Dr Clare Embling

Dr Clare Embling

Lecturer in Marine Ecology

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


I am a lecturer in marine ecology, teaching on a range of courses from statistics to biological oceanography and marine vertebrate ecology. My research is focused on the ecology and conservation of marine vertebrates (marine mammals, seabirds and fish), habitat modelling, bioacoustics, and human impacts on marine species (e.g. impacts of increasing noise in the sea & of marine renewable energy devices).

Member of the Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre (MBERC) & the Marine Vertebrates Research Group.

Twitter: @ClareEmbling


2012-2013 SOWFIA research fellow, University of Exeter
2008-2010 Named NERC Post-doctoral fellow, University of Aberdeen 
2003-2007 PhD 'Predictive models of cetaceans off the west coast of Scotland' (Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews)
2002-2003 MRes in Environmental Biology (University of St Andrews & Dundee)
2000-2002 Diploma in Biological Sciences (Open University)
1991-1996 MEng in Electrical Electronic Engineering with a year abroad & sandwich year (Imperial)

Professional membership

Member of the Society for Marine Conservation (SCB)
Member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM)
Member of the European Cetacean Society (ECS)

Teaching interests

I am deputy programme leader for the BSc Marine Biology & Oceanography, and I am module leader for:
MBIO120 Introduction to Marine Biology (1st year)
MBIO339 Ecology & Conservation of Marine Vertebrates (3rd year)

I also teach on the following modules:
MBIO123 Marine Biology Field Course (1st Year)
MBIO227 Biological Oceanography Field Course (2nd year)
ENVS205 Chemical & Biological Oceanography (2nd year)
MBIO225 Methods in Marine Biology and Oceanography (2nd year)
MBIO341 Biological Oceanography (3rd year)
MASC301 Marine Ecosystem Conservation (3rd year)

I also supervise around 8 undergraduate student projects, and 2 masters student projects a year.
Current MRes/MSc students:
James Williams (Habitat modelling of green turtles from telemetry data)
Gemma Starmore (Using passive acoustics to understand human impacts on cetaceans)

Past MRes students:
Joshua Griffiths (Habitat modelling of bottlenose dolphins for defining MPAs)
Jessica Rayner (Risk modelling of minke whale entanglement in creel fishing gear)

Research interests

I am a marine ecologist & bioacoustician with several research interests:

(i) understanding the mechanisms linking oceanography with marine vertebrate (marine mammal, seabird & fish) distributions & behaviour, and using this knowledge to better conserve our marine environment;
(ii) investigating the impacts of human activity on marine ecosystems, in particular, the impact of marine renewable energy devices and marine noise on marine vertebrate distributions & behaviour;
(iii) use of habitat models for understanding the links between marine organisms and the marine environment, and using this as the basis for conservation such as in the design of marine protected areas;
(iv) use of passive and active acoustics to understand the behaviour and distribution of marine vertebrates (fish & cetacean).

Current PhD students:
Matt Carter (Director of Studies): 'How do grey seal pups learn how to forage?'
Leah Trigg (Director of Studies): 'Do marine mammals react to shipping noise?'
Svenja Tidau (2nd supervisor): 'Anthropogenic noise pollution in hermit crab behaviour'

Grants & contracts

2015 SoMSE small research grant (£2500): 'Follow that smell: Spatial prediction of storm petrel distributions based on remote sensing models of dimethyl sulphide concentration.' with Dr Jill Schwartz, and Dr Simon Ingram (Plymouth University)

2014 SoMSE small research grant (£2500): 'Seals, stratification & shipping noise: seasonal changes in shipping noise exposure experienced by diving seals.' with Dr Kimberley Bennett, Dr Simon Ingram, Professor Georgy Shapiro (Plymouth University), and Dr Dave Thompson (SMRU, University of St Andrews)

2014 Marine Institute small collaborative grant (£5000): 'Understanding dynamic tidal drivers of bottlenose dolphin foraging behaviour' with Dr Simon Ingram & Dr Phil Hosegood (Plymouth University)

2013 NERC MREKE (Marine Renewable Energy Knowledge Exchange) grant (£10,000): 'Use of static passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) for monitoring cetaceans at marine renewable energy installations (MREIs)', guidance document to Marine Scotland in collaboration with University of Exeter, SAMS & University of Aberdeen.

