I am interested in the effects of human activities on marine organisms at behavioural and physiological levels.
As humans change the face of our planet so animals have to adapt or go extinct – I hope even in a small way to help avoid the latter.
Underlying my work is a fascination of clock biology or chronobiology i.e. how animals tell the time. This has led me from studying the chronobiology of worms in muddy estuaries to zooplankton across the entire Arctic Ocean – I have surprisingly found that both demonstrate an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time.
I see myself as a 'practical' scientist and enjoy answering difficult questions by developing new technologies, often in very hostile places, in order to better link the biology with the physics of the natural environment.
Current research projects
Arctic PRIZE: Climate change impacts in the Arctic Ocean. Funded by NERC. 2016-19
DIAPOD: Climate change impacts on marine copepods. Funded by NERC. 2016-19
Arctic ABC: Arctic marine ecology and autonomous technology development. Funded by NFR. 2014-18
CACHE: Climate change impacts on commercial shellfish. Funded by EU FP7. 2013-17
Highlight past projects
CIRCA: Circadian rhythms in Arctic ecosystems. Funded by NFR. 2012-15
TROMyt projects (3): Effects of seawater chlorination on mussels. Funded by CEFAS/EDF. 2013-17
SabALV: Effects of seawater chlorination on Sabellaria polychaetes. Funded by CEFAS/EDF. 2011
MaREE: Sediment impacts from marine renewables on commercial and biogenic reef builders. Funded by HIE/EU/SFC. 2010-14
MALF: Impacts of aggregate dredging on benthic organisms. Funded by DEFRA. 2007-10
Peer-reviewed publications (since 2013)
Payton L, Noirot C, Hoede C, Hüppe L, Last K, Wilcockson D, Ershova EA, Valière S & Meyer B (2020) Daily transcriptomes of the copepod Calanus finmarchicusduring the summer solstice at high Arctic latitudes. Scientific Data 7, 415 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-020-00751-4
Hutchison ZL, Green DH, Burrows MT, Jackson AC, Wilson B, Last KS (2020) Survival strategies and molecular responses of two marine mussels to gradual burial by sediment. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 527: 151364 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2020.151364
Stewart-Sinclair PJ, Last KS, Payne BL, Wilding TA (2020) A global assessment of the vulnerability of shellfish aquaculture to climate change and ocean acidification. Ecology and Evolution 10(7): 3518–3534. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6149
Geoffroy M, Berge J, Majaneva S, Johnsen G, Langbehn TJ, Cottier F, Mogstad AA, Zolich A, Last K (2018) Increased occurrence of the jellyfish Periphylla periphylla in the European Arctic. Polar Biology 41(12): 2615-2619 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-018-2368-4
Daase M., Kosobokova K., Last K. S., Cohen J., Hatlebakk M., Søreide J., Choquet M. 2018. New insights into the biology of Calanus spp. (Copepoda) males in the Arctic. Marine Ecology Progress Series. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12788.
Häfker, N. S., Teschke, M., Last, K. S., Pond, D. W., Hüppe, L., Meyer, B., 2018. Calanus finmarchicusseasonal cycle and diapause in relation to gene expression, physiology, and endogenous clocks. Limnology and Oceanography 9999: 1-24. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11011
Benjamins, S. Fox, C. J., Last, K. S., McCarty, C. E., 2018. Individual identification of flapper skate Dipturus intermedius using a baited camera lander. Endangered Species Research 37, p37. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00911
Hobbs, L., Cottier, F., Last, K. S., Berge, J. 2018. Pan-Arctic diel vertical migration during the polar night. Marine Ecology Progress Series. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12753
Sören Häfker, Bettina Meyer, Kim S. Last, David W. Pond, Lukas Hüppe, Mathias Teschke, 2017. Circadian clock involvement in zooplankton diel vertical migration. Current Biology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.025
Kent, F.E., Gray, M.J., Last, K.S., Sanderson, W.G., 2016. Horse mussel reef ecosystem services: evidence for a whelk nursery habitat supporting a shellfishery. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, 1-9.
