Dr Will Goodall-Copestake

        Dr Will Goodall-Copestake cleaning a net in the Arctic

Lecturer in Biological Oceanography

A biologist at the interface of genetics, conservation and engineering, with a passion for marine biodiversity and the development of nature inspired solutions to environmental and societal challenges.: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=6PcAh40AAAAJ&hl=en

Contact details:

My research involves using genetic and morphological analysis to identify species, to estimate their diversity, infer their relationships, and explore how they are adapted to their environments. The aim of this research is to further our understanding of marine biodiversity and to generate data of value for conservation efforts and technological innovations.

Particular interests include the biology of gelatinous zooplankton (especially doliolids, pyrosomes, salps), the management of skate and ray populations, biodiversity assessments from multi-species mixtures of environmental DNA, and the dynamics of nuclear ribosomal and mitochondrial DNA – the most popular sources of molecular markers for biodiversity research.


Peer-reviewed publications

Newsham KK & Goodall-Copestake WP (2021) Liverworts frequently form mycothalli on Spitsbergen in the High Arctic. Polar Research 40. https://doi.org/10.33265/polar.v40.7727

Fitzcharles, E., Hollyman, P.R., Goodall-Copestake, W.P. Maclaine, J.S., Collins M.A. The taxonomic identity and distribution of the eel cod Muraenolepis (Gadiformes: Muraenolepididae) around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. 2021. Polar Biol 44, 637–651 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-021-02819-2

Biersma EM, Torres-Díaz C, Molina-Montenegro MA, Newsham KK, Vidal MA, Collado GA, Acuña-Rodríguez IS, Ballesteros GI, Figueroa CC, Goodall-Copestake WP, Leppe MA, Cuba-Díaz M, Valladares MA, Pertierra LR, Convey P. 2020. Multiple late-Pleistocene colonisation events of the Antarctic pearlwort Colobanthus quitensis (Caryophyllaceae) reveal the recent arrival of native Antarctic vascular flora. Journal of Biogeography online early https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13843

Pérez-Espona S, Goodall-Copestake WP, Savirina A, Bobovikova J, Molina-Rubio C, Pérez-Barbería FJ. First assessment of MHC diversity in wild Scottish red deer populations. 2019. European Journal of Wildlife Research 65(2) 22.

Barnes D, Morley SA, Bell J, Brewin P, Brigden K, Collins M, Glass T, Goodall-Copestake WP, Henry L, Laptikhovsky V, Piechaud N, Richardson A, Rose P, Sands CJ, Schofield A, Shreeve R, Small A, Stamford T, Taylor B. 2018. Marine plastics threaten giant Atlantic Marine Protected Areas. Current Biology 28 R1137-R1138.

Goodall-Copestake WP. 2018. nrDNA:mtDNA copy number ratios as a comparative metric for evolutionary and conservation genetics. Heredity 121: 105-111.

Pérez-Espona S, Goodall-Copestake WP, Berghoff SM, Edwards KJ, Franks NR. 2018. Army imposters: diversification of army ant-mimicking beetles with their Eciton hosts. Insectes Sociaux 65: 59-75.

Goodall-Copestake WP. 2017. One tunic but more than one barcode: evolutionary insights from dynamic mitochondrial DNA in Salpa thompsoni (Tunicata: Salpida). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 120: 637-648.

Dickinson I, Goodall-Copestake W, Thorne M, Schlitt T, Ávila-Jiménez M, Pearce D. 2016 Extremophiles in an Antarctic Marine Ecosystem. Microorganisms, 4.18.

Seear PJ, Rosato E, Goodall-Copestake WP, Barber I. (2015) The molecular evolution of spiggin nesting glue in sticklebacks. Molecular Ecology, 24. 4474-4488.

Newsham KK, Goodall-Copestake WP, Ochyra R, Váňa J. 2014. Mycothalli of the hepatic Barbilophozia hatcheri in Antarctica: distribution and identities of mycobionts. Fungal Ecology 11: 91-99.

Goodall-Copestake WP. 2014. Morphological and molecular characterization of salps (Thalia spp.) from the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. Journal of Plankton Research 36: 883-888.

Leese F, Brand P, Rozenberg A, Mayer C, Agrawal S, Dambach J, Dietz L, Doemel JS, Goodall-Copestake WP et al. 2012. Exploring Pandora’s Box: Potential and pitfalls of low coverage genome surveys for evolutionary biology. PLoS One 7: e49202.

