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Dr Ethan Jackson

School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


Post-Doctoral Research Fellow specialising in seagrass landscape ecology


PhD, University of Plymouth (2003). The importance of seagrass beds as a habitat for fishery species around Jersey. In collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, States of Jersey.

MSc (Distinction), Heriot-Watt University (1998). Marine Resource Development and Protection.

BSc Hons, University of Stirling (1997). Marine Biology.

Biodiversity Information Officer, Countryside Council for Wales (2002-2004)

Marine Biology Tutor, Lancashire County Council (1994-1996)

Professional membership

Associate Fellow of the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Teaching interests

Demonstration of fundamental ecological patterns and processes using research-level material associated with seagrass ecosystems.

Research interests

I am a subtidal benthic ecologist with a research emphasis on the effects of human pressure on the state of subtidal structural benthic habitats and the subsequent changes in ecosystem functioning and provision of ecosystem services. I am particularly interested in the structure and functioning of seagrass habitats at a landscape scale (fragmentation, depth squeeze, connectivity). In recent years I have spent a lot of time in bridging the knowledge gap between science and policy: assessing conservation importance, identifying suitable indicators for monitoring change and advising on the design and management of marine protected areas.

Presently I am working on the following topics/papers:

  • Assessing the economic contribution of Posidonia to secondary production in the Mediterranean;
  • Aggregate European carbon (and carbon dioxide) storage (Climate Change mitigation effects) benefit in European seagrass habitat;
  • Habitat suitability modelling of Zostera marina;
  • Assessment of spawning and nursery areas of the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis
  • MPA network planning for the future – examining implications of minimising fishing displacement and effects of ASH shoaling;
  • Effects of seagrass landscape configuration on fish and invertebrate communities and the implications for provision of ecosystem services;
  • Effective use of biological traits information for assessing ecosystem function, monitoring and conservation management;
  • Large scale patterns in UK benthic biodiversity; and
  • Long-term changes in seagrass distribution in the Isles of Scilly – a potential mooring system for promoting seagrass recovery.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

MSc Applied Marine Science. Katie Brigden. Project title: A Study into the Cuttlefish Fishery of Torbay, Devon: Investigating Spawning Areas from the Fishermen’s Perspective and the Potential for Utilising Artificial Egg Laying Structures. Awarded 2010.

MSc Coastal and Ocean Policy. Penelopi Goumenaki. Project Title: Managing seagrass habitatby determining natural versus anthropogenic structuring (Salcombe, UK). Project Awarded 2006

MSc Applied Marine Science. Alex Mack. Project Title:

The impact of proposed dredging for Pecten maximus in 'The Bag' area of the Salcombe- Kingsbridge Estuary. Awarded 2006.

MSc Applied Marine Science. Dickens Odeny. Project Title: Laboratory experiment on species growth response to nutrient elevation (N&P) and potential ecological interactions of Zostera marina L. and Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt. Awarded 2006.

MSc Applied Marine Science. Ben Rhodes. Effects of Boat Moorings on Infaunal Polychaete Assemblages in Associated Bare Sand Patches within

Zostera marina L. beds. Awarded 2005.

MSc Applied Marine Science. Ruth Elizabeth Moore. Project title: The Impact of Swinging Boat Moorings on Infaunal Macroinvertebrate Communities in the Zostera marina Beds of Salcombe Estuary, Devon. Awarded 2005.

Grants & contracts

Recent Grants awarded:

  • 2012 Defra Seagrass Ecosystem Interactions
  • 2011-2012 Natural England - ITT -149  Assessing the anthropogenic impact on angiosperm habitat (Studland Bay Case Study)
  • 2009-2010 Natural England - Isles of Scilly Seagrass Mapping
  • 2008-2012 Interreg IV -Cephalopod Recruitment in English Channel Spawning Habitats (CRESH).
  • 2008-2010 Defra - MBIO102 Data-layers – UK Biodiversity layer
  • 2010 SNH – Predictive model seagrass distribution in the Orkney Islands

Jackson, E.L., Higgs, S., Allsop, T., Cathray, A., Evans, J. and Langmead, O., 2011. Isles of Scilly Seagrass Mapping. Natural England Commissioned Report Number 087.

Norris, K. Bailey, M., Baker, S., Bradbury, R., Chamberlain, D., Duck, C., Edwards, M. Ellis, C.J. Frost, M. Gibby, M. Gilbert, J. Gregory, R., Griffiths, R., Harrington, L., Helfer, S., Jackson, E., et al. 2011. UK National Ecosystem Assessment: Technical Report Chapter 4: Biodiversity in the Context of Ecosystem Services, pp 93. (section on seagrasses).

Tyler, E. H., Palomares, D., Bremner, J., Somerfield, P.J., Vanden Berghe E., Langmead, O., Jackson, E.L., Webb, T.J. (2012). ‘Extensive gaps and biases in our knowledge of a well-known fauna: implications for integrating biological traits into macroecology. Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Jackson E.L., Langmead, O., Barnes, M., Tyler-Walters, H. & Hiscock, K., 2008. Identification of indicator species to represent the full range of benthic life history strategies for Lyme Bay and the consideration of the wider application for monitoring of Marine Protected Areas. Report to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from the Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN). Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the UK.

Langmead O & Jackson E, 2010. Large scale patterns of marine biodiversity: and evidence based approach for prioritising areas for protection. Biologia Marina Mediterranea 17, 11-14.

