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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton
(023) 8059 3755

Professor Martin Solan BSc Hons, PhD

Professor in Marine Ecology

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Professor Martin Solan is Professor in Marine Ecology within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.

Drain away the ocean and you will reveal the largest and most diverse habitat on Earth – the seafloor.

I am a marine benthic ecologist with broad interests in understanding biodiversity-environment interactions and the ecosystem consequences of altered diversity and environmental change. I champion strategic and applied interdisciplinary research in benthic habitats, from coastal to full ocean depth and across environmental gradients. A key component of my research has been the development of in situ marine technology (in particular, sediment profile imaging) for the observation of organism-sediment relations. I use time-lapse sediment profile imaging to relate changes in invertebrate behaviour to environmental conditions and model faunal mediated particle movement and porewater biogeochemistry at the temporal (min) and spatial (μm) scales at which these processes occur. These techniques have been instrumental in understanding the functional contribution of past and present benthic communities and led me to the use of manipulative laboratory and field experiments to understand the ecological consequences of species loss. A primary area of my research is the development of generic concepts of marine biodiversity-ecosystem functioning within the context of environmental change and anthropogenic forcing, and in the understanding of the interactive effects of multiple environmental drivers. The latter relies on the development and application of novel statistical and modelling approaches, many adapted from other disciplines, and an interdisciplinary focus that recognises the tight coupling between natural and human systems.

Presently, my main focus is to maximise the benefits of coupling powerful experimentation with theory and observations of natural systems by combining in situ observations in the field with appropriate laboratory experiments in the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Futures Facility, recently built within NOC. By distinguishing the effects of single versus multiple and simultaneously occurring drivers of change (temperature, atmospheric CO2, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, altered biodiversity), this work will minimise the disconnect that exists between the representation of natural systems in experiments and the environmental context that will be imposed by multiple stressors in the future. Already, this work has shown that complex interactions occur between these variables, and that uncertainty imposed by changes in habitat configuration, resource heterogeneity and/or warming-CO2 regimes reduces our capacity to predict and mitigate the effects of immediate large-scale environmental issues. As such, a growing area of investigation is how adaptive sustainable management strategies can be applied to secure the ecosystem services that marine environments provide to humanity. I am applying these concepts to contemporary issues in marine coastal and offshore shelf zones.

Research interests

Biodiversity, ecosystem function, bioturbation, benthic ecology, sediment dynamics, sediment profile imaging.

Research projects

April, 2013: NERC Consortium grant entitled ‘Biogeochemistry, macronutrient and carbon cycling in the benthic layer (BMCC)’. 42 months, Solan et al. (8 institutions), £2.4 million. University of Southampton share £551,077.

March, 2013: NERC UK Ocean Acidification research programme Added Value Activities, scheme B. Scaling empirically derived ocean acidification responses to naturally assembled systems Rastrick et al. (6 institutions). University of Southampton leading (Rastrick, Hauton & Solan), £90,846.

March, 2013: NERC UK Ocean Acidification research programme Added Value Activities, scheme C. A legacy for experimental-model synthesis – maximising the benefit from UKOA. Blackford et al. (4 institutions), £62,234.

November, 2012: BP funded project “Impacts of noise pollution on key benthic species and the consequences for ecosystem process and functioning” 6 months. Solan, M., Hauton, C., Godbold, J.A., Leighton, T., White, P. £35,000

April, 2012: NERC Consortium grant entitled ‘A hierarchical approach to the examination of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem service flows across coastal margins'. 48 months, Paterson et al. £2.4 million. Solan Theme leader for ‘Biodiversity-ecosystem service methodologies', £358,330

July 2010: NERC Consortium grant entitled ‘Impacts of ocean acidification on key benthic ecosystems, communities, habitats, species and life cycles'. 36 months, Widdicombe et al. £2.5 million. Solan Task leader for ‘Determining the implications of physiological change on organism activity and behaviour', £240,498

sediment-dwelling invertebrates
Redistribution of tracers by sediment-dwelling invertebrates
Burrow galleries made by the ragworm, Hediste diversicolor

Beneath the blue MOOC

Exactly what lies beneath our oceans? Why is the sea floor, and its marine sediments, so important? How are humans affecting them?

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Research group

Marine Biology and Ecology

Research project(s)

A hierarchical approach to the examination of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem service flows across coastal margins

Biogeochemistry, macronutrient and carbon cycling in the benthic layer (BMCC)

Impacts of ocean acidification on key benthic ecosystems, communities, habitats, species and life cycles

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought

Physical and biological dynamic coastal processes and their role in coastal recovery (BLUEcoast)

Building resilience along the Colombian Caribbean coast in the face of sudden and slow-onset environmental hazards

Interdependencies between biological communities, their activities and the sediment environment in determining the acoustic properties of the shelf seafloor

Implications of intraspecific trait variability across different environmental conditions for projections of marine ecosystem futures

Current and Future Effects of Microplastics on Marine Shelf Ecosystems (MINIMISE)

The Changing Arctic Ocean Seafloor (ChAOS) - how changing sea ice conditions impact biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystems

Impacts of El Niño events on ecosystem services provided by Colombian mangroves

BLUEcoast: coastal sediment budgets and their role in coastal recovery

  • Royal Society Global Environmental Research Committee
  • National Oceanography Centre Association Board
  • Equality and Diversity Committee
  • Subject editor for Scientific Reports
  • Contributory editor for Marine Ecology Progress Series
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Book Chapters




Module co-ordinator for:

SOES2017 Marine benthic ecology

SOES2030 Dale Field Course

Polar ecology and environments course, starting 2021

MOOC, Beneath the Blue: the importance of marine sediments

Professor Martin Solan
Ocean and Earth Science
National Oceanography Centre Southampton
University of Southampton Waterfront Campus
European Way
Southampton SO14 3ZH

Room Number : NOCS/566/08

Professor Martin Solan's personal home page
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