firth LB & Coleman RA 2017 'Increasing habitat complexity on seawalls: Investigating large- and small-scale effects on fish assemblages' Ecology and Evolution 7, (22) 9567-9579 , DOI PEARL
Firth L & Chee S-Y 2017 'Land reclamation and artificial islands: Walking the tightrope between development and conservation' Global Ecology and Conservation , DOI PEARL
Strain EMA, Olabarria C, Mayer-Pinto M, Cumbo V, Morris RL, Bugnot AB, Dafforn KA, Heery E, Firth LB & Brooks P 2017 'Eco-engineering urban infrastructure for marine and coastal biodiversity: which interventions have the greatest ecological benefit?' Journal of Applied Ecology , DOI PEARL
McManus RS, Archibald N, Comber S, Knights AM, Thompson RC & Firth LB 2017 'Partial replacement of cement for waste aggregates in concrete coastal and marine infrastructure: A foundation for ecological enhancement?' Ecological Engineering , DOI PEARL
Bishop MJ, Mayer-Pinto M, Airoldi L, Firth LB, Morris RL, Loke LHL, Hawkins SJ, Naylor LA, Coleman RA & Chee SY 2017 'Effects of ocean sprawl on ecological connectivity: impacts and solutions' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 492, 7-30 , DOI PEARL
Hawkins SJ, Evans AJ, Mieszkowska N, Adams LC, Bray S, Burrows MT, Firth LB, Genner MJ, Leung KMY & Moore PJ 2017 'Distinguishing globally-driven changes from regional- and local-scale impacts: The case for long-term and broad-scale studies of recovery from pollution' Marine Pollution Bulletin , DOI PEARL
Firth LB, Grant LM, Crowe TP, Ellis JS, Wiler C, Convery C & O'Connor NE 2017 'Factors affecting the prevalence of the trematode parasite Echinostephilla patellae (Lebour, 1911) in the limpet Patella vulgata (L.)' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology , DOI PEARL
Knights AM, Firth LB & Russell B 2017 'Ecological responses to environmental change in marine systems' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology , DOI PEARL
Walls AM, Edwards MD, Firth LB & Johnson MP 2017 'Successional changes of epibiont fouling communities of the cultivated kelp Alaria esculenta: predictability and influences' Aquaculture Environment Interactions 9, 57-71 , DOI PEARL
Firth LB, Evans A, Knights AM, Nash R, Browne K, Moore P, Morris-Webb E, Goudge H & Hawkins S 2016 'Could this be a concrete solution to biodiversity loss?' Environmental Science Journal for Teens PEARL
Firth LB, Knights AM, Bridger D, Evans A, Mieskowska N, Moore PJ, O'Connor NE, Sheehan EV, Thompson RC & Hawkins SJ 2016 'Ocean sprawl: challenges and opportunities for biodiversity management in a changing world' Oceanography and Marine Biology: an annual review 54, , DOI PEARL
Evans AJ, Garrod B, Firth LB, Hawkins SJ, Morris-Webb ES, Goudge H & Moore PJ 2016 'Stakeholder priorities for multi-functional coastal defence developments and steps to effective implementation' Marine Policy 75, 143-155 , DOI PEARL
Firth LB, Browne KA, Knights AM, Hawkins SJ & Nash R 2016 'Eco-engineered rock pools: a concrete solution to biodiversity loss and urban sprawl in the marine environment' Environmental Research Letters 11, (9) 094015-094015 , DOI PEARL
Pearson S, Windupranata W, Pranowo SW, Putri A, Yingjie M, Vila-Concejo A, Fernández E, Méndez G, Banks J & Knights AM 2016 'Conflicts in some of the World Harbours: What needs to happen next?' Maritime Studies , DOI PEARL
Knights AM, Firth LB, Yunnie A, Thompson RC, Hiscock K & Hawkins SJ 2016 'Plymouth: A World Harbour through the ages' Regional Studies in Marine Science Author Site , DOI PEARL
Evans AJ, Firth LB, Hawkins SJ, Morris ES, Goudge H & Moore PJ 2016 'Drill-cored rock pools: an effective method of ecological enhancement on artificial structures' Marine and Freshwater Research 67, (1) 123-123 , DOI PEARL
Firth LB, White FJ, Schofield M, Hanley ME, Burrows MT, Thompson RC, Skov MW, Evans AJ, Moore PJ & Hawkins SJ 2016 'Facing the future: the importance of substratum features for ecological engineering of artificial habitats in the rocky intertidal' Marine and Freshwater Research 67, (1) 131-131 , DOI
Hawkins SJ, Mieszkowska N, Firth LB, Bohn K, Burrows MT, MacLean MA, Thompson RC, Chan BKK, Little C & Williams GA 2016 'Looking backwards to look forwards: the role of natural history in temperate reef ecology' Marine and Freshwater Research 67, (1) 1-1 , DOI
Firth LB, Mieszkowska N, Grant LM, Bush LE, Davies AJ, Frost MT, Moschella PS, Burrows MT, Cunningham PN & Dye SR 2015 'Historical comparisons reveal multiple drivers of decadal change of an ecosystem engineer at the range edge' Ecology and Evolution 5, (15) 3210-3222 , DOI PEARL
Firth LB, Schofield M, White FJ, Skov MW & Hawkins SJ 2014 'Biodiversity in intertidal rock pools: Informing engineering criteria for artificial habitat enhancement in the built environment' Marine Environmental Research 102, 122-130 , DOI PEARL