Seear PJ, Tarling GA, Goodall-Copestake WP, Fleming AH, Rosato E. 2012. Seasonal and spatial influences on gene expression in Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba Dana). Marine Ecology Progress Series 467: 61-75.

Goodall-Copestake WP, Tarling GA, Murphy EJ. 2012. On the comparison of population-level estimates of haplotype and nucleotide diversity: a case study using the gene cox1 in animals. Heredity 109: 50-56.

Nielsen J, English S, Goodall-Copestake WP, Wang J, Walling C, Bateman A, Kruuk L, Clutton-Brock T, Pemberton JM. 2012. Inbreeding and inbreeding depression of early life traits in a cooperative mammal. Molecular Ecology 21: 2788– 2804.

Seear PJ, Tarling GA, Burns G, Goodall-Copestake WP, Gaten E, Özkaya Ö, Rosato E. 2010. Differential gene expression during the moult cycle of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). BMC Genomics 11: 582.

Goodall-Copestake WP, Pérez-Espona S, Clark MS, Murphy EJ, Seear PJ, Tarling GA. 2010. Swarms of diversity at the gene cox1 in Antarctic Krill. Heredity 104: 513-518.

Goodall-Copestake WP, Pérez-Espona S, Harris DJ, Hollingsworth PM. 2010. The early evolution of the mega-diverse genus Begonia (Begoniaceae) inferred from organelle genome phylogenies. Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society 101: 243-250.

Goodall-Copestake WP, Harris DJ, Hollingsworth PM. 2009. The origin of a mega-diverse genus: dating Begonia (Begoniaceae) using alternative datasets, calibrations and relaxed clock methods. Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society 159: 363-380.

Pérez-Espona S, Pérez-Barbería FJ, Goodall-Copestake WP, Jiggins CD, Gordon IJ, Pemberton JM. 2009. Genetic diversity and population structure of Scottish Highland red deer (Cervus elaphus) populations: a mitochondrial survey. Heredity 102: 199-210.

Sands CJ, McInnes SJ, Marley NJ, Goodall-Copestake WP, Convey P, Linse K. 2008. Phylum Tardigrada: an “individual” approach. Cladistics 24: 861-871.

Hollingsworth PM, Dawson IK, Goodall-Copestake WP, Richardson JE, Weber C, Sotelo Montes C, Pennington RT. 2005. Do farmers reduce genetic diversity when they domesticate tropical trees? A case study from Amazonia. Molecular Ecology 14: 497-501.

Goodall-Copestake WP, Hollingsworth ML, Hollingsworth PM, Jenkins G, Collin E. 2005. Molecular Markers and ex situ conservation of the European elms (Ulmus spp.). Biological Conservation 122: 537-546.

Pennington RT, Pendry CA, Goodall-Copestake WP, O’Sullivan S. 2004. Phylogenetic analysis of Ruprechtia. In: Pendry CA. A monograph of Ruprecthia (Polygonaceae). Systematic Botany Monographs 67: 12-17.

Lowe AJ, Goodall-Copestake WP, Caron H, Kremer A, Decroocq S. 2002. A set of polymorphic microsatellites for Vochysia ferruginea, a promising tree for land reclamation in the Neotropics. Molecular Ecology Notes 2: 209-210.

Ouborg NJ, Goodall-Copestake WP, Saumitou-Laprade P, Bonnin I, Epplen JT. 2000. Novel polymorphic microsatellite loci isolated from the yellow waterlily, Nuphar lutea. Molecular Ecology 9: 497-498.


Other publications


Pérez-Espona S, Goodall-Copestake WP, Hollyman P, Collins MA. Assessment of genetic diversity and population structure of bycatch-caught Darkbelly skate (Bathyraja meridionalis) in South Georgia 2019. CCAMLR Report WG- FSA-2019/19

Pérez-Espona S, Goodall-Copestake WP, Savirina A, Bobovikova J, Molina-Rubio C, Pérez-Barbería FJ. First assessment of MHC diversity in wild Scottish red deer populations. 2019. Deer, Summer 19: 40-43.

Goodall-Copestake WP, Pérez-Espona S, Hollyman P, Belchier M. Genetic analysis of skates (Amblyraja spp.) caught as by-catch around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. 2018. CCAMLR Report WG-FSA-18/73.

Tarling GA, Ensor N, Fregin T, Goodall-Copestake WP, Fretwell P. 2010. An introduction to the biology of Northern krill (Meganyctiphanes norvegica Sars). In Tarling GA ed. Advances in Marine Biology – Biology of Northern Krill 57, Burlington: Academic Press.

