Professor David Sims | Group Leader

David Sims is an MBA Senior Research Fellow and Leader of the Sims Lab at the Marine Biological Association. As Deputy Director for Research he co-ordinates the Ecosystems and Environmental Change research theme. David holds a joint academic appointment with the University of Southampton where he is Professor of Marine Ecology in the Ocean and Earth Science school at the National Oceanography Centre and in the Centre for Biological Sciences.

David’s research focuses on the movement ecology of marine predators, notably the sharks, skates and rays. Research has investigated the patterns, mechanisms, causes and consequences of predator movement. The consequences of predator movement for species conservation has been a particular interest stemming from his pioneering work for more than 20 years on the behavioural ecology of the plankton-feeding basking shark.

His research has been recognised by several awards including The Times-Novartis-Royal InstitutionScientist for the New Century‘ Lecture Award (2001), Life Membership of the Royal Institution, the FSBI Medal of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles (2007) for “exceptional advances in fish biology and/or fisheries“, and the Stanley Gray Silver Medal from the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (2008). He has served as series editor for Advances in Marine Biology and associate editor of the Journal of Animal Ecology and is currently an Associate Editor of Animal Biotelemetry.

In 2016 he was elected a Member of Academia Europaea.

After graduating with a First Class degree in Biological Sciences in 1991 David was awarded a personal Ph.D studentship (appeal award) from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) leading to a Ph.D in the behavioural ecology of fish, based in part at the Marine Biological Association (MBA) Laboratory in Plymouth. In 2000, after being Lecturer in zoology at Aberdeen University, David returned to the MBA Laboratory as a NERC-funded Research Fellow and formed the Sims Lab.

Contact Details

email: dws at mba dot ac dot uk
telephone: +44 (0) 1752 633227
address: The Marine Biological Association of the U.K., The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB, U.K.

Selected Publications

Queiroz, N., et al., Sims, D.W. (2016) Ocean-wide tracking of pelagic sharks reveals extent of overlap with longline fishing hotspots. PNAS 113, 1582-1587.

Sims, D.W., et al. (2014) Hierarchical random walks in trace fossils and the origin of optimal search behavior. PNAS 111, 11073-11078. pdf icon

Humphries, N.E., et al., Sims, D.W. (2012) Foraging success of biological Lévy flights recorded in situ. PNAS, 109, 7169-7174.

Humphries, N.E., et al., Sims, D.W. (2010) Environmental context explains Lévy and Brownian movement patterns of marine predators. Nature, 465, 1066-1069.

Sims, D.W., Southall, E.J., Humphries, N.E., et al. (2008) Scaling laws of marine predator search behaviour. Nature, 451, 1098-1102.

Sims, D.W., Andrews, P.L.R., & Young, J.Z. (2000) Fish behaviour: Stomach rinsing in rays. Nature, 404, 566.

Sims, D.W. & Quayle, V.A. (1998) Selective foraging behaviour of basking sharks on zooplankton in a small-scale front. Nature, 393, 460-464.