Dr Kerry Howell
Profiles

Dr Kerry Howell

Associate Professor (Reader) in Marine Ecology

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

Role

I am deputy programme leader for the Marine Biology and Oceanography degree course at Plymouth University. I am also an active academic researcher working on various topics related to conservation and sustainable management of the deep sea and High Seas, and marine habitat mapping.

Qualifications

Research Expeditions:

  1. RRS Challenger C142 (UK) – (1999) NE Atlantic (trawls, grab, corers, landers)
  2. RRS Discovery D250 (UK) - (2000) NE Atlantic (trawls, grab, corers, landers)
  3. RRS Discovery D252 (UK) - (2001) NE Atlantic (trawls, grab, corers, landers)
  4. R/V  Seward Johnson II (USA) – (2002) Gulf of Mexico (Manned submersible Johnson SeaLink)
  5. RV Celtic Voyager (Ireland) – (2005) Irish Sea (bedhop camera system, grabs)
  6. R/V Endeavour CEND12/05 (UK) – (2005) Eastern English Channel (Towed camera system, grabs, cores)
  7. FRV Scotia (UK) – (2005) NE Atlantic (Towed camera system)
  8. MV Franklin 0206 (Sweden) – (2006) NE Atlantic (Seatronics towed camera system)
  9. FRV Scotia (UK ) – (2006) NE Atlantic (Towed camera system)
  10. MV Franklin 0406 (Sweden) – (2006) NE Atlantic (Seatronics towed camera system)
  11. R/V Belgica 2014/16 (Belgium) – (2014) Bay of Biscay, NE Atlantic (DS1 Towed camera system)
  12. R/V Belgica 2015/15 (Belgium) – (2015) Bay of Biscay, NE Atlantic (DS2 Towed camera system)
  13. RVCeltic Explorer CE05011 (Ireland) – (2015) NE Atlantic (ROV Holland I)
  14. RRS James Cook JC136 (UK)  - (2016) NE Atlantic (DeepLinks project, ROV Isis, AUV Autosub6000)
  15. ILV Granuaile (Ireland) – (2017) NE Atlantic (SeaRovers project, ROV Holland I)

    Roles on external bodies

    External examiner for Southampton University undergraduate degree programme
    Member of the NERC Cruise Programme Review Group
    NERC peer review college member
    Member of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea's Working Group on Deep-Sea Ecology

    Research interests

    From an academic perspective my research is focused on understanding biodiversity patterns in the deep sea. I am interested in faunal zonation and species turnover with depth, as well as speciation along the depth gradient. More recently I have been investigating patchiness and faunal changes along isobaths, and trying to understand environmental drivers of deep-sea diversity and species distributions. From an applied perspective my research is focused on sustainable management of the deep-sea ecosystem. In particular I am interested in research to support the design of effective marine protected area networks, including the creation of reliable habitat maps, and models of population connectivity that under-pin the design. See our group website www.deepseacru.org for more details.

    Current Projects 

    DEEPLINKS - Influence of population connectivity on depth-dependent diversity of deep-sea marine benthic biota

    Knowledge of how populations are connected is central to our understanding of population persistence, isolation, divergence, speciation and radiation. The bathyal region has been identified as the primary site of adaptive radiation in the deep-sea from molecular and morphological studies and is also where the peak in species diversity occurs in many ocean basins. Gene-flow is low over the depth gradient suggesting limited larval exchange occurs in the vertical. Recent research has suggested that larval dispersal potential may vary with depth.This variation, given the limited vertical exchange, may provide a mechanism for population isolation, divergence and speciation in the bathyal region. This study will adopt a multidisciplinary approach to investigate connectivity among deep-sea populations at different depths and spatial scales using: 1) larval dispersal modelling using Lagrangian particle tracking, driven by hydrographic models 2) population genetics/genomics and 3) benthic community analysis, using examples of sessile (scleractinian corals) and limited mobility (echinoid) species as test subjects. We will examine changes in larval dispersal, gene-flow,gene expression and community and taxonomic patterns with depth to identify possible variation in population connectivity down the vertical gradient. We will also examine patterns of connectivity at different spatial scales. Critically we will investigate whether the changes in connectivity from the shelf break to bathyal depths are correlated to current flow as predicted by hydrodynamic models and whether this physical mechanism significantly contributes to current patterns of diversity, potentially driving speciation at large spatial scales or, alternatively, whether other factors are influencing genetic structure.

