Professor Martin Attrill

Professor Martin Attrill

Associate Head of School & Professor of Marine Ecology

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


Associate Head of School (Research)
School of Biological & Marine Sciences

Follow on Twitter @mjattrill


Director of the Marine Institute (2009-2018)

Professor of Marine Ecology, University of Plymouth (2004-present)

Reader in Marine Ecology, University of Plymouth (2002-2004)

Senior Lecturer in Marine & Estuarine Ecology, University of Plymouth (1992-2002)

Marine Biologist, National Rivers Authority (1988-1992)

PhD, University of Liverpool (1988)

BSc, University of Liverpool (1985)

Professional membership

Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

Member of the Marine Biological Association of the UK.

Member of the British Ecological Society.

Research interests

Research Summary

·        Over 130 publications ininternational peer-reviewed journals

·        H-index of 32; averagecitations/paper >28 (Web of Science)

·        Over £6 million total grant income,mainly as PI on major awards such as the Defra Lyme Bay Monitoring Programme,NERC Impact programme & EU projects

·        33 successful PhD completions since1996

·        8 current PhD students

·        First author paper in Nature

Main research interests and key papers

Conservation, Management and Marine Renewable Energy 

SVENSSON, P., RODWELL, L.D., ATTRILL, M.J. (2009). Privately managed marine reserves as a mechanism for the conservation of coral reef ecosystems: a case study from Vietnam. Ambio 38: 72-78.
INGER, R., ATTRILL, M.J., BEARHOP, S., BRODERICK, A.C., GRECIAN, W.J., HODGSON, D.J., SHEEHAN, E., VOTIER, S.C., WITT, M.J., GODLEY, B.J. (2009). Marine Renewable Energy: potential benefits to biodiversity? An urgent call for research. J. Appl. Ecol. 46: 1145–1153 (Open Access)
REES SE, SHEEHAN EV, JACKSON EL, GALL SC, COUSENS SL, SOLANDT JL, BOYER M & ATTRILL MJ  (2013)  'A legal and ecological perspective of 'site integrity' to inform policy development and management of Special Areas of Conservation in Europe' Mar Pollut Bull  72  (1),  pp 14 - 21  
SHEEHAN EV, COUSENS SL, NANCOLLAS SJ, STAUSS C, ROYLE J, ATTRILL MJ (2013). Drawing lines at the sand: Evidence for functional vs. visual reef boundaries in temperate Marine Protected Areas. Mar Pollut Bull 76: 194-202.
SHEEHAN EV, STEVENS TF, GALL SC, COUSENS SL, ATTRILL MJ (2013). Recovery of a Temperate Reef Assemblage in a Marine Protected Area following the Exclusion of Towed Demersal Fishing. PLoS One 8(12): e83883.
JEFFERSON, RL; BAILEY, I; LAFFOLEY, DD; RICHARDS, JP; ATTRILL, MJ (2013). Public perceptions of the UK marine environment. Mar Policy 43: 327-337.

RODRÍGUEZ-RODRÍGUEZ, D.,SCIBERRAS, M., FOSTER, N.L. & ATTRILL, M.J (2015). Status of management effort in 153 marine protected areas in across the English Channel. Marine Pollution Bulletin 94: 168–175.

The impact of climate variability on marine ecosystems.

ATTRILL, M.J. & POWER, M. (2002). Climatic influence on a marine fish assemblage. Nature, 417: 275-278.
KELMO, F., ATTRILL, M. J., JONES, M.B. & GOMES, R.C.T. (2004). El Niño induced local extinction of coral reef bryozoan species from northern Bahia, Brazil. Biol. Conserv. 118: 609-617.
ATTRILL, M.J., WRIGHT, J., EDWARDS, M. (2007). Climate-related increases in jellyfish frequency suggest a more gelatinous future for the North Sea. Limnol. Oceanogr. 52: 480-485.
McQUATTERS-GOLLOP, A., RAITSOS, D.E., EDWARDS, M., PRADHAN, Y., MEE, L.D., LAVENDER, S.J., ATTRILL, M.J. (2007). A long-term chlorophyll dataset reveals regime shift in North Sea phytoplankton biomass unconnected to increasing nutrient levels. Limnol. Oceanogr. 52: 635-648.
KELMO F & ATTRILL MJ (2013) 'Severe Impact and Subsequent Recovery of a Coral Assemblage following the 1997–8 El Niño Event: A 17-Year Study from Bahia, Brazil' PLoS One 8 (5), 0065073

