Mr Nils Piechaud

Mr Nils Piechaud

Teaching and Support Assistant

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


PhD student working on the application of autonomous underwater vehicles to challenges in marine habitat mapping and predictive species distribution modelling

Maps have proved to be a useful method of summarising biological information concerning the seabed. Suitable environment for species and habitat can be predictively modelled based on image data and environmental variables (topography, oceanography or hydrography). This modelled can be projected in space to create a map where the environmental data is available. There is now a momentum towards the generalised mapping of the seafloor to provide information on which effective conservation policy can be based.

With The advance of technology, New tools exist to survey the sea-bed. The Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) have the capacity to provide a lot more data than the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) but it is not yet clear how to make best use of all the possibilities they offer. My PhD is an exploratory work on how biological, oceanographic and hydrographic data provided by Autonomous vehicles can be used together to make better predictive species distribution maps.


Master degree in marine biology.I.U.E.M. Université de Bretagne Occidentale - France

Staff serving as external examiners

Dr Kerry Howell

Dr Nicola Foster
Dr Phil Hosegood

Research interests

- Deep sea biology,ecology and taxonomy.

- Special focus on remarkable environments such as deep-sea sponges aggregations and cold-water coral reefs

- Use of numerical analysis and modelling in deep-sea ecology

- Use of new autonomous technologies to survey deep benthic ecosystems

Key publications are highlighted

Barnes DKA, Morley SA, Bell J, Brewin P, Brigden K, Collins M, Glass T, Goodall-Copestake WP, Henry L 2018 'Marine plastics threaten giant Atlantic Marine Protected Areas' Curr Biol 28, (19) R1137-R1138 Author Site , DOI
Howell KL, Piechaud N, Downie AL & Kenny A 2016 'The distribution of deep-sea sponge aggregations in the North Atlantic and implications for their effective spatial management' Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers , DOI PEARL
Piechaud N, Downie A, Stewart HA & Howell KL 2015 'The impact of modelling method selection on predicted extent and distribution of deep-sea benthic assemblages' Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 105, (04) 251-261 , DOI
Matabos M, Piechaud N, De Montigny F, Sarradin P-M & Sarrazin J 2015 'The VENUS cabled observatory as a method to observe fish behaviour and species assemblages in a hypoxic fjord, Saanich Inlet (British Columbia, Canada)' Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 72, (1) 24-36 , DOI