Dr Steve Simpson
Associate Professor in Marine Biology & Global Change


I am a marine biologist and fish ecologist, with particular interests in the behaviour of coral reef fishes, bioacoustics, effects of climate change on marine ecosystems, fisheries, conservation and management. I lead a dynamic research group of ~10 postdocs, PhD and Masters students. During a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship (2011–2014) I developed ongoing links between the research community and industry and policy on the themes of European Fisheries and Climate Change, and Anthropogenic Noise and Marine Ecosystems. I work closely with Cefas and the Met Office, am an active member of the IQOE Science Committee, and have been an Academic Advisor and featured scientist in Blue Planet 2.

My work combines fieldwork, often through expeditions to remote and challenging environments around the world, with laboratory-based behaviour experiments, data-mining, and computer modelling.

My research focuses on:

  • The impact of anthropogenic noise on marine ecosystems
  • The effects of climate change on fish and fisheries
  • Sensory and orientation behaviour of marine organisms
  • Dispersal, connectivity and biogeography
  • Fisheries and Conservation Management


Publications and Research Profiles

Currrent opportunities for postgraduate study

  • I am seeking a PhD student for a fully-funded project in partnership with Natural England, exploring "The Live Wrasse Fishery - ecological and fishery considerations for our inshore reef ecosystems" (interviewing in December 2017)
  • I welcome discussions with potential Masters by Research students interested in undertaking a 12–24 month research project associated with current funded research programmes.


Short films on my research and knowledge exchange activities


Impact Case Studies from my Research


Recent activites linking Research with Impact

-> Impacts of Marine Noise

-> Fisheries and Climate Change

  • Embedded a MSc Food Security student in the Cornish Sardine Management Association to understand and predict biological responses to climate change in pelagic fish species.
  • Collaborating with a Penryn-based social scientist, a PhD and two Masters students to develop a vulnerability analysis for SW fisheries, with involvement of the Newlyn, Penzance, Plymouth and Brixham fleets.
  • Organised a thinktank in London in September 2014 with representatives from science, industry, consumers, policy, law and politics to develop a "Vision of Sustainable Fisheries in 2050."
  • Developed a legal argument with a marine lawyer that demonstrates the illegality of overfishing, empowering the UK fishery minister for negotiations in Brussels (Plenty More Fish in the Sea?; Covered in the Times by Ben Webster)
  • Wrote the 2013 Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) report on Impacts of Climate Change on Fish which was presented to Westminster in November 2013.


Research Findings and News Stories


2000–2004 PhD, University of York, UK
1998–1999 MRes Marine & Coastal Ecology & Environmental Management, University of York, UK
1995–1998 BSc Marine Biology, University of Liverpool, UK


2016–present Associate Professor in Marine Biology & Global Change, University of Exeter
2012–2016 Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology & Global Change, University of Exeter
2011–2014 NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow
2011 Postdoctoral Researcher, Defra-funded Anthropogenic Noise project, University of Bristol, UK
2008–2011 Postdoctoral Researcher, NERC Sustainable Marine Bioresources Initiative, University of Bristol, UK
2007–2008 Royal Society International Fellow and EPHE Postdoctoral Fellow, Université de Perpignan
2004–2007 NERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh, UK

Contact details

Internal tel2714
Tel+44 (0) 1392 722714
AddressGeoffrey Pope Building
University of Exeter
Stocker Road
Office hours

Academia provides amazing freedom to choose unconventional hours, work anywhere in the world, and communicate with collaborators across the globe. So if I am not in my office, please feel free to send me an email (S.Simpson@exeter.ac.uk) to arrange a meeting or Skype (sdsimpson).

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