Pérez-Espona S, Pérez-Barbería FJ, Goodall-Copestake WP, Gordon IJ, Jiggins CD, Pemberton JM. 2009. Are there any native red deer left in mainland Scotland? Deer, Spring 09: 22-25.

Neale S, Goodall-Copestake WP, Kidner CA. 2006. The Evolution of Diversity in Begonia. In: Teixeira da Silva JA ed. Floriculture, Ornamental and Plant Biotechnology: Advances and Topical Issues. Global Science Books.



Module leader:

Fundamentals of Marine Biology BSc


Current research students

Danny Buss: The impacts of whaling on genetic diversity, population structure and isotopic heterogeneity in the polar South Atlantic: a case study of 3 whale species (Balaenoptera borealis​, ​Balaenoptera physalus​ and Megaptera novaeangliae) , PhD, University of Cambridge (1st supervisor: Dr Jen Jackson @ British Antarctic Survey). 2017-2021

Ekta RayaniStabilisation of Low Temperature Biocatalysts using Immobilisation , PhD, University College London (1st supervisor: Dr Brenda Parker). 2017-2021

Alex Cotton: Nature Inspired Bioprocessing of Microalgae, PhD, University College London (1st supervisor: Dr Brenda Parker). 2016-2020


Alumni research students

George FootLiverwort-Fungal Associations: Novel symbioses in Polar regions?, PhD, University of Cambridge (1st supervisor: Dr Kevin Newsham @ British Antarctic Survey). 2014-2019


Employment history

2020-present: Lecturer in Biological Oceanography, Scottish Association for Marine Science, UK

2019-2020: Molecular Ecologist. UK Centre For Ecology & Hydrology Edinburgh, UK

2006-2019: Population Geneticist. British Antarctic Survey, UK

2006: Research Assistant. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK

2006: Research Assistant. The University of Edinburgh, UK



2005 PhD Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, University of Glasgow, UK

1995 BSc Agricultural Botany, University of Glasgow, UK

Professional Memberships

Council Member for the Systematics Association (2018 to present)

Fellow of the Linnean Society (2014 to present)

Research Associate of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge (2012 to 2016)


Research Expeditions

South Atlantic / Southern Ocean research cruises:

RRS James Clark Ross cruise JR17004, 2018, from Stanley - Falkland Islands (Malvinas) to St Helena, focussing on Tristan da Cunha and St Helena waters, with BAS Official Development Assistance and Cefas Blue Belt programme funding.

RRS James Clark Ross cruise JR17001, 2017, from Stanley - Falkland Islands (Malvinas) to Punta Arenas - Chile, focussing on the Drake Passage and West Antarctic Peninsula, with NERC-Conicyt ICEBERGS and NERC ORCHESTRA project funding.

RRS James Clark Ross - National Geographic expedition, 2017, from Recife - Brazil to Ascension Island, focussing on Ascension Island and mid-Atlantic seamounts, a Pristine Seas project in partnership with the Ascension Island Conservation Department, the British Antarctic Survey, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and The Blue Marine Foundation.

RRS James Clark Ross cruise JR278, 2013, from Stanley - Falkland Islands (Malvinas) to Ascension Island, focussing on Tristan da Cunha waters, with Darwin Initiative and The Pew Charitable Trusts funding.



Podcast interview for this paper (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41437-018-0088-8): https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/august-2018-podcast/id1400730553?i=1000437408053 or here: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cDovL2ZlZWRzLm5hdHVyZS5jb20vaGR5L3BvZGNhc3QvY3VycmVudA/episode/aHR0cDovL3MzLXNlcnZpY2UtYnJva2VyLWxpdmUtZTc5ZDJkM2ItYTM4ZC00OTBmLWFmMjgtZGUyYjdkZDMzZThhLnMzLmV1LWNlbnRyYWwtMS5hbWF6b25hd3MuY29tL211bHRpbWVkaWEvcG9kY2FzdC9oZHkvaGR5cG9kY2FzdF8xODA4Lm1wMw?ved=0CFEQzsICahcKEwjgwfSE1cfpAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ or here:https://overcast.fm/+B6TBGKx94

National Geographic: https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2017/06/01/seamounts-the-serengeti-of-the-ocean/



Manuscript reviewing for the journals Antarctic Science, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Biology Letters, Cahiers de Biologie Marine, Ecology and Evolution, European Journal of Taxonomy, Journal of Biogeography, Journal of Plankton Research, Molecular Ecology.

Grant reviewing for the National Science Foundation unit Biological Oceanography and for the Linnean Society - Systematics Association ‘Systematics Research Fund’