Dr Nicholas Higgs

Dr Nicholas Higgs

Deputy Director of the Marine Institute

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


As Deputy Director, I am responsible for the academic operational management of the Marine Institute. I work in support of the Director in leading and championing the provision of high quality research, scholarship and external engagement within Marine Institute.

I also maintain a research portfolio and am an active researcher in the Marine Biology, Ecology and Conservation theme.

You can find out more about me and my research at nickhiggs.com

Professional membership

Marine Biological Association of the UK

Challenger Society for Marine Science

British Ecological Society

Roles on external bodies

I coordinate the Deep-Sea Ecosystems special interest group in the Challenger Society for Marine Science

Teaching interests

I have completed the General Teaching Associates course and am in theprocess of obtaining accreditation as Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I currently teach on the Biological Oceanography (level 3) and CoastalHabitats field-course (level 2) modules at Plymouth University.

I also supervise students for their independent research projects atundergraduate honours and masters level.

Research interests

My research interests are broadly based around the ecology of the sea-bed environment, most recently that of the deep-sea.

My latest work has been looking at the ecology of of communities that form around dead-whale carcasses in the deep-sea, especially the unusual Osedax bone-worms. Much of this work has been interdisclipinary, at the interface of marine biology and palaeontology, investigating how biological processes affect the fossilisation of organic remains in the marine realm, especially large vertebrate carcasses such as whales and dolphins.

I have also helped to develop the World Register of Deep-Sea Species; a subsection of the World Register of Marine Species database. This portal contains a taxonomic database of deep-sea species with an image gallery and links to identification keys and guides. This database will soon be released as a portable app for iOS devices: Deep-Sea ID.

Other research

I have also worked on the reproduction of brooding bivalves in the Antarctic, wood-boring bivalves from the deep-sea and species richness patterns in deep-sea brittle stars.

Key publications are highlighted

Higgs ND, Little CTS, Glover AG, Dahlgren TG, Smith CR & Dominici S 2012 'Evidence of Osedax worm borings in Pliocene (~3 Ma) whale bone from the Mediterranean' Historical Biology: an international journal of paleobiology 24, 269-277
Higgs ND, Glover AG, Dahlgren TG & Little CTS 2011 'Bone-Boring Worms: Characterizing the Morphology, Rate, and Method of Bioerosion by Osedax mucofloris (Annelida, Siboglinidae)' Biological Bulletin 221, 307-316

Additional information

You can find out more about me and my research on my website: