Dr Antony Knights

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 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 manage the BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology degree and contribute to the range of Marine Biology programmes here at the University of Plymouth.

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


• 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), Icelandic Research Fund (IRF), European Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST), German-Israeli Research Fund.

Teaching interests

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

Current Modules
  1. MBIO001 Issues in Marine Biology
  2. MBIO120 Introduction to Marine Biology
  3. MBIO121 Life on Earth
  4. MBIO123 Marine Biology Field Course
  5. MBIO213 Coastal Biodiversity and Ecology Field Course
  6. MBIO223, 224 and 225 Methods in Marine Biology
  7. MBIO313 Personal Research
  8. MBIO327 Marine Ecology

Research interests

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

Supply-side ecology and multiple stressors 

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 roleof 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. 

Ecosystem-based Management, Human Impacts and Risk Assessment

I am interesting in developing frameworks for identifying threats to marine ecosystems from human activities. Working closely with colleagues from across Europe including 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).

Current PhD Students

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

2. Ms Molly James (started Jan. 2017) - Predicting species dispersal in marine systems: A multi-disciplinary approach.

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

Current MRes and Masters Students  

1. Ms Maria Kafrista - Has decadal climate change led to increased prevalence of trophic mismatch in the NE Atlantic?

2. Ms Kaitlin Scowen - Revisiting Bergmann's Rule: Testing physiological constraints on body size


Research degrees awarded to supervised students

PhD Candidates

1. Dr Anaëlle Lemasson (PhD, 2017) - Ocean Acidification and warming impacts on native and non-native shellfish: A multidisciplinary assessment

MRes (taught) Completions - 18 (2014-2019)

MSc (Research) Completions

1. Sally Bracewell (2011) - Recruitment dynamics of an invasive intertidal barnacle

2. Mira Rosten (2013) - Offshore wind farms as stepping stones for dispersal

Grants & contracts

1. Dr Phil Hosegood PI (with Dr Antony 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 highlighted

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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 Publisher Site , DOI PEARL
Jupe L, Bilton D & Knights A 2019 'Do differences in developmental mode shape the potential for local adaptation?' Ecology , DOI PEARL
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 PEARL
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 behaviours' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , DOI PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 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
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
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
Knights AM, Firth LB & Russell B 2017 'Ecological responses to environmental change in marine systems' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology , 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
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 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 54, , DOI 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
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
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
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, 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
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 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
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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 PEARL
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, PEARL
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 PEARL
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


Twitter: @benthicecol