Dr Benjamin Ciotti

Dr Benjamin Ciotti

Lecturer in Marine Biology

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



Lecturer in Marine Biology

Programme Leader for BSc Marine Biology

I am an ecologist and physiologist who focuses in particular on wild populations of juvenile fishes


  • PhD (2012) University of Delaware
  • BSc (2002) University of Liverpool (1st class honours)

Roles on external bodies

Co-chair of ICES Working Group on the Value of Coastal Habitats for Exploited Species.

Expert group for "Essential Fish Habitats", Natural England Research Report May 2022.



Teaching interests

I teach on a range modules focusing on the biology, physiology and ecology of marine organisms, especially relating to fishes. I lead field courses in Portugal and local habitats.

Current modules
  • Introduction to Marine Biology (MBIO120)
  • Marine Biology Field Course (MBIO123)
  • Experimental Marine Biology Field Course (MBIO226)
  • Biology of Marine Organisms (MBIO228)
  • Methods in Marine Biology (MBIO223)
  • Personal Research (MBIO313)
  • Fish and Fisheries (MBIO363)
  • Masters dissertation projects (MBAM5109, MAR 524)



Research interests

I take a broad, integrative approach to reveal variation in the performance of marine organisms in nature. My approach builds on physiological fundamentals, modern molecular tools, field surveys, laboratory experiments and statistical analysis to address contemporary ecological concerns.

A major focus of my research is on the development and application of new biochemical and molecular tools to characterize variation in physiological performance in situ. In particular I am applying RNA-based indices to evaluate the importance of coastal areas as nursery habitats for juvenile fishes. Similarly, I am using molecular markers to elucidate long-term impacts of environmental change on physiological and immune performance in crustaceans.

I conduct extensive field work throughout the Southwest UK to understand how abundance and physiological performance of juvenile fishes varies among shallow inshore habitats in relation to environmental variables. I couple field surveys with analysis of long term data sets to better understand determinants of recruitment processes in fish populations.

I work closely with fisheries and conservations bodies in providing scientific knowledge to support policy and management measures such as reference size limits and Essential Fish Habitat.

Grants & contracts

FISH INTEL Fisheries innovation for sustainable shared interchannel resources (Interreg) 2021 - 2023: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/marine-conservation-research-group/fish-intel-interreg

A Pack Atmosphere Support System for Live Crabs/Shellfish Species During Road Transported and Air-freighted Distribution (Seafood Innovation Fund) 2021 - 2022.

JHaM-Cam: Novel video technology for identifying Essential Fish Habitat (MMO) 2021 - 2022.

Novel video technology for measuring natural capital within essential fish habitat in inshore ecosystems (Natural England) 2022.

Capacity building for the development of a novel Marine Monitoring and Forecasting System (MaMoFS) to support sustainability of deep sea fisheries in the Indian Ocean (Global Challenges Research Fund) 2020

Developing Interdisciplinary research on impacts of sandscaping schemes (Higher Education Initiative Fund Award) 2019

Identifying important flatfish nursery areas and their physical attributes: safeguarding the habitats that sustain fisheries (Seale-Hayne Educational Trust) 2019

Development of sustainable abalone ranching in South Africa (Global Challenges Research Fund) 2018



