People > Dr Paul Somerfield

Dr Paul Somerfield

Principal Investigator: Marine ecology and biodiversity

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


Dr Paul Somerfield is a Principal Investigator in the Marine ecology and biodiversity group at PML. His primary objectives are to undertake scientific research and to disseminate information through peer reviewed papers, reports, training, student supervision and other means. He has authored and co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed papers and 10 books.  His primary research interests are the distribution and functioning of biodiversity.  His work integrates research across levels of biological organization from viruses to chordates to elucidate scales, causes and consequences of variability in space and time.  He is recognised as an international expert on the application of nonparametric multivariate analysis, and travels widely to provide training courses.

His work has been commissioned from a wide range of customers over the years, including Defra and its predecessors (statistical methods, meiofaunal ecology, pollution monitoring methods, effects of anthropogenic stressors such as dredging, disposal, aquaculture and fishing, biodiversity indicators, ecosystem functioning, mangrove and seagrass ecology, capacity-building), CCW (data analysis, general ecology, advice), NERC (statistical methods, community ecology of benthos, plankton and microbes, long-term monitoring, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, macroecology, ecosystem modelling, acidification), the European Commission (effects of demersal fishing, effects of MPAs, long-term large-scale ecology, effects of multiple stressors, development of indicators, plankton ecology, modelling, training), MoD (effects of dredging, wrecked ships and oil), National Rivers Authority and Environment Agency (effects of mine effluent, development of multimetrics for WFD), DTI (Strategic Environmental Assessment), Marine Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (socioeconomics, effects of dredging, recovery and recoverability) and the Marine Management Organisation (Falmouth Harbour ISAP).


GCRF Blue Communities

GCRF Blue Communities

Contact: Professor Melanie Austen

GCRF Blue Communities is a 4 year research capacity-building programme for marine planning in East and South-East (E/SE) Asia, funded by UK...


Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture and Storage (STEMM-CCS)

Contact: Jerry Blackford

STEMM-CCS is an ambitious multi-disciplinary project that will deliver new approaches, methodologies and tools for the safe operation of offshore...

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Other key projects

Marine Ecosystems Research Programme (MERP) (2014-2018)

DEVOTES. EU FPVII Integrated Project (2012-2015)

EMBOS. EU COST action ES1003. Management Committee (2010-2014)

GreenSeas. EU FP VII Integrated Project (2010-2013)

VECTORS. EU FP VII Integrated Project (2010-2014)

Recent publications

  • Brown, BE; Dunne, RP; Somerfield, PJ; Edwards, AJ; Simons, WJF; Phongsuwan, N; Putchim, L; Anderson, L; Naeije, MC. 2019 Long-term impacts of rising sea temperature and sea level on shallow water coral communities over a ~40 year period. Scientific Reports, 9 (1). 1-12.
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  • Queiros, AM; Stephens, N; Widdicombe, S; Tait, K; McCoy, SJ; Ingels, J; Ruhl, S; Airs, RL; Beesley, A; Carnovale, G; Cazenave, P; Dashfield, SL; Hua, E; Jones, M; Lindeque, PK; McNeill, CL; Nunes, J; Parry, HE; Pascoe, CK; Widdicombe, CE; Smyth, TJ; Atkinson, A; Krause‐Jensen, D; Somerfield, PJ. 2019 Connected macroalgal‐sediment systems: blue carbon and food webs in the deep coastal ocean. Ecological Monographs. e01366.
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  • Broszeit, S; Beaumont, NJ; Hooper, TL; Somerfield, PJ; Austen, MC. 2019 Developing conceptual models that link multiple ecosystem services to ecological research to aid management and policy, the UK marine example. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 141. 236-243.
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  • Ingels, J; dos Santos, G; Hicks, N; Vazquez, YV; Neres, PF; Pontes, LP; Amorim, MN; Román, S; Du, Y; Stahl, H; Somerfield, PJ; Widdicombe, S. 2018 Short-term CO 2 exposure and temperature rise effects on metazoan meiofauna and free-living nematodes in sandy and muddy sediments: Results from a flume experiment. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 502. 211-226.
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  • Tarling, GA; Thorpe, SE; Fielding, S; Klevjer, T; Ryabov, A; Somerfield, PJ. 2018 Varying depth and swarm dimensions of open-ocean Antarctic krill Euphausia superba Dana, 1850 (Euphausiacea) over diel cycles. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 38 (6). 716-727.
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  • Somerfield, PJ; McClelland, IL; McNeill, CL; Bolam, SG; Widdicombe, S. 2019 Environmental and sediment conditions, infaunal benthic communities and biodiversity in the Celtic Sea. Continental Shelf Research.
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Selected key publications

Ingels, J, Dashfield, SL, Somerfield, PJ, Widdicombe, S, Austen, MC (2014) Interactions between multiple large macrofauna species and nematode communities - mechanisms for indirect impacts of trawling disturbance  J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 456: 41-49

Pearce, B, Fariñas-Franco, J, Wilson, C, Pitts, J, De-Burgh, A, Somerfield, PJ (2014) Repeated mapping of reefs constructed by Sabellaria spinulosa Leuckart 1849 at an offshore wind farm site.  Contl Shelf Res. 83: 3-13

Clark, DR, Brown, I, Rees, AP, Somerfield, PJ, Miller, PI (2014) The influence of ocean acidification on nitrogen regeneration and nitrous oxide production in the North-West European shelf sea. Biogeosciences Discuss. 11: 3113-3165

