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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Dr Trystan Sanders

Dr Trystan Sanders

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

 Newman The Cave (Lower Ground Floor)


I am ecological physiologist – I study how the environment impacts organism physiological functioning and how animals’ functional traits drive broader ecological processes. In particular, I am interested in how seawater calcium and bicarbonate ion availability influences biocalcification rates and metabolic costs in marine invertebrates. During my PhD I did this using complex laboratory manipulations of seawater carbonate chemistry as well as utilizing the unique alkalinity and salinity gradients of the Baltic Sea to study the energetic costs of CaCO3 precipitation in bivalve molluscs. I am also interested in adaptive physiological variability in marine invertebrates with some of my PhD work looking at populational differences in intracellular inorganic and organic osmolytes along the Baltic Sea salinity gradient and the consequences of these differences on cellular metabolic functioning and fitness. I pursued a similar strand of work in my first postdoctoral research position looking at the ecological implications of physiological trait variability such as bioturbation and metabolism in infaunal benthic invertebrates. Specifically, this research investigated how seasonal and geographic variability in whole-organism physiological traits impact community metabolism and coastal nutrient cycling.

My work on biological variability also sparked an interest in statistical analyses of relationships and variation. I am a strong advocate for a shift away from weakly informative statistical tests for differences based on p-values, with little ecological relevance, towards a more mechanistic and quantitative approach. This includes increased utilization of continuous rather than discrete variables allowing quantitative understanding of the strengths of relationships (R squared), and more incorporation of Bayesian statistical approaches to better quantify natural variability rather than our heavy reliance on means and averages which often ignore variation

I am currently working on a BBSRC funded project with Prof. Rod Wilson and Dr. Rob Ellis on how seawater calcium/carbon availability, pH and diet composition impacts molting, exoskeletal calcification and oxidative stress in terrestrially farmed aquatic decapod crustacea. Working closely with UK based shrimp farmers, biogas generators and businesses this project aims to optimize production systems for terrestrial shrimp aquaculture in the UK supporting work towards sustainable aquatic food production.


BSc (honours) Marine Biology, University of Plymouth, UK, 2013

PhD Ecophysiology, University of Kiel, Germany, 2018


2010-2013 Undergraduate – University of Plymouth, UK

2013-2014 Assistant Aquarium Technician – MBA Plymouth, UK

2014-2018 Researcher in Marine Ecophysiology – GEOMAR, Germany

2018-2020 Career Break – Bicycle expedition 20 000 km UK to New Zealand

2020-2021 Environmental Consultant, SLR, New Zealand

2021-2022 Postdoctoral Researcher in Marine Ecology, University of Southampton, UK.

2022 –Research Fellow in Animal Physiology, University of Exeter, UK

Research group links

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Research interests

My research interests span from cellular physiology and energetics right up to ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical cycling, primarily in marine invertebrates. Specific themes I am interested in include:

  • Climate change and carbonate chemistry
  • Osmoregulation
  • Biocalcification
  • Metabolism & energetics
  • Functional trait variability
  • Sediment carbon and oxygen cycling

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