Dr Antony Knights
Profiles

Dr Antony Knights

Associate Professor in Marine Ecology

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

I am an Associate Professor in Marine Ecology based in the Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre (MBERC). I trained as a benthic ecologist working on the recruitment dynamics and early-life histories of marine invertebrates including mussels and oysters. My research focus therefore centres around supply-side ecology (larval dispersal) and recruitment dynamics with a view to understand the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems under current and future environmental (incl. climate) scenarios. My research also has applied applications including informing sustainable resource management and interfacing with environmental policy implementation and ecosystem management at national and international levels.


Since 2016, I have managed the BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology degree and contribute to a range of Marine Biology related-modules at the University of Plymouth.

Ecology and Evolution Research Group member - https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/ecology-and-evolution-research-group/community-ecology.

Qualifications

  • PhD (Marine Ecology) June 2003 - December 2006 Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Centre, University College Cork (UCC), Ireland
  • MMarSt (Marine Studies) January 2002 - May 2003 University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  • BSc (Hons) (Applied Marine Biology) September 1998 - May 2001 Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland

Roles on external bodies

Current professional roles

  • Associate Editor: Marine and Freshwater Research (CSIRO)
  • Member of ICES ACOM Working Group "Ecosystem effects of Fishing" (WGECO)
  • Panel Chair for FCT Portugal Research Grants (equivalent to NERC, BBSRC and NSF)
  • Reviewer for FCT Portugal Research Grants; the Qatar National Fund (QNF), Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO); the Icelandic Research Fund (IRF) and Sea Grant Georgia (USA).
  • Member of: ICES Working Groups Ecosystem effects of fishing (WGECO) and Ecosystem Assessment of Western European Shelf Seas (WGEAWESS); OSPAR Correspondence Group on Cumulative Impacts; Baltic Sea Regional Advisory Council
  • Former Advisor to the Irish Government (Dept. of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources) and Marine Institute of Ireland
  • Advisor to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK

Key publications

James M, Polton J, Brereton A, Howell K, Nimmo-Smith A & Knights A 2019 'Reverse engineering field-derived vertical distribution profiles to infer larval swimming behaviors' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116, (24) 11818-11823 , DOI Open access
View all publications

Teaching interests

My teaching interests include population biology, larval biology and community ecology, and experimental design and statistics. 


Current modules

  • Marine Biology Foundation Year (MBIO001) – Hot topics in Marine Biology
  • Introduction to Marine Biology (MBIO123) – field week and introduction to biological statistics using R
  • Marine Biology Field Course (MBIO123) including Statistics using R
  • Coastal Biodiversity and Ecology Field Course (MBIO213) – South African field course
  • Methods in Marine Biology (MBIO223, MBIO224 and MBIO225) – Advanced biological statistics using R
  • Marine Ecology (MBIO327) – Module leader; lectures and lab
  • Personal Research (MBIO313) – Thesis module (9 students for 2016-2017)
  • Projects in Marine Science (OS206) - Research project supervision
  • Research Skills and Methods (MAR513) – Research project supervision.

Research interests

I have two primary areas of research: (1) Supply-side ecology, population dynamics and ecosystem structure and functioning, and (2) ecosystem-based management and risk assessment models. 

Supply-side ecology, population dynamics and ecosystem structure and functioning 

I use a combination of field-based experimental approaches and theoretical models to assess how populations become established and develop in an effort to understand how key anthropogenic and environmental pressures may affect population persistence. In particular, my work focuses on: quantifying the role of density-dependent processes in population development and growth; assessing the role of abiotic and biotic factors such as selective extraction, habitat availability, flow dynamics, competition and predation in population growth models; and the development of larval-phase based models to predict (changes in) species range distributions. I work closely with physical oceanographers to develop spread predictions using hydrodynamic models. I am especially interested in the influence of larval behavioural responses to physical conditions on dispersal predictions. 

I am currently supported by grants from Fondation Bertarelli and Garfield-Weston Foundation to assess conservation strategies for biodiversity hotspots and safe havens in a changing climate: Oceanographic drivers of ecosystem variability in the Chagos Archipelago. 

