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Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy


Principal Investigator in Deep Water Benthic Ecology

spiders.jpgDeep-water ecology

The deep sea is by far the largest ecosystem on the planet. It harbours many fascinating habitats ranging from underwater mountains to deep trenches and from mid-ocean ridges to the vast expanse of the abyssal plains.  Many weird and wonderful creatures live in these habitats, from tiny microscopic worms and shrimps to large sponges and cold water corals. However, just because it is out of sight does not mean that the deep sea should be out of mind and the activities that we undertake on land can, and do, have impacts on the habitats and fauna of the deep sea.

I have a wide range of research interests related to the deep sea. My main 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.  My research has explored deep-sea habitats around the world including seamounts in the South West Indian Ocean Ridge, North Atlantic and Mediterranean, as well as soft sediment habitats in the Antarctic and North East Atlantic.

I am currently the Deep Sea Forum Convenor for the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (hyperlink

Click here for my Google Scholar profile.


At SAMS I am a member of the...

Career history


  • Courtene-Jones, W., Quinn, B., Murphy, F., Gary, S.F. & Narayanaswamy, B.E. (2016) Optimisation of enzymatic digestion and validation of specimen preservation methods for the analysis of ingested microplastics.  Analytical Methods, DOI: 10.1039/C6AY02343F

  • Baker E, Gaill F, Karageorgis AP, Lamarche G, Narayanaswamy BE, Parr J, Raharimananirina C, Santos R, Sharma R, Tuhumwire J (2016). Offshore Mining Industries – Chapter 23. IN: The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment – World Ocean Assessment I.

  • Ingels J, Clark MR, Vecchione M, Perez JAA, Levin LA, Priede IG, Sutton T, Rowden AA, Smith CR, Yasuhara M, Sweetman AK, Soltwedel T, Santos R, Narayanaswamy BE, Ruhl HA, Fujikura K, Amaral Zettler L, Jones DOB, Gate AR, Snelgrove P, Bernal P, Van Gaever S. (2015). Open Ocean Deep Sea – Chapter 36. IN: The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment – World Ocean Assessment I.

  • Parry MEV, Howell KL, Narayanaswamy BE, Bett BJ, Jones DOB, Hughes DJ, Piechaud N, Nickell TD, Ellwood H, Askew N, Jenkins C, Manca E. (2015) A Deep-sea Section for the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland. JNCC report No. 530.

  • Davies JS, Stewart HA, Narayanaswamy BE, Jacobs C, Spicer J, Golding N & Howell KL (2015). Benthic Assemblages of the Anton Dohrn Seamount (NE Atlantic): Defining Deep-Sea Biotopes to Support Habitat Mapping and Management Efforts with a Focus on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems.  PLoS ONE,(10)5 e0124815. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124815

  • Woodall, LC, Robinson LF, Rogers AD, Narayanaswamy BE & Paterson GL. (2015). Deep sea litter: A comparison of seamounts, banks and a ridge in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans reveals both environmental and anthropogenic factors impact accumulation and composition. Frontiers in Marine Science. 2(3) doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00003

  • Woodall, LC, Sanchez-Vidal A, Canals M, Paterson GLJ, Coppock R, Sleight V, Calafat A, Rogers AD, Narayanaswamy BE & Thompson RC (2014). The deep sea is a major sink for microplastic debris. Royal Society Open Science, 1: 1: 140317.

  • Thurber AR, Sweetman AK,  Narayanaswamy BE, Jones DOB and Hansman RL (2014) Ecosystem function and services provided by the deep sea. Biogeosciences, 11 (14), 3941-3963  doi:10.5194/bg-11-3941-2014

  • Watson C, Chivers AJ, Narayanaswamy BE, Lamont P & Turnewitsch R (2014). Chrysopetalidae (Annelida: Phyllodocida) from the Senghor Seamount, north-east Atlantic: taxa with deep-sea affinities and morphological adaptations.  Memoirs of Museum Victoria, 71. 311-325.

