The deep sea is by far the largest ecosystem on the planet. It harbours many fascinating habitats including underwater mountains through to the nearby continental margins. My deep-sea 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 in all the major oceans including the NE Atlantic and polar seas.
In addition my research focus is looking at plastics, specifically microplastics, found in the marine environment. Microplastics, particles < 5 mm in size, are of particular biological concern as they can be ingested by a wide diversity of organisms, which have been shown to suffer negative impacts as a consequence. The long term fate of marine microplastics is not well known; however it is hypothesised that the deep sea may be the final repository for this pollutant. Assessing the input sources, transport routes and 'lifecycle' of marine microplastics are fundamental questions to understanding the impacts of plastic pollution and ensure adequate mitigation measures are in place at both a regional and global level.
Current research projects
Arctic PRIZE. Funded by NERC. 2017-
Selected past projects
Benthic biodiversity of seamounts in the southwest Indian Ocean (SWIOR). Funded by NERC
Impact of the geometry of submarine landscapes on deep-sea biogeochemistry (TOPODEEP): Funded by NERC
Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man's Impact on European Seas (HERMIONE): Funded by EU FP7
European Census of Marine Life (EuroCoML): Funded by TOTAL Foundation, Alfred Sloan Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Argyll and the Islands Enterprise. 2005-10
Courtene-Jones W, Quinn B, Ewins C, Gary SF, Narayanaswamy BE (2020) Microplastic accumulation in deep-sea sediments from the Rockall Trough. Marine Pollution Bulletin 154: 111092. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111092
AJ Jamieson, LSR Brooks, WDK Reid, SB Piertney, BE Narayanaswamy & TD Linley (2019). Microplastics and synthetic particles ingested by deep-sea amphipods in six of the deepest marine ecosystems on Earth. Royal Society Open Science 6: 180667. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.180667
Courtene-Jones W, Quinn B, Ewins C, Gary SF, Narayanaswamy BE (2018) Consistent microplastic ingestion by deep-sea invertebrates over the last four decades (1076-2015), a study from the North East Atlantic. Environmental Pollution. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.10.090
Boswarva K, Butters A, Fox CJ, Howe JA, Narayanaswamy B (2018) Improving marine habitat mapping using high-resolution acoustic data; a predictive habitat map for the Firth of Lorn, Scotland. Continental Shelf Research 168: 39-47 DOI: 10.1016/j.csr.2018.09.005
Neat FC, Jamieson AJ, Stewart HA, Narayanaswamy BE, Collie N, Stewart M, Linley TD (2018) Visual evidence of reduced seafloor conditions and indications of a cold-seep ecosystem from the Hatton–Rockall basin (NE Atlantic). Journal of the Marine Biological Association UK. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025315418000115
Courtene-Jones, W. Quinn, B. Gary, S. F. Mogg, A. O. M. Narayanaswamy, B. E. (2017) Microplastic pollution identified in deep-sea water and ingested by benthic invertebrates in the Rockall Trough, North Atlantic Ocean. Environmental Pollution, 231, pp 271-280; DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.08.026
Narayanaswamy BE, Rea T, Serpetti N & Lamont PA (2017) What lies within: Annelid polychaetes found in micro-habitats of coral/carbonate material from SW Indian Ocean seamounts. Deep Sea Research II 137: 157-165. doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.06.018
Courtene-Jones W, Quinn B, Murphy F, Gary SF & Narayanaswamy BE (2017) Optimisation of enzymatic digestion and validation of specimen preservation methods for the analysis of ingested microplastics. Analytical Methods 9: 1437-1445
Serpetti N, Taylor ML, Brennan D, Green Dh, Rogers AD, Paterson GLJ & Narayanaswamy BE (2017) Ecological adaptations and commensal evolution of the Polynoidae (Polychaeta) in the Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge: A phylogenetic approach. Deep Sea Research II 137: 273-281
Woodall LC, Robinson LF, Rogers AD, Narayanaswamy BE, Paterson GLJ (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
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
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 (4):140317. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.140317
Watson C, Chivers AJ, Narayanaswamy BE, Lamont P & Turnewitsch R (2014) Chrysopetalidae (Annelida: Phyllodocida) from Senghor Seamount, NE Atlantic: taxa with deep-sea affinities & morphological adaptions. Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria: Proceedings of the International Polychaete Conference 71: 311-325.