Ecosystem-based Management, Human Impacts and Risk Assessment

I am interested in developing frameworks for identifying threats to marine ecosystems from human activities. Working closely with colleagues from across Europe which includes previous work on the ODEMM project (www.odemm.com), I develop linkages between sector activities and their impact on biological features in order to determine how management programmes can be used to mitigate risk and support decision-making when implementing environmental policy. I have been working directly with policy-makers (e.g. United Nations; HELCOM; OSPAR; Dept. of Fisheries Canada; Marine Institute Ireland) to support their efforts in assessing risk in their respective regions using the outputs of this research. Engagement is via direct meetings and my involvement in the eCOST project MARCONS (http://www.marcons-cost.eu).

I am currently Co-PI of a UKRI (NERC NE/T010835/1) grant entitled "DREAMS" that is undertaking systematic reviews and meta-analyses of evidence to determine the relative effects of alternative management strategies in the decommissioning of man-made structures in the Sea. This 3 year project aims to provide input into current and future decommissioning policy both in the UK and abroad. 

Current Postdoctoral Staff 

1. Dr Anaëlle Lemasson - Postdoctoral Research Fellow on DREAMS (https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/anaelle-lemasson)

Current PhD Students (as DoS or *Co-superviser)

1. Ms Charlotte (Charley) Clubley (started Oct. 2020) - Testing environment filters as mechanisms of ecosystem resilience to non-native species invasion.

2. Mr Javier Cueto-Bueno (started Sept. 2019) - Drivers and dynamics of small-scale fisheries in Micronesia: A primer for fisheries management

3. *Ms Lucy Jupe (started March 2019; Trinity College Dublin) - Assessing the vulnerability of marine calcifies to ocean change

Current MRes Marine Biology Students

1. Maxine Canvin - Characterising the connectivity of kelp species around the UK: Identifying meta-population networks and barriers to 

2. Rebecca Greatorex - Testing the effects of multiple environmental stressors on predator-prey interactions in marine calcifies

3. Kairan Cursons - Modelling current and future distribution of the invasive Pacific Oyster (Magallana gigas) in the UK: A primer for management.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

PhD Completions

1. Dr Anaëlle Lemasson (PhD, 2018) - Ocean Acidification and warming impacts on native and non-native shellfish: A multidisciplinary assessment

2. Dr Xiaoyu Fang (PhD, 2019) - Identifying the role of past and current benthos activities for estuarine ecosystem functioning

2. Dr Molly James (PhD, 2021) - Mechanisms of vertical movement in meroplankton: A primer of dispersal

MRes Completions - 18 (2014-2021)

Undergraduate Thesis Completions - > 60 (2012 To date)

Grants & contracts

1. Firth L.B and A.M. Knights. SCOR (Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research) Visiting Scholars Program. $5,000. September 2021 - 2022.

2. Somerfield P. (PML – PI), Shratzberger M (Cefas - PI), and A.M. Knights (UoP - PI). DREAMS – Decommissioning – Relative effects of alternative management strategies (Consortium) UKRI NERC Insite 2. £700,000 Grant Reference: NE/T010835/1. July 2020 - July 2023

3. Hosegood, P. with A.M Knights (Co-I). Conservation strategies for biodiversity hotspots and safe havens in a changing climate: Oceanographic drivers of ecosystem variability in the Chagos Archipelago. Garfield Weston Foundation £922,343. April 2019-March 2021.

Key publications

James M, Polton J, Brereton A, Howell K, Nimmo-Smith A & Knights A 2019 'Reverse engineering field-derived vertical distribution profiles to infer larval swimming behaviors' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116, (24) 11818-11823 , DOI Open access

