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The influence of a non-native species on habitat structure and functioning of benthic systems - case study of an introduced lugworm in the Solent.

Main Supervisor: Dr. Gordon Watson

Non-native species are considered to negatively impact biodiversity and ecosystems to a greater or lesser extent. Increasingly, this position is being challenged by ecologists. To what extent, if any, do non-native species help maintain ecosystem structure and function and thereby, support ecological resilience to future environmental change? The identified presence of a species of lugworm new to UK shores, in conjunction with native lugworm habitat, presents a unique opportunity to study the effect of a benthic non-native ecosystem engineer species on valuable (economically and in conservation terms) UK intertidal habitats.

I am based at the Institute of Marine Sciences.


I graduated from Stirling University in 1989 with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Biology. I specialised in marine biology and went on to get a Masters from Kings College, London in Aquatic Resource Management. I initially, worked for the National Rivers Authority (NRA) in two regions of the UK notably, as a marine biologist in the South West (the NRA later became part of the Environment Agency). Subsequently, I worked for the Oil Pollution Research Unit in Pembrokeshire, Wales; BMT Cordah Ltd in Edinburgh; and, most recently, EMU Ltd here in Portsmouth (now Fugro GB Ltd). I was also self-employed for eight years trading as ‘Sea-nature Studies’ and re-started that business when I took the decision to pursue research into marine non-native species.

During fieldwork in 2016 I found a new addition to the UK fauna which I subsequently published on in the Journal of Conchologyi. The species in question was the poorly ribbed cockle, Acanthocardia paucicostata.

iBarfield, P. (2017). First evidence of the poorly ribbed cockle, Acanthocardia paucicostata (G. B. Sowerby II, 1834) in UK waters. Journal of Conchology,  42(6), 537-539. ISSN: 0022-0019.

In 2017 I found Arcuatula senhousia, the Asian Date Mussel intertidally in the Solent and again published the record in the Journal of Conchologyii. This short communication represents the first published record of the species for the UK.

iiBarfield, P., Holmes, A., Watson, G. and Rowe, G. (2018). First evidence of Arcuatula senhousia (Benson, 1842), the Asian date mussel in UK waters. Journal of Conchology, 43(2), 217-222. ISSN: 0022-0019. 

Research Interests

Marine ecology of benthic soft sediment communities

Marine non-native species

Macro-faunal identification and molecular analysis

Habitat structure

Ecosystem function

Ecosystem services

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Science, King's College London


Award Date: 21 Nov 1990

BSc (Hons), University of Stirling


Award Date: 16 Jun 1989

External positions

Principal Marine Consultant, Fugro EMU Ltd


Self-employed, Sea-Nature Studies


Senior Consultant, BMT


Marine biologist, Environment Agency


Biology technician, Environment Agency



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