Orejas, C., Gori, A., Rad-Menéndez, C., Last, K. S., Davies, A. J., Beveridge, C. M., Sadd, D., Kiriakoulakis, K., Witte, U., Roberts, J. M. 2016. The effect of flow speed and food size on the capture efficiency and feeding behaviour of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. JEMBE 481, 34-40.
Last, K. S., Hendrick, V. J., Beveridge, C. M., V. J., Wilding, T., Roberts, D. A. Lethal and sub-lethal responses of the biogenic reef forming polychaete Sabellaria alveolata to aqueous chlorine and temperature. Marine Environmental Research. 117: 44–53.
Hutchison, Z. L., Hendrick, V. J., Burrows, M. T., Wilson, B., Last, K. S. Buried Alive: The behavioural response of two mussels, Modiolus modiolus and Mytilus edulis to sudden burial by sediment. PLoS ONE. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151471
Hendrick, V.J., Hutchison, Z., Last, K. S. Sediment burial intolerance of marine macroinvertebrates. PLoS ONE. 11, e0149114.
Cottrell, R. S., Hutchison, Z. L., Black, K., Last, K. S. 2016. The influence of organic material and temperature on the burial tolerance of the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis: considerations for the management of marine aggregate dredging. PLoS ONE. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0147534
Last, K. , Hobbs, L., Berge, J., Brierley, A. S., Cottier, F. 2016. Moonlight drives ocean-basin scale mass vertical migration of zooplankton during the Arctic winter. Current Biology. 26: 1-8.
Berge, J., Daase, M., Renaud, P., Ambrose, W., Darnis, G., Last, K.S., Leu, E., Cohen, J., Johnsen, G., Moline, M.A., Cottier, F., Varpe, Ø., Shunatova, N., Balazy, P., Morata, N., Massabuau, J.-C., Falk-Petersen, S., Kosobokova, K., Clara J.M. Hoppe, Weslawski, J.M., Kuklinski, P., Legeżyńska, J., Nikishina, D., Cusa, M., Kedra, M., Wlodarska, M., Vogedes, D., Camus, L., Tran, D., Michaud, E., Gabrielsen, T.M., Granovitch, A., Gonchar, A., Krapp, R., Callesen, T.A., 2015 Unexpected levels of biological activity during the polar night offers new perspectives on a warming Arctic. Current Biology 25, 1-7.
Berge, J., Renaud, P.E., Darnis, G., Cottier, F., Last, K.S., Gabrielsen, T.M., Johnsen, G., Seuthe, L., Weslawski, J.M., Leu, E., 2015 In the dark: a review of ecosystem processes during the Arctic polar night. Progress in http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2015.08.005
Cohen, J.H., Berge, J., Moline, M.A., Sørensen, A.J., Last, K.S, Falk-Petersen, S., Renaud, P.E., Leu, E.S., Grenvald, J., Cottier, F., 2015 Is ambient light during the high Arctic Polar Night sufficient to act as a visual cue for zooplankton? PLoS ONE 10 (6), e0126247.
Browne, N. K., Precht, E., Last, K. S., Todd, P. A. 2014. The photo-physiological costs associated with acute sediment stress events in three near-shore turbid water corals. MEPS 502: 129-14.
Lai, S., Gillis, L. G., Mueller, C., Bouma, T. J., Guest, J. R., Last, K. S., Ziegler, A. D., Todd, P. A. 2013 First experimental evidence of corals feeding on seagrass matter. Coral Reefs. 32: 1061-1064.
Miller, R. G., Hutchison Z. L., Macleod, A. K., Burrows, M. T., Cook, E. J., Last K. S., Wilson, B. 2013 Marine renewable energy development: assessing the Benthic Footprint at multiple scales. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 11: 433-440.
Schaum CE, Batty R, Last KS (2013) Smelling danger – alarm cue responses in the polychaete Nereis (Hediste) diversicolor (Müller, 1776) to potential fish predation. PLoS ONE 8(10): e77431. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077431
Other publications (since 2013)
Last, K. S., A clockwork world. Ocean Explorer Magazine, issue 37, summer 2017.
Last, K. S., Book review of “Moonstruck: how lunar cycles affect life” by Ernest Naylor. Ocean Challenge, Vol 22, No 1.