Chen, F., Shapiro, G., Bennett, K.A., Ingram, S.N., Thompson, D., Vincent, C., Russell, D.J.F., & Embling, C.B. (in press) Shipping noise in a dynamic sea: seasonal changes in shipping noise exposure experienced by diving seals. Marine Pollution Bulletin

Cox, S.L., Miller, P.I., Embling, C.B., Scales, K.L., Bicknell, A., Hosegood, P.J., Morgan, G., Ingram, S.N., & Votier, S.C. (2016) Seabird diving behaviour reveals the functional significance of shelf-sea fronts as foraging hotspots. Royal Society Open Science, doi: 10.1098/rsos.160317

Cox, S.L., Witt, M.J., Embling, C.B., Godley, B.J., Hosegood, P.J., Miller, P.I., Votier, S.C., & Ingram, S.N. (2016) Temporal patterns in habitat use by small cetaceans at an oceanographically dynamic marine renewable test site in the Celtic Sea. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.07.001

Greaves, D., Conley, D., Magagna, D., Aires, E., Chambel Leitao, J., Witt., M., Embling, C.B., Godley, B.J., Bicknell, A.W.J., Sulnier, J.-B., Simas, T., O'Hagen, A.M., O'Callagahan, J., Holmes, B., Sundberg, J., Torre-Enciso, Y., & Marina, D. (2016) Environmental Impact Assessment: gathering experience from wave energy test centres around Europe. International Journal of Marine Energy, 14: 68-79

Embling, C.B., Walters, A.E.M., & Dolman, S.J. (2015) How much effort is enough? The power of citizen science to monitor trends in coastal cetacean species. Global Ecology and Conservation, doi: 10.1016/j.gecco.2015.04.003

Maclean, I.M., Inger, R., Benson, B., Booth, C.G., Embling, C.B., Grecian, W.J., Heymans, J.J., Plummer, K., Shackshaft, M., Sparling, C., Wilson, B., Wright, L.I., Bradbury, G., Christen, N., Godley, B.J., Jackson, H., McCluskie, A., Nichols-Lee, R., & Bearhop, S. (2014) Resolving issues with environmental impact assessment of offshore and marine renewable energy installations. Frontiers in Marine Science, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2014.00075

Jones, A.R., Wynn, R.B., Hosegood, P., De Boer, M.N., Butler-Cowdry, S., Embling, C.B. (2014) Fine-scale hydrodynamics influence the spatio-temporal distribution of harbour porpoises in a coastal hotspot. Progress in Oceanography, 128: 30-48

Scales, K.L., Miller, P.I., Embling, C.B., Ingram, S. N., Pirotta, E., & Votier, S.C. (2014) Mesoscale fronts as foraging habitats: composite front mapping reveals oceanographic drivers of habitat use for a pelagic seabird. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 11: 20140679

Embling, C.B., Sharples, J., Armstrong, E., Palmer, M.R., & Scott, B.E. (2013) Fish Behaviour in response to tidal variability and internal waves over a shelf sea bank. Progress in Oceanography 117: 106-117.

Scott, B.E., Webb, A., Palmer, M.R., Embling, C.B., Sharples, J. (2013) Fine scale bio-physical oceanographic characteristics predict the foraging occurrence of contrasting seabird species; Gannet (Morus bassanus) and storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus). Progress in Oceanography 117: 118-129.

Foote, A.D., Kaschner, K., Schultze, S.E., Garilao, C., Ho, S.Y.W., Post, K., Higham, T.F.G., Stokowska, C., van der Es, H., Embling, C.B., Gregersen, K., Johansson, F., Willerslev, E., & Gilbert, M.T.P. (2013) Ancient DNA reveals that bowhead whale lineages survived Late Pleistocene climate change and habitat shifts. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2714

Booth, C.G., Embling, C., Gordon, J., Calderan, S.V., & Hammond, P.S. (2013) Habitat preferences and distribution of the harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena west of Scotland. Marine Ecology Progress Series 478: 273-285.

