Professor Martin Attrill

Professor Martin Attrill

Associate Head of School & Professor of Marine Ecology

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


Associate Head of School (Research)
School of Biological & Marine Sciences

Programme Lead: MSc Marine Conservation

Follow on Twitter @mjattrill


Director of the Marine Institute (2009-2018)

Professor of Marine Ecology, University of Plymouth (2004-present)

Reader in Marine Ecology, University of Plymouth (2002-2004)

Senior Lecturer in Marine & Estuarine Ecology, University of Plymouth (1992-2002)

Marine Biologist, National Rivers Authority (1988-1992)

PhD, University of Liverpool (1988)

BSc, University of Liverpool (1985)

Professional membership

Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

Member of the Marine Biological Association of the UK.

Member of the British Ecological Society.

Roles on external bodies

Trustee: Ocean Conservation Trust/National Marine Aquarium

Trustee: Ocean Giants Trust

Research interests

Research Summary

·    Over 140 publications in international peer-reviewed journals; >180 total publications.

·    H-index of 46 (Google Scholar); RG score of 41.66 (Researchgate).

·     Over £9 million total grant income, mainly as PI on major awards such as the Defra Lyme Bay Monitoring Programme, NERC Impact programme, GCRF, Garfield Weston & EU projects.

·    35 successful PhD completions since 1996.

·    8 current PhD students.

·    First author paper in Nature.

Main research interests 

Ocean Conservation and Management, particularly the role of marine protected areas

The impact of climate variability on marine ecosystems

Ecology of estuarine invertebrates and fish.

Ecology and biodiversity of temperate seagrass beds.

Other research


ATTRILL, M.J. (1998). A rehabilitated estuarine ecosystem: the environment and ecology of the Thames estuary. Kluwer Academic Press.

CLARK, R.B., FRID, C. & ATTRILL, M.J. (2001). Marine Pollution, 5th edition. Oxford University Press.

KAISER, M.J., ATTRILL, M.J., JENNINGS, S., THOMAS, D.N., BARNES, D.K.A., BRIERLEY, A.S., POLUNIN, N.V.C., RAFFAELLI, D.G., WILLIAMS, P.J.Le B. (2005). Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems and Impacts. Oxford University Press.

KAISER, M.J., ATTRILL, M.J., JENNINGS, S., THOMAS, D.N., BARNES, D.K.A., BRIERLEY, A.S., HIDDINK, J.G., KAARTOKALLIO, H., POLUNIN, N.V.C., RAFFAELLI, D.G. (2011). Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems and Impacts, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press.

Chapters in Books

ATTRILL, M.J. (2002). Community level indicators of stress in aquatic ecosystems. In: Adams, S.M. (ed.). Biological Indicators of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress. American Fisheries Society, pp. 473-508.

ATTRILL, M.J. (2009). Sea Temperature Change as an Indicator of Global Change. In: Letcher, T.M. (ed.). Climate and Global Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth. Elsevier, New York. pp. 337-348.

ATTRILL, M.J. (2009). Change in Coral Reef Ecosystems as an Indicator of Climate and Global Change. In: Letcher, T.M. (ed.). Climate and Global Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth. Elsevier, New York. pp. 253-262. 

Other Articles
McQUATTERS-GOLLOP, A., RAITSOS, D.E., EDWARDS, M., PRADHAN, Y., MEE, L.D., LAVENDER, S.J., ATTRILL, M.J. (2007). Climate exacerbates eutrophication in the North Sea. IMBER Update, 7: 3-4

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Successful completion:

