Lyme Bay Emma Sheehan
Over-exploitation of our oceans has degraded biogenic habitats. These habitats act as important nursery and feeding areas for species of conservation and fisheries importance, and provide important ecological and environmental functions including filtering water, binding sediments and capturing carbon. 
Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and the Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECM) effect of offshore structures such as marine renewables, shipwrecks and offshore shellfish aquaculture, if managed to exclude destructive human practices, have the potential to restore the health and functionality of biogenic habitats. 
To inspire and inform ambitious marine policy and management, the aMER unit works closely with regulators and utilises non-destructive techniques such as underwater video and acoustic telemetry to inform best management practices for species and habitats over large spatial and temporal scales.
If you have any queries or would just like to get in touch, drop an email to Dr Emma Sheehan


The seabed of Lyme Bay covered with a forest of pink sea fans in 2017
Seabed recovers more quickly following extreme storms than from the impacts of bottom-towed fishing

New research by the University examined the impact of the 2013/14 winter storms on the Lyme Bay Marine Protected Area

27 August 2021



Stamp T, Clarke D, Plenty S, Robbins T, Stewart JE, West E, Sheehan EV (2021) Identifying juvenile and sub-adult movements to inform recovery strategies for a high value fishery—European bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Davies BFR, Holmes LA, Rees A, Attrill MJ, Cartwright A & Sheehan EV (2021). Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management Works – how switching from mobile to static fishing gear improves populations of fished and non-fished species inside a Marine Protected Area. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Sheehan EV, Holmes LA, Davies BFR, Cartwright A, Rees A, Attrill MJ (2021) Rewilding of Protected Areas Enhances Resilience of Marine Ecosystems to Extreme Climatic Events. Frontiers in Marine Science

Mascorda Cabre L, Hosegood P, Attrill M, Bridger D, Sheehan E (2021). Offshore longline mussel farms: a review of oceanographic and ecological interactions to inform future research needs, policy and management. Reviews in Aquaculture.

ICES (2021) ICES/IUCN-CEM FEG Workshop on Testing OECM Practices and Strategies (WKTOPS). ICES Scientific Reports. 3:42. 195 pp.

Rees A, Sheehan EV, Attrill, MJ (2021) Optimal fishing effort benefits fisheries and conservation. Scientific Reports

Rees SE, Ashley M, Evans L, Mangi S, Sheehan EV, Mullier T, Rees A, Attrill MJ (2021) An evaluation of the social and economic impact of a Marine Protected Area on commercial fisheries. Fisheries Research 235: 105819.


Hays GC, Koldewey HJ, Andrzejaczek S. et al. (2020) A review of a decade of lessons from one of the world’s largest MPAs: conservation gains and key challenges. Marine Biology 167: 159.

Gall S, Rodwell L, Clark S, Robbins T, Attrill MJ, Holmes LA, Sheehan EV (2020) The impact of potting for crustaceans on temperate rocky reef habitats: implications for management. Marine Environmental Research 162: 105134.

Bugnot AB, Mayer-Pinto M, Airoldi L, Heery EC, Johnston EL, Critchley LP, Strain EMA, Morris RL, Loke LHL, Bishop MJ, Sheehan EV, Coleman RA, Dafforn KA (2020) Current and projected global extent of marine infrastructure. Nature Sustainability. DOI: 10.1038/s41893-020-00595-1 

Morgan A, Sheehan EV, Rees A, Cartwright A (2020) Towards a Marine Socio-ecology of Learning in the South West of England. In: Pontius J., Mueller M., Greenwood D. (eds) Place-based Learning for the Plate. Environmental Discourses in Science Education, vol 6. Springer,Cham.

Davies P, Britton RJ, Nunn AD, Dodd JR, Crundwell C, Velterop R, Maoiléidigh NÓ, Neill RO, Sheehan EV, Stamp T, Bolland JD (2020). Novel insights into the marine phase and river fidelity of anadromous twaite shad Alosa fallax in the UK and Ireland. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 30: 1291-1298.

Rees SE, Sheehan EV, Stewart BD, Clark R, Appleby T, Attrill MJ, Jones PJS, Johnson D, Bradshaw N, Pittman S, Oates J, Solandt J-L (2020) Emerging themes to support ambitious UK marine biodiversity conservation. Marine Policy 117: 103864.

