Dr Callum Whyte

        Callum Whyte on a research vessel with hard hat

Phytoplankton Ecologist

I am interested in the ca 80 toxin-producing microplankton species, what causes them to form harmful algal blooms, their distribution and how to predict HABs. 

At SAMS I am the Deputy Manager of our FSA monitoring programme for the presence of toxin producing plankton in shellfish production areas in Scotland. I am also the Deputy Radiation Protection Supervisor.

Contact details:

My research interests lie in phytoplankton ecology and focus on trying to understand the drivers that lead to blooms of harmful algae with the eventual goal of developing tools and methods that can help to identify and predict their occurrence.

Using data derived from the SAMS HAB monitoring Programme, CEFAS, MERCATOR, COPERNICUS and NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory, I also produce a weekly bulletin for Shellfish farmers in Shetland advising them of the risks associated with harvesting shellfish that week.


Current research projects

Shelleye: Using satellite data to develop tools to help shellfish farmers monitor and forecast water quality to help identify and prepare for events that could have a negative impact on shellfish. Funded by BBSRC / NERC. 

PRIMROSE: The project will strengthen risk management and early warning system for the predication harmful algal blooms and associated biotoxins in the Atlantic Arc area. EU Interreg Atlantic Arc. 2017-19

Bullhab: Developing and producing risk assessment bulletins for shellfish farmers in Shetland.

Combining Autonomous observations and Models for Predicting and Understanding Shelf seas (CAMPUS): This project aims to deliver an improved evidence-base for ecosystem-based marine management and to identify a cost-effective optimised observing network. Funded by NERC. 2018-21.


Selected past research projects

Pure Associates: Harmful Algae and the Shellfish Industry. Funded by NERC / Smith Institute. 

CANDYFLOSS: Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry, to reduce the uncertainty in our understanding of nutrient and carbon cycling within the shelf seas, and of their role in global biogeochemical cycles. Funded by NERC / DEFRA. 

WindyHABs: Minimizing the risk of harm to aquaculture and human health from advective HABs through early warning. Funded by BBSRC / NERC

Tox Leader

Consultancy and industry experience

I have delivered CPD courses on harmful algae collection, preparation and identification to shellfish farmers and to fish farmers from leading aquaculture companies.


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 (info@srsl.com) or phone +44 (0) 1631 559 470.


Marine Science BSc: Module leader 'Microbial Ecology' (Year 3)

Marine Science BSc: Lecturer 'Marine Biology' (Year 2), covering nutrients, temperature and productivity, plankton and light, and quantifying primary production


Peer-reviewed publications

Ruiz-Villarreal M, Sourisseau M, Anderson P, Cusack C, Neira P, Silke J, Rodriguez F, Ben-Gigirey B, Whyte CGiraudeau-Potel S, Quemener L, Arthur G, Davidson K. (2022) Novel Methodologies for providing in situ data to HAB Early Warning Systems in the European Atlantic Area: The PRIMROSE Experience. Frontiers in Marine Science 9: 791329  https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.791329

Davidson K, Whyte C, Aleynik D, Kurekin A, Gontarek S, McNeill S, Miller PI, Porter M, Saxon R, Swan S (2021) HABreports: Online early warning of harmful algal and biotoxin risk for the Scottish shellfish and finfish aquaculture industries. Frontiers in Marine Science https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.631732

García-Martín, EE, Daniels, CJ, Davidson, K, Lozano, J, Mayers, KMJ, McNeill, S, Mitchell, E, Poulton, AJ, Purdie, DA, Tarran, GA, Whyte, C, Robinson, C (2017) Plankton community respiration and bacterial metabolism in a North Atlantic Shelf Sea during spring bloom development (April 2015). Progress in Oceanography. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2017.11.002

Paul Dees, Eileen Bresnan, Andrew C Dale, Martin Edwards, David Johns, Beth Mouat, Callum Whyte, and Keith Davidson (2017) Harmful algal blooms in the Eastern North Atlantic ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1715499114

Yue Lei, Callum Whyte, Keith Davidson, Paul Tett and Kedong Yin (2017) A change in phytoplankton community index with water quality improvement in Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong. Marine Pollution Bulletin https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.10.005 

Whyte, C., K. Davidson, L. Gilpin, E. Mitchell, G. Moschonas, S. McNeill and P. Tett (2016). "Tracking changes to a microplankton community in a North Atlantic sea loch using the microplankton index PI(mp)." ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil.

Whyte, C., Swan, S., Davidson, K., (2014). Changing wind patterns linked to unusually high Dinophysis blooms around the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Journal of Harmful Algae. 39:365-373.

Whyte, C., Swan, S., Davidson, K., (2014). An exceptional Dinophysis driven toxic algae event in the Scottish Shetland Islands. Harmful Algae News. IOC, UNESCO, 49: 7-8.

Tett, P., Valcic B., Potts T., Whyte C., Culhane F. and Fernandes T., (2012). Mussels and yachts in Loch Fyne, Scotland: a case study of the science-policy interface. Ecology and Society 17 (3): 16.

Whyte, C. (2012). An Investigation into changes in the phytoplankton community in Loch Creran, a Scottish sea loch. PhD thesis, Edinburgh Napier University, xxii + 338 pp.


Other publications

Whyte C, (2013). Why it’s safer to eat shellfish in months with a letter 'R'. http://theconversation.com/profiles/callum-whyte-108408/articles.


2012 PhD - An investigation into changes in the phytoplankton community in Loch Creran, a Scottish sea loch. Edinburgh Napier University

2006 MSc (Distinction) Marine Resource Development and Protection. Heriot-Watt University

2005 BSc (Hons) Environmental Studies. Open University

2004 BSc (Hons) Natural, Biological and Environmental Sciences. Open University