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.
- 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
My teaching interests include population biology, larval biology and community ecology, and experimental design and statistics.
- 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.
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
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
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
3. Dr Molly James (PhD, 2021) - Mechanisms of vertical movement in meroplankton: A primer of dispersal
MRes Completions - 21 (2014-2021)
Undergraduate Thesis Completions - > 70 (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 are highlightedJournals
Reports & invited lectures
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
- 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.