Kennedy R, Allcock L, Firth L & Power AM 2014 'Preface-EMBS 2013' Marine Environmental Research 102, 1-2 , DOI
Mieszkowska N, Sugden H, Firth LB & Hawkins SJ 2014 'The role of sustained observations in tracking impacts of environmental change on marine biodiversity and ecosystems' Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 372, (2025) 20130339-20130339 , DOI
Firth LB, Thompson RC, Bohn K, Abbiati M, Airoldi L, Bouma TJ, Bozzeda F, Ceccherelli VU, Colangelo MA & Evans A 2014 'Between a rock and a hard place: Environmental and engineering considerations when designing coastal defence structures' Coastal Engineering 87, 122-135 , DOI
Hawkins SJ, Firth LB, McHugh M, Poloczanska ES, Herbert RJH, Burrows MT, Kendall MA, Moore PJ, Thompson RC & Jenkins SR 2013 'Data rescue and re-use: Recycling old information to address new policy concerns' Marine Policy 42, 91-98 , DOI
Firth LB, Thompson RC, White RF, Schofield M, Skov MW, Hoggart SPG, Jackson J, Knights AM & Hawkins SJ 2013 'The importance of water retaining features for biodiversity on artificial intertidal coastal defence structures' Diversity and Distributions 19, (10) 1275-1283
Bracewell SA, Robinson LA, Firth LB & Knights AM 2013 'Predicting Free-Space Occupancy on Novel Artificial Structures by an Invasive Intertidal Barnacle Using a Removal Experiment' PLoS ONE 8, (9) e74457-e74457 , DOI PEARL
Firth LB, Thompson RC, White FJ, Schofield M, Skov MW, Hoggart SPG, Jackson J, Knights AM & Hawkins SJ 2013 'The importance of water-retaining features for biodiversity on artificial intertidal coastal defence structures' Diversity and Distributions 19, (10) 1275-1283 , DOI PEARL
Firth LB, Mieszkowska N, Thompson RC & Hawkins SJ 2013 'Climate change and adaptational impacts in coastal systems: the case of sea defences' Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 15, (9) 1665-1665 , DOI
Vale M HSJ 2013 'Sustained Observation of Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystems' Oceanography: Open Access 01, (01) , DOI PEARL
Knights AM, Firth LB & Walters K 2012 'Interactions between multiple recruitment drivers: post-settlement mortality overrides flow-mediated recruitment' PLoS One 7, (4) PEARL
Firth LB, Knights AM & Bell S 2011 'Air temperature and winter mortality: Implications for the persistence of the invasive mussel, Perna viridis in the intertidal zone of the south-eastern United States' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 400, 250-256 PEARL
Firth LB & Hawkins SJ 2011 'Introductory comments - Global change in marine ecosystems: Patterns, processes and interactions with regional and local scale impacts' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 400, (1-2) 1-6 , DOI
Firth LB & Crowe TP 2009 'Competition and habitat suitability: small-scale segregation underpins large-scale coexistence of key species on temperate rocky shores' Oecologia 162, (1) 163-174 , DOI PEARL
Firth LB & Williams GA 2009 'The influence of multiple environmental stressors on the limpet Cellana toreuma during the summer monsoon season in Hong Kong' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 375, (1-2) 70-75 , DOI PEARL
FIRTH LB, CROWE TP, MOORE P, THOMPSON RC & HAWKINS SJ 2009 'Predicting impacts of climate-induced range expansion: an experimental framework and a test involving key grazers on temperate rocky shores' Global Change Biology 15, (6) 1413-1422 , DOI
Firth LB & Crowe TP 2008 'Large-scale coexistence and small-scale segregation of key species on rocky shores' Hydrobiologia 614, (1) 233-241 , DOI PEARL
Chapters
2017 'Oceanography and Marine Biology' CRC Press , DOI
Hoggart S, Hawkins SJ, Bohn K, Airoldi L, van Belzen J, Bichot A, Bilton DT, Bouma TJ, Colangelo MA & Davies AJ 2015 'Ecological Approaches to Coastal Risk Mitigation' Coastal Risk Management in a Changing Climate Elsevier 171-236 , DOI

Reports & invited lectures

Plenary speaker: 2nd International Conference on Community Ecology, Bologna, Italy, 2019

Invited speaker: Urban Future Global Conference, Oslo, Norway, 2019

Invited panel speaker: MBA postgraduate workshop, Plymouth, UK, 2018

Invited Panel Speaker on Restoration Successes, Benthic Ecology Meeting, Myrtle Beach, USA, 2017

Invited keynote and session moderator: 41st International CIESM Congress, Kiel, Germany, 2016

Keynote speaker: MBA Postgraduate Workshop, Queens University Belfast, UK, 2015

Plenary speaker: British Ecological Society Aquatic Group, London, UK, 2014

Keynote speaker: Climate Change Adaptation: Aquatic Invasives and Coastal Restoration Symposium, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 2014

Keynote speaker: 9th International Temperate Reefs Symposium, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 2014