Last, K. S., Beveridge, C. M. & Wilding, T. A. 2016. TROMyt4 – Tolerance of Mytilus edulis to seawater chlorination and suspended sediment. A report by SRSL for Cefas 02044_000, pp. 41.
Last, K. S., Beveridge, C. M. & Wilding, T. A. 2016. TROMyt3 A – Chlorine demand trial. A report by SRSL for Cefas, pp.19
Last, K. S., Beveridge, C. M. & Wilding, T. A. 2016. TROMyt3 B - Tolerance of Mytilus edulis to suspended sediment. A report by SRSL for Cefas, pp.25
Last, K. S., Beveridge, C. M. & Wilding, T. A. 2016. TROMyt3 C – Bromoform trial. A report by SRSL for Cefas, pp.22
Last, K. S., Hendrick, V. J. 2014. Snowy and Penny’s Arctic Adventure. Published by Sole Design.
Last, K. S., Hendrick, V. J. 2014 In “Annual, Lunar and Tidal Clocks”, chapter “The clock-work-worms: diversity and function of clock expression in marine polychaete worms.” Springer.
Last, K. S., Hendrick, V. J. 2014 “Predicted sensitivity of benthic organisms within the Don Diego Phosphate Marine Dredge Concession Area”. Report prepared on behalf of SRSL for Odyssey Marine Exploration.
Last, K. S., Beveridge, C. M., Wilding, T. 2014. “Pilot study on the tolerance of Mytilus edulis to aqueous chlorine and suspended sediments.” Commercial report for CEFAS BEEMS 2013, WP8. SRSL report No 01018_P06870001. 25pp
Last, K. S., Hendrick, V. J, Beveridge, C. M. 2012 Tolerance of Sabellaria alveolata to Aqueous Chlorine. Final Report for the BEEMS programme, Work Package 6.
Consultancy and industry experience
I have led a number of commercial projects over the last ten years with a value totaling >£600K. Initial work focused on assessing the consequences of anthropogenic sediments from aggregate dredging on benthic macroinvertebrates (funded by the MALSF programme). As part of this a novel mesocosm was built, the Vortex Resuspension Tank (VORTs), with the capacity to simulate sediment plumes. Using this system two further projects (SabSPIN / SabALV) were commissioned, this time assessing the impacts of seawater chlorination on sensitive and protected biogenic reef habitats. Following this, four further projects (TROMyt1-4) were commissioned by CEFAS/EDF Energy all aimed at determining the impact of chlorination/sediment on the fouling blue mussel. Collectively these projects have provided highly relevant and scientifically robust data to the marine aggregate industry (where the UK is the largest producer in the world) and a multi-billion pound new UK nuclear power station development. The VORT mesocosms were also used as part of a large multi-partner study (MaREE) to assess the impacts of sediment from the marine renewable industry.
Accessing consultancy services from SAMS
SAMS consultancy work is delivered through its wholly owned commercial subsidiary, SAMS Research Services Ltd. (SRSL). SRSL operates a comprehensive Quality Management System (QMS) that is accredited to ISO9001:2008 standard, guaranteeing that all projects deliver the best possible service to our customers. All SRSL projects are planned by a professional programme manager who oversees a team of dedicated project managers, all of whom are focussed specifically on client delivery, and have scientific experience and technical expertise in fields relevant to their assigned projects.
For further information concerning commercial enterprise opportunities at SAMS, please contact SRSL by email (email@example.com) or phone +44 (0) 1631 559 470.
Marine Science BSc: Module leader for year 4 'Behaviour and Biological Clocks'
Marine Science BSc: Lecturer year 4 'Deep-Sea Ecosystems'
Marine Science BSc: Lecturer year 4 'Polar Ecology'
Marine Science BSc: Lecturer year 3 'Marine Conservation'
Marine Science BSc: Lecturer year 2 'Marine Biology'
In the last few years I have also contributed to various external undergraduate lectures and seminars, highlights include: Environmental Genomics masterclass at the University of Newcastle; Chronobiology at the University of Svalbard (UNIS); Sediment impact studies at the Universities of Singapore, Stirling and Bordeaux.
I have also examined 5 PhD and 1 MSc theses.
