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Prof Stephen Widdicombe

Prof Stephen Widdicombe


Plymouth Marine Laboratory


Benthic ecology, impacts of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on marine organisms and communities, benthic-pelagic coupling, species and community function.

Steve leads the PML strategic science area Marine Ecology and Biodiversity. The research he oversees aims to develop novel approaches for measuring and describing biodiversity across a range of biological scales, investigate the relationships between biodiversity and the provision of key biogeochemical processes, and thus develop the understanding necessary to predict the impact of biodiversity change on the structure and function of marine ecosystems.

As a marine ecologist with 25 years of experience Steve uses field observations and manipulative experiments to address issues relating to benthic ecology, biodiversity and ecosystem function. He has a broad range of interests including bioturbation, microbial nutrient cycling, long-term patterns in benthic and pelagic communities and developing novel methods for observing and manipulating natural systems. He has published over 90 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.

Selected Publications

Q Zhang, RM Warwick, CL McNeill, CE Widdicombe, A Sheehan, S Widdicombe (submitted) An unusually large phytoplankton spring bloom drives rapid changes in benthic diversity and ecosystem function. Progress in Oceanography.

B Gaylord, KJ Kroeker, JM Sunday, KM Anderson, JP Barry, NE Brown, SD Connell, S Dupont, KE Fabricius, JM Hall-Spencer, T Klinger, M Milazzo, PL Munday, BD Russell, E Sanford, SJ Schreiber, V Thiyagarajan, MLH Vaughan, S Widdicombe, CDG Harley (accepted) Ocean acidification through the lens of ecological theory. Ecology.

S Widdicombe, PJ Somerfield (2012) Marine biodiversity: Its past development, present status and future threats.  In: Paterson, D. M., Aspen, R. L., Solan, M. (Eds.), Marine Biodiversity Futures and Ecosystem Functioning: frameworks, methodologies and integration. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Pp. 1-15.

S Widdicombe & M.C. Austen. 2005. Setting diversity and community structure in subtidal sediments: The importance of biological disturbance. In: Kostka J, Haese R & Kristensen E (Eds.) Interactions between macro- and microorganisms in marine sediments, Coastal and Estuarine Studies: 60, American Geophysical Union, New York, pp 217-231.

S Widdicombe, MC Austen, MA Kendall, F Olsgard, MT Schaanning, SL Dashfield, HR Needham (2004) The importance of bioturbators for diversity maintenance: The indirect effects of fishing disturbance. Marine Ecology Progress Series 275: 1-10.

Useful links

Biography on PML website


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