Exploring the Components and Processes of Marine Ecosystems Critical to Ecosystem Service Generation

Alexander et al. 2016

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This report explores the marine ecosystem components and processes that influence potential ecosystem service delivery, identifies which components and processes are deemed critical in the delivery process, gathers spatial data regarding ecosystem components and processes, and maps the potential for ecosystem service delivery in the UK marine environment based on these data.

Assessing the sensitivity of sublittoral rock habitats to pressures associated with marine activities

Maher et al. 2016

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The aim of this project is to use the methods developed by Tillin and Tyler-Walters (2014) to assess the sensitivity of pre-defined ecological groups in sublittoral rock habitats in the UK to various anthropogenic pressures. The sensitivity assessments outlined in this report are conducted on groups of ecologically similar species which have been considered to have comparable traits likely to affect their sensitivity.

Marine Rocky Habitat Ecological Groups and their Sensitivity to Pressures Associated with Human Activities

Maher & Alexander, 2016

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Seabed habitats are under pressure from numerous and varied anthropogenic activities. Understanding the sensitivity of sublittoral and circalittoral rock habitats is crucial for effective management of the marine environment, and decision makers need to have access to suitable tools for identifying the state of marine biodiversity and habitats.

The first records of Megalomma lanigera (Polychaeta: Sabellidae) from British waters

Wasson & Sheehan, 2016

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Megalomma lanigera is recorded for the first time in British waters. Specimens were discovered during a 2012/2013 benthic study of maerl beds in Falmouth Harbour in Cornwall.

The first record of the brush-clawed shore crab Hemigrapsus takanoi Asakura & Watanabe

Wood et al., 2015 

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The brush-clawed shore crab is reported from the River Medway, Kent and the River Colne, Essex, England. These represent the first records of Hemigrapsus takanoi Asakura and Watanabe, 2005 from Great Britain. If H. takanoi becomes established in GB, it may pose a threat to populations of the native shore crab Carcinus maenas.

Conceptual Ecological Models to Inform Indicator Selection


Shallow Sublittoral Coarse sediment Habitats (2014)

Shallow Sublittoral Mud Habitats (2015)

Shallow Sublittoral Rock Habitats (2015)

Shallow Sublittoral Mixed Sediment Habitats (2016)

Shallow Sublittoral Sand Habitats (2016)

Celebrating 40 years 1975 - 2015

MESL Timeline (1.6 MB)


The first documented record of the non-native spionid Boccardia proboscidea in UK waters

Hatton & Pearce, 2014

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Boccardia proboscidea is recorded for the first time in UK waters. Specimens were discovered at two intertidal sites on the Isle of Skye.

Two new records of Cheilostome bryozoa from British waters

Wasson & de Blauwe, 2014

The recently described Escharoides bishopi and the non-native Fenestrulina delicia are recorded for the first time from British waters. 

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The first records of rullierinereis ancornunezi (polychaeta Nereididae) from British waters

Wasson & Núñez, 2013

The first records of Rullierinereis ancornunezi (Polychaeta: Nereididae) from British waters. Marine Biodiversity Records, 6, e26 doi:10.1017/S1755267213000031.

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MESL's recreation report has been published on the MMO website

The report which MESL recently completed, working with sister company Marine Planning Consultants on the "Compilation of spatial data on marine recreation activities" for the MMO, has now been published. The report covers national recreation activities and those in the East marine plan areas and builds on data and evidence gathered as part of the regional marine conservation zone projects. It identifies key gaps, summarises current evidence, key findings and makes some recommendations for future data gathering in the marine recreation sector. To read the full report go to:


Dietry preference and feeding selectivity of common dragonet Callionymus lyra in UK

Journal of Fish Biology (2012) 81, 1019–1031
doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2012.03375.x, available online at

R. Griffin*†, B. Pearce‡ and R. D. Handy*§

*School of Biomedical and Biological Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus,
Plymouth PL4 8AA, U.K. and ‡Marine Ecological Surveys Limited, 3 Palace Yard Mews,
Bath BA1 2NH, U.K.
(Received 2 November 2011, Accepted 9 May 2012)

The gut contents of 90 individuals of common dragonet Callionymus lyra were analysed, of which 76 contained prey, along with 100 corresponding benthic grab samples in order to assess the diet of C. lyra in relation to the availability of its prey in the environment. Forty-five prey taxa were identified in the diet from 350 potential prey taxa identified in the environment. Calculation of the index of relative importance (IRI) found the main food components were crustaceans (%IRI = 86·3), mostly the porcelain crab Pisidia longicornis (%IRI = 43) and other decapods (%IRI = 18). Polychaetes played only a supplementary role in the overall diet (%IRI = 12·5). This study demonstrated that C. lyra is predominantly an opportunistic feeder that can modify its feeding behaviour to exploit alternative, more abundant prey.

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