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 Sarah Nelms

Sarah Nelms

PhD Student



I am a PhD student within the University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation, based at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. My research interests lie broadly in understanding the pathways by which anthropogenic activities may affect marine biodiversity. As an Exeter MSc student I investigated the potential impacts of seismic surveys on marine turtles and more recently I have begun to work on the growing issue of marine litter, particularly plastic pollution.

My project will explore how microscopic plastic particles affect marine organisms at various trophic levels, from zooplankton to marine vertebrates, and investigate the transfer of these microplastics in marine food webs.

Broad research specialisms:

  • Marine conservation
  • Marine vertebrate ecology
  • Microplastics and marine litter
  • Trophic interactions
  • Ecotoxicology



MSc Conservation and Diversity (University of Exeter)
BSc (Hons) Environmental Biology (University of Plymouth)


Research projects

Project Title: Particles, chemicals and the marine food web

Dr Penelope Lindeque (Plymouth Marine Laboratory),
Professor Brendan Godley (University of Exeter), 
Professor Tamara Galloway (University of Exeter).

I am a member of the Marine Turtle Research Group.

Funding Body: NERC (GW4+)

Project Description:
The aim of this project is to investigate the transfer of microplastics through the marine food web and the consequence of associated chemicals to animal health.


Nelms SE, Galloway TS, Godley BJ, Jarvise, DS, Lindeque PK (2018) Investigating microplastic trophic transfer in marine top predators. Environmental Pollution DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.02.016

Nelms SE, Coombes C, Foster LC, Galloway TS, Godley BJ, Lindeque PK, Witt MJ (2016) Marine anthropogenic litter on British beaches: A 10-year nationwide assessment using citizen science data. Science of the Total Environment DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.137

Nelms SE, Duncan EM, Broderick AC, Galloway TS, Godfrey MH, Hamann M, Lindeque PK, Godley BJ (2016) Plastic and marine turtles: A review and call for research. ICES Journal of Marine Science DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fsv165

Nelms SE, Piniak WED, Weir C, Godley BJ (2015) Seismic surveys and marine turtles: an underestimated global threat? Biological Conservation DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.10.020



Supervision / Group

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