Simon James Pittman

Simon James Pittman
University of Oxford | OX · School of Geography and the Environment

B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.

About

140
Publications
68,170
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Introduction
My primary area of research is seascape ecology with a particular focus on the application to protected area management and marine spatial planning. I work with government agencies, conservation organisations and academics to solve complex biodiversity conservation challenges. I have also developed transdisciplinary concepts such as City Marine Parks, Ocean Cities and Cultural Seascape Ecology to support spatial planning, nature-based solutions and sustainable development goals.
Additional affiliations
January 2020 - March 2021
Oxford Seascape Ecology Lab
Position
  • Research Associate
June 2012 - present
University of Plymouth
Position
  • Research Associate
October 2007 - November 2011
University of the Virgin Islands
Position
  • Resident Adjunct Research Professor

Publications

Publications (140)
Article
Full-text available
Aim Gorgonian forests are among the most complex of subtidal habitats in the Mediterranean Sea, supporting high biodiversity and providing diverse ecosystem services. Despite their iconic status, the geographical distribution and condition of gorgonian species is poorly known. Using multiple online data sources, our primary aims were to compile, ma...
Article
Full-text available
Mangroves and seagrasses are important nurseries for many marine species, and this function is linked to the complexity and context of these habitats in coastal seascapes. It is also connected to bathymetric features that influence habitat availability, and the accessibility of refuge habitats, but the significance of terrain variation for nursery...
Article
Full-text available
Context Landscape modification alters the condition of ecosystems and the structure of terrain, with widespread impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Seafloor dredging impacts a diversity of flora and fauna in many coastal landscapes, and these processes also transform three-dimensional terrain features. The potential ecological signif...
Article
Full-text available
Coastal seascapes are productive and diverse land-sea systems that provide many valuable benefits yet are increasingly threatened by human activity. Scaling up of nature-based solutions (NbS) to effectively protect, sustainably manage, and restore coastal seascapes is urgently required for mitigation of climate change and biodiversity loss while al...
Preprint
Context Seamounts are abundant geomorphological features creating seabed spatial heterogeneity, a main driver of deep-sea biodiversity. Despite its ecological importance, substantial knowledge gaps exist on the character of seamount spatial heterogeneity. Objectives This study aimed to map, quantify and compare seamount seascapes to test whether in...
Article
Landscape modification alters the condition of ecosystems and the complexity of terrain, with consequences for animal assemblages and ecosystem functioning. In coastal seascapes, dredging is routine practice for extracting sediments and maintaining navigation channels worldwide. Dredging modifies processes and assemblages by favouring species with...
Article
Full-text available
Habitat fragmentation of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) transforms the spatial pattern of seascapes by changing both the total area and spatial configuration of the habitat patches. The ecological effects of SAV seascapes are most often assessed using metrics of biological community composition (e.g., species and assemblage changes). We know co...
Book
Full-text available
This project reports on seagrass mapping activities and methodology through a comprehensive global review of expert knowledge and the published literature in the past decade (2012-2021). The aim is to identify geographical data gaps, barriers to progress, associated mapping costs and to evaluate potential solutions for mapping seagrass at a global...
Article
Full-text available
Seascape ecology is an emerging pattern‐oriented and integrative science conceptually linked to landscape ecology. It aims to quantify multidimensional spatial structure in the sea and reveal its ecological consequences. The seascape ecology approach has made important advances in shallow coastal environments, and increasing exploration and mapping...
Article
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Coastal habitats have experienced significant degradation and fragmentation in recent decades under the strain of interacting ecosystem stressors. To maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, coastal managers and restoration practitioners face the urgent tasks of identifying priority areas for protection and developing innovative, scalable a...
Article
Coastal habitat mapping is a potentially powerful enabling tool to inform the design of strategies and actions in coastal zone planning and management, biodiversity conservation and more recently for blue carbon accounting. Habitat mapping is typically carried out by experts in remote sensing and geographical information systems, and rarely integra...
Technical Report
Full-text available
PS 6 seeks to ensure that project studies take account of all of these factors in an approach that is driven by the understanding of ecological patterns and processes and not project impacts. Once biodiversity value has been defined at an ecologically appropriate scale then AoI can be used to define the potential direct, indirect and cumulative imp...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Background Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) are a highly migratory species ranging along continental and insular coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean. Due to their importance to regional recreational and sport fisheries, research has been focused on large-scale movement patterns of reproductively active adults in areas where they are of h...
Article
Full-text available
Seascape ecology, the marine-centric counterpart to landscape ecology, is rapidly emerging as an interdisciplinary and spatially explicit ecological science with relevance to marine management, biodiversity conservation and restoration. While important progress in this field has been made in the past decade, there has been no coherent prioritisatio...
Article
Landscape ecology has fundamentally changed the way ecologists view the world through a greater understanding of the links between spatial patterns and ecological processes. Until recently, landscape ecology has been largely a two-dimensional (2D) science focused on the spatial patterning of 2D planar surfaces rather than three-dimensional (3D) str...
