Dr Antony Knights

Dr Antony Knights

Lecturer in Marine Ecology

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


I am a Lecturer in Marine Ecology based in the Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre (MBERC). I am a benthic ecologist by training and my research focus centres on supply-side ecology, recruitment dynamics and sustainable resources and I interface with environmental policy implementation and ecosystem management. I contribute to the range of Marine Biology programmes here at Plymouth University.


• 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)
  • Assistant Editor: Journal of Fish Biology (Wiley)
  • Member of ICES ACOM Working Group "Ecosystem effects of Fishing" (WGECO)
  • Reviewer for Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Reviewer for the Icelandic Research Fund (IRF)

Teaching interests

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

Current Modules
  1. MBIO 120 Introduction to Marine Biology
  2. MBIO 123 Marine Biology Field Course
  3. MBIO 223, 224 and 225 Methods in Marine Biology
  4. MBIO 213 Coastal Biodiversity and Ecology Field Course
  5. MBIO 313 Personal Research
  6. MBIO 327 Marine Ecology

Research interests

I have two areas of research interest,the first centring on supply-side ecology and population dynamics, and thesecond on ecosystem-based management and risk assessment models. 


Supply-side Ecology

I use a combination of field-basedexperimental approaches and theoretical models to assess how populations becomeestablished and develop in an effort to understand how key anthropogenic andenvironmental pressures may affect population persistence. In particular, mywork focuses on: quantifying the role of density-dependent processes inpopulation development and growth; assessing the role of abiotic and bioticfactors such as selective extraction, habitat availability, flow dynamics,competition and predation in population growth models; and the development oflarval-phase based models to predict (changes in) species range distributions.I work closely with physical oceanographers to develop spread predictions usinghydrodynamic models. I am especially interested in the influence of larvalbehavioural responses to physical conditions on dispersal predictions. 


Ecosystem-basedManagement and Human Impacts and Risk Assessment


I am interesting in developingframeworks for identifying threats to marine ecosystems from human activities.Working closely with colleagues from across Europe, I develop linkages betweensector activities and their impact on biological features in order to determinehow management programmes can be used to mitigate risk and supportdecision-making when implementing environmental policy. We have just recently published a paper in ICES Journal of Marine Science (2016) which undertakes a risk assessment of Europe's large marine ecosystems. 


Current PhD Students


·     Ms Anaëlle Lemasson (started Jan. 2015) -  Implications of ocean acidification and warming on the UK'scommercial shellfish fisheries. 

·     Ms Xiaoyu Fang (started Oct. 2015)  - Identifying the role of past and current benthosactivities for estuarine ecosystem functioning.

·     Ms Molly James (started Jan. 2017)  - Predicting species dispersal in marine systems: Amulti-disciplinary approach.


Current MRes and Masters Students


·     Mr Matthew Norton (Jan. 2017)   - The effects of future climate on the ultrastructure of bivalves.

·     Mr Callum Jeffrey (Jan. 2017) - The role of marine litter in dispersing nuisance species

·     Ms Fran Geall (Jan. 2017) - Loss of muscle strength and desiccation risk under climate change in bivalves



Key publications are highlighted

Knights AM, Firth LB & Russell B 2017 'Ecological responses to environmental change in marine systems' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology , DOI PEARL
Piet GJ, Knights AM, Jongbloed RH, Tamis JE, de Vries P & Robinson LA 2017 'Ecological risk assessments to guide decision-making: Methodology matters' Environmental Science and Policy , DOI PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 , DOI PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
Piet GJ, Jongbloed RH, Knights AM, Tamis JE, Paijmans AJ, van der Sluis MT, de Vries P & Robinson LA 2014 'Evaluation of ecosystem-based management strategies based on risk assessment' Biological Conservation PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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
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
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
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,
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
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