Unlocking the microbiome - new report out now

Posted on Nov 29, 2017

Declan Schroeder. Image Maya Pfaff
Dr Declan Schroeder sampling a bloom of microalgae.

The microbiome is the entire community of microbes within a habitat and the surrounding environmental conditions. It holds arguably the most important and extraordinarily diverse forms of life on the planet, and sustains the biodiversity of life on Earth.

The Microbiology Society’s report ‘ Unlocking the Microbiome ’ was launched on 15 November 2017. It explores opportunities and challenges for microbiome research identified over the course of the Microbiome Policy Project. It will also provide an opportunity for multidisciplinary networking and knowledge exchange between researchers, funders, learned societies, policy advisers and other stakeholders interested in microbiome research.

The MBA’s contribution to the report through Dr Declan Schroeder (Senior MBA Fellow and member of the expert panel) can be seen in particular in Section 4.3. Environment - highlighting...

MCCIP report demonstrates collaborative science partnerships at COP23

Posted on Nov 20, 2017

In her speech during the COP23 conference in Bonn, MP Thérèse Coffey showed great enthusiasm for marine issues. Both the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) and the UK Ocean Acidification Program (UKOA) were mentioned as examples of collaborative science partnerships.

The most recent MCCIP report draws heavily on Interim Director of the MBA, Dr Matt Frost et al.'s 2017 paper " Reporting marine climate change impacts: Lessons from the science-policy interface ".

Dr Coffey said "The UK set up the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) to provide verifiable evidence of the effect of climate change. This brings together scientists, government, its agencies and NGOs and has just published “Marine Climate change Impacts - 10 years’ experience of science to policy reporting”.

On the previous day (10th November), there had been a EU...

The marine environment after Brexit: the future for science and policy

Posted on Nov 9, 2017

The MBA and British Ecological Society (BES) ran a major conference on 31 October looking at the post-Brexit landscape for science and policy.

The event aimed to:

Identify the key challenges and opportunities for marine environmental policy in the UK after Brexit; Highlight the role of marine biological and ecological science in addressing these challenges, including existing knowledge and future research needs; Identify the priorities for enhancing the UK’s status as a world leader in marine science and maintain effective international collaboration.

The outputs of the event will inform the development of a joint British Ecological Society and Marine Biological Association policy brief

Jill Barrett , an expert in international law, set the scene with a presentation on the effect of Brexit on the UK’s international law obligations relating to the marine...

The mysterious nocturnal migrations of skates

Posted on Nov 8, 2017

A blonde ray Raja brachyura

MBA scientists have shown for the first time how skates make night-time forays into shallower water. This unique window on the fine details of fish behaviour was made possible by data from electronic tagging, and may influence the management of these vulnerable species.

The skate species in the study were blonde ray ( Raja brachyura ), thornback ray ( R. clavata ), small-eyed ray ( R. microocellata ) and spotted ray ( R. montagui ). MBA researchers analyzed the data from 89 tags from recaptured skates. Combining the results with their knowledge of skate ecology, a credible picture of previously unknown migratory behaviour emerged in which skates move across a varied seabed topography, searching and foraging for food along the way.

The exact reasons for these journeys remain a mystery but the study rules out some explanations, for...

Spillover of invasive kelp from marinas to natural reef

Posted on Nov 2, 2017


A detailed survey of marinas and rocky shores in south Devon and Cornwall have identified a link between populations of invasive seaweeds. Under certain conditions it seems that marinas facilitate the spread of the invasive kelp Wakame into natural rocky coastlines.

Wakame, or Undaria pinnatifida , is a non-native kelp that has been present in the UK since 1994. It is predominantly found in marinas or harbours, growing on man-made structures such as floating pontoons. Using a mixture of pontoon surveys, snorkelling and video techniques, Wakame was found at all marinas surveyed, but in only around half of the natural coastal sites.

Wakame was more likely to be found growing on natural coastlines when the site was close to a marina with a high abundance of the invader. Locations with larger areas of pontoons were also more likely to contain natural reef sites...

Dr Matt Frost appointed Interim MBA Director

Posted on Nov 1, 2017

Dr Matt Frost, MBA Interim Director

The MBA is pleased to announce that Dr Matt Frost has been appointed Interim MBA Director from 1 November 2017. Dr Frost will continue in this role until a new MBA Director is appointed. He will assume the duties of MBA Director since Professor Colin Brownlee is stepping out of this role after 10 years to return to full-time research.

In addition to his new role as interim Director, Matt is in charge of Policy and Knowledge Exchange, with particular responsibility for the Association as a national and international Learned Society/Membership organisation. He also works on areas of MBA strategic development and governance.

Dr Matt Frost 1.JPG

Matt has a degree and PhD in marine benthic ecology but has since focused on marine policy; providing science to policy training; lecturing on postgraduate courses; chairing science-policy committees; and...

MBA contributes further to increasing Ocean Literacy in Europe

Posted on Oct 24, 2017

To celebrate the Year of Science, UK-German Connection , in collaboration with the British Council , organised a ‘Sea and Oceans’ Youth Seminar; a three-day event to discuss current issues and challenges facing our environment, seas and oceans. On the 20-22 October 2017, the MBA joined this initiative and 50 British and German 16-19 year-olds in Hamburg, Germany, for a hands-on, informative seminar on litter, rising sea levels, biodiversity and ocean literacy.

This group of 50 young people travelled far and wide from across the two countries, and were brought together by a strong interest in the theme 'seas and oceans' and in discussing the topic with UK and German peers.

During the second day of the seminar, the MBA team introduced the group to the concept of ocean literacy, including the 7 Ocean Literacy Principles. Additionally, seminar...