Marine Protected Areas
as tools for
management and conservation

Wednesday, 26 January 2022
Participant # 7 Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) Print E-mail

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML)


Scientists:    Dr. Melanie AUSTEN: ecosystem effects, benthic ecosystems

Dr. Nicola BEAUMONT: environmental economy

Dr. Paul SOMERFIELD: community data analysis, ecosystem effects, benthic ecosystems


Specific skills:    Plymouth Marine Laboratory is a large, interdisciplinary laboratory that offers capabilities in marine biodiversity and ecology, sediment and ocean chemistry, physical oceanography, remote sensing, ecotoxicology and plankton culturing. PML has a biodiversity research group examining biodiversity patterns across phylogenies at different spatial and temporal scales; functional, ecosystem and economic consequences resulting from biodiversity change; and how the composition of the autotrophic and heterotrophic plankton community affect carbon cycling and ecosystem stability. We carry out field and experimental (field and mesocosm) studies to support our research. We have expertise in: benthic and plankton ecology, statistical analyses of community data, analysis of spatial patterns and ecosystem modelling, environmental economics, the taxonomy of nematoda and macrofauna and we are using molecular techniques to examine intra and inter specific variation in relation to population functioning. PML is coordinating and leading an EU funded project, COST-IMPACT, that is pioneering a framework to integrate fisheries and environmental management within a socio-economic context. Within this project PML scientists are collaborating in meta-analysis of existing data on ecosystem indicators, and using these analyses as well as novel data on the effects of fishing on functioning of ecosystems to parameterise ecosystem models to determine the wider importance of these indicators to ecosystem functioning and sustainability. Simultaneously, socio-economic analysis is determining the monetary and non-monetary value of ecosystem properties and functions, including the fisheries production. A bio-economic model is being developed to link ecosystem models with valuation models to determine how the values of environmental goods and services, including the fisheries value, will vary with changes in fishing effort. The bio-economic model is being used, in conjunction with stakeholder input, to develop a decision support tool for managing fisheries and the environment. 




Role in the project: Co-ordinator of WP6; participating in WPs 1, 3 and 4




Track record on MPAs and/or fisheries (max. 5 works): 


Austen, M.C., Lambshead, J., Hutchings, P., Boucher, G., Heip, C., King, G., Koike, I.,  Smith, C.R., Snelgrove, P.V.R. 2002. Biodiversity links above and below the marine sediment-water interface that may influence community stability. Biodiversity and Conservation 11:  113-136.


Beaumont N.J. and Tinch R. 2004. Abatement Cost Curves: A Viable Management Tool for Achieving Win-Win Waste Reduction Strategies? Journal of Environmental Management. 71(3): 207-215


Somerfield, P.J., Yodnarasri, S., Aryuthaka, C. 2002. Relationships between seagrass biodiversity and infaunal communities: implications for studies of biodiversity effects. Marine Ecology Progress Series 237: 97-109.


Widdicombe, S., Austen, M.C., Kendall, M.A., Olsgard, F., Schaanning M.T., Dashfield, S.L. and Needham,H.R. in press.  The importance of bioturbators for biodiversity maintenance: The indirect effects of fishing disturbance. Marine Ecology Progress Series


Widdicombe, S., Austen, M.C. 2001. The interaction between physical disturbance and organic enrichment: An important element in structuring benthic communities. Limnology & Oceanography 46, 1720-1733.



EC projects: COST-IMPACT, Q5RS-2001-00993, PML: co-ordinator

BIOMARE, EVK2 - 1999 ­ 00250, partner

FP6 2002 GLOBAL 1 ­ P505446 (Network of Excellence), partner


European Union
Sixth Framework Programme