Richard's expertise lie in the ecological structuring processes of marine systems and the implications of these systems for society. This focuses primarily on the interrelationships between foundation species, habitat, and associated productive fauna (mainly fish). He is particularly interested in the consequences of cross-scale environmental changes on seagrass meadows functioning and the implications of this for global food security and other ecosystem services.

Richard has more than twelve years’ experience of research in marine systems and conducts collaborative interdisciplinary research in Europe, Australia, Indonesia, Columbia and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Based within the SEACAMS team at Swansea, he leads the level 3 module in 'Tropical marine ecology and conservation' and teaches on the MSc module 'Conservation of aquatic resources'.

After completing his PhD in 2007, Richard conducted research and consulting work for Sinclair Knight Merz, Brisbane and the Northern Fisheries Centre, Queensland, Australia. He has also worked as an senior ecology lecturer at University of Glamorgan.

He is an academic editor at PLoS One and vice-president of the World Seagrass Association. Richard is also a founding director of Project-Seagrass and continues to work as a senior scientist at SeagrassWatchHQ. Other roles include membership of the editorial boards of Marine Pollution Bulletin and Marine Environmental Research.

His current research projects include the impact of climate variability on seagrass ecosystems, social-ecological systems analysis, ocean acidification and seagrass, and the resilience and ecosystem service provision of seagrass.

Funding is currently through SEACAMS, Darwin, the Waterloo Foundation and the Ocean Foundation.

Areas of Expertise

  • Marine ecology
  • Seagrass biology
  • Fisheries ecology
  • Fish biology
  • Social-ecological systems
  • resilience
  • marine biology
  • Food security
  • ecological economics


  1. et. al. One hundred priority questions for landscape restoration in Europe. Biological Conservation 221, 198-208.
  2. & The discovery of deep-water seagrass meadows in a pristine Indian Ocean wilderness revealed by tracking green turtles. Marine Pollution Bulletin
  3. & New Tools to Identify the Location of Seagrass Meadows: Marine Grazers as Habitat Indicators. Frontiers in Marine Science 5
  4. & Conservation Concerns of Small-Scale Fisheries: By-Catch Impacts of a Shrimp and Finfish Fishery in a Sri Lankan Lagoon. Frontiers in Marine Science 5
  5. & Tracking Nitrogen Source Using δ15N Reveals Human and Agricultural Drivers of Seagrass Degradation across the British Isles. Frontiers in Plant Science 9
  6. & Secret Gardens Under the Sea: What are Seagrass Meadows and Why are They Important?. Frontiers for Young Minds 6
  7. & Global significance of seagrass fishery activity. Fish and Fisheries
  8. & Crowdsourcing conservation: The role of citizen science in securing a future for seagrass. Marine Pollution Bulletin
  9. & Reasons for seagrass optimism: Local ecological knowledge confirms presence of dugongs. Marine Pollution Bulletin
  10. et. al. Latitude, temperature, and habitat complexity predict predation pressure in eelgrass beds across the Northern Hemisphere. Ecology 99(1), 29-35.

See more...


  • BIO238 Marine Ecosystems: Threats and conservation

    This module introduces the students to coastal marine ecosystems and the broad ecological concepts that underpin coastal marine community structure. We then focus on the threats faced by these ecosystems from climate change and marine plastics to illegal fishing and tourism. The module then moves onto the conservation of marine ecosystems and the students will learn about the management of tropical marine protected areas (MPAs). The lectures cover the classification of marine biota and marine ecosystems and the ecology of a number of coastal marine habitats including temperate rocky, soft sediment shores, coral reefs, the deep sea and polar ecosystems. There are 3 pieces of coursework associated with this module. Two will have associated fieldtrips to Skomer Island (to observe puffin behaviour and habitat) and one to Crymlyn burrows. The third will be a talk, given to explain the key threats to their designated ecosystem studied in detail during the seminar sessions. All three rely on group collected observations and data with emphasis placed on teamwork and group cooperation.

  • BIO327 Tropical marine ecology field course

    This field based module will provide students with an introduction to the ecology of tropical marine systems and teach students the key practical skills required by tropical marine biologists. Students will obtain training in how to design, implement and report scientifically robust marine research. The module will complement the level three marine field course and help develop key skills in field based marine biology. Students will learn skills in marine ecology and taxonomy, in-water marine sampling and surveys, and impact assessment. This module will be mostly practical based but will also include theory lectures, workshops and feedback sessions. It would be structured around seven days of directed practical activities and a three day small group based mini-project. The field course will utilise snorkeling and intertidal walking as the major means of sampling throughout directed practical¿s.

  • BIO330 Tropical marine ecology and conservation

    This module will provide a holistic overview of the ecology and conservation of important marine ecosystems, and will place this information within the context of ecosystem services, and their value to humanity. This module will consist of up to 12 lectures/seminars on the following topics: ¿ Diversity and biology of coral reef communities ¿ Structure and function of seagrass meadows (temperate and tropical) ¿ Mangrove forest ecology ¿ Connectivity across the tropical marine seascape ¿ The ecosystem services of tropical marine systems ¿ Response of coral reef systems to climate change and ocean acidification ¿ Degradation of tropical marine systems ¿ Resilience thinking and the management of tropical marine systems The module also contains a workshop session and additional direct contact with the module lead lecturer.

  • BIO346 Professional Skills in Marine Biology

    The module provides an introduction to the Environmental Impact Assessment process and a range of impacts on the marine environment including energy generation and pollution. Participants in this module will act as a marine environmental consultant and the class will be responsible for producing all aspects of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report and public engagement presentation for a commercial development in Swansea Bay. Additionally, students will receive lectures from marine environmental practitioners from environmental consultancies and regulatory bodies.

  • BIOM37B Conservation of Aquatic Resources

    The module will identify major issues in the conservation of aquatic organisms and develop the knowledge base of students in aquatic conservation, including those related to captive breeding programmes and the potential effects of climate change and other stressors. Some of the lectures/seminars are given by invited experts in the field. The module is assessed by a combination of continuous assessment (50%) and written examination (50%).


  • Acoustic monitoring of cetaceans for long-term monitoring and management in Wales (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Hanna Nuuttila
  • 'Local and Regional variability of Indo-Pacific Seagrass Fish Assemblages' (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Hanna Nuuttila
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Hanna Nuuttila
  • The challenges for cetaceans in tidal energy environments (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Hanna Nuuttila
  • Environmental thresholds of resistance in the seagrasses (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Rory Wilson
  • Remote methods for the assessment of coastal biodiversity interacting with marine renewable developments. (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Kam Tang

Research Groups

  • Seagrass Ecosystem Research Group

    Seagrass Ecosystem Research Group (SERG) is a joint inter-disciplinary marine research collaboration between scientists in Biosciences at Swansea University and the PLACE Institute at Cardiff University. We are engaged in basic and applied research into the structure, function and resilience of seagrass meadows within a linked social ecological system and the food security support these meadows provide.