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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research Group: Marine Biology and Ecology

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The Marine Biology and Ecology group comprises more than 60 researchers and postgraduate students who apply state-of-the-art observational, experimental and analytical techniques to address questions surrounding the consequences of natural environmental change and human activities on marine organisms and ecosystems, that are fundamental for socio-economic human well-being.        

Image: Prof Wiedenmann & Dr D’Angelo
One third of all marine biodiversity depends on healthy coral reefs.

In the Marine Biology and Ecology Group we use a range of observation, sampling and monitoring methods, as well as state-of-the art experimental facilities and analytical techniques to investigate the genetic, molecular, physiological, structural and behavioural effects of natural environmental (e.g. ocean warming, ocean acidification, low oxygen) and anthropogenic pressures (e.g. light, nutrient, sound & plastic pollution, resource use and exploitation) on organisms and ecosystems. Combination of our approaches allow us to study marine organisms, across benthic and pelagic ecosystems from the coast to the deep ocean, and tropics to the poles.

Image: Dr Jon Copley
Deep sea rock fauna and vent chimney in the Indian Ocean.

Our specific research foci include:

Ecological complexity and networks: Identifying and describing genetic, molecular, physiological and ecological mechanisms that shape species contributions to multiple, interacting ecological functions and processes.

Eco-evolutionary dynamics: Identifying the interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes, including heritability, discovery of new species, investigation of phylogenetic patterns and processes, plasticity of species responses, as well as global biogeographic patterns and natural history.

Ecological variability in space and time: Identifying the ecological expression of physiological, morphological and behavioural traits and their role in characterising species distribution and food-web structures under changing environmental conditions and/or with human activities.  

Sustainable, safe and productive oceans: In-depth understanding of how ocean ecosystem’s function, as the basis for their management given increasing human activities – includes sustainable food, fisheries and aquaculture, extractive industries, nature-based solutions, as well as strengthening the science-policy interface.

The strengths of our group include experimentation in highly controlled mesocosm aquarium facilities, deep-sea observation, isotope analysis, molecular studies including a suite of -omic techniques, and a range of image analysis techniques. Our experimental and analytical facilities are open to external users. 

For more information about the group and its activities please contact Dr Jasmin Godbold.

The Marine Biology and Ecology Group is equipped with a multi-use aquarium, a range of world-class experimental laboratories, analytical equipment and associated laboratories, as well as a Research Vessel.

The facilities available are briefly described below and further details are available on each by clicking on the links.

Research Vessel

Our research vessel the R.V. Callista is located at NOCS and is available to all staff and students in the School of Ocean and Earth Science.

Multi-use Aquarium

We have a multi-use aquarium, that houses a variety of aquarium tanks and associated facilities for keeping and handling live organisms. It also houses our pressure lab which enables us to study deep-sea organisms under pressurised conditions, and to study the effect of pressure on the physiology of marine invertebrates. For initial enquiries about our capability or using the aquarium please contact, contact Mr Robbie Robinson.

microROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle)

We operate a microROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) capable of reaching 150 metres depth. It is equipped with SD and HD video cameras, a manipulator and cutting arm, scanning sonar, and an ultrashort-baseline (USBL) acoustic navigation system. The facility is a joint venture with the Natural History Museum and can be deployed from small boats or the shore. The microROV has been used for ecological survey work in the southwest UK, Bahamas, and Iceland, and for marine biology teaching in Southampton Water.

Coral Reef Laboratory

Our Coral Reef Laboratory propogates and studies a broad range of corals and other cnidarians in a multi-compartment aquarium system circulating more than 4200 litres of artificial seawater. Complemented by a coral reef display tank used for propogation and teaching, it supports experimentation under tightly controlled conditions. For further information, contact Prof Jörg Wiedenmann.

Biodiversity and Environmental Futures Laboratories

Our Biodiversity and Environmental Futures Laboratories is a modular experimental facility that allows us to investigate the impacts of future climate conditions and anthropogenic disturbance on marine invertebrate behaviour and biogeochemical sediment processes. Our systems can tightly, and dynamically control a range of environmental variables for studying the effects of climate warming, ocean acidification, hypoxia and light pollution. For further information, contact Prof Martin Solan or Dr Jasmin Godbold.

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