Article
The structure of seafloor terrain affects the distribution and diversity of animals in all seascapes. Effects of terrain on fish assemblages have been reported from most ecosystems, but it is unclear whether bathymetric effects vary among seascapes or change in response to seafloor modification by humans. We reviewed the global literature linking s...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Project ROPE (Response of predators to Protection and Enhancement), funded by the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and implemented by University of Plymouth aims to improve understanding of the movements of commercially and recreationally important fish and crustaceans in the Lyme Bay region of South Devon and Dorset. Project ROPE applies...
Article
Full-text available
The results of this work can inform future policies at a national and emirate level, related to spatial use planning and management, biodiversity action plans and new protected or managed areas delineation, as well as other area-based management tools that can support the sustainable management of these marine ecosystems. The following recommendati...
Article
Full-text available
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) are custodians of diverse and productive coastal and marine habitats of local, regional and global importance for biodiversity. Healthy thriving coastal and marine habitats provide a wealth of benefits including food security, coastal protection, mitigation of pollution and opportunities for the growth of ecotourism,...
Article
Full-text available
To identify and manage APIMBs, a systematic approach is needed where ecological connectivity and representativity of conservation features is a central goal. A series of recommendations are provided below that can inform strategies and plans and ultimately enable the UAE in managing these priority areas. By implementing these recommendations, the U...
Article
Full-text available
Coral reef ecosystems are declining due to multiple interacting stressors. A bioassessment framework focused on stressor-response associations was developed to help organize and communicate complex ecological information to support coral reef conservation. This study applied the Biological Condition Gradient (BCG), initially developed for freshwate...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) are highly migratory species ranging along continental and insular coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean. Despite broad geographic distribution and importance as recreational fisheries, little is known about space-use patterns of tarpon within the Eastern Caribbean. Acoustic telemetry was used to track ta...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) are a highly migratory species ranging along continental and insular coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean. Due to their importance to regional recreational and sport fisheries, research has been focused on large-scale movement patterns of reproductively active adults in areas where they are of high econo...
Article
Full-text available
Transient fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) are critical life‐cycle events for many commercially important species, in which fish congregate in huge numbers to spawn at predictable times and places. This behavior makes them exceptionally vulnerable to fishing. The “illusion of plenty” and poor access to monitoring tools and techniques has resulted...
Article
Full-text available
Healthy marine ecosystems provide a wide range of resources and services that support life on Earth and contribute to human wellbeing. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are accepted as an important tool for the restoration and maintenance of marine ecosystem structure, function, health and ecosystem integrity through the conservation of significant spe...
Article
Full-text available
Engineered structures in the open ocean are becoming more frequent with the expansion of the marine renewable energy industry and offshore marine aquaculture. Floating engineered structures function as artificial patch reefs providing novel and relatively stable habitat structure not otherwise available in the pelagic water column. The enhanced phy...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Chapter 5 Invasive Mussels This chapter focuses on characterizing spatial and temporal patterns of invasive zebra (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) mussels in the study area and highlights some of the known ecological consequences.
Article
Full-text available
We contend that coastal cities are hope spots for environmentally responsible and socially progressive city living and critically important places to prioritize regenerative actions for improved planetary health. Here, we present our holistic concept of Ocean Cities together with a global Call for Urgent Action to citizens and leadership of all coa...
Article
Full-text available
Emma V. Sheehan, Danielle Bridger, Llucia Mascorda Cabre, Amy Cartwright, David Cox, Sian Rees, Luke Holmes and Simon Pittman of the University of Plymouth explain the ecological and social benefits of offshore bivalve farming. https://fstjournal.org/features/33-2/offshore-bivalve-farming
Article
Full-text available
Coastal cities continue to experience rapid urbanisation and population growth worldwide, linked to the diverse economic and social benefits flowing from proximity to the sea. Growing concern over human impacts upon coastal waters and global strategic goals for healthier cities requires that coastal cities develop innovative ways to inspire and emp...
Article
Full-text available
Determining the ecological roles that fishes play in the complex trophic relationships of coral reef systems depends on our ability to detect changes in the fish community composition and function. The functional redundancy of fishes in different habitats is highly influenced by species composition and ontogenetic shifts in diets and feeding behavi...
Article
Full-text available
Functional diversity (FD) metrics quantify the trait diversity in biological assemblages and act as a proxy for the diverse ecological functions performed in the community. Analyses of FD offer a potentially useful tool to identify functional changes in diverse, complex, and disturbed marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, yet this metric is rarely...
Presentation
Full-text available
A concept of a marine park for coastal cities with application to the Plymouth region in the United Kingdom
Preprint
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and networks of MPAs are being implemented globally as a spatial management tool for achieving conservation objectives. There has been considerable progress in reaching the prescribed 10% protected area target for 2020, outlined in the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11 and the United Nations Sustainabl...