Current research students
Kati Michalek: Climate change and shellfish. PhD 2014-17. University of Aberdeen
Alumni research students
Laura Hobbs: Arctic ocean zooplankton migrations. PhD 2012-16. University of Aberdeen
Flora Kent: Ecosystem services of horse mussel beds. PhD 2012-15. Heriot-Watt University
Zoe Hutchison: Sediment impacts on mussels. PhD 2010-14. University of Aberdeen
Beatiz de Francisco: Ocean acidification in cold-water corals. PhD 2007-13. University of Aberdeen
Tammi Warrender: Microbial associations of cold-water corals. MSc 2014-15. University of St Andrews
Ffion Lowe: Ocean acidification in cold-water corals. MSc 2013-14. University of St Andrews
Richard Cottrell: Sediment and organic matter impacts on mussels. MSc 2013-14. University of St Andrews
Keshtav Ramdial: Metal leachate toxicity in marine systems. MSc 2013-14. University of St Andrews
Natasha Hill: Ocean acidification in cold-water corals. MSc 2013-14. University of St Andrews
Fraser Mackay: Sediment impacts on feeding in cold-water corals. MSc 2012-13. University of St Andrews
Harriet Condie: Sediment impacts on Sabellaria. MSc 2008-09. York University
Charlotte Elisa Schaum: Fish alarm signals. MSc 2008-09. University of Rostock
Moonlight helps plankton escape predators during Arctic winters (New Scientist 07.01.2016)
Do blame it on the moonlight: Arctic plankton boogie to the moon (Scimex 08.01.2016)
Tiny Marine Critters Migrate In The Arctic Winter Using Moonlight (IFLScience 07.01.2016)
Arctic Winter: Marine Creatures Migrate By Moonlight During Arctic Winter, Study Says (HNGN 08.01.2016)
Moonlight Drives Zooplankton’s Winter Migrations (The New York Times 08.01.2016)
Arctic animals navigate by light of the winter moon (UPI 07.01.2016)
'Werewolf' creatures in the Arctic navigate by the cycle of the MOON: During dark winter months plankton migrate in lunar cycles (Daily Mail 07.01.2016)
Artico, animali marini stregati da Luna (Corriere 07.01.2016)
In Arctic winter, marine creatures migrate by the light of the moon (01.2016 MyWebMemo)
Marine Creatures Migrate by Moon's Light During Arctic Winter (Laboratory Equipment 07.01.2016)
Biologists make surprise discovery among plankton in the Arctic (Herald Scotland 07.01.2016)
'Werewolf' creatures in the Arctic navigate by the cycle of the MOON: During dark winter months plankton migrate in lunar cycles (One News Page 07.01.2016)
'Werewolf' creatures in the Arctic navigate by the cycle of the MOON: During dark winter months plankton migrate in lunar cycles (Singapore News 07.01.2016)
Moonlight drives marine creatures in Arctic winter (Siasat 11.01.2016)
Arctic animals navigate by the light of winter Moon (India Today 11.01.2016)
Arctic Animals Navigate By The Light Of Winter Moon: Study (NDTV 11.01.2016)
Arctic animals navigate by the light of winter Moon (The Economic Times 11.01.2016)
Moonlight Drives Marine Creatures in Arctic Winter (Vishwa Gujarat 11.01.2016)
Moonlight drives mass migration in Arctic winter (Infoyu 11.01.2016)
During Arctic Winters, Active Marine Creatures Migrate By Moonlight (Nature World News 08.01.2016)
Oban scientists discover moonlight winter ocean travellers (Press and Journal 08.01.2016)
Moonlight migration discovered (com 08.01.2016)
In Arctic winter, marine creatures migrate by the light of the moon (EurekAlert! 07.01.2016)
Moonlight drives marine creatures in Arctic winter (Udaipur Kiran 11.01.2016)
Zooplankton Migrate By Moon Light During Arctic Winter (Science World Report 11.01.2016)
Study finds arctic creatures navigate by the light of winter moon (Bulletin India 11.01.2016)
Arctic animals navigate by the light of winter Moon (News Nation 11.01.2016)
Migrazioni al chiaro di Luna per lo zooplancton dell'Artide (Le Scienze 12.01.2016)
In Arctic winter, marine creatures migrate by the light of the moon (org 07.01.2016)
Moonlight drives marine creatures in Arctic winter (Big News Network 11.01.2016)
Månesyke for plankton i Arktis (no 09.01.2016)
In Arctic winter, marine creatures migrate by the light of the moon (eScience news 07.01.2016)