    The application of predictive modelling to marine spatial planning associated with deep-sea mining 

    The PhD project is focused on informing the development of effective spatial management of the deep sea. Research will focus on a polymetallic nodule-rich area of the Pacific Ocean called the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone. We will create broad- and fine-scale models to classify the physical habitat of the area, which will then be validated using biological samples collected in recent years. We will also compare the accuracy of bottom-up and top-down approaches to predictive modelling, and will investigate the accuracy of models transfered to new areas. This work will address several key questions in the spatial management of deep-sea mining.

    The application of autonomous underwater vehicles to challenges in marine habitat mapping and predictive species distribution modelling

    PhD project aimed at assessing how the biological and oceanographic data provided by autonomous vehicles (AUVs and gliders) can be used for predictive habitat mapping in the deep sea and what advantage these technologies offer compared to other methods used to survey the sea-bed. As part of this work we are investigating the use of artificial intelligence to identify taxa from sea-floor image data.

    Other research

    Postdocs

    Nicola Foster - DeepLinks: Influence of population connectivity on depth-dependent diversity of deep-sea marine benthic biota

    Rebecca Ross - DeepLinks:  Influence of population connectivity on depth-dependent diversity of deep-sea marine benthic biota

    PhD Students  

    Nils Piechaud - PhD title "The application of autonomous underwater vehicles to challenges in marine habitat mapping and predictive species distribution modelling." 2015-2018

    Kirsty McQuaid - PhD title "The application of predictive modelling to marine spatial planning associated with deep-sea mining." 2015-2019.

    Molly James - PhD title "Predicting species dispersal in marine systems: A multi-disciplinary approach." 2017-2020

    Poppy Hesketh Best - PhD title "Deep-sea discovery - mining marine environments for novel biologics" 2017-2020

    Matthew Koch - PhD title "Deep-sea discovery - mining marine environments for novel biologics" 2017-2020


    ResM student

    Amelia Bridges - "Use of predictive habitat modelling to assess the distribution and extent of selected Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems in the South Atlantic deep sea" 2017-2018

    Masters students

    Joseph Augier  - Incorporating backscatter into predictive habitat mapping.2016-2017

    Research degrees awarded to supervised students

    Rebecca Ross - PhD title "Investigating the role of larval dispersal models in the development of an 'ecologically coherent' network of deep sea marine protected areas” 2016

    Charlotte Marshall - PhD title "Species distribution modelling to support marine conservation planning" 2011

    Jaime Davies - PhD title "Mapping Deep-Sea Features in UK Waters For Use in Marine Protected Area Network Design" 2011

    Rebecca Jefferson - PhD title "Communicating Marine Environmental Health: Connecting Science, Social and Policy Values" 2010 