Key publications are highlighted

Journals
Articles
Fang X, Moens T, Knights A, Soetaert K & Van Colen C 2021 'Allometric scaling of faunal-mediated ecosystem functioning: A case study on two bioturbators in contrasting sediments' Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 254, 107323-107323 , DOI
Lemasson A, Knights A, Thompson M, Lessin G, Beaumont N, Pascoe C, Quierós AM, McNeill L, Schratzberger M & Somerfield PJ 2021 'Evidence for the effects of decommissioning man-made structures on marine ecosystems globally: a systematic map protocol' Environmental Evidence , DOI
Firth LB, Harris D, Blaze JA, Marzloff MP, Boyé A, Miller PI, Curd A, Vasquez M, Nunn JD & O’Connor NE 2021 'Specific niche requirements underpin multidecadal range edge stability, but may introduce barriers for climate change adaptation' Diversity and Distributions 27, (4) 668-683 , DOI Open access
Firth LB, Duff L, Gribben PE & Knights AM 2020 'Do positive interactions between marine invaders increase likelihood of invasion into natural and artificial habitats?' Oikos Publisher Site , DOI Open access
Knights A, Norton M, Lemasson A & Stephen N 2020 'Ocean acidification mitigates the negative effects of increased sea temperatures on the biomineralisation and crystalline ultrastructure of Mytilus' Frontiers in Marine Science , DOI Open access
Muir AP, Dubois SF, Ross RE, Firth LB, Knights AM, Lima FP, Seabra R, Corre E, Le Corguillé G & Nunes FLD 2020 'Seascape genomics reveals population isolation in the reef-building honeycomb worm, Sabellaria alveolata (L.)' BMC Evolutionary Biology 20, (1) , DOI Open access
Valdor P, Gómez A, Steinberg P, Tanner E, Knights A, Seitz R, Airoldi L, Firth L, Arvanitidis C & Ponti M 2020 'A global approach to mapping the environmental risk of commercial harbours on aquatic systems' Marine Policy , DOI Open access
Lim HS, Fraser A & Knights A 2020 'Spatial arrangement of biogenic reefs alters boundary layer characteristics to increase risk of microplastic bioaccumulation' Environmental Research Letters , DOI Open access
Firth L, Airoldi L, Bulleri F, Challinor S, Chee S-Y, Evans A, Hanley M, Knights A, O'Shaugnessy K & Thompson R 2020 'Greening of grey infrastructure should not be used as a Trojan horse to facilitate coastal development' Journal of Applied Ecology 57, (9) 1762-1768 Publisher Site , DOI Open access
Jupe L, Bilton D & Knights A 2019 'Do differences in developmental mode shape the potential for local adaptation?' Ecology , DOI Open access
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 Open access
James M, Polton J, Brereton A, Howell K, Nimmo-Smith A & Knights A 2019 'Reverse engineering field-derived vertical distribution profiles to infer larval swimming behaviors' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116, (24) 11818-11823 , DOI Open access
Lemasson A & Knights A 2019 'Preferential parasitism of native oyster Ostrea edulis over non-native Magallana gigas by a Polydorid worm' Estuaries and Coasts , DOI Open access
Chaverra A, Wieters E, Foggo A & Knights AM 2019 'Removal of intertidal grazers by human harvesting leads to alteration of species interactions, community structure and resilience to climate change' Marine Environmental Research , DOI Open access
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 Open access
Lemasson A, Kuri V, Hall-Spencer J & Knights AM 2018 'Changes in the biochemical and nutrient composition of seafood due to ocean acidification and warming' Marine Environmental Research 143, 82-92 , DOI Open access
Lemasson A, Hall-Spencer J, Fletcher S, Provstgaard-Morys S & Knights AM 2018 'Indications of future performance of native and non-native adult oysters under acidification and warming' Marine Environmental Research , DOI Open access
Pedreschi D, Bouch P, Moriarty M, Nixon E, Knights AM & Reid D 2018 'Integrated ecosystem analysis in Irish waters; Providing the context for ecosystem-based sheries management' Fisheries Research , DOI Open access
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 Open access
Sztukowski LA, Cotton PA, Weimerskirch H, Thompson DR, Torres LG, Sagar PM, Knights AM, Fayet AL & Votier SC 2018 'Sex differences in individual foraging site fidelity of Campbell albatross' Marine Ecology Progress Series 601, , DOI Open access