Thurber AR, Sweetman AK, Narayanaswamy BE, Jones DOB, Ingels J & Hansman RL (2014). Ecosystem function and services provided by the deep sea. Biogeosciences 11, 3941-3963.
Bett BJ, Narayanaswamy BE (2014) Genera as proxies for species α- and β-diversity: tested across a deep-water Atlantic-Arctic boundary. Marine Ecology. 35: 436-444
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.
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.
Hughes DJ & Narayanaswamy BE (2013). Impacts of climate change on deep-sea habitats. Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership: Science Review. pp 204-210.
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.
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.
Morato T, Kvile K Ø, Taranto GH, Tempera F, Narayanaswamy BE, Hebbeln D, Menezes GM, Wienberg C, Santos RS & Pitcher TJ (2013) Seamount physiography and biology in the north-east Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Biogeosciences, 10, 3039–3054.
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. 29 (7) 648-655.
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.
Gontikaki E, Mayor DJ, Narayanaswamy BE & Witte U (itemIDitemID2331E2011) Feeding strategies of deep-sea sub-Arctic macrofauna of the Faroe-Shetland Channel: combining natural stable isotopes and enrichment techniquesuserIDuserID56E. Deep-sea Res I. 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) e:15323.
Narayanaswamy BE, Renaud P, Duineveld G, Berge J, Lavaleye MSS, Reiss H & Brattegard T (itemIDitemID2328E2010). Biodiversity trends along the western European MarginuserIDuserID56E. 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 (itemIDitemID2316E2010) Deep, diverse and definitely different: unique attributes of the world's largest ecosystemuserIDuserID56E. Biogeosciences. 7: 2851-2899.
Narayanaswamy BE, BJ Bett & Hughes DJ (itemIDitemID2243E2010) Deep-water macrofaunal diversity in the Faroe-Shetland region (NE Atlantic): a margin subject to an unusual thermal regimeuserIDuserID56E. Marine Ecology. 31: 237-246.
Howell K, Davies JS & Narayanaswamy BE (itemIDitemID2242E2010) Identifying deep-sea megafaunal epibenthic assemblages for use in habitat mapping and marine protected area network designuserIDuserID56E. JMBA UK. 90: 33-68.
Narayanaswamy BE & Blake JA (itemIDitemID984E2005). A new species of Orbiniella (Polycahaeta: Orbiniidae) from deep basins of AntarcticauserIDuserID56E. JMBA UK. 85(4): 843-846.
Narayanaswamy BE Bett BJ & Gage JD (itemIDitemID983E2005). Ecology of bathyal polychaete fauna at an Arctic-Atlantic boundary (Faroe-Shetland Channel, North-east Atlantic)userIDuserID56E. Marine Biology Research. 1: 20-32.
Blake JA & Narayanaswamy BE (itemIDitemID522E2004). Benthic infaunal communities across the Weddell Sea Basin and South Sandwich Slope, AntarcticauserIDuserID56E. Deep-sea Res II 51: 1797-1815.
Narayanaswamy BE, Nickell TD & Gage JD (itemIDitemID370E2003) Appropriate levels of taxonomic discrimination in deep-sea studies: species vs familyuserIDuserID56E. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 257: 59-68.
Bett BJ, Malzone GM, Narayanaswamy BE, Wigham BD. (itemIDitemID538E2001). Temporal variability in phytodetritus and megabenthic activity at the seabed in the deep Northeast AtlanticuserIDuserID56E. Prog in Oceanogr. 50(1-4): 349-368.
Narayanaswamy BE & Foley M (2016) Impacts and effect of ocean warming on deep- sea communities. In: Laffoley D & Baxter JM (Eds). Explaining ocean warming: Causes, scale effects and consequences. Ch 3.9, 199 – 212
Narayanaswamy BE, Bett BJ, Lamont PA, Rowden AA, Bell EM & Menot L. (2016). Chapter 11 – Corers and Grabs. In: Clark M, Rowden AA, Consalvey M. Sampling the Deep-Sea. Blackwell Publishing, Chichester, UK.
Ingels J, Clark M, Vecchione M, Perez JAA, Levin L, 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, Gates AR, Snelgrove P, Bernal P & van Gaever S (2016) Open Ocean Deep Sea. IN: Oceans and Law of the Sea – United Nations. Ch 36F.