Ecology of estuarine invertebrates and fish.

ATTRILL, M.J. & POWER, M. (2004). Partitioning of temperature resources amongst an estuarine fish assemblage. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 61: 725-738
GILBEY, V., ATTRILL, M.J., COLEMAN, R.A. (2007). Juvenile Chinese mitten crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) in the Thames Estuary: distribution, movement and possible interactions with the native crab Carcinus maenas. Biol. Invasions, 10: 67-77
LEAKEY, C.D.B., ATTRILL, M.J., JENNINGS, S., FITZSIMONS, M.F. (2008). Retrospective quantification of estuarine feeding activity by coastally caught marine fishes. J. Sea Res. 60: 210-214.
ATTRILL, M.J. RUNDLE, S.D., FRASER, A., POWER, M.(2009). Oligochaetes as a possible entry route for terrigenous organic carbon into estuarine benthic food webs. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 384: 147-157.

Ecology and biodiversity of temperate seagrass beds.

ATTRILL, M.J., STRONG, J.A. & ROWDEN, A.A. (2000). Are macroinvertebrate communities influenced by seagrass structural complexity? Ecography. 23: 114-121.
JACKSON, E., ROWDEN, A.A., ATTRILL, M.J., BOSSEY, S.J. & JONES, M.B. (2001). The importance of seagrass beds as a habitat for fishery species. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 39, 269-303.
BORG, J.A., ROWDEN A.A., ATTRILL, M.J., SCHEMBRI, P.J., JONES, M.B. (2006). Wanted dead or alive: High diversity of macroinvertebrates associated with living and 'dead' Posidonia oceanica seagrass matte. Mar. Biol. 149: 667-677.
TWEEDLEY, J.R., JACKSON, E.L., ATTRILL, M.J. (2008). Zostera marina seagrass beds enhance the attachment of the invasive alga Sargassum muticum in soft sediments. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 354: 305-309.
JACKSON EL, REES SE, WILDING C & ATTRILL MJ (2015). Use of a seagrass residency index to apportion commercial fishery landing values and recreation fisheries expenditure to seagrass habitat service. Conserv Biol 29, (3) 899-909


GRESTY, K.A., HILL, R.A., BARTON, R.A. (2008). Red shirt colour is associated with long-term team success in English football. J. Sports Sci. 26: 577-582

Other research


ATTRILL, M.J. (1998). A rehabilitated estuarine ecosystem: the environment and ecology of the Thames estuary. Kluwer Academic Press.

CLARK, R.B., FRID, C. & ATTRILL, M.J. (2001). Marine Pollution, 5th edition. Oxford University Press.

KAISER, M.J., ATTRILL, M.J., JENNINGS, S., THOMAS, D.N., BARNES, D.K.A., BRIERLEY, A.S., POLUNIN, N.V.C., RAFFAELLI, D.G., WILLIAMS, P.J.Le B. (2005). Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems and Impacts. Oxford University Press.

KAISER, M.J., ATTRILL, M.J., JENNINGS, S., THOMAS, D.N., BARNES, D.K.A., BRIERLEY, A.S., HIDDINK, J.G., KAARTOKALLIO, H., POLUNIN, N.V.C., RAFFAELLI, D.G. (2011). Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems and Impacts, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press.