Sadler DE, Lemasson AJ & Knights AM 2018 'The effects of elevated CO₂ on shell properties and susceptibility to predation in mussels Mytilus edulis' Marine Environmental Research , DOI Open access
Lemasson AJ, Kuri V, Hall-Spencer JM, Fletcher S, Moate R & Knights AM 2017 'Sensory Qualities of Oysters Unaltered by a Short Exposure to Combined Elevated pCO2 and Temperature' Frontiers in Marine Science 4, (0) 0-0 , DOI Open access
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 Open access
Gordon J & Knights AM 2017 'Revisiting Connell: Competition but not as we know it' Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom , DOI Open access
McQuatters-Gollop A, Johns DG, Bresnan E, Skinner J, Rombouts I, Aubert A, Johansen M, Bedford J & Knights AM 2017 'From microscope to management: the critical value of plankton taxonomy to marine policy and biodiversity conservation' Marine Policy 83, 1-10 , DOI Open access
Lemasson AJ, Fletcher S, Hall-Spencer J & Knights AM 2017 'Linking the biological impacts of ocean acidification on oysters to changes in ecosystem services: A review' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology , DOI Open access
Knights AM, Firth LB & Russell B 2017 'Ecological responses to environmental change in marine systems' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology , DOI Open access
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 Open access
Piet GJ, Knights AM, Jongbloed RH, Tamis JE, de Vries P & Robinson LA 2016 'Ecological risk assessments to guide decision-making: Methodology matters' Environmental Science and Policy , DOI Open access
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 Open access
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 Open access
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 Open access
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 Open access
Piet GJ, Jongbloed RH, Knights AM, Tamis JE, Paijmans AJ, van der Sluis MT, de Vries P & Robinson LA 2015 'Evaluation of ecosystem-based marine management strategies based on risk assessment' Biological Conservation , DOI Open access
Knights AM, Piet GJ, Jongbloed RH, Tamis JE, White LJ, Akoglu E, Boicenco L, Churilova T, Kryvenko O & Fleming-Lehtinen V 2015 'An exposure-effect approach for evaluating ecosystem-wide risks from human activities' ICES Journal of Marine Science 72, (3) 1105-1115 Open access
Goodsir F, Bloomfield HJ, Judd AD, Kral F, Robinson LA & Knights AM 2014 'A spatially resolved pressure-based approach to evaluate combined effects of human activities and management in marine ecosystems' ICES Journal of Marine Science 72, (8) 2245-2256 Open access
Knights AM, Culhane F, Hussain SS, Papadopoulou KN, Piet GJ, Raakær J, Rogers SI & Robinson LA 2014 'A step-wise process of decision-making under uncertainty when implementing environmental policy' Environmental Science and Policy 39, 56-64 , DOI Open access
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) Author Site , DOI Open access
Knights AM, Koss RS & Robinson LA 2013 'Identifying common pressure pathways from a complex network of human activities to support ecosystem-based management' ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS 23, (4) 755-765 Author Site , DOI Open access
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 Author Site , DOI Open access
Breen P, Robinson LA, Rogers SI, Knights AM, Piet G, Churilova T, Margonski P, Papadopoulou N, Akoglu E & Eriksson A 2012 'An environmental assessment of risk in achieving good environmental status to support regional prioritisation of management in Europe' MARINE POLICY 36, (5) 1033-1043 Author Site , DOI Open access
Knights AM, Firth LB & Walters K 2012 'Interactions between multiple recruitment drivers: post-settlement predation mortality and flow-mediated recruitment' PLoS One 7, (4) Author Site , DOI Open access
Knights AM 2012 'Spatial variation in body size and reproductive condition of subtidal mussels: Considerations for sustainable management' Fisheries Research 113, 45-54
Firth LB, Knights AM & Bell SS 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, (1-2) 250-256 Author Site , DOI Open access
Aprahamian MW, Aprahamian CD & Knights AM 2010 'Climate change and the green energy paradox: the consequences for twaite shad Alosa fallax from the River Severn, U.K' JOURNAL OF FISH BIOLOGY 77, (8) 1912-1930 Author Site , DOI Open access
