John Phelan

PhD student

My research will involve building an ecological model to describe the abundances of sea lice around salmon farms. Sea lice have a profound effect on the health of salmon, so accurate modelling could predict times where the fish are at high risk from being infected, which would inform management strategies for fish farms.

I have previously modelled the larval dispersal of a variety of invertebrate species (Pecten maximus, Palinurus elephas, Nephrops norvegicus), examining several biological parameters including the effects of vertical migration and pelagic larval duration. I have experience working with big data sets, a range of GIS packages and statistical software.

Contact details:

Dynamic spatial modelling and forecasting of sea lice abundances

I am building an ecological model to describe the abundance of Lepeophtheirus salmonis and forecast their numbers around Scottish salmon farms.

Sea lice populations are managed by fish farms in a variety of manners. To accurately describe the changes in their numbers several factors must be taken into account. These include abiotic factors such as water temperature, biotic factors such as predation and anthropogenic effects such as lice treatments. All these are important when building a model to forecast lice numbers into the future, which will in turn inform management strategies, to reduce the impact of sea lice on farmed and wild salmonids.



Dr Tom Adams, SAMS

Professor Keith Davidson, SAMS

Dr Phil Gillibrand, MOWI

Dr Alexander Murray, Scottish Government



Co-funded by MASTS/The Data Lab and Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre



University of the Highlands and Islands


Start date

Feb 2019

Relevant employment history

May - Aug 2018: Bursar - Fisheries analyst. Marine Institute, Ireland

May - Sep 2017: Contractor - Larval modelling. Marine Institute, Ireland

May - Aug 2016: Bursar - Larval modelling. Marine Institute, Ireland



2018 BSc Marine Science. NUI Galway

2012 BA BAI Computer Engineering. Trinity College Dublin


Fieldwork experience

Member of leg 2 of the Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic (WESPAS) survey 2018

June 2018: Sea bass survey, Co Wexford, Ireland

June 2016: Cockle survey, Co Louth, Ireland