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Watson JW, Radford Z, Bannister H, Bradley R, Brown M, Ciotti BJ, Goodwin D, Graham JA, Nash RDM & Roche WK (2024) 'Assessing the coherence in biological and environmental drivers of young sea bass abundance across important estuarine nursery areas of the northern European sea bass stock' Frontiers in Marine Science 10, , DOI Open access
Graham JA, Watson JW, García García LM, Bradley K, Bradley R, Brown M, Ciotti BJ, Goodwin D, Nash RDM & Roche WK (2023) 'Pelagic connectivity of European sea bass between spawning and nursery grounds' Frontiers in Marine Science 9, , DOI Open access
Stamp T, West E, Colclough S, Plenty S, Ciotti B, Robbins T & Sheehan E (2022) 'Suitability of compensatory saltmarsh habitat for feeding and diet of multiple estuarine fish species' Fisheries Management and Ecology , DOI Open access
Morris MT, Hauton C, Baylay AJ, Peruzza L, Targett TE & Ciotti BJ (2021) 'Spatial variation in the gastrointestinal microbiome, diet, and nutritional condition of a juvenile flatfish among coastal habitats' Marine Environmental Research 170, 105413-105413 , DOI Open access
McCarroll RJ, Scott T, King EV, Masselink G, Ciotti BJ, Cloete A, Steyn P-P, Britz P, Vine NG & Deyzel SHP (2021) 'Modelling regional and local-scale larval seeding strategies for abalone (H. midae) ranching in South Africa' Aquaculture 540, , DOI Open access
Hart MB, Arratia G, Moore C & Ciotti BJ (2020) 'Life and death in the Jurassic seas of Dorset, Southern England' Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 131, (6) 629-638 , DOI
Ciotti BJ & Planes S (2019) 'Within‐generation consequences of post‐settlement mortality for trait composition in wild populations: An experimental test' Ecology and Evolution , DOI Open access
Whiteley NM, Suckling CC, Ciotti BJ, Brown J, McCarthy, Ian D., Gimenez, Luis, Hauton & Chris (2018) 'Sensitivity to near-future CO₂ conditions in marine crabs depends on their compensatory capacities for salinity change' Scientific Reports 8, (1) 0-0 , DOI Open access
Poulter R, Oliver PG, Hauton C, Sanders T & Ciotti BJ (2017) 'Infestation of shore crab gills by a free-living mussel species' Marine Biodiversity , DOI Open access
Pratt N, Ciotti BJ, Morgan EA, Taylor P, Stahl H & Hauton C (2015) 'No evidence for impacts to the molecular ecophysiology of ion or CO 2 regulation in tissues of selected surface-dwelling bivalves in the vicinity of a sub-seabed CO 2 release' International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 38, 193-201 , DOI
Ciotti BJ, Targett TE, Nash RDM & Geffen AJ (2014) 'Growth dynamics of European plaice Pleuronectes platessa L. in nursery areas: A review' Journal of Sea Research 90, 64-82 , DOI
Fox CJ, Targett TE, Ciotti BJ, de Kroon K, Hortsmeyer L & T. Burrows M (2014) 'Size variation of 0-group plaice: Are earlier influences on growth potential a contributing factor?' Journal of Sea Research 88, 59-66 , DOI
Ciotti BJ, Targett TE, Nash RDM & Burrows MT (2013) 'Small-scale spatial and temporal heterogeneity in growth and condition of juvenile fish on sandy beaches' Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 448, 346-359 , DOI
Ciotti BJ, Targett TE & Burrows MT (2013) 'Decline in growth rate of juvenile European plaice (<i>Pleuronectes platessa</i>) during summer at nursery beaches along the west coast of Scotland' Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 70, (5) 720-734 , DOI
Ciotti BJ, Targett TE & Burrows MT (2013) 'Spatial variation in growth rate of early juvenile European plaice Pleuronectes platessa' Marine Ecology Progress Series 475, 213-232 , DOI
Rees BB, Targett TE, Ciotti BJ, Tolman CA, Akkina SS & Gallaty AM (2012) 'Temporal dynamics in growth and white skeletal muscle composition of the mummichog <i>Fundulus heteroclitus</i> during chronic hypoxia and hyperoxia' Journal of Fish Biology 81, (1) 148-164 , DOI
Ciotti BJ, Targett TE, Nash RDM, Batty RS, Burrows MT & Geffen AJ (2010) 'Development, validation and field application of an RNA‐based growth index in juvenile plaice <i>Pleuronectes platessa</i>' Journal of Fish Biology 77, (10) 2181-2209 , DOI
Breitburg DL, Craig JK, Fulford RS, Rose KA, Boynton WR, Brady DC, Ciotti BJ, Diaz RJ, Friedland KD & Hagy JD (2009) 'Nutrient enrichment and fisheries exploitation: interactive effects on estuarine living resources and their management' Hydrobiologia 629, (1) 31-47 , DOI
Atkinson D, Ciotti BJ & Montagnes DJS (2003) 'Protists decrease in size linearly with temperature:<i>ca</i>. 2.5% °C<sup>−1</sup>' Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences 270, (1533) 2605-2611 , DOI
Morgan EA, Brown A, Ciotti BJ & Panton A (2016) 'Effects of temperature stress on ecological processes' Stressors in the Marine Environment Oxford University Press 213-227 , DOI
Breitburg DL, Craig JK, Fulford RS, Rose KA, Boynton WR, Brady DC, Ciotti BJ, Diaz RJ, Friedland KD & Hagy JD (2009) 'Nutrient enrichment and fisheries exploitation: interactive effects on estuarine living resources and their management' Eutrophication in Coastal Ecosystems Springer Netherlands 31-47 , DOI