School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Emeritus Professor Alasdair Edwards

Professor of Coral Reef Ecology



From 1980-86 I worked largely on reef fish systematics and biogeography. In 1987 I was appointed to a Leverhulme Teaching Fellowship to help establish a MSc in Tropical Coastal Management. This led to a university Lectureship in 1990, a Senior Lectureship in 1994, and a Personal Chair in 2010. During this time my research focus changed to the science underpinning coastal management in the tropics, research on fishery and other human impacts on coral reefs, applications of remote sensing technologies to coastal management, and latterly the natural recovery processes of reefs and coral reef restoration science. I chaired the Restoration and Remediation Working Group of the GEF/World Bank funded Coral Reef Targeted Research & Capacity Building for Management programme from 2004-2010.


1988 MSc Computing Science, University of Newcastle
1979 PhD Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
1978 MA University of Cambridge
1974 BA (Honours) Natural Sciences (Zoology), University of Cambridge


Chartered Biologist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (CBiol, FRSB)
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
Fellow of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (FMBA)
Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (FLS) 
European Countries Biologists Association, European Professional Biologist  (EurProBiol)
International Coral Reef Society
Society for Ecological Restoration


Google Scholar

Research Interests

My current research focuses on a) spatial and temporal patterns of recovery of coral reefs from physical damage and mass bleaching events, b) how reef restoration technologies can assist natural recovery processes, c) how gear changes and reserves can assist sustainable fisheries development, and d) the systematics and biogeography or reef fish.

Other Expertise

Use of satellite and airborne remote sensing for the mapping and assessment of coastal habitats and resources.

Current Work

I am currently assisting part-time on Dr James Guest's European Union Horizon 2020 funded CoralAssist project looking at whether human assisted evolution of corals can improve reef restoration outcomes.

I was involved in running three international research projects just prior to (semi-)retirement in 2010:

Coral reef restoration and remediation: this was one of six integrated programmes of research which form part of the GEF/World Bank funded Coral Reef Targeted Research & Capacity Building for Management project. Following the Asian tsunami tragedy in 2004 the Restoration and Remediation Working Group (RRWG) issued an Advisory Brief on reef restoration for governments, agencies and NGOs in the region. In 2007 we produced Reef Restoration Concepts and Guidelines which is now also available in French, Bahasa Indonesia and Spanish, followed in 2010 by a Reef Rehabilitation Manual. The research of RRWG members Alasdair Edwards, Edgardo Gomez (Philippines), James Guest (Singapore), Andrew Heyward (Australia) and Buki Rinkevich (Israel) was featured in Science.

Developing ubiquitous restoration practices for Indo-Pacific reefs: European Commission funded Framework 6 project led by Prof. Buki Rinkevich, National Institute of Oceanography (Israel), working primarily with Prof. Edgardo Gomez (University of the Philippines, Marine Science Institute). Others partners include Conzorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare (Italy), National University of Singapore and Phuket Marine Biological Center (Thailand).

Developing reserves for biodiversity conservation and sustainable fisheries
: a Darwin Initiative project with local NGO Shoals Rodrigues funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Also involved as
UK advisers are Dr Fiona Gell (Isle of Man), Dr Charles Anderson (Atoll Research).

Postgraduate Supervision

My last PhD student, Anne-Marie Kitchen-Wheeler, successfully completed her study on the behavioural ecology of Alfred's manta (Manta alfredi) in the Maldives in 2013.

Esteem Indicators

Coordinating Editor for the journal Restoration Ecology.

Member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Coral Specialist Group 2017-2020.

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of SECORE International (a leading conservation organization for the protection and restoration of coral reefs) from 2016-2019.

Chair of the Technical Steering Committee of the GEF/World Bank Capturing Coral Reef Ecosystem Services (CCRES) project 2015-2018.

Member of IFRECOR (Initiative Française pour les Récifs Coralliens) International Panel of experts on reef habitat classification in French Overseas Territories.

Chair of the Restoration and Remediation Working Group (RRWG) of the GEF/World Bank Coral Reef Targeted Research & Capacity Building for Management programme 2004-2010. 


Postgraduate Teaching

Taught on MST8011 (Critical appraisal of coastal production systems) until 2018.