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 Kieran McCloskey

Kieran McCloskey

PhD Research Student

 Geoffrey Pope 


Geoffrey Pope Building, University of Exeter , Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK

My research focuses on the impacts of anthropogenic noise on the reproduction and survival of fish in temperate and tropical climates.

Anthropogenic noise has become increasingly pervasive as human populations, and corresponding development, continue to grow. Consequently, international legislation recognises anthropogenic noise, or noise pollution, as a pollutant of global concern. A growing body of research has successfully demonstrated the negative impacts of noise pollution on fish physiology, health and behaviour. However, much of this work utilises laboratories and aquariums where it is difficult to reproduce natural acoustic conditions, thus limiting ecological validity. Furthermore, it is often difficult to extrapolate long-term, population-level fitness consequences from short-term studies. Thus, my research endeavours to address these gaps.

Through in situ oriented research, I intend to investigate the potential biological impacts of anthropogenic noise on the reproduction, embryonic development and larval survival of demersal fish species in temperate and tropical waters.  This work will help to understand how anthropogenic noise affects the reproductive success of fish populations. My fieldwork will be conducted in the coastal waters of the UK and the Great Barrier Reef. I hope to use discoveries from this PhD program to help mitigate the negative biological impacts of noise on marine ecosystems, thus improving resilience towards the future threats of climate change, such as warming waters and ocean acidification.

Broad research specialisms:

  • Marine biology
  • Bioacoustics
  • Fish behaviour and reproduction
  • Anthropogenic stressors
  • Climate change


BSc Biochemistry, minor in Chemistry – Virginia Tech, 2007–2011
MSc Physiology & Biophysics – Georgetown University, 2014–2015
MSc Conservation & Biodiversity – University of Exeter, 2016–2017


Research projects

Project Title: In situ assessment of anthropogenic noise impacts on fish reproduction and survival


Funding Body:

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship (University of Exeter)
Natural England

Project Description:
The underwater environment is teeming with natural biotic and abiotic sounds that are essential to survival in marine ecosystems. However, marine noise generated by human activities can interfere with this natural soundscape.  Consequently, mounting evidence demonstrates that anthropogenic noise has the potential to negatively affect a wide range of marine taxa. The aim of my PhD project is to assess the impacts for fish of two types of anthropogenic noise (impact pile-driving and motorboats) on key life-history processes (reproduction, embryonic development and larval survival) that have direct fitness and ecological implications. Through research-driven mitigation, the negative impacts of noise on fish can be reduced, thus improving population resilience.

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