Smyth, TJ, Allen, JI, Atkinson, A, Bruun, JT, Harmer, RA, Pingree, RD, Widdicombe, CE, Somerfield, PJ (2014) Ocean net heat flux influences seasonal to interannual patterns of plankton abundance. PLoS ONE 9 (6) e98709

Clarke, KR, Gorley, RN, Somerfield, PJ, Warwick, RM (2014) Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation, 3rd edn.  PRIMER-E, Plymouth. 256 pp

Lyons, D, Arvanitidis, C, Blight, A, Chatzinikolaou, E, Guy-Haim, T, Kotta, J, Orav-Kotta, H, Queirós, AM, Rilov, G, Somerfield, PJ, Crowe, TP (2014) Macroalgal blooms alter community structure and primary productivity in marine ecosystems.  Global Change Biology 20: 2712-2724

Moore, M. N., Viarengo, A. G., Somerfield, P. J., Sforzini, S. (2013)  Chapter 5: Linking lysosomal biomarkers and ecotoxicological effects at higher biological levels.  In: Amiard-Triquet, C., Amiard, J-C., Rainbow, P. S. (eds) Ecological Biomarkers: Indicators of Ecotoxicological Effects.  CRC Press Ltd, Oxford. Pp. 107-130.

Somerfield, P. J., Warwick, R. M. (2013)  Chapter 6: Meiofauna Techniques.  In: Eleftheriou A. (ed)  Methods for the study of Marine Benthos, 4th Edn.  Wiley-Blackwell Ltd, Oxford. Pp. 253-284.

Forde, J., Shin, P. K. S., Somerfield, P. J., Kennedy, R. (2013)  M-AMBI derived from taxonomic levels higher than species allows Ecological Status assessments of benthic habitats in new geographical areas. Ecological Indicators.  34: 411-419.

McConville, K., Halsband, C., Fileman, E. S., Somerfield, P. J., Findlay, H. S., Spicer, J. I. (2013)  Effects of elevated CO2 on the reproduction of two calanoid copepods.  Mar. Pollut. Bull.  73: 428-434.

Pinto, T. K., Austen, M. C. V., Warwick, R. M., Somerfield, P. J., Esteves, A. M., Castro, F. J. V., Genevois, V. G. F., Santos, P. J. P. (2013)  Nematode diversity in different microhabitats in a mangrove region. Marine Ecology  34: 257-268.

Cooper, K., Burdon, D., Atkins, J. P., Weiss, L., Somerfield, P., Elliott, M., Turner, K., Ware, S., Vivian, C. (2013)  Can the benefits of physical seabed restoration justify the costs?  An assessment of a disused aggregate extraction site off the Thames Estuary, UK. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 75: 33-45.

Queirós, A. M., Birchenough, S., Bremner, J., Godbold, J., Parker, R., Romero-Ramirez, A., Reiss, H., Solan, M., Somerfield, P. J., Van Colen, C., Van Hoey, G., Widdicombe, S. (2013)  A bioturbation classification of European marine infaunal invertebrates. Ecol. Evol.  3: 3958-3985

Somerfield, P. J., Clarke, K. R. (2013)  Inverse analysis in non-parametric multivariate analyses: distinguishing of groups of associated species which covary coherently across samples.  J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 449: 261–273.

Lindeque, P. K., Parry, H. E., Harmer, R. A., Somerfield, P. J., Atkinson, A. (2013)  Next Generation Sequencing Reveals the Hidden Diversity of Zooplankton Assemblages.  PLOS ONE  8 (11): e81327.

Tait, K, Laverock, B, Shaw, J, Somerfield, PJ, Widdicombe, S (2013) Minor impact of ocean acidification to the composition of the active microbial community in an Arctic sediment. Environmental Microbiology Reports  5: 851-860

Widdicombe, S., Somerfield P. J. (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.

Muxika, I., Somerfield, P. J., Borja, A., Warwick, R. M. (2012)  Assessing proposed modifications to the AZTI marine biotic index (AMBI), using biomass and production.  Ecological Indicators 12:96-104.

Gilbert, J. A., Steele, J. A., Caporaso, J. G., Steinbrück, L., Reeder, J., Temperton B., Huse, S., McHardy, A., Knight, R., Joint, I. R., Somerfield, P., Fuhrman, J. A., Field, D. (2012)  Defining seasonal marine microbial community dynamics.  ISME Journal 6:298-308

Tyler, E. H. M., Somerfield, P. J., Vanden Berghe, E., Bremner, J., Jackson, E., Langmead, O., Palomares, M. L. D., Webb, T. J. (2012)  Extensive gaps and biases in our knowledge of a well-known fauna: implications for integrating biological traits into macroecology.  Global Ecol. Biogeogr. 21: 922–934.

Buckland, S. T., Baillie, S. R., Dick, J. McP., Elston, D. A., Magurran, A. E., Scott, E. M. S., Smith, R. I., Somerfield, P. J., Studeny, A. C., Watt, A.  (2012)  How should regional biodiversity be monitored?  Environmental and Ecological Statistics 19: 601–626.

Other activities

UK Biodiversity Science Committee

Royal Statistical Society Panel on Statistics for Ecosystem Change

Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group Benthic Subgroup

ICES Study Group on Climate related Benthic processes in the North Sea (SGCBNS)

Marine Biological Association of the UK (ex Member of Council)

NERC Promotion Panel II