Chapters in Books

ATTRILL, M.J. (2002). Community level indicators of stress in aquatic ecosystems. In: Adams, S.M. (ed.). Biological Indicators of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress. American Fisheries Society, pp. 473-508.

ATTRILL, M.J. (2009). Sea Temperature Change as an Indicator of Global Change. In: Letcher, T.M. (ed.). Climate and Global Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth. Elsevier, New York. pp. 337-348.

ATTRILL, M.J. (2009). Change in Coral Reef Ecosystems as an Indicator of Climate and Global Change. In: Letcher, T.M. (ed.). Climate and Global Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth. Elsevier, New York. pp. 253-262. 

Other Articles
McQUATTERS-GOLLOP, A., RAITSOS, D.E., EDWARDS, M., PRADHAN, Y., MEE, L.D., LAVENDER, S.J., ATTRILL, M.J. (2007). Climate exacerbates eutrophication in the North Sea. IMBER Update, 7: 3-4

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Successful completion (33) - all PhD:

Sarah Perryman (1993-1996): Heavy metals in estuaries: validation of sensitivity of monitoring methods at different levels of biological organisation.
Aziz Arshad (1995-1999): Temporal and spatial responses of benthic communities and populations across upper estuarine environmental gradients.
Sergio Netto (1995-1999): Meiofauna and macrofauna communities of Rocas Atoll, Brazil.
Ahmed Abada (1995-2000): From rivers to oceans : a comparison of contrasting aquatic ecosystems using benthic size spectra.
Ozeas Costa Jnr (1998-2002): Biogeochemical nutrient cycling and its relationship with coral reef eutrophication.
Francisco Kelmo O dos Santos (1998-2002): Ecological Consequences of 1997-1998 El Niño -Southern Oscillation on the major Coral Reef Communities from Northern Bahia, Brazil.
Hector Hernandez Arana (1998-2003): The influence of seasonal sediment dynamics and oil-drilling activity on the benthic communities of the Gulf of Mexico.
Emma Jackson (1998-2003): The importance of seagrass beds as nursery grounds for fisheries species.
Matt Frost (1999-2003,PT): The role of frontal systems in controlling sandy beach macroinvertebrate communities.
Angus Jackson (2000-2004): Mobile predators in a dynamic environment: the role of fish in structuring upper-estuarine benthic communities.
Joseph Borg (1997-2004,PT): Role of Posidonia oceanica meadow structure in determining diversity of associated macrofaunal assemblages.
Sophie Leterme (2003-2006): Multi-scale variability in phytoplankton populations of the North Atlantic basin: from eddies to global change.
Chris Leakey (2003-2006): Quantifying inhabitation, feeding and connectivity between adjacent estuarine and coastal regions for three commercially important marine fishes.
Emma Sheehan (2003-2007): Ecological impact of crab tiling on estuarine fauna.
Abigail McQuatters Gollop (2004-2007): Plankton as indicators for eutrophication in Europe’s regional seas
Patrik Svensson (2004-2009, PT): The effectiveness of privately managed MPAs in tropical coastal areas
Ahmed Al-Mazrooei (2005-2009): Evolutionary biology and behaviour of marine gastropods 
Pierre Helaouet (2005-2009): Scenarios of change in the state, structure and functioning of North Atlantic pelagic ecosystems
Rebecca Jefferson (2006-2010): Articulating the ecosystem approach in Europe’s Seas: socio-ecological indicators for adaptive management
Cara Jones (2007-2010): An investigation of the legend of the pearl of Atlantis, its connection to the history of Plymouth and impact on ocean energy.
James Grecian (2008-2011): Linking offshore development with seabird populations.
Sian Rees (2007-2011): Estimating the value of marine conservation in the UK
James Highfield (2007-2011): Linking benthic dynamics to pelagic ecosystem functioning in shallow seas
Stacey DeAmicis (2006-2012, New Route): Impact of the invasive Sargassum muticum on Zostera marina seagrass ecosystems.
Valentina Lauria (2008-2012): The relative influence of climate change and fishing impact on long-term trends in North Atlantic fish biomass and seabird populations
Eddie Melatunan (2008-2012): Impact of ocean acidification on the developmental biology of gastropods
Vivienne Johnson (2009-2012): Using volcanic CO2 gradients to investigate responses of marine photoautotrophs to ocean acidification