  • Bett BJ & Narayanaswamy BE. (2014). Genera as proxies for species α- and β-diversity: tested across a deep-water Atlantic-Arctic boundary. Marine Ecology. 1-9. DOI: 10.1111/maec.12100.
  • Hughes DJ & Narayanaswamy BE. (2013). Impacts of climate change on deep-sea habitats. Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership: Science Review. 204-210.  doi:10.14465/2013.arc21.204-210
  • Jeffreys RM, Burke C, Jamieson AJJ, Narayanaswamy BE, Ruhl HA, Smith Jr KL, Witte U (2013) Feeding preferences of abyssal macrofauna inferred from in-situ pulse chase experiments. PLoS ONE 8:11 e80510
  • Bett BJ, Narayanaswamy, BE (2014) Genera as proxies for species α- and β-diversity: tested across a deep-water Atlantic-Arctic boundary. Marine Ecology.  DOI: 10.1111/maec.12100
  • Narayanaswamy BE, Hughes DJ, Howell KL, Davies J & Jacobs C. (2013) First observations of megafaunal communities inhabiting George Bligh Bank, Northeast Atlantic. Deep Sea Research II. 92: 79-86
  • Serpetti N, Gontikaki E, Narayanaswamy BE & Witte U (2013)  Macrofauna community inside and outside of the Darwin Mounds SAC, NE Atlantic. Biogeosciences, 10, 3705– 3714.  doi:10.5194/bg-10-3705-2013
  • Chivers AJ, Narayanaswamy BE, Lamont PA, Dale A & Turnewitsch R (2013) Changes in polychaete standing stock and diversity on the northern side of Senghor seamount (NE Atlantic). Biogeosciences, 10, 3535– 3546.  doi:10.5194/bg-10-3535-2013
  • T. Morato, K. Ø. Kvile, G. H. Taranto, F. Tempera, B. E. Narayanaswamy, D. Hebbeln, G. M. Menezes, C.Wienberg, R. S. Santos, and T. J. Pitcher. Seamount physiography and biology in the north-east Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Biogeosciences, 10, 3039–3054, 2013.  doi:10.5194/bg-10-3039-2013
  • Narayanaswamy BE, Coll M, Danovaro R, Davidson K, Ojaveer H & Renaud PE. (2013) Synthesis of Knowledge on Marine Biodiversity in European Seas: From Census to Sustainable Management. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58909. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058909
  • Gontikaki E, Polymenakou PN, Thornton B, Narayanaswamy BE, Black K, Tselepides A & Witte U. 2012. Microbial response to organic matter enrichment in the oligotrophic Levantine Basin (Eastern Mediterranean). Geomicrobiology Journal.
  • Fehling J, Davidson K, Bolch CJS, Brand T & Narayanaswamy BE. 2012. Autumnal phytoplankton distribution in North West European shelf sea waters with special emphasis on the diatom. PLoS ONE 7 (3): e34098. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034098.
  • Gontikaki  E, Mayor  DJ, Narayanaswamy  BE & Witte  U. 2011. Feeding strategies of deep-sea sub-Arctic macrofauna of the Faroe-Shetland Channel: combining natural stable isotopes and enrichment techniques. Deep-sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers. 58:160-172.
  • Narayanaswamy BE & Bett BJ. 2011. Macrobenthic biomass relations in the Faroe-Shetland Channel: An Arctic-Atlantic boundary environment. PLoS ONE. 6 (4): e18602.
  • Wei C-L, Rowe GT, Escobar-Briones E, Boetius A, Soltwedel T, Caley MJ, Soliman Y, Huettmann F, Qu F, Yu Z, Pitcher CR, Haedrich RL, Wicksten MK, Rex MA, Baguley JG, Sharma J, Danovaro R, MacDonald IR, Nunnally CC, Deming JW, Montagna P, Lévesque M, Weslawski JM, Wlodarska-Kowalczuk M, Ingole BS, Bett BJ, Billet D,  Yool A, Bluhm BA, Iken K & Narayanaswamy BE 2010. Global Patterns and predictions of seafloor biomass using Random Forests. PLoS ONE. 5 (12): e15323.
  • Narayanaswamy  BE, Renaud  P, Duineveld  G, Berge  J, Lavaleye  MSS, Reiss  H & Brattegard  T. 2010. Biodiversity trends along the western European Margin. PLoS ONE. 5 (12): e14295.
  • Ramirez-Llodra  E, Brandt  A, Danovaro  R,  De Mol B, Escobar E, German C, Levin L, Martinez-Arbizu P, Menot L, Buhl-Mortensen P, Narayanaswamy BE, Smith CR, Tittensor D, Tyler P, Vanreusel A & Vecchione M.  Deep, diverse and definitely different: unique attributes of the world's largest ecosystem. Biogeosciences. 7: 2851-2899.
  • Narayanaswamy  BE, Bett  BJ & Hughes  DJ 2010. Deep-water macrofaunal diversity in the Faroe-Shetland region (NE Atlantic): a margin subject to an unusual thermal regime. Marine Ecology-pubblicazioni Della Stazione Zoologica Di Napoli I. 31: 237-246.
  • Howell  K, Davies  JS & Narayanaswamy  BE. 2010. Identifying deep-sea megafaunal epibenthic assemblages for use in habitat mapping and marine protected area network. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 90: 33-68.
  • Narayanaswamy BE & Blake JA. 2005. A new species of Orbiniella (Polycahaeta: Orbiniidae) from deep basins of Antarctica. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.  85 (4): 843-846.
  • Narayanaswamy BE, Bett BJ & Gage JD 2005. Ecology of bathyal polychaete fauna at an Arctic-Atlantic boundary (Faroe-Shetland Channel, North-east Atlantic). Marine Biology Research. 1: 20-32.
  • Blake JA & Narayanaswamy BE 2004. Benthic infaunal communities across the Weddell Sea Basin and South Sandwich Slope, Antarctica. Deep-sea Research Part II-topical Studies In Oceanography. 51:  1797-1815.
  • Narayanaswamy BE, Nickell TD & Gage 2003. Appropriate levels of taxonomic discrimination in deep-sea studies: species vs family. Marine Ecology-progress Series. 257: 59-68.
  • Bett B, Malzone MG, Narayanaswamy BE, et al. 2001. Temporal variability in phytodetritus and megabenthic activity at the seabed in the deep Northeast Atlantic. Progress in Oceanography. 50 (1-4): 349-368