Davies BFR, Attrill MJ, Holmes LA, Rees A, Witt MJ, Sheehan EV (2020) Acoustic Complexity Index to assess benthic biodiversity of a partially protected area in the Southwest of the UK. Ecological Indicators 111: 106019. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.106019

Solandt J-L, Mullier T, Elliot S, Sheehan EV (2020) Managing Marine Protected Areas in Europe: Moving from ‘feature-based’ to ‘whole-site’ management of sites. In Humphreys J & Clark R (eds), Marine Protected Areas: science, policy and management. Elsevier, Ch 9. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-08-102698-4.00009-5

Solandt J-L, Mullier T, Elliot S, Sheehan EV (2020) Achieving true site integrity: Moving from ‘feature-based’ to ‘whole-site’ management of MPAs post-Brexit. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. In press.


Luff A, Sheehan EV, Parry M, Higgs N (2019) A simple mooring modification reduces impacts on seagrass meadows. Scientific Reports 9: 20062.

Sheehan EV, Bridger D, Nancollas SJ, Pittman SJ (2019) A novel underwater imaging system with computer vision for semi-automated monitoring of mobile marine fauna at offshore structures. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 192. doi: 10.1007/s10661-019-7980-4

Davies P, Sheehan EV (2019) Laser chasing behaviour of wild fishes exploited as a tool to compare space use between size, sex and species. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 35: 1225-1233. doi: 10.1111/jai.13982

Sheehan EV, Hosegood P, Game CA, Attrill MJ, Tickler D, Wootton M, Johns DG, Meeuwig JJ (2019) The effect of deep oceanic flushing on water properties and ecosystem functioning within atolls in the British Indian Ocean Territory. Frontiers in Marine Science 6: 512. doi:10.3389/fmars.2019.00512

Sheehan EV, Bridger D, Mascorda Cabre L, Cartwright A, Cox D, Rees D, Holmes LA, Pittman SJ (2019) Bivalves boost biodiversity. Journal of the Institute of Food Science and Technology. 33(2): 18-21. 

Sheehan EV (2019) Motion in the ocean – paradigm shift in movement ecology requires “sedentary” organisms to be redefined. Journal of Animal Ecology 88: 816-819. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.13006

Bicknell AWJ, Sheehan EV, Godley BJ, Doherty PD, Witt MJ (2019) Assessing the impact of introduced infrastructure at sea with cameras: A case study for spatial scale, time and statistical power. Marine Environmental Research 147: 126-137. doi:10.1016/j.marenvres.2019.04.007


Sheehan EV, Cartwright AY, Witt MJ, Attrill MJ, Vural M, Holmes LA (2018) Development of epibenthic assemblages on artificial habitat associated with marine renewable infrastructure. ICES Journal of Marine Science doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsy151


Wilding TA, Gill AB, Boon A, Sheehan E, Dauvin JC, Pezy JP, O’Beirn F, Janas U, Rostin L, De Mesel I (2017) Turning off the DRIP (‘Data-rich, information-poor’)–rationalising monitoring with a focus on marine renewable energy developments and the benthos. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 74: 848-859. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2017.03.013

Sheehan EV, Rees A, Bridger D, Williams T, Hall-Spencer JM (2017) Strandings of NE Atlantic gorgonians. Biological Conservation 209: 482-487. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2017.03.020

Heery EC, Bishop MJ, Critchley LP, Bugnot AB, Airoldi L, Mayer-Pinto M, Sheehan EV, Coleman RA, Loke LHL, Johnston EL, Komyakova V, Morris RL, Strain EMA, Naylor LA, Dafforn KA (2017) Identifying the consequences of ocean sprawl for sedimentary habitats. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology in press. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2017.01.020


Sheehan EV, Cousens SL (2016) “Starballing”: a potential explanation for mass stranding. Marine Biodiversity 47: 617. doi:10.1007/s12526-016-0504-3

Bicknell AWJ, Godley BJ, Sheehan EV, Votier SC, Witt MJ (2016) Camera technology for monitoring marine biodiversity and human impact. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14: 424-432. doi:10.1002/fee.1322

Sheehan EV, Vaz S, Pettifer E, Foster NL, Nancollas SJ, Cousens S, Holmes L, Facq JV, Germain G, Attrill MJ (2016) An experimental comparison of three Towed Underwater Video Systems using species metrics, benthic impact and performance. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 7: 843-852. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.12540

Jackson EJ, Cousens S, Bridger D, Nancollas SJ, Sheehan EV (2016) Conservation inaction in action for Essex seagrass meadows?. Regional Studies in Marine Science 8: 141-150 doi:10.1016/2016-210X.12540 

Wasson B, Sheehan EV (2016) The first records of Megalomma lanigera (Polychaeta: Sabellidae) from British waters. Cahiers de Biologie Marine 57: 281-283.