Isobel Bloor (2009-2013): Cephalopod Recruitment from English-Channel Spawning Habitats (CRESH)
Bryony Pearce (2006-2015): The ecology of Sabellaria reefs
Laura Pettit (2010-2014): Assessing the effects of long-term ocean acidification at volcanic CO2 vents
Julian Evans (2010-2015): Habitat characterisation of infralittoral coarse gravel beds in the Maltese Islands.
Maria Campbell (2008-2016): Assessing change in fishing boat movements using VMS data
Sarah Gall (UK, 2012-2016): Assessing the impact of lobster potting activity with the South Devon Potting Agreement area: ecology and socioeconomics.

Adam Rees (UK, 2012-2017): Assessing the impact of static gear fishery on the marine protected area within Lyme Bay, SW England
Laura Bray (UK, 2013-2017): Impact of marine renewable energy on Mediterranean ecosystems

Current (8):

Demetris Kletou (Greece, 2011 start): A multi-step approach in ultraoligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean to evaluate the ecological status, climate change response and restoration potential of Posidonia oceanica
Kirsty McQuaid (South Africa, 2015 start): The application of predictive modelling to marine spatial planning associated with deep-sea mining.
Jacob Bedford (UK, 2015 start): Using historical data to establish baselines in North Sea plankton indicators.
Xiaoyu Fang (China, 2015 start – MARES student): Identifying the role of past and current benthos activities for estuarine ecosystem functioning.
Danielle Bridger (UK, 2015 start): The environmental impact of Europe’s largest offshore mussel farm, Lyme Bay.
Thomas Stamp (UK, 2016 start): The ecology and distribution of Sea Bass within the South West UK
David Cox (UK, 2016 start PT): Assessing the viability and environmental impact of a large scallop farm off South Devon

Bede Davies (UK, 2018 start): The effectiveness of partially protected marine areas for ecosystem based fisheries management

Grants & contracts

Grants Awarded - (All PI unless stated as Co-I)

•£793,802 – NERC EnvironmentalScience Impact Programme, 2017-2022 (South West Partnership for Environment andEconomic Prosperity (SWEEP))      

•£458,324- Defra, 2008-2011 (LymeBay - A Case Study: Measuring recovery of benthic species; assessing potential'spillover' effects and socio-economic changes)

•£432,350 - SWRDA, 2007-2011.(Assessing the biodiversity impact of the Wave Hub renewable energydevelopment).

•£379,680 - SWRDA 2008-2011(Capital Award: HD cameras and ROV)

•€380,000 - EU INTERREG, 2012-15(PANACHE - Protected Area Network Across the CHannel Ecosystem)

•€364,908  - EU FP7, 2009-2013 (Knowledge-basedsustainable management for Europe's Seas).

•€347,022 – EU INTERREG,2009-2011 (PROTTEC “Public Research Organisation Technology Transfer throughRegional Economic Clusters”)

•£327,092 - Blue MarineFoundation & Defra. 2012-17 (Experiment potting project within Lyme Bay toassess the impact of static gear on an MPA)

•£327,486 - Blue MarineFoundation, 2018-2023 (Fisheries and Conservation Partnerships)

•£280,291 - Prince Albert II ofMonaco Foundation. 2014-2017 (Marine Protected Areas - how does level ofprotection mediate the flow of ecosystem services?)