In Arctic winter, marine creatures migrate by the light of the moon (Science Codex 07.01.2016)
Polar Moondance: Decades of acoustic data reveal surprising migration patterns of zooplankton in the Arctic winter. (Meta Science News 07.01.2016)
El zooplancton del Ártico migra bajo la luz de la luna (Sinc 07.01.2016)
Moonlight drives marine creatures in Arctic winter (Indio Asian News Service 11.01.2016)
In Arctic winter, 'werewolves of the deep' hunt by moonlight (The Christian Science Monitor 11.01.2016)
Moonlight drives marine creatures in Arctic winter (Daijiworld 11.01.2016)
Moonlight Drives Migration Of Marine Animals In Arctic Winter (Tech Times 13.01.2016)
SAMS scientists discover moonlight driving ocean ‘werewolves’ to gather for Arctic Ocean winter odyssey (com 01.2016)
Forskning viser at arktiske dyreplankton er påvirket av fullmånen (Nordlys 12.01.2016)
Plankton i Arktis kan bli viktig for framtidas klimamodeller (NRK Nordland 17.01.2016)
Dunbeg Primary School. (2016). The Science of the Arctic Ocean.
University of the third Age (U3A), Oban, (2016). The Rhythms of Life.
Interviews with: New York Times, New Scientist, CSMonitor, (2016) “Moonlight drives ocean-basin scale mass vertical migration of zooplankton during the Arctic winter”.
Video Abstract for the journal Current Biology: “Moonlight drives ocean-basin scale mass vertical migration of zooplankton during the Arctic winter” (2016). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeHHP8OQ66E .
University of the third Age (U3A), SAMS (2014). The SAMS Underwater Observatory.
Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers (ASSG), Oban (2014). Calcium in a Changing Environment.
I review for a variety of journals i.e. Chronobiology International, Frontiers in Bioscience, Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology, Journal of Molluscan Studies, Journal of the Marine Biological Association, Marine Biology, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Polar Biology, Proceeding of the Royal Society, Scientia Marina, Soil Biology etc.
Professional memberships and roles
Member of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms
Member of the UK Deep-Sea SIG
Member of the Challenger Society
Member of the Institute of Biology
Relevant research expeditions
Arctic Ocean cruises aboard the R/V Helmer Hanssen annually 2014-2017
2015-present Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology and Chronobiology. SAMS
2010-15 Lecturer in Marine Biology and Deputy Head of Ecology Department. SAMS
2006-10 Research Fellow (ARC), SAMS. Research focus: marine chronobiology, sediment impacts on macroinvertebrates, whale-fall fauna ocean acidification.
2006 Research / Teaching Fellow. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Responsibilities include: undergraduate teaching, specifically boatwork teaching; collating outputs from NERC EGT programme (see below), grant submission and paper generation.
2002-05 Research Associate (NERC). University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Part of a collaborative NERC Environmental Genomics Thematic Programme investigating the behavioural and molecular basis for tidal rhythms in the marine polychaete Nereis virens. Work on Nereis includes characterization of behavioural phenotypes, cDNA library creation, microarray spotting / hybridization and probing for conserved clock genes.
2001-02 Researcher. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. This period allowed scientific focus on paper writing, grant applications and continuing research into the chronobiology of the polychaete Nereis virens.
2001 Self-employed Environmental Consultant. Consultancy work primarily for E.R.T. Caspian which entailed an Environmental Impact Assessment in Azerbaijan for British Petroleum Ltd. This involved benthic mapping and ground-truthing of Caspian Sea benthic flora and fauna.
2000 PhD 'PhD 'Photoperiodism in the semalparous polychaete Nereis virens (Sars)'. University of Newcastle. Supervisor: Peter JW Olive
1994 MSc Fisheries Biology and Management. (Supervisor: Ernest Naylor)
1993 BSc (Hons) Biology. University of Portsmouth