Firth LB, Knights AM, Bridger D, Evans A, Mieskowska N, Moore PJ, O’Connor NE, Sheehan EV, Thompson RC (2016) Ocean sprawl: challenges and opportunities for biodiversity management in a changing world. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an annual review 54. doi:10.1201/9781315368597


Sheehan EV, Bridger D, Cousens SL, Attrill MJ (2015) Resilience of dead maerl infaunal assemblages to experimental habitat removal and replacement. Marine Ecology Progress Series 535:117-128. doi:10.3354/meps11400

Sheehan EV, Bridger D, Attrill MJ (2015) The ecosystem service value of living versus dead biogenic reef. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 154: 248-254. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2014.12.042

Rodríguez-Rodríguez D, Rees S, Mannaerts G, Sciberras M, Piried C, Black G, Aulert C, Sheehan EV, Carrierb S, Attrill MJ (2015) Status of the marine protected area network across the English channel (La Manche): Cross-country similarities and differences in MPA designation, management and monitoring. Marine Policy 51: 536–546. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2014.09.021


Stevens TF, Sheehan, Gall SC, Fowell SC, Attrill MJ (2014) Monitoring benthic biodiversity restoration in Lyme Bay marine protected area: Design, sampling and analysis. Marine Policy 45: 310-317. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2013.09.006


Sheehan EV, TF Stevens, SC Gall, SL Cousens, MJ Attrill (2013) Recovery of a Temperate Reef Assemblage in a Marine Protected Area following the Exclusion of Towed Demersal Fishing. PloS ONE 8: e83883. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083883

Sheehan EV, SL Cousens, SJ Nancollas, C Stauss, J Royle, MJ Attrill (2013) Drawing lines at the sand: Evidence for functional vs. visual reef boundaries in temperate Marine Protected Areas. Marine pollution bulletin 76: 194-202. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.09.004

Rees SE, Sheehan EV, Jackson EL, Gall SC, Cousens SL, Solandt JL, Boyer M, Attrill MJ (2013) A legal and ecological perspective of ‘site integrity’ to inform policy development and management of Special Areas of Conservation in Europe. Marine pollution bulletin 72:14-21. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.03.036

Sheehan EV, Gall SC, Cousens SC, Attrill MJ (2013) Epibenthic assessment of a renewable tidal energy site. The Scientific World Journal, Article 906180. doi:10.1155/2013/906180


Sheehan EV, Attrill MJ, Thompson RC, Coleman RA (2012) Changes in shorebird behaviour and distribution associated with an intertidal crab fishery. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 22: 683–694. doi:10.1002/aqc.2261

2010 and earlier


Sheehan EV, Stevens TF, Attrill MJ (2010) A quantitative, non-destructive methodology for habitat characterisation and benthic monitoring at offshore renewable energy developments. PLoS ONE 5: e14461. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014461

Sheehan EV, Coleman RA, Thompson RC and Attrill M.J (2010) Crab-tiling reduces the diversity of estuarine infauna. Marine Ecology Progress Series 411: 137-148. doi:10.3354/meps08668

Sheehan EV, Coleman RA, Attrill MJ , Thompson RC (2010) A quantitative assessment of the response of mobile estuarine fauna to crab-tiles during tidal immersion using remote underwater video cameras. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 387: 68-74. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2010.02.008


Witt MJ, Sheehan EV, Bearhop S, Broderick AC, Conley DC, Cotterell SP, Crow E, Grecian WJ, Halsband C, Hodgson DJ, Hosegood P, Inger R, Miller PI, Sims DW, Thompson RC, Vanstaen K, Votier SC, Attrill MJ, Godley BJ (2009) Assessing wave energy effects on biodiversity: The Wave Hub experience. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 370: 502-529. doi:10.1098/rsta.2011.0265

Inger R , Attrill MJ, Bearhop S, Broderick AC, Grecian WJ, Hodgson DJ, Mills C, Sheehan EV, Votier SC, Witt MJ, Godley BJ (2009) Marine renewable energy: potential benefits to biodiversity. Journal of Applied Ecology. 46: 1145-1153. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01697.x


Sheehan EV, Thompson RC, Coleman RA, Attrill MJ (2008) Positive feedback fishery: Population consequences of ‘crab-tiling’ on the green crab Carcinus maenas. Journal of Sea Research 60: 255-261. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2008.09.002


Johnson ELG, Attrill MJ, Sheehan EV, Somerfield PJ (2007) Recovery of meiofauna communities following mudflat disturbance by trampling associated with crab-tiling. Marine Environmental Research 64: 409-416. doi:10.1016/j.marenvres.2007.03.002