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
  • marine biology
  • Food security
  • ecological economics


  1. & The perilous state of seagrass in the British Isles. Royal Society Open Science 3, 150596
  2. & Habitat Configuration Alters Herbivory across the Tropical Seascape. Frontiers in Marine Science 4
  3. & The fundamental role of ecological feedback mechanisms for the adaptive management of seagrass ecosystems - a review. Biological Reviews
  4. & Assessing Fish and Motile Fauna around Offshore Windfarms Using Stereo Baited Video. PLOS ONE 11(3), e0149701
  5. & Strategies to enhance the resilience of the world's seagrass meadows. Journal of Applied Ecology 53(4), 967-972.
  6. & Seagrass meadows are threatened by expected loss of peatlands in Indonesia. Global Change Biology 22(9), 2957-2958.
  7. & Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna. PeerJ 3, e1053
  8. & A framework for the resilience of seagrass ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin 100(1), 34-46.
  9. & Valuing and evaluating marine ecosystem services: putting the right price on marine environments?. Environment and Society: Advances in Research
  10. & Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) benefits from the availability of seagrass (Zostera marina) nursery habitat. Global Ecology and Conservation

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  • 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.

  • 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%).


  • Environmental thresholds of resistance in the seagrass Zostera marina (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Rory Wilson
  • Local and regional drivers of the trophic structuring of fish assemblages associated to seagrass throughout the Indo-Pacific (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Hanna Nuuttila
  • 'Mobulidae Fishery in Bohol, Philippines: An assessment of its sustainability' (awarded 2015)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr John Griffin
  • 'Temporal variation in the fish community of a cold-temperate seagrass (Zostera marina) meadow in the U.K.' (awarded 2015)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr John Griffin
  • 'Zostera marina as Valuable Nursery Habitat for Gadus morhua in the temperate North Atlantic: A meta-analysis of the literature regarding seagrass habitat use by juvenile Atlantic cod in Bioregion 1' (awarded 2014)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Andrew Rowley
  • ''Development of a potential indicator of ecological status in the UK, using the seagrass, Zostera marina'' (awarded 2014)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr John Griffin
  • 'Investigating fish assemblage response patterns to temporal and habitat variation within a seagrass meadow' (awarded 2014)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Ruth Callaway

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.