    Grants & contracts

    2017: Society for Applied Microbiology. Deep-sea discovery - mining marine environments for novel biologics. Upton, M, Howell, KL, (Co-Investigator)
    2016: Plymouth University. Pilot study to test the use of photogrammetry to improve identification of benthic species using artificial intelligence. Howell, KL, Shirley, M, Hunt, C, Wadsworth, T. (Principal Investigator).
    2016: Deep Sea Biology Society. Development of a unified North Atlantic species image catalogue. Howell, KL, Davies JS. (Principal Investigator).
    2015: NERC (Standard Research Grant). DeepLinks - Influence of population connectivity on depth-dependent diversity of deep-sea marine benthic biota. Howell, KL, Rogers, A. (Principal Investigator).
    2015: UK Seabed Resource Ltd. (Studentship) The application of predictive modelling to marine spatial planning associated with deep-sea mining. Howell, KL, Attrill, M. (Principal Investigator).
    2014: NERC (Capital Equipment Call). Deep Search 2 a cost effective deep towed camera platform. Howell, KL, Shirley, M. (Principal Investigator).
    2014: EU (EuroFleets2) The application of predictively modelled maps to European spatial planning. Howell, KL, Grehan, A, Kenny, A. (Principal Investigator).
    2013: NERC (Studentship) Investigating the role of larval dispersal models in the development of an 'ecologically coherent' network of deep sea marine protected areas. Howell, KL, Nimmo-Smith, WA, Vlasenko, V. (Principal Investigator).
    2013: Defra (Research grant) Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) – assessing and predicting their status and function in relation to fishing activities in the North Atlantic. Kenny, A., Howell, KL, (Co-Investigator).
    2013: JNCC. Development of a UK deep-sea habitat classification system. Howell, KL, Piechaud, N. (Principal Investigator).
    2012: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA). Image Catalog For North Atlantic Deep-Sea Corals. Davies, JA, Howell, KL, Guillaumont, B. (Co-Investigator).
    2012: JNCC. Analysis of seabed imagery from the Hebrides Terrace Seamount captured on the JC073 Survey. Howell, KL, Cross, T. (Principal Investigator).
    2012: JNCC. Mapping the Deep III. Howell, KL, Ross, RE, Piechaud, N. (Principal Investigator).
    2011: Oak Foundation. Mapping the Deep II. Howell, KL, Ross, RE. (Principal Investigator).
    2011: BBC Wildlife Fund. Mapping the Deep. Howell, KL, Tyler-Walters, H. (Principal Investigator).
    2011: JNCC. Using predictive modelling to map the distribution of selected habitats listed as MPA search features in Scottish waters. Howell, KL, Embling, C, Holt, R, Stewart, HA. (Principal Investigator).
    2009: EU (Interreg) CHARM 3 -  CHannel integrated Approach for marine Resource Management. Attrill, M, Votier, S. Howell, KL. (Co-Investigator).
    2008: CenSeam (mini-grant). Benthic communities of the submarine features of the Rockall Trough: are seamounts special? Howell, KL. (Principal Investigator).
    2008: South West Regional Development Agency (Capital items bid). ROV and towed camera system. Attrill, MA, Sheehan, E, Howell KL. (Co-Investigator).
    2007: JNCC. (Studentship) Identification of areas of nature conservation importance in deep waters of the UK. Howell, KL. (Principal Investigator).
    2006: Natural England. Review of Methods for Managing Marine Protected Areas. Stevens, T, Jones, P, Howell, KL, Mee, L. (Co-Investigator).
    2006: Department for Trade and Industry / Defra. Strategic Environmental Assessment – Area 7 and Special Area for Conservation assessment. Howell, KL, Davies, JS., Hughes, DJ, Narayanaswamy, BE. (Principal Investigator).
    2005: Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Sustainable management of deep-water fisheries and their impact on marine biodiversity. Howell, KL, Jones, E, Heymans, S, Gordon, J. (Principal Investigator).
    2005: Department for Trade and Industry. Strategic Environmental Assessment – Area 7. Narayanaswamy, BE, Howell, KL, Hughes, DJ, Davies, JS, Roberts, JM, Black, KD. (Co-Investigator).