Knights AM & Walters K 2010 'Recruit-recruit interactions, density-dependent processes and population persistence in the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica' MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES 404, 79-90 Author Site , DOI Open access
Maguire JA, Knights AM, O'Toole M, Burnell G, Crowe TP, Ferns M, McDonough N, McQuaid N, O'Connor B & Doyle R 2008 'Management recommendations for sustainable exploitation of mussel seed in the Irish Sea' Marine Environment and Health 31, Open access
Knights AM, Crowe TP & Burnell G 2006 'Mechanisms of larval transport: vertical distribution of bivalve larvae varies with tidal conditions' MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES 326, 167-174 Author Site , DOI Open access
Lemasson A & Knights A 'Differential responses in anti-predation traits of the native oyster Ostrea edulis and invasive Magallana gigas to ocean acidification and warming' Marine Ecology: Progress Series
Reports
Knights AM, Piet GJ, Jongbloed R & Robinson LA 2014 An exposure-effect risk assessment methodology to evaluate the performance of management scenarios: Case Study examples from Europe’s regional seas. An exposure-effect risk assessment methodology to evaluate the performance of management scenarios: Case Study examples from Europe’s regional seas. EU University of Liverpool
Knights AM & Robinson LA 2012 Identification of sources of risk associated with meeting high-level objectives. EU University of Liverpool
Breen P, Goodsir F, Churilova T, Kryvenko O, Finenko Z, Moncheva S, Oguz T, Timofte F, Stefanova K & Eriksson A 2011 A review of operational objectives in European Regional Seas. Lowestoft Cefas
Koss RS, Knights AM, Eriksson A & Robinson LA 2011 ODEMM Linkage Framework Userguide.
Robinson LA & Knights AM 2011 ODEMM Pressure Assessment Userguide.
Knights AM & Various Authors 2011 Report of the Working Group on the Ecosystem Effects of Fishing Activities (WGECO), 13-20 April, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Knights AM, Koss RS, Papadopoulou KN, Cooper LH & Robinson LA 2011 Sustainable use of European regional seas and the role of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. EU University of Liverpool
Knights AM, Eriksson A, Fleming-Lehtinen V, Leppanen J-M & Robinson LA 2011 The Baltic Sea: Additional information on status of threatened ecological characteristics relevant to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Knights AM, Piet GJ, Breen P, Goodsir F & Robinson LA 2011 The NE Atlantic: Additional information on status of threatened ecological characteristics relevant to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Hubble M, Clough S, Taylor A, Webb H & Knights AM 2010 Hinkley C Power Station Marine Ecological Impact Assessment. RWE N-Power APEM Ltd
Berrow S, Hooley P, Firth LB & Knights AM 2010 Review of inshore cetacean monitoring programme. National Parks and Wildlife Service Irish Whale and Dolphin Group
Knights AM, Milner N & O'Keeffe N 2010 Severn Tidal Power – SEA Topic Paper Migratory and Estuarine Fish: Migratory Life Cycle Models. Department of Energy and Climate Change
Knights AM, Bradley DC & Williams AE 2009 Carmarthen Bay Aerial Photographic Bird Survey: Population estimates and assessment of confidence levels. COWRIE
Knights AM, Bradley DC & Dugdale S 2009 Carmarthen Bay Aerial Photographic Stills Survey: Presentation of results, assessment of precision, population estimates and confidence intervals. COWRIE
Knights AM & Hubble M 2009 Roosecote Sands Eelgrass and Empheral Algae Survey. United Utilities APEM Ltd

Reports & invited lectures

Recent Invitations:

1. PlyMSEF 2020 (Keynote Seminar), Plymouth Marine Lab, Plymouth, UK, February 2020

2. University of Melbourne (Invited Seminar), Melbourne, Australia, August 2019

3. Monash University (Invited Seminar), Melbourne, Australia, August 2019

4. United Nations Environment Programme (Keynote presentation), Madrid, March 2017

Conferences organised

  • Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystems - 30th August - 4th September 2015   
  • European Marine Biology Symposium - National University of Ireland, Galway. August 19-23, 2013.
  • European Marine Biology Symposium - University College Cork, Ireland. September 4-8, 2006.

Links

Twitter: @benthicecol