Martin Attrill Ph.D. BSc. FLS.

University of Plymouth


I have long-lived research interests in understanding the temporal and spatial patterns of marine biodiversity and how human activities impact these patterns.

For the past decade, I have focussed my research on the effectiveness, management and impact of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This led me to now work as part of the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science (BPMS) team, planning the research projects in the Indian Ocean region. I have been coordinating the input from the wide array of marine experts of the University of Plymouth, with a focus on contributing in physical oceanography, seabed ecology and habitat connectivity.

We started a pioneering programme aiming to explain patterns of large animal aggregations and the heterogeneity of coral bleaching events by linking these observations with oceanographic processes. This programme has developed thanks to generous funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Bertarelli Foundation.

Just conserving the marine environment as it stands is not enough, given over 150 years of intensive commercial fishing. We need to focus on how we can allow ecosystems to recover if we are to create future healthy oceans and sustainable livelihoods for those who depend on them.

Martin Attrill


2004 Present
Professor of Marine Ecology, University of Plymouth
2009 2018
Director, University of Plymouth Marine Institute
1992 2004
Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Reader, University of Plymouth
1988 1992
Marine Biologist, UK National Rivers Authority
1985 1988
PhD. (Deep Sea Biology), University of Liverpool
1982 1985
BSc. (Marine Biology), University of Liverpool

My Projects

  • Island Reef Connections
    Mesophotic Reefs in the Indian Ocean Region
  • Species Distribution and Ecology
    Internal Waves as an Oceanographic Driver of Ecosystem Variability

Other interests

My personal interests lie in defining the value of deeper non-coral reef habitats in the Chagos Archipelago and understanding how these deeper habitats connect with shallow water reefs. As well as defining the key processes at work in this region that may importantly inform conservation management in the area surrounding the Chagos Archipelago and other key sites around the world.

Aside from my involvement in the Indian Ocean Region, I am interested in the relationship between conservation, management and marine renewable energy, such as wave or tidal energy. Additionally, I examine the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems and hold a strong interest in the ecology and biodiversity of temperate seagrass beds as well as estuarine invertebrates and fish.