    Key publications are highlighted

    Journals
    Articles
    Fernandez-Arcaya U, Ramirez-Llodra E, Aguzzi J, Allcock AL, Davies JS, Dissanayake A, Harris P, Howell K, Huvenne VAI & Macmillan-Lawler M 2017 'Ecological Role of Submarine Canyons and Need for Canyon Conservation: A Review' Frontiers in Marine Science 4, , DOI
    Ross RE, Nimmo Smith WAM & Howell KL 2017 'Towards ‘ecological coherence’: assessing larval dispersal within a network of existing Marine Protected Areas' Deep-Sea Research Part I , DOI PEARL
    Ross RE, Nimmo-Smith WAM & Howell KL 2016 'Increasing the Depth of Current Understanding: Sensitivity Testing of Deep-Sea Larval Dispersal Models for Ecologists' PLOS ONE 11, (8) Author Site , DOI PEARL
    Howell KL, Piechaud N, Downie AL & Kenny A 2016 'The distribution of deep-sea sponge aggregations in the North Atlantic and implications for their effective spatial management' Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers , DOI PEARL
    Amaro T, Huvenne VAI, Allcock AL, Aslam T, Davies JS, Danovaro R, De Stigter HC, Duineveld GCA, Gambi C & Gooday AJ 2016 'The Whittard Canyon - A case study of submarine canyon processes' PROGRESS IN OCEANOGRAPHY 146, 38-57 Author Site , DOI PEARL
    Davies JS, Stewart HA, Narayanaswamy BE, Jacobs C, Spicer J, Golding N & Howell KL 2015 'Benthic Assemblages of the Anton Dohrn Seamount (NE Atlantic): Defining Deep-Sea Biotopes to Support Habitat Mapping and Management Efforts with a Focus on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems' PLOS ONE 10, (5) e0124815-e0124815 , DOI PEARL
    Evans JL, Peckett F & Howell KL 2015 'Combined application of biophysical habitat mapping and systematic conservation planning to assess efficiency and representativeness of the existing High Seas MPA network in the Northeast Atlantic' ICES Journal of Marine Science 72, (5) 1483-1497 , DOI
    Hilário A, Metaxas A, Gaudron SM, Howell KL, Mercier A, Mestre NLC, Ross RE, Thurnherr AM & Young C 2015 'Estimating dispersal distance in the deep sea: challenges and applications to marine reserves' Frontiers in Marine Science 2, , DOI PEARL
    Piechaud N, Downie A, Stewart HA & Howell KL 2015 'The impact of modelling method selection on predicted extent and distribution of deep-sea benthic assemblages' Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 105, (04) 251-261 , DOI
    Ross LK, Ross RE, Stewart HA & Howell KL 2015 'The Influence of Data Resolution on Predicted Distribution and Estimates of Extent of Current Protection of Three 'Listed' Deep-Sea Habitats' PLOS ONE 10, (10) Author Site , DOI PEARL
    Davies JS, Howell KL, Stewart HA, Guinan J & Golding N 2014 'Defining biological assemblages (biotopes) of conservation interest in the submarine canyons of the South West Approaches (offshore United Kingdom) for use in marine habitat mapping' Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 104, 208-229 , DOI
    Jackson EL, Davies AJ, Howell KL, Kershaw PJ & Hall-Spencer JM 2014 'Future-proofing marine protected area networks for cold water coral reefs' ICES JOURNAL OF MARINE SCIENCE 71, (9) 2621-2629 Author Site , DOI
    Pham CK, Ramirez-Llodra E, Alt CHS, Amaro T, Bergmann M, Canals M, Company JB, Davies J, Duineveld G & Galgani F 2014 'Marine Litter Distribution and Density in European Seas, from the Shelves to Deep Basins' PLoS ONE 9, (4) e95839-e95839 , DOI
    Howell KL, Bullimore RD & Foster NL 2014 'Quality assurance in the identification of deep-sea taxa from video and image analysis: response to Henry and Roberts' ICES Journal of Marine Science 71, (4) 899-906 , DOI
    Marshall CE, Glegg GA & Howell KL 2014 'Species distribution modelling to support marine conservation planning: The next steps' MARINE POLICY 45, 330-332 Author Site , DOI
