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Research interests:

The deep sea is by far the largest ecosystem on the planet. It harbours many fascinating habitats including underwater mountains through to the nearby continental margins. My deep-sea research interests are in the diversity, composition and structure of the deep water fauna living on or in the sediments and how these relate to the different environmental variables that interact and influence the fauna, ranging from, changes in temperature as a result of internal tides, to habitat heterogeneity and impacts from a changing climate. I am particularly interested in the fauna that live on seamounts and banks as well as the soft sediment found on the continental margins in all the major oceans including the NE Atlantic and polar seas.

In addition my research focus is looking at plastics, specifically microplastics, found in the marine environment. Microplastics, particles < 5 mm in size, are of particular biological concern as they can be ingested by a wide diversity of organisms, which have been shown to suffer negative impacts as a consequence. The long term fate of marine microplastics is not well known; however it is hypothesised that the deep sea may be the final repository for this pollutant. Assessing the input sources, transport routes and ‘lifecycle’ of marine microplastics are fundamental questions to understanding the impacts of plastic pollution and ensure adequate mitigation measures are in place at both a regional and global level.

Career history:

2020 – Professor of Deep-Sea Ecosystems and Microplastic Research: SAMS-UHI
2015 – Head of SAMS Graduate School: SAMS
2013 – Senior Lecturer in Deep-Sea Ecosystems: SAMS
2008 – Lecturer in Deep-Sea Ecosystems: SAMS
2005 – 2010 – European Census of Marine Life Project Coordinator SAMS/Europe
2004 – 2005 – Taxonomic Researcher: SEAS Ltd.
2003 – PEET Taxonomy Fellowship: University of Massachusetts/ENSR based at Woods Hole
2002-2003 – PDRA in Deep water ecology
2001 – PhD Deep Sea Ecology: University of Southampton

Active research projects:

One Ocean Hub: The One Ocean Hub brings together five interconnected research programmes to support more integrated, evidence-based and inclusive responses to the multiple threats facing the ocean. Threats that include plastics and climate change.

Arctic PRIZE: Investigating the seasonally and spatially varying relationship between sea ice, water column structure, light, nutrients and productivity and the roles they play in structuring energy transfer to pelagic zooplankton and benthic megafauna.

Recent publications:

Howell KL….Narayanaswamy BE….et al. (2021) A decade to study deep-sea life. Nature Ecology and Evolution 5(3), 265-267

Moser A, Pheasant IJ, Macpherson WN, Narayanaswamy BE, Sweetman AK (2021) Sediment profile imaging: Laboratory study into the sediment smearing effect of a penetrating plate. Frontiers in Marine Science 8: 582076

Levin L, Clark M, Hall-Spencer J, Hopcroft R, Ingels J, Metaxas A, Narayanaswamy BE, Tuhumwire J & Yasuhara M. (2021). Chapter 7J: Continental slopes and submarine canyons. IN: The Second World Ocean Assessment II. Published by the United Nations. Pg 395-420.

Clark M, Bernardino A, Roberts JM, Narayanaswamy BE, Snelgrove P & Tuhumwire J. (2021). Chapter 7L: Seamounts and pinnacles. IN: The Second World Ocean Assessment II. Published by the United Nations. Pg 437-451.

Courtene-Jones W, Quinn B, Ewins C, Gary SF, Narayanaswamy BE (2020) Microplastic accumulation in deep-sea sediments from the Rockall Trough. Marine Pollution Bulletin 154: 111092.