Embling, C.B., Illian, J., Armstrong, E., van der Kooij, J., Sharples, J., Camphuysen, K.C.J., & Scott, B.E. (2012) Investigating fine-scale spatio-temporal predator-prey patterns in dynamic marine ecosystems: a functional data analysis approach. Journal of Applied Ecology 49: 481-492.

Embling, C.B., Gillibrand, P.A., Gordon, J., Shrimpton, J., Stevick, P.T., & Hammond, P.S. (2010) Using habitat models to identify suitable sites for marine protected areas for harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). Biological Conservation 143: 267-279.

Gillespie, D., Dunn, C., Gordon, J., Claridge, D., Embling, C.B., & Boyd, I. (2009) Field recordings of Gervais' beaked whales Mesoplodon europaeus from the Bahamas. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 125(5): 3428-3433.

Embling, C.B., Fernandes, P.G., Hammond, P.S., Armstrong, E., & Gordon, J. (2005) Investigations into the relationship between pelagic fish and dolphin distributions off the west coast of Scotland. ICES CM 2005/R:08.

Reports & invited lectures

Embling, C.B.,Wilson, B., Benjamins, S., Pikesley, S., Thompson, P., Graham, I., Cheney, B., Brookes, K.L., Godley, B.J., & Witt, M.J. (In press) Use of static acoustic monitoring (PAM) for monitoring cetaceans at marine renewable energy installations (MREIs). NERC-MREKE Guidance document for Marine Scotland.

Embling, C.B., Doherty, P.D., Garrett, J., Godley, B.J., & Witt, M.J. (2013) Chapter 2: Noise emissions to water. In: Marine emissions to water: impact on marine life & potential future regulations. (Eds: Fileman, T., & Vance, T.) Report to Rolls Royce.

Truebano, M., Embling, C.B., Witt, M., Godley, B., & Attrill, M. (2013) Chapter 2: The potential impacts of marine renewable energy on marine mammals. In: Marine Renewables, Biodiversity & Fisheries (Ed: Attrill, M.). Friends of the Earth briefing paper.

Conley, D., Magagna, D., Greaves, D., Aires, E., Chambel Leitao, J., Witt, M., Embling, C.B., Godley, B.J., Bicknell, A., Saulnier, J.-B., Simas, T., O'Hagen, A. M., O'Callaghan, J., Holmes, B., Sundberg, J., Torre-Enciso, Y., & Marina, D. (2013) Report on the analysis of the Environmental Assessment Experience for wave energy. SOWFIA Deliverable 3.5 - work package 3 final report.

Magagna, D., Greaves, D., Conley, D., Chambel Leitao, J., Aires, E., Embling. C.B., Godley, B.J., Witt, M.J., Simas, T., Saulnier, J.B., Mouslim, H., O'Callaghan, J., O'Hagan, A.M., Holmes, B., Torre-Enciso, Y., & Sundberg, J. (2012) Development of a Data Management Platform for the integration of European wave energy impact assessment datasets. 4th International Conference on Ocean Energy, Dublin.

Hammond, P.S., Northridge, S.P., Thompson, D., Gordon, J.C.D., Hall, A.J., Duck, C.D., Aarts, G., Cunningham, L., Embling, C.B., & Matthiopoulos, J. (2006) Background information on marine mammals for Strategic Environmental Assessment 7. Report to Geotek.

Other academic activities

Outreach activities:

* Pre-school activity morning: 'guess the marine sound'; CSI 'What is that skull?'; Pretend to be an echolocating porpoise game, Sir Robert Geffery Preschool, Landrake July 2015
* School activity (Reception): 'guess the marine sound'; CSI 'What is that skull?', Sir Robert Geffery School, Landrake, July 2015
* School activity day (Yr 6) including activities such as 'guess the marine sound'; 'guess the marine mammal' skull based activity; and 'what are seals eating' seal poo dissection. Bishop Cornish Primary School, Saltash 09/07/2014
* Panellist on the RSPB 'State of Nature' at Big Green Week, Bristol 19/06/2013

Supporting women/girls in science:
* Workshop 'strategies for success' at Women in STEM conference, Plymouth University, Feb 2015


Clare All At Sea blog: http://clareallatsea.blogspot.co.uk/

Previous research project blog: http://cmarhab.blogspot.co.uk/