    Stewart HA, Davies JS, Guinan J & Howell KL 2014 'The Dangeard and Explorer canyons, South Western Approaches UK: Geology, sedimentology and newly discovered cold-water coral mini-mounds' Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 104, 230-244 , DOI
    Wagstaff MC, Howell KL, Bett BJ, Billett DSM, Brault S, Stuart CT & Rex MA 2014 'β-diversity of deep-sea holothurians and asteroids along a bathymetric gradient (NE Atlantic)' Marine Ecology Progress Series 508, 177-185 , DOI
    Bullimore RD, Foster NL & Howell KL 2013 'Coral-characterized benthic assemblages of the deep Northeast Atlantic: defining “Coral Gardens” to support future habitat mapping efforts' ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil 70, (3) 511-522 Author Site , DOI
    Holt RE, Foggo A, Neat FC & Howell KL 2013 'Distribution patterns and sexual segregation in chimaeras: implications for conservation and management' ICES Journal of Marine Science 70, (6) 1198-1205 , DOI
    Narayanaswamy BE, Hughes DJ, Howell KL, Davies J & Jacobs C 2013 'First observations of megafaunal communities inhabiting George Bligh Bank, Northeast Atlantic' Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography --- Publisher Site , DOI
    Foltz DW, Fatland SD, Eléaume M, Markello K, Howell KL, Neill K & Mah CL 2013 'Global population divergence of the sea star Hippasteria phrygiana corresponds to the onset of the last glacial period of the Pleistocene' Marine Biology 160, (5) 1285-1296 Author Site , DOI
    Ross RE & Howell KL 2013 'Use of predictive habitat modelling to assess the distribution and extent of the current protection of ‘listed’ deep-sea habitats' Diversity Distrib. 19, (4) 433-445 Author Site , DOI PEARL
    Galparsoro I, Connor DW, Borja A, Aish A, Amorim P, Bajjouk T, Chambers C, Coggan R, Dirberg G & Ellwood H 2012 'Using EUNIS habitat classification for benthic mapping in European seas: Present concerns and future needs' MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN 64, (12) 2630-2638 Author Site , DOI
    Heymans JJ, Howell KL, Ayers M, Burrows MT, Gordon JDM, Jones EG & Neat F 2011 'Do we have enough information to apply the ecosystem approach to management of deep-sea fisheries? An example from the West of Scotland' ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil 68, (2) 265-280 Author Site , DOI
    Howell KL, Holt R, Endrino IP & Stewart H 2011 'When the species is also a habitat: Comparing the predictively modelled distributions of Lophelia pertusa and the reef habitat it forms' Biological Conservation 144, (11) 2656-2665 , DOI
    Howell KL, Holt R, Endrino IP & Stewart H 2011 'When the species is also a habitat: Comparing the predictively modelled distributions of Lophelia pertusa and the reef habitat it forms' Biological Conservation 144, (11) 2656-2665 , DOI
    Howell KL 2010 'A benthic classification system to aid in the implementation of marine protected area networks in the deep/high seas of the NE Atlantic' Biological Conservation 143, (5) 1041-1056 Author Site , DOI
    Howell KL, Davies JS & Narayanaswamy BE 2010 'Identifying deep-sea megafaunal epibenthic assemblages for use in habitat mapping and marine protected area network design' JOURNAL OF THE MARINE BIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM 90, (1) 33-68 Author Site , DOI
    Howell KL, Mowles SL & Foggo A 2010 'Mounting evidence: near-slope seamounts are faunally indistinct from an adjacent bank' MARINE ECOLOGY-AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE 31, 52-62 Author Site , DOI
    Tyler PA, Emson RH, Sumida PY & Howell KL 2005 'Ophiuroid distribution at sublittoral and bathyal depths round the Faroes, NE Atlantic Ocean' Annales Societatis Scientiarium Faeroensis North-East Atlantic marine benthic organisms in the Faroes-taxonomy, distribution and ecology. Supp 41, 175-194
