Professor Nick Polunin
Professor of Marine Environmental Science

  • Email:
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6675
  • Fax: +44 (0) 191 208 7891
  • Address: School of Marine Science & Technology
    Newcastle University, NE1 7RU, England
Background: I am a community marine ecologist who uses macroecological (marine protected area, coral bleaching and fishing effects), modelling and stable isotope approaches to help understand what holds marine ecosystems together. This work has long had a strong ‘conservation science’ goal including interactions with the social sciences. A principal focus remains on coral reefs, but the work also embraces temperate ecosystems, and my current projects include studying coral reef fish-habitat relationships in the Caribbean, deep sea hydrothermal vent food webs in the Southern Ocean, fisheries extinctions in the Philippines and sustainability of a North Sea fishery. I am also Editor in Chief of the international journal Environmental Conservation.
Roles: Leader of Marine Ecosystems & Governbance research group, Degree programme director of marine science MSc programmes, NIRES Marine Newcastle Steering Group, Leader on Environmental Systems 


Research areas

Fish and fisheries science, stable isotope elucidation of food web structure, habitat complexity roles in marine ecosystems, marine conservation science, coral reef ecology

Current Work

Post-doctoral Research Associates: Dr Steve P Newman - reef fish/habitat relationships; Dr Chris J Sweeting - trophodynamics/stable isotopes

Visiting Academics: Prof. Jorge Cortes-Nunez (University of Costa Rica), Prof. Simon Jennings (CEFAS/UEA)

Visiting Researchers: Dr Catherine Scott (Natural England), Dr Margarita N Lavides (Ateneo de Manila University), David Galvan (CENPAT, Argentina)

Research students (current) Wahyu Nugraha (with SP Rushton, SP Newman) - macroecology of Caribbean parrotfish; Dan Skerritt (with C Fitzsimmons, C Scott) - lobster abundance and movement; Andrew Spencer (with C Fitzsimmons) - crab growth and stock assessment methods; Charlie Dryden (with SP Rushton, SP Newman) - reef fish-habitat relationships in the Caribbean; Fabrice Stephenson (with C Fitzsimmons, C Scott) - benthic habitat/potfishing interactions; Paula Lightfoot (with C Fitzsimmons) - object-based analysis of acoustic seabed habitat information; Kerry Lyn Thomas (with C Fitzsimmons) - object-based analysis of satellite-derived Caribbean seabed habitat data; Alexander Khan (with T Gray) - 

Recent PhD students: Saoud Al-Habsi, Helen J Bloomfield, Annette Breckwoldt (Muehlig-Hofmann), Carolyn J Barnes, Alex J Caveen, Nick AJ Graham, Margarita N Lavides, Ben J Kurten, M Aaron MacNeil, Will DK Reid, Aileen C Mill, Pia Schuchert, Ruben J Sulu, Rachel A Turner

Recent Research Associates: WJF Le Quesne (CEFAS) - modelling of MPAs on continental shelves; R Fisher - reef ecosystem modelling

Outreach etc

President, International Society for Reef Studies, 2003-2006
Northumberland Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority, Committee member, 2010-
DEFRA Marine Fisheries Science Advisory Committee, 2006-
President, Foundation for Environmental Conservation, 1996-
Editor in Chief, Environmental Conservation, 1996-

Research funding

Natural Environment Research Council, Department for International Development, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Marine & Fisheries Agency, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, European Commission, Marine Management Organisation, Darwin Initiative, Leverhulme Trust, Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences




BSc MST2001 Tropical Marine Environment & Ecology
BSc MST3021 North Sea Science
MSc MST8005 Research in Coastal Management
MSc MST8021 Fisheries Resources Assessment and Management
MSc MST8011 Critical Appraisal of Coastal Production Systems