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February 2017

Find out what's been happening across the Marine Ecosystems Research Programme (MERP). Many thanks to all who contributed articles to this edition.

Further information about these news items can be found on the MERP website, Twitter feed or by contacting the MERP Programme Office ( Please feel free to forward to others who may be interested in the work of MERP.

If you would like to submit any MERP-related news then please contact Kelly-Marie Davidson (

Image courtesy of George Evans

Note from the Principal Investigator

MERP's Principal Investigator, Dr Paul Somerfield (PML), gives an overview of progress, as MERP research expands.

Meeting with Welsh stakeholders

In November 2016 MERP scientists had valuable discussions with Welsh stakeholders. Kirsten Ramsay of Natural Resources Wales, and MERP Stakeholder Advisory Group member, reports on the benefits of this video conference.


MERP scientist Dr Ana Querios (PML) attended the UNFCCC COP22 in Marrakech last November, flying the flag for MERP and the ocean. Ana gives a comprehensive account of her experience in this COP22 report.

Exploring the traits of organisms

MERP is using the newly-enhanced Trait Explorer to characterize the size distribution of species in target areas. Dr Jorn Bruggeman (PML) explains the process.

Kelp's heating up!

Recent studies have shown that kelp contributes significantly to primary production. Dr Nessa O'Connor (QUB/University of Dublin) describes the experiments that will help us better understand the processes involved.


MERP's Knowledge Exchange Officer, Kelly-Marie Davidson (PML), recently attended the 2nd International Marine Science Communication Conference and gives a brief account of her experience.

New MERP work on trade-offs

Prof. Mike Heath (UoSt) outlines his newly-funded MERP work, assessing trade-offs between social, economic and ecological demands on the marine environment.

Developing StrathE2E

There have been some major developments with the StrathE2E model, such as the inclusion of 'raiding parties'. Prof. Mike Heath (UoSt) explains the work behind these developments.

Identifying impacts with ERSEM

A range of new features will be tested in the ERSEM model to help improve our understanding of the impact of change. Dr Yuri Artioli (PML) summerises these additions.

Mobilising data

One of the biggest challenges in MERP is organising the vast amounts of data being bought together. Dr Remi Vergnon (UoSh) highlights the work that will make all this data more accessible.

Joint Aquatic Macroecology meeting

MERP and the British Ecological Society held a joint Aquatic Macroecology meeting in September. Co-organiser Dr Nessa O'Connor (QUB / University of Dublin) reports on the the successful day.

Orkney marine life talk

In September Dr Martin Lilley (QUB) gave a very well received 2-part talk at the Orkney Field Club, which included the work MERP is undertaking to sequence jellyfish gut contents and establish their place in the food web.

New MERP work on cumulative impacts  

Dr Tom Webb (UoSh) gives a summary of his newly-funded MERP project, investigating the cumulative impacts of multiple pressures on marine ecosystems.

Annual Science Meeting

In October MERP held its 2016 Annual Science Meeting in York. MERP's Project Manager, Jessica Heard (PML), reflects on the change of focus of these meetings.

The BESS of beginnings for MERP

What does the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability programme (BESS) have in common with MERP? Prof. David Raffaelli, University of York and member of MERP's Programme Advisory Group, writes about the inception of these two research programmes.

Mapping the majestic marine mammals

Iconic marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins, can shape an ecosystem. Dr Peter Evans (Sea Watch Foundation) gives as background to marine mammal conservation and highlights the action needed to ensure future protection.

Useful links

MERP video

A video introducing MERP is now available from the MERP website or YouTube.

Latest publications

Börger T, Broszeit S, Ahtiainen H, Atkins JP, Burdon D, Luisetti T, Murillas A, Oinonen S, Paltriguera L, Roberts L, Uyarra M and Austen MC. (2016). Assessing Costs and Benefits of Measures to Achieve Good Environmental Status in European Regional Seas: Challenges, Opportunities, and Lessons Learnt. Front. Mar. Sci. 10.3389/fmars.2016.00192

Hirst AG, Lilley MKS, Glazier DS, Atkinson D. (2016). Ontogenetic body-mass scaling of nitrogen excretion relates to body surface area in diverse pelagic invertebrates. Limnology and Oceanography. Volume 62, Issue 1, Pages 311-319. 10.1002/lno.10396

Schmidt K, Schlosser C, Atkinson A, Fielding S, Venables HJ, Waluda CM, Achterberg EP. (2016). Zooplankton Gut Passage Mobilizes Lithogenic Iron for Ocean Productivity. Current Biology 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.058

A full list of MERP publications can be found on the MERP website.


MERP website

Don't forget to check the website for the latest news, events and social media activities.

MERP participants can also access SharePoint and the Discussion Forum from the top right-hand corner of the MERP homepage.


MERP resources

A range of programme resources are now available from the website.

These include a leaflet, videogeneral powerpoint slides, 2-page summary for Defra and a directory of MERP participants.

For MERP participants, poster / presentation templates and logos can also be found in the MERP SharePoint.



MERP has a Twitter feed, which will be used to keep followers updated on news, events and progress of the programme.

We welcome your tweet suggestions so please send information on successes and achievement plus accompanying images and video to Helen Murray (

MERP partners

Bangor University (BU)
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)
National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool (NOC,L)
Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML)
Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)
Queens University Belfast (QUB)
Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)
Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS)
University of Glasgow (UoG)
University of Sheffield (UoSh)
University of Strathclyde (UoSt) 

Marine Ecosystems Research Programme is jointly funded by:

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