    Howell 2004 'Feeding ecology of deep-sea seastars (Echinodermata: Asteroidea): a pigment biomarker approach' Marine Ecology Progress Series 266, , DOI
    Howell KL, Rogers AD, Tyler PA & Billett DSM 2004 'Reproductive isolation among morphotypes of the Atlantic seastar species Zoroaster fulgens (Asteroidea : Echinodermata)' Marine Biology 144, (5) 977-984
    Howell 2003 'Feeding ecology of deep-sea seastars (Echinodermata: Asteroidea): a fatty-acid biomarker approach' Marine Ecology Progress Series 255, , DOI
    Howell KL, Billett DSM & Tyler PA 2002 'Depth-related distribution and abundance of seastars (Echinodermata : Asteroidea) in the Porcupine Seabight and Porcupine Abyssal Plain, NE Atlantic' Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers 49, (10) 1901-1920
    Foster KL 0 'Using Species-Area Relationships to Inform Baseline Conservation Targets for the Deep North East Atlantic' PLoS ONE 8, e58941-e58941 Publisher Site , DOI PEARL
    Reports
    Parry MEV, Howell K, Narayanaswamy BE, Bett BJ, Jones DOB, Hughes DJ, Piechaud N, Nickell TD, Ellwood H & Askew N 2015 A Deep-sea Section for the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland v15.03. Publisher Site
    Howell K, Huvenne V, Piechaud N, Roberts K & Ross R 2014 JC060 Data Analysis: Comprising data from Darwin Mounds (NE Rockall Trough), Rockall-Hatton Basin Polygonal Faults, NW Rockall Bank, and E Rockall Bank Escarpment. Author Site Publisher Site
    Cross T, Howell K, Hughes E & Seeley R 2013 Analysis of seabed imagery from the Hebrides Terrace Seamount. Publisher Site
    Piechaud N & Howell K 2013 Definition of epifaunal assemblages for inclusion in a deep sea section of the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland. Joint Nature Conservation Committee CONTRACT NO: C13-0223-0672 Publisher Site
    Howell K, Embling C, Holt R & Stewart HA 2011 Using predictive modelling to map the distribution of selected habitats listed as MPA search features in Scottish waters. Joint Nature Conservation Committee Report
    Long D, Howell K, Davies J & Stewart HA 2010 JNCC Offshore Natura survey of Anton Dohrn Seamount and East Rockall Bank Areas of Search.
    Howell K, Davies J, Jacobs C & Narayanaswamy BE 2009 Broadscale Survey of the Habitats of Rockall Bank, and mapping of Annex I ‘Reef’ Habitat. Publisher Site
    Howell K, Heymans JJ, Gordon JDM, Duncan J, Ayers M & Jones EJ 2009 DEEPFISH Project: Applying an ecosystem approach to the sustainable management of deep-water fisheries. Part 1. Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban. U.K. Report no. 259a. Publisher Site
    Howell K, Heymans JJ, Gordon JDM, Duncan J, Ayers M & Jones EJ 2009 DEEPFISH Project: Applying an ecosystem approach to the sustainable management of deep-water fisheries. Part 2: A new approach to managing deep-water fisheries. Publisher Site
    Davies J, Guinan J, Howell K, Stewart HA & Verling E 2008 MESH South West Approaches Canyons Survey (MESH Cruise 01-07-01) Final Report. Mapping European Seabed Habitats (MESH) Project Report Publisher Site
    Howell K, Davies J, Hughes DJ & Narayanaswamy BE 2007 Strategic Environmental Assessment / Special Area for Conservation Photographic Analysis Report. Department of Trade and Industry Publisher Site
    Stevens TF, Jones PJS, Howell K & Mee L 2006 Methods for managing Marine Protected Areas: options for establishing and managing a marine protected area system in the UK. Natural England: Peterborough, UK. Publisher Site
    Narayanaswamy BE, Howell K, Hughes DJ, Davies JS, Roberts JM & Black KD 2006 Strategic Environmental Assessment Area 7 Photographic Analysis Report. Department of Trade and Industry Publisher Site
    Connor DW, Allen JA, Golding N, Howell K, Lieberknecht LM, Northen KO & Reker JB 2004 The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 04.05. Publisher Site