• Sarah Perryman
(UK, 1993-1996): Heavy metals in estuaries: validation of sensitivity of monitoring methods at different levels of biological organisation.
• Aziz Arshad
(Malaysia, 1995-1999): Temporal and spatial responses of benthic communities and populations across upper estuarine environmental gradients.
• Sergio Netto
(Brazil, 1995-1999): Meiofauna and macrofauna communities of Rocas Atoll, Brazil.
• Ahmed Abada
(Egypt, 1995-2000): From rivers to oceans: a comparison of contrasting aquatic ecosystems using benthic size spectra.
• Ozeas Costa Jnr
(Brazil, 1998-2002): Biogeochemical nutrient cycling and its relationship with coral reef eutrophication.
• Francisco Kelmo O dos Santos
(Brazil, 1998-2002): Ecological Consequences of 1997-1998 El Niño -Southern Oscillation on the major Coral Reef Communities from Northern Bahia, Brazil.
• Hector Hernandez
(Mexico, 1998-2003): The influence of seasonal sediment dynamics and oil-drilling activity on the benthic communities of the Gulf of Mexico.
• Emma Jackson
(UK, 1998-2003): The importance of seagrass beds as nursery grounds for fisheries species.
• Matt Frost
(UK, 1999-2003, PT): The role of frontal systems in controlling sandy beach macroinvertebrate communities.
• Angus Jackson
(UK, 2000-2004): Mobile predators in a dynamic environment: the role of fish in structuring upper-estuarine benthic communities.
• Joseph Borg
(Malta, 1997-2004, PT): Role of Posidonia oceanica meadow structure in determining diversity of associated macrofaunal assemblages.
• Sophie Leterme
(France, 2003-2006): Multi-scale variability in phytoplankton populations of the North Atlantic basin: from eddies to global change.
• Chris Leakey
(UK, 2003-2006): Quantifying inhabitation, feeding and connectivity between adjacent estuarine and coastal regions for three commercially important marine fishes.
• Emma Sheehan
(UK, 2003-2007): Ecological impact of crab tiling on estuarine fauna.
• Abigail McQuatters Gollop
(USA, 2004-2007): Plankton as indicators for eutrophication in Europe’s regional seas
• Patrik Svensson
(Sweden, 2004-2009, PT): The effectiveness of privately managed MPAs in tropical coastal areas
• Ahmed Al-Mazrooei
(Oman, 2005-2009): Evolutionary biology and behaviour of marine gastropods
• Pierre Helaouet
(France, 2005-2009): Scenarios of change in the state, structure and functioning of North Atlantic pelagic ecosystems
• Rebecca Jefferson
(UK, 2006-2011): Articulating the ecosystem approach in Europe’s Seas: socio-ecological indicators for adaptive management
• Stacey DeAmicis
(USA, 2006-2012): Impact of the invasive Sargassum muticum on Zostera marina seagrass ecosystems.
• Sian Rees
(UK, 2007-2012): Estimating the value of marine conservation in the UK
• James Highfield
(UK, 2007-2011): Linking benthic dynamics to pelagic ecosystem functioning in shallow seas
• James Grecian
(UK, 2008-2011): Linking offshore development with seabird populations.
• Valentina Lauria (Italy, 2008-2012):
The relative influence of climate change and fishing impact on long-term trends in North Atlantic fish biomass and seabird populations
• Eddie Melatunan
(Indonesia, 2008-2012): Impact of ocean acidification on the developmental biology of gastropods
• Vivienne Johnson
(UK, 2009-2012): Using volcanic CO2 gradients to investigate responses of marine photoautotrophs to ocean acidification
• Isobel Bloor
(UK, 2009-2013): Cephalopod Recruitment from English-Channel Spawning Habitats (CRESH)
• Laura Pettit
(UK, 2010-2014): Assessing the effects of long-term ocean acidification at volcanic CO2 vents
• Julian Evans
(Malta, 2010-2014): Habitat characterisation of infralittoral coarse gravel beds in the Maltese Islands.
• Bryony Pearce
(UK, 2006-2014 PT): The ecology of Sabellaria reefs
• Maria Campbell
(UK, 2008-2016 PT): Assessing change in fishing boat movements using VMS data.
• Sarah Gall
(UK, 2012-2016): Assessing the impact of lobster potting activity with the South Devon Potting Agreement area: ecology and socioeconomics.
• Laura Bray
(UK, 2013-2017): Impact of marine renewable energy on Mediterranean ecosystems
• Adam Rees
(UK, 2012-2018): Assessing the impact of static gear fishery on the marine protected area within Lyme Bay, SW England
• Jacob Bedford
(UK, 2015-2018): Using historical data to establish baselines in North Sea plankton indicators.
• Demetris Kletou
(Greece, 2011-2018): A multi-step approach in ultraoligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean to evaluate the ecological status, climate change response and restoration potential of Posidonia oceanica


• Kirsty McQuaid
(South Africa, 2015 start): The application of predictive modelling to marine spatial planning associated with deep-sea mining.
• Xiaoyu Fang
(China, 2015 start – MARES student): Identifying the role of past and current benthos activities for estuarine ecosystem functioning.
• Danielle Bridger
(UK, 2015 start): The environmental impact of Europe’s largest offshore mussel farm, Lyme Bay.
• Thomas Stamp
(UK, 2016 start): The ecology and distribution of Sea Bass within the South West UK
• David Cox
(UK, 2016 start PT): Assessing the viability and environmental impact of a large scallop farm off South Devon
• Bede Davies
(UK, 2018 start): The effectiveness of partially protected marine areas for ecosystem based fisheries management
• Samantha Blampied
(UK, 2018 start): Evaluating the effectiveness, socio-economic value and trophic dynamics of MPAs in Jersey's territorial waters.
• Llucia Mascorda Cabre
(Spain, 2019 start): Oceanographic and ecological interactions with an offshore, longline mussel farm


Grants & contracts

Grants Awarded - (All PI unless stated as Co-I)

•£926,244 – UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund, 2019-2024 (One Ocean Hub, Co-I).

•£926,169 – Garfield Weston Foundation, 2019-2021 (Conservation strategies for biodiversity hotspots and safe havens in a changing climate).

•£793,802 – NERC Environmental Science Impact Programme, 2017-2022 (South West Partnership for Environment and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP))

•£458,324- Defra, 2008-2011 (Lyme Bay - A Case Study: Measuring recovery of benthic species; assessing potential 'spillover' effects and socio-economic changes)

•£432,350 - SWRDA, 2007-2011. (Assessing the biodiversity impact of the Wave Hub renewable energy development).