•£277,300 – Offshore ShellfishLtd, 2015-2019 (Assessing the environmental and socioeconomic impact of a largeoffshore mussel farm in Lyme Bay)

•€252,162 – EU Horizon2020,2015-2020 (CEFOW “Clean Energy From Ocean Waves”, UoP share)

•€244,757 – EU FP6, 2004-2007(Habitat Loss in European Coastal Seas, part of €2.5 million EuropeanLifestyles and Marine Ecosystems. UoP share for Workpackage)

•£219,000 – EMFF, 2017-2020(ReturN - Reserve Effects Tested and Understood to validate ReturN)

•€213,730 - EU INTERREG,2009-2012 (CHARM3 "CHannel integrated Approach for marine ResourceManagement" Co-I)

•£200,000 – UK Seabed ResourcesLtd 2015-2019 (2 PhD students to research seabed mapping and polymetallicnodule geochemistry in the deep Pacific Ocean)

•£200,000 - Natural England,2012-15 (Extension for Lyme Bay Monitoring Programme)

•£157,296 – EC EASME EMFF,2018-2021 (Strategic Environmental Assessment of Wave energy technologies - SEAWAVE, Co-I)

•£141,372 - Esmee FairbairnFoundation, 2007-2010 (Evaluating and protecting the biodiversity of lower,tidally influenced river reaches, Co-I)

•£125,000 - Joint UK ResearchCouncil Academic Fellowship, 2005-2011 (Human impact on marine ecosystems)

•£121,853 - Offshore ShellfishLtd, 2013-14 (Monitoring the environmental impact of an offshore mussel farmtest site in Lyme Bay)

•£116,405 - Fal HarbourCommissioners, 2012-13 (Seabed habitat mapping and an experimental Maerl trialwithin the Fal Estuary SAC)

•£99,672 – Knowledge TransferPartnership (KTP) Grant, 2004-2006 (Design of new bilge water separator, incl.removal of alien species’ larvae, Co-I)

•£72,038 – Offshore Shellfish Ltd2014-15 (Second year monitoring of the impact of test mussel farm on the LymeBay seabed)

•£74,350 – Brazilian Government,1995-2002 (Environmental Impacts on the ecology of Brazilian Coral Reefs).

•€81,640 - EU INTERREG, 2009-2013(CRESH "Cephalopod Recruitment from English channel SpawningHabitats", Co-I)

•£51,324 - NERC Urgency Grant,2014 (Testing resilience in Marine Protected Areas using storm disturbance inLyme Bay, SW England)

•£43,346 - Natural England,2012-13 (Monitoring the ecology of offshore reefs in Thanet SAC, Kent)

•£43,346 - Natural England,2012-13 (Monitoring the ecology of offshore reefs in Flamborough Head SAC,Yorkshire)

•£40,000 – Holly Hill CharitableTrust, 2003-2006 (Ecological impact of crab tiling on estuarine fauna).

•£28,785 - NERC, 2003-2006(Stable isotope support for project: Quantifying estuarine carbon subsidies tocoastal ecosystems and fisheries)

•£27,948 – WWF 2015 (Assessmentof the ecological coherence of the MPA network in the Celtic Sea)

•£27,000 - English Nature,2006-2009 (Articulating the ecosystem approach in Europe’s Seas:socio-ecological indicators for adaptive management)

•£26,000 - Mexican Government,1998-2003 (The influence of seasonal sediment dynamics and oil-drillingactivity on the benthic communities of the Gulf of Mexico)

•£21,000 - Jersey Department ofAgriculture and Fisheries, 1998-2003 (Importance of Channel Island seagrasshabitats to fisheries, Co-I)

•£19,556 - Pig Shed Trust, 2014(Lyme Bay Storm Damage - how natural disturbance compares with fishing impact)

•£12,500 - Leverhulme Trust,2011-13 (Artist in Residence Grant: Philip Hoare).

•£55,800 – Total value of 12small grants.


TOTAL: £5,199,916 + €1,884,219 [»£6,912,842]