Baker E, Gaill F, Karageirgis AP, Lamarche G, Narayanaswamy BE, Parr J, Raharimananirina C, Santos R, Sharma R & Tuhumwire J (2016). Offshore Mining Industries. IN: Oceans and Law of the Sea – United Nations. Ch 23.
Holtrop G, Swan S, Duff B, Wilding T, Narayanaswamy BE, Davidson K. (2016). Risk assessment of the Scottish monitoring programme for the marine biotoxins in shellfish harvested from classified production areas: review of the current sampling scheme to develop an improved programme based on evidence of risk. FSS/2015/021
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 http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/Report_530_web.pdf
Consultancy and industry experience
I have 15+ years of experience working on the biology of deep-sea ecosystems. Some of this work has been undertaken through the Strategic Environmental Surveys of the deep waters around the UK.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone +44 (0) 1631 559 470.
Postgraduate: Module leader 'Teaching to teach'
Marine Science BSc: Module leader 'Deep Sea Ecosystems' year 4
Marine Science BSc: Module leader 'Dissertation' year 4
Marine Science BSc: Lecturer 'Polar Seas' year 4
Marine Science BSc: Lecturer 'Marine Zoology' year 3
Marine Science BSc: Lecturer 'Marine Biology' year 2
Current research students
Martin Foley: Where's my dinner? Do Arctic benthic communities show preferential food uptake? PhD since 2017. UHI
Lola Paradinas: Distribution of microplastics in the Scottish marine environment. PhD since 2017. UHI
Winnie Courtene-Jones: Microplastics in the deep sea environment: using deep-sea animals to detect changes in microplastics in the NE Atlantic. PhD since 2015. UHI
Karen Boswarva: Testing the effectiveness of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) for monitoring and mapping the seabed in Marine Protected Areas. PhD since 2016. UHI
Matthew Pace: Modelling the ecosystem consequences of demersal fishing gear impacts on soft sediment habitats. PhD since 2017. University of Glasgow
Anna Gebruk: Revealing food resources of the Atlantic walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) in the Pechora Sea. MSc 2017. University of Edinburgh
Alumni research students
Adam Chivers: The Biodiversity and Ecology of Senghor Seamount (NE Atlantic). PhD 2015. University of Aberdeen
Martin Foley: Differences in Macrofaunal Communities Between a Cold Seep Site and its Surrounding Area, NE Atlantic. MSci 2017. University of Glasgow
Jaime Davies: 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. PhD 2010. University of Plymouth
Sofia Ledin: The ecology and biodiversity of benthic macro fauna found in three deep sea canyons of Papua New Guinea, pre-DSTP. MSc 2014. University of Stockholm
Margaux Llapasset: Changes in the structure and diversity of the Rockall Trough (NE Atlantic) macrofauna over time. MSc 2015. Université de Perpignan
Alex Schweizer: Macrobenthic community structure and diversity in the Rockall Trough: A 30-year time-series study. MSc 2013. University of St Andrews and SAMS
Stephen Watson: Seasonal and inter-annual trends in macrobenthic community structure in the Rockall Trough, NE Atlantic. MSc 2012. University of St Andrews and SAMS
Adam Chivers: Macrofauna from Senghor Seamount. MSc 2010. Heriot-Watt University
Evangelia Gontikaki: The fate of phytodetritus pulses in subarctic and Mediterranean sediments. PhD 2010. University of Aberdeen
Royal Society of Biology: Fellow
MASTS Deep Sea Forum: Member
Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI): Member
UN General Assembly Worlds Oceans Assessment: Member
Challenger and the Deep Sea Special Interest Group of Challenger: Member
Since 2015 Head of SAMS Graduate School
Since 2013 Senior Lecturer in Deep-Sea Ecosystems. SAMS
2009-13 Lecturer in Deep-Sea Ecosystems. SAMS
2005-10 European Census for Marine Life Coordinator. SAMS
2003 PEET Fellow. Univeristy of Massachusetts, Boston
2001 PhD 'Macrobenthic Ecology of the Faroe-Shetland Channel' University of Southampton
1998 BSc Joint Honours Marine Biology and Oceanography. University of Wales, Bangor