•$401,240 – Bertarelli Foundation 2019 (Funding for research vessel, BIOT expedition, Co-I)

•£379,680 - SWRDA 2008-2011 (Capital Award: HD cameras and ROV)

•€400,000 – EU Urban Innovations (ERDF) 2019-2022 (Green Minds)

•€380,000 - EU INTERREG, 2012-15 (PANACHE - Protected Area Network Across the CHannel Ecosystem)

•€364,908 - EU FP7, 2009-2013 (Knowledge-based sustainable management for Europe's Seas, Co-I).

•€347,022 – EU INTERREG, 2009-2011 (PROTTEC “Public Research Organisation Technology Transfer through Regional Economic Clusters”)

•£327,092 - Blue Marine Foundation & Defra. 2012-17 (Experiment potting project within Lyme Bay to assess the impact of static gear on an MPA)

•£327,486 - Blue Marine Foundation, 2018-2023 (Fisheries and Conservation Partnerships)

•£280,291 - Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. 2014-2017 (Marine Protected Areas - how does level of protection mediate the flow of ecosystem services?)

•£277,300 – Offshore Shellfish Ltd, 2015-2019 (Assessing the environmental and socioeconomic impact of a large offshore mussel farm in Lyme Bay, Co-I)

•€252,162 – EU Horizon2020, 2015-2020 (CEFOW “Clean Energy From Ocean Waves”, UoP share, Co-I)

•€244,757 – EU FP6, 2004-2007 (Habitat Loss in European Coastal Seas, part of €2.5 million European Lifestyles and Marine Ecosystems. UoP share for Workpackage, Co-I)

•£219,000 – EMFF, 2017-2020 (ReturN - Reserve Effects Tested and Understood to validate ReturN, Co-I)

•€213,730 - EU INTERREG, 2009-2012 (CHARM3 "CHannel integrated Approach for marine Resource Management" Co-I)

•£200,000 – UK Seabed Resources Ltd 2015-2019 (2 PhD students to research seabed mapping and polymetallic nodule geochemistry in the deep Pacific Ocean)

•£200,000 - Natural England, 2012-15 (Extension for Lyme Bay Monitoring Programme)

•£157,296 – EC EASME EMFF, 2018-2021 (Strategic Environmental Assessment of Wave energy technologies - SEA WAVE, Co-I)

•£141,372 - Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, 2007-2010 (Evaluating and protecting the biodiversity of lower, tidally influenced river reaches, Co-I)

•£125,000 - Joint UK Research Council Academic Fellowship, 2005-2011 (Human impact on marine ecosystems)

•£121,853 - Offshore Shellfish Ltd, 2013-14 (Monitoring the environmental impact of an offshore mussel farm test site in Lyme Bay)

•£116,405 - Fal Harbour Commissioners, 2012-13 (Seabed habitat mapping and an experimental Maerl trial within the Fal Estuary SAC)

•£99,672 – Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Grant, 2004-2006 (Design of new bilge water separator, incl. removal of alien species’ larvae, Co-I)

•£72,038 – Offshore Shellfish Ltd 2014-15 (Second year monitoring of the impact of test mussel farm on the Lyme Bay seabed)

•£74,350 – Brazilian Government, 1995-2002 (Environmental Impacts on the ecology of Brazilian Coral Reefs).

•€81,640 - EU INTERREG, 2009-2013 (CRESH "Cephalopod Recruitment from English channel Spawning Habitats", Co-I)

•£51,324 - NERC Urgency Grant, 2014 (Testing resilience in Marine Protected Areas using storm disturbance in Lyme Bay, SW England)

•£43,346 - Natural England, 2012-13 (Monitoring the ecology of offshore reefs in Thanet SAC, Kent)

•£43,346 - Natural England, 2012-13 (Monitoring the ecology of offshore reefs in Flamborough Head SAC, Yorkshire)

•£40,000 – Holly Hill Charitable Trust, 2003-2006 (Ecological impact of crab tiling on estuarine fauna).

•£28,785 - NERC, 2003-2006 (Stable isotope support for project: Quantifying estuarine carbon subsidies to coastal ecosystems and fisheries)

•£27,948 – WWF 2015 (Assessment of the ecological coherence of the MPA network in the Celtic Sea, Co-I)

•£27,000 - English Nature, 2006-2009 (Articulating the ecosystem approach in Europe’s Seas: socio-ecological indicators for adaptive management, Co-I)

•£26,000 - Mexican Government, 1998-2003 (The influence of seasonal sediment dynamics and oil-drilling activity on the benthic communities of the Gulf of Mexico)

•£24,927 – Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), 2018-2020 (Application of the natural capital approach to the marine environment to aid decision-making, Co-I).

•£21,000 - Jersey Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 1998-2003 (Importance of Channel Island seagrass habitats to fisheries, Co-I)

•£19,556 - Pig Shed Trust, 2014 (Lyme Bay Storm Damage - how natural disturbance compares with fishing impact)

•£12,500 - Leverhulme Trust, 2011-13 (Artist in Residence Grant: Philip Hoare).

•£55,800 – Total value of 12 small grants.


TOTAL: £7,077,256 + €2,284,219 + $401,240 [» £9,493,861]