Article
Full-text available
Anthropogenic disturbances in coastal and marine environments have resulted in the transformation of vegetated benthic habitat spatial patterns, which is thought to influence the distribution, community composition, and behavior of marine fauna. In Biscayne Bay, Florida, USA, freshwater discharges into nearshore areas have resulted in the fragmenta...
Article
Full-text available
• Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and networks of MPAs are being implemented globally as a spatial management tool for achieving conservation objectives. There has been considerable progress in reaching the prescribed 10% protected area target for 2020, outlined in the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11 and the United Nations Sustaina...
Article
Full-text available
To design effective marine reserves and support fisheries, more information on fishing patterns and impacts for targeted species is needed, as well as better understanding of their key habitats. However, fishing impacts vary geographically and are difficult to disentangle from other factors that influence targeted fish distributions. We developed a...
Chapter
Full-text available
Seascapes can be represented as hierarchically structured mosaics of relatively discrete areas (patches) recognisable and fluctuating across different spatial and temporal scales. Fluctuations are a result of disturbance regimes (frequency, severity and predictability), and temporal variability in colonisation, competition and dieback. The resultin...
Chapter
Full-text available
The relationship between environmental patterning in the marine environment and the movements of organisms is central to our understanding of ecological structure, function and dynamics. Ecologists and marine managers increasingly recognise that knowledge on movements is a critical yet little understood process affecting the distribution of populat...
Chapter
Full-text available
Seagrass meadows and salt marshes are some of the most productive coastal habitats. With their global distribution they provide an important function for society through the provision of a number of goods and services. Both habitat types form geographically extensive seascapes commonly consisting of complex mosaics of vegetated patches interspersed...
Chapter
Full-text available
Patterns and processes on land influence coastal seas. Although coastal ecosystems have evolved to thrive in various conditions, modifications to landscapes by human activities have led to excessive loads of minerals, nutrients, and toxins in coastal waters, sometimes with degrading impacts. Understanding the connectivity between land and sea is cr...
Chapter
Full-text available
Seascape ecology has great potential for supporting a holistic systems approach to marine governance because of its ability to focus on the causes and ecological consequences of spatial patterning at scales that are operationally relevant to management decision making. To date, however, applications of seascape ecology have primarily applied reduct...
Chapter
Full-text available
Spatial information on the pattern of human uses across the seascape is important to our understanding of the ecology of marine systems and is critical to effective spatial management. Humans respond to spatial patterning in the sea and also play an increasingly important role in shaping seascape structure, yet little scientific attention is given...
Chapter
Full-text available
The movement of animals and matter across landscapes structures populations and ecosystems on land and in the sea. This connectivity is fundamental for the persistence of all organisms and is central to the recovery of ecosystems from disturbance. This chapter provides a synthesis of published work on connectivity in coastal seascapes and outlines...
Book
Full-text available
Seascape Ecology provides a comprehensive look at the state-of-the-science in the application of landscape ecology to the seas and provides guidance for future research priorities. The first book devoted exclusively to this rapidly emerging and increasingly important discipline, it is comprised of contributions from researchers at the forefront of...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The purpose of the report was to help the Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary scientific panel address questions required of the 2018 Condition Report by placing the Sanctuary within a broader regional ecosystem context through tracking of trends and reporting of interconnections in a diverse set of indicators. Here, best-available data, much of w...
Article
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Target 11 states that, “by 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report describes a spatial characterization conducted to support the development of an integrated management plan for Puerto Rico’s Northeast Marine Corridor. The Northeast Marine Corridor is a large, land-sea reserve network, making it unique in the region for both its size and the integrated land-sea geographical scope. Here we map and model...
Article
Geographical patterning of fish diversity across coral reef seascapes is driven by many interacting environmental variables operating at multiple spatial scales. Identifying suites of variables that explain spatial patterns of fish diversity is central to ecology and informs prioritization in marine conservation, particularly where protection of th...
Presentation
Full-text available
This presentation describes a spatial characterization conducted to support the development of an integrated management plan for Puerto Rico’s Northeast Marine Corridor. The Northeast Marine Corridor is a large, land-sea reserve network, making it unique in the region for both its size and the integrated land-sea geographical scope. Here we map and...
Chapter
Full-text available
Marine mammals are ecologically, economically and culturally important to Hawaiʻi. Reliable information on species space-use patterns is required to inform marine spatial planning, particularly for offshore renewable energy installations. This chapter provides distribution maps for marine mammals observed in the U.S. waters of the Main Hawaiian Isl...
Presentation
Full-text available
The coral reef ecosystems of the U.S. Virgin Islands are some of the most intensively surveyed and threatened tropical ecosystems on earth. These coral reefs vary widely in terms of biophysical structure, seascape context, socio-economic value and exposure to threats presenting a complex challenge for resilience-based management. How should manager...