Dr Nils Piechaud

Dr Nils Piechaud

Post Doctoral Research Fellow - Mission Atlantic

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



PhD student working on the application of autonomous underwater vehicles to challenges in marine habitat mapping and predictive species distribution modelling

Maps have proved to be a useful method of summarising biological information concerning the seabed. Suitable environment for species and habitat can be predictively modelled based on image data and environmental variables (topography, oceanography or hydrography). This modelled can be projected in space to create a map where the environmental data is available. There is now a momentum towards the generalised mapping of the seafloor to provide information on which effective conservation policy can be based.

With The advance of technology, New tools exist to survey the sea-bed. The Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) have the capacity to provide a lot more data than the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) but it is not yet clear how to make best use of all the possibilities they offer. My PhD is an exploratory work on how biological, oceanographic and hydrographic data provided by Autonomous vehicles can be used together to make better predictive species distribution maps.


Master degree in marine biology.I.U.E.M. Université de Bretagne Occidentale - France



Staff serving as external examiners

Dr Kerry Howell

Dr Nicola Foster
Dr Phil Hosegood



Research interests

- Deep sea biology,ecology and taxonomy.

- Special focus on remarkable environments such as deep-sea sponges aggregations and cold-water coral reefs

- Use of numerical analysis and modelling in deep-sea ecology

- Use of new autonomous technologies to survey deep benthic ecosystems



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Piechaud N & Howell KL (2022) 'Fast and accurate mapping of fine scale abundance of a VME in the deep sea with computer vision' Ecological Informatics 71, 101786-101786 , DOI
Downie A-L, Piechaud N, Howell K, Barrio Froján C, Sacau M & Kenny A (2021) 'Reconstructing baselines: use of habitat suitability modelling to predict pre-fishing condition of a Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem' ICES Journal of Marine Science 78, (8) 2784-2796 , DOI Open access
Howell KL, Davies JS, Allcock AL, Braga-Henriques A, Buhl-Mortensen P, Carreiro-Silva M, Dominguez-Carrió C, Durden JM, Foster NL & Game CA (2019) 'A framework for the development of a global standardised marine taxon reference image database (SMarTaR-ID) to support image-based analyses' PLOS ONE 14, (12) e0218904-e0218904 , DOI Open access
Piechaud N, Hunt C, Culverhouse PF, Foster NL & Howell KL (2019) 'Automated identification of benthic epifauna with computer vision' Marine Ecology Progress Series 615, 15-30 , DOI Open access
Davison J, van Haren H, Hosegood PJ, Piechaud N & Howell K (2019) 'The distribution of deep-sea sponge aggregations (Porifera) in relation to oceanographic processes in the Faroe-Shetland Channel' Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers , DOI Open access
Barnes DKA, Morley SA, Bell J, Brewin P, Brigden K, Collins M, Glass T, Goodall-Copestake WP, Henry L & Laptikhovsky V (2018) 'Marine plastics threaten giant Atlantic Marine Protected Areas' Current Biology 28, (19) R1137-R1138 , DOI Open access
Schoening T, Durden J, Preuss I, Branzan Albu A, Purser A, De Smet B, Dominguez-Carrió C, Yesson C, de Jonge D & Lindsay D (2017) 'Report on the Marine Imaging Workshop 2017' Research Ideas and Outcomes 3, e13820-e13820 , DOI Open access
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 Open access
Matabos M, Piechaud N, De Montigny F, Sarradin P-M & Sarrazin J (2015) 'The VENUS cabled observatory as a method to observe fish behaviour and species assemblages in a hypoxic fjord, Saanich Inlet (British Columbia, Canada)' Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 72, (1) 24-36 , DOI
Piechaud N, Downie A, Stewart HA & Howell KL (2014) '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, (4) 251-261 , DOI
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
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