Marine Biology, Ecology and Conservation

Plymouth has a long tradition of marine biological research that has seen it grow into a world-renowned centre of excellence in this area. At Plymouth University we carry out research on all aspects of marine life from molecular and cellular biology to whole organisms, ecology and their conservation.

Marine Biology and Ecology

The Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre addresses a broad range of research questions, from the effects of environmental stress on microbes and developing embryos to the management of large scale impacts, such as global climate change. Its research is divided into six broad research themes:

  • Animal behaviour
  • Ecology and conservation
  • Ecophysiology and development
  • Marine pollution
  • Marine resource management
  • Marine vertebrates.

Marine Conservation and Policy

The Marine Conservation and Policy group (MarCoPol) is actively engaged in marine conservation policy research, particularly the socio-economic and ecological implications of marine protected area designation and the conservation of mobile species. They address conservation issues in a holistic manner, recognising that marine conservation takes place within a complex socio-ecological context. Research themes cover:

  • marine conservation
  • marine and coastal governance
  • marine ecosystem services and economics
  • society and the sea.

International Marine Litter Research Unit 

Marine litter is a global environmental problem with items of debris now contaminating habitats from the poles to the equator, from the sea surface to the deep sea. The International Marine Litter Research Unit has a mission to further our understanding of the impacts of litter on the environment and society, to identify the solutions and the pathways necessary to achieve them.

Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution

Several aspects of this group's work looks at marine and coastal biology:

  • Seawater flooding of coastal environments
  • Saltmarsh ecology 
  • Intertidal ecological patterns
  • Eco-engineering of coastal defences
  • Climate change effects on species distributions.

Environment, Food and Biotechnology


This group's research looks at the interactions between humans technology and the environment, with a particular focus on:

  • ecotoxicology
  • nanoparticle pollutants
  • aquaculture
  • fish health and nutrition.


Marine biology, ecology and conservation staff