Baker M, Ebbe B, Hoyer J, Menot L, Narayanaswamy BE, Ramirez-Llodra E & Steffensen M (Author/Editor list arranged in alphabetical order) (2007). Deeper than Light 85pp. Bergen Museum (available in English, French, German, Spanish and Norwegian)


Current research projects

deep sea.jpg

  • Definition of infaunal assemblages for inclusion in a deep-sea section of the marine habitat classification of Britain and Ireland - Funder: JNCC (2013)
  • Impact of the Geometry of Submarine Landscapes on Deep-Sea Biogeochemistry (TOPODEEP). To assess the impact of three selected seamounts on the geometry of the composition of the benthic community and its relation to the geometries of export flux and benthic processes, including biogeochemical fluxes and biogenic sediment transport. - Funder: NERC
  • Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man's Impact on European Seas (HERMIONE). This project is designed to make a major advance in our knowledge of the functioning of deep-sea ecosystems and their contribution to the production of goods and services. SAMS will contribute to the seamount work package. - Funder: EU FP7


Previous major programmes




External activities / measures of esteem

Current activities


Past activities and achievements

  • Member of the United Nations General Assembly Pool of Experts of the Regular Process to help in the production of World Ocean Assessment I – the first integrated global assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects.
  • CoML Award for "Building partnership and collaboration within the CoML community."

  • Member of the 11th International Deep-sea symposium organising committee

  • Reviewer for Census of Marine Life grants submitted to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

  • Lead scientist on the SEA 7 research cruise (2005) to the seamounts and banks

  • Deep-Sea Life Exhibition in conjunction with the Deeper than Light Exhibition.


Teaching / supervising activities

Current research students

  • Winnie Courtene-Jones (PhD. University of the Highlands and Islands): Microplastics in the deep sea (Director of Studies)

Past research students

  • Adam Chivers (PhD: University of the Highlands and Islands): The Biodiversity and Ecology of Senghor Seamount (NE Atlantic).
  • Alex Schweizer (MRes. University of St Andrews & SAMS): Macrobenthic community structure and diversity in the Rockall Trough: A 30-year time-series study. (2012-2013)
  • Stephen Watson (MRes. University of St Andrews & SAMS): Seasonal and inter-annual trends in macrobenthic community structure in the Rockall Trough, NE Atlantic. (2011-12) 
  • Kiara Burke (PhD: University of Aberdeen & SAMS):  The Fate of Organic Matter in Marine Sediments - the role of macrofauna (2005 - 2010)
  • Evangelia Gontikaki (PhD: University of Aberdeen, SAMS, HCMR): The fate of phytodetritus pulses in subarctic and Mediterranean sediments (2006 - 2010)
  • Jaime Davies (PhD: UoP, SAMS, NOCS, BGS & JNCC): Identification of areas of nature conservation importance in deep waters of the UK continental shelf, to contribute towards spatial planning and the development of an ecologically coherent network of MPAs in the North-East Atlantic (2007 - 2010)


BSc (Hons) Marine Science

  • Module leader: Deep-Sea Ecosystems (year 4)
  • Lecturer: Marine Biology (year 2)
  • Lecturer: Polar Seas (year 4)
My contact details

Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy SAMS

Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy
T: +44 (0)1631 559 305
F: +44 (0)1631 559 001
Scottish Marine Institute
Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, UK

Publication List