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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonPostgraduate study

Ms Marla Kiel Spencer BSc, MSci

Postgraduate research student (SPITFIRE)

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Ms Marla Spencer is a Postgraduate research student within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.


2015 to present PhD student, Natural History Museum London, University of Southampton, and the National Oceanography Centre, PhD Research project: ‘Taxonomy and biogeography of deep-sea peracarid crustaceans of the African continental margin’

2014-2015 MSci Marine Biology, University of Southampton, Masters dissertation title: ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning of intertidal benthic invertebrates: assessing the performance of trait-based extinction scenarios across multiple habitats, seasons and spatial scales’

2011-2014 BSc Marine Biology with Oceanography, University of Southampton, BSc project title: ‘Attributing variation in settlement and recruitment patterns of colonial ascidians to abiotic conditions in Bodega Harbor, California’

Research interests

  • Taxonomy and Systematics
  • Benthic deep-sea marine ecology
  • Peracarid diversity of the African Continental Margin
  • Biogeography
  • Sandy & muddy shores coastal marine ecology
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (Bioturbation)


Dr Tammy Horton (NOC)
Dr Andrew R. Gates
Dr Lawrence E. Hawkins
Dr Miranda Lowe (NHM)
Dr Gordon Paterson (NHM)

Research project: Taxonomy and biogeography of deep-sea peracarid crustaceans of the African continental margin

My PhD focuses on Peracarid crustaceans, such as amphipods and isopods, from the African continental margin. This area has a large and rapidly expanding deep-water oil and gas industry, and with these activities, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are a legal requirement, both pre and post drilling. Therefore, this has generated a substantial amount of macro-faunal material. New species are regularly discovered, however, the biogeographic analyses are hampered by numerous rare and undescribed taxa. Utilizing the EIAs material, my aim is to undertake morphological taxonomic revisions and descriptions, eventually building a robust taxonomy of Peracarids from the West African region.

In particular, the Phoxocephalidae amphipods are the most abundant family within my deep-sea samples, and I will focus on this group to species level using a combined molecular and morphological approach.

Research group

Marine Biology and Ecology

Affiliate research groups

Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems, Life Sciences Invertebrates, Natural History Museum London

Student Committee, Natural History Museum of London


SOES1003 IT communication, field and laboratory skills

SOES1004 Physical Oceanography 1

SOES1007 Marine Invertebrates

SOES2030 Dale Field Marine Biology fieldwork skills

SOES3013/6009 Zooplankton Ecology and Processes

SOES3018 Falmouth Applied Oceanography and Fieldwork



Ms Marla Kiel Spencer
Room number: NOCS 566/05
Ms Marla Kiel Spencer's personal home page
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