Langmead O, McQuatters-Gollop A, Mee LD, Friedrich J, Gomoiu M-T, Gilbert AJ, Jackson EL, Knudsen S, Minicheva G, Todorova V. (2008). Recovery or decline of the northwestern Black Sea: A societal choice revealed by socio-ecological modelling. Ecological Modelling doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2008.09.011.

Irving, R.A. (ed.),  Jackson, E.L. & Cole, H. 2007. Mapping eelgrass Zostera marina beds within Plymouth Sound and Estuaries SAC. Report to Natural England by Sea-Scope, Marine Environmental Consultants, Devon.

Rhodes, B., Jackson, E.L., Moore, R., Foggo, A. Frost, M., 2006. The impact of swinging boat moorings on Zostera marina beds and associated infaunal macroinvertebrate communities in Salcombe, Devon, UK. Report to Natural England. pp58. Jackson, E.L., Glanfield, S.C., Delacruz, J., Langmead, O., Arvanitidis, C., Attrill, M.J.,

Tyler-Walters, H., Mee, L. (2007). An objective approach to quantifying loss of seagrass in the Mediterranean: Causal chain analysis and scenario predictions. Biologia Mediterranea: Proceedings of Mediterranean Seagrass Workshop, 13(4):240-244.

Jackson, E.L., Simenstad, C.I. (2006). Introduction to the Special Issue on Seagrass Landscape Ecology. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 68: 379.

Boström, C., Jackson, E.L. & Simenstad, C.I. (2006). Seagrass landscapes and their effects on associated fauna: a review. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 68: 383-403.

Jackson, E.L., Attrill, M. J., Jones, M.B. (2006). Habitat characteristics and spatial arrangement affecting the diversity of fish and decapod assemblages of seagrass (Zostera marina) beds around the coast of Jersey (English Channel). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 68: 421-432.

Jackson, E.L., Attrill, M. J., Rowden, A. A. and Jones, M. B. (2006). Seagrass complexity hierarchies: Influence on fish groups around the coast of Jersey (English Channel). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 330: 38-54.

Jackson EL, Rowden AA, Attrill MJ, Bossy SF, Jones MB (2002) Comparison of fish and mobile macroinvertebrates associated with seagrass and adjacent sand at St. Catherine Bay, Jersey (English Channel): Emphasis on commercial species. Bulletin of Marine Science 71:1333-1341

Jackson, E. L., Rowden, A. A., Attrill, M. J., Bossey, S. J. & Jones, M. B. (2001). The importance of seagrass beds as a habitat for fishery species. Oceanography Marine Biology an Annual Review 39, 269-303.

Reports & invited lectures

Jackson, E.L., Fournier, J. 2011. Biodiversity, ecosystems and uses of the marine environment: what knowledge is needed for the integrated management of the Normano-Breton Gulf 2-3 November 2011, St. Malo, France. Invited Speaker.

Jackson, E.L., Langmead, O., Fowell, S., Attrill, M., Mee, L. 2010. Identifying drivers of accelerating seagrass loss in the Mediterranean: Causal chain and Scenario analyses. CIESM 39th Congress 10-14 May 2010, Venice Lido, Italy.

Jackson, E.L. and Bloor, I. 2010. Habitat preferences in spawning and juvenile cuttlefish. DefiManche CHANNEL PROGRAM March 30-31st 2010, Rouen. Invited Speaker.

Jackson, E.L., 2009. Seagrass and climate change: implications for management. A Changing Climate for Maritime Biodiversity: linking science to practice, 5th November 2009, Met Office, Exeter. Invited Speaker. Available online

Jackson, E.L., Sheehan, E. & Langmead, O. 2009. Assessing recovery in the Lyme Bay closure: What to measure? Porcupine Marine National History Society annual conference: Sea shore to sea floor, 27th to 29th March, Plymouth.

Jackson, E.L. & Attrill, M., 2008. 10 years of Seagrass Research in Plymouth. Seagrass workshop, 22nd May, Natural England Offices, Exeter. Invited Speaker.

Jackson, E.L. 2004. Habitat characteristics and spatial arrangement affecting fish and decapod assemblages of seagrass (Zostera marina) beds around the coast of Jersey (English Channel). ECSA-ERF Conference, Ballina, Australia, June 20-24 2004 Chair of special session on Seagrass Landscape Ecology.

Additional information

Skills and Qualifications

Fieldwork and Laboratory skills: Experience of operating sub-littoral remote sampling gear and carrying out in situ observations. Strong marine macro-invertebrate and vertebrate identification skills. 
Diving: PADI Dive Master, HSE Part 4 (Theory).
Boat Skills: RYA Powerboat Level 2 (planing and displacement craft, inshore and offshore), Competent Crew Certificate and RYA Dinghy Instructor; use of navigational equipment such as GPS, plotters, echo-sounder systems and basic radar skills; VHF Licence.
Full UK driving licence
First Aid at Work Certificate
Good computer skills with working knowledge of the following software:
Mapping: ArcGIS, MapInfo, ERDAS ImagineTM (for aerial image analyses), Biosonics DT Analyser, FRAGSTATS.
Statistics: Microsoft Excel, PRIMER v5, WinGMAV5, StatGraphics, Statistica;
Databases: Microsoft Access, Endnote, Reference Manager, Marine Recorder; 
Presentations/Reports: Microsoft Word and Power Point, Adobe Photoshop.


CRESH : Cephalopods Recruitment from English Channel Spawning Habitats

The Knowledge-based Sustainable Management for Europe's Seas (KnowSeas) project

European Lifestyles and Marine Ecosystems (ELME) project

Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre (MBERC)