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Professor Steve Widdicombe

Professor Steve Widdicombe

Director of Science and Deputy Chief Executive

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)
"Working at PML for the past 30 years has been my dream job, allowing me to explore and unlock the ocean’s secrets. Armed with this knowledge I have sought to find solutions to some of our planet’s biggest environmental threats and so protect and conserve threatened marine species and ecosystems.   "

Steve is a marine ecologist with over 30 years of experience in using field observations and large manipulative experiments to address issues relating to benthic ecology, biodiversity and ecosystem function. He has a particular interest in quantifying the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbance on the structure, diversity and function of marine benthic communities.

He has participated in several national and European funded projects exploring the impact of environmental impact (demersal fishing) and change (climate) on benthic organisms and biogeochemical cycling. Steve started his research career looking at the impacts of natural disturbance (bioturbation) on marine biodiversity and community structure, and he has continued this research theme ever since. In addition, much of his recent research has concentrated on the impacts of human induced stressors, such as climate change, ocean acidification and artificial light, on marine organisms and ecosystems.

He has been a principal investigator in several NERC programmes including Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry, Arctic Change and Marine Ecosystems, and led a large consortium within the NERC UK Ocean Acidification Programme.

Steve has an active interest in monitoring the marine environment and is the co-chair of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) Executive Council. For 10 years Steve was the PML Head of Science for Marine Ecology and Biodiversity, before becoming Director of Science in 2019.

Steve has published over 150 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, with an H-index of 49.

  • S Widdicombe, JI Spicer. 2008. Predicting the impact of ocean acidification on benthic biodiversity: What can animal physiology tell us? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 366(1-2): 187-197. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2008.07.024
  • HL Wood, JI Spicer, S Widdicombe. 2008. Ocean acidification may increase calcification rates, but at a cost. Proceeding of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences 275(1644): 1767-1773. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.0343
  • P Calosi, S Melatunan, LM Turner, Y Artioli, RL Davidson, JJ Byrne, MR Viant, S Widdicombe, SD Rundle. 2017. Regional adaptation defines sensitivity to future ocean acidification. Nature Communications 8: 13994. doi:10.1038/ncomms13994
  • CA Vargas, NA Lagos, MA Lardies, C Duarte, PH Manríquez, V Aguilera, BR Broitman, S Widdicombe, S Dupont. 2017. Species-specific responses to ocean acidification should account for local adaptation and adaptive plasticity. Nature Ecology and Evolution 1(4): UNSP 0084. doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0084
  • JM Sunday, KE Fabricius, KJ Kroeker, KM Anderson, NE Brown, JP Barry, SD Connell, S Dupont, B Gaylord, JM Hall-Spencer, T Klinger, M Milazzo, PL Munday, BD Russell, E Sanford, V Thiyagarajan, MLH Vaughan, S Widdicombe, CDG Harley. 2017. Ocean acidification can mediate biodiversity shifts by changing biogenic habitat. Nature Climate Change 7(1): 81. doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE3161
  • QT Zhang, RM Warwick, CL McNeill, CE Widdicombe, A Sheehan, S Widdicombe. 2015. An unusually large phytoplankton spring bloom drives rapid changes in benthic diversity and ecosystem function. Progress in Oceanography 137(SI): 533-545. doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2015.04.029

Recent publications

View more publications on our repository