Professor Bill Gurney

Emeritus Professor

Mathematics and Statistics


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Objectively assigning species and ages to salmonid length data from dual-frequency indentification sonar
Gurney William, Brennan Louise O, Bacon Philip J, Wheelan KF, O'Grady Martin, Dillane Eileen, McGinnity Phillip
Transactions of the American Fisheries Society Vol 143, pp. 573-585 (2014)
Combination of genetics and spatial modelling highlights the sensitivity of cod (Gadus morhua) population diversity in the North Sea to distributions of fishing
Heath Michael, Culling Mark, Crozier Walter, Fox Clive, Gurney William, Hutchinson William, Nielsen Einar, O'Sullivan Martha, Preedy Katharine, Righton David, Speirs Douglas, Taylor Martin, Wright Peter, Carvalho Gary
ICES Journal of Marine Science Vol 71, pp. 794-807 (2014)
Ova fecundity in Scottish atlantic salmon Salmo salar : predictions, selective forces and causal mechanisms
Bacon P, MacLean J, Malcolm I, Gurney William
Journal of Fish Biology Vol 81, pp. 921-938 (2012)
Sea-age variation in maiden Atlantic salmon spawners : phenotypic plasticity or genetic polymorphism?
Gurney William, Bacon PJ, Speirs Douglas, McGinnity P, Verspoor Eric
Bulletin of Mathematical Biology Vol 74, pp. 615-640 (2012)
Stochastic growth reduces population fluctuations in Daphnia-algal systems
Ananthasubramaniam Bharath, Nisbet Roger, Nelson William, McCauley Edward, Gurney William
Ecology Vol 92, pp. 362-372 (2011)
A length-structured partial ecosystem model for cod in the North Sea
Speirs Douglas, Guirey EJ, Gurney William, Heath Michael
Fisheries Research Vol 106, pp. 474-494 (2010)

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Professional Activities

Journal of Animal Ecology (Journal)
MASTS Executive Committee (External organisation)

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Strategic Fisheries Research
Gurney, William (Principal Investigator) Speirs, Douglas (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2009 - 31-Jan-2014
A testable high-resolution spatial ecosystem model for inshore waters
Heath, Mike (Principal Investigator) Gurney, William (Co-investigator)
The aim of the project is to develop a high-spatial resolution ecosystem model of an inshore area of the west of Scotland focussing on secondary producers and their predators. We shall use a box-model approach to represent nutrients and primary production adapted from previous work, allied to a demographic representation of secondary producers and their principal predators adapted from a fish-focussed non-spatial ecosystem model currently under development (FRS funded) at the University of Strathclyde. The model will cover the region surveyed in the FRS 1991 Loch Linnhe programme (see diagram below) plus connecting waters; the Firth of Lorne from Luing northwards, the Sound of Mull and the whole of Loch Linnhe up to the narrows at the mouth of Loch Eil. The physical context of the ecosystem model will be set by the hydrodynamics of the system. These will be simulated using the POLCOMS model configured for the region of interest at a resolution of about 100m. Key drivers of the model will be freshwater inputs and winds. Although good fresh water run-in data are available for this area for both the 1991 hindcast period (Heath 1995) and for the present day, only rather generalized wind data exist. Since western Scottish inshore waters are located in mountainous terrain, wind circulation (and hence wind driven surface currents) show strong local heterogeneity, and it will be necessary to develop a local wind model, which can predict surface wind forcing in relation to local terrain. This model will be developed and validated against present-day behaviour observed as part of field data collection during this programme. The resulting validated wind model will then be used to drive POLCOMS under present day conditions, so that the flow predictions can be validated against observations. The combined models will be used to hindcast flow fields during the 1991 survey as drivers for the biological model. A key aspect of the biological modelling will be testing against the 1991 survey data. To this end the model will be designed to facilitate Bayesian parameter estimation using Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods. Such estimation not only locates a `best-fit' parameter combination, but also evaluates parameter uncertainty and correlation; an invaluable tool during model development. For this purpose we shall develop models at a variety of spatial resolutions, running from a high resolution model at 100m scale, which will be primarily used in prognostic mode, down to a low resolution model at approximately 1km resolution, which will be used mainly for extended parameter exploration. We expect that the parameter estimation models will use a well established vertical scheme which divides the water column into surface (above the pycnocline), intermediate (tidally flushed) and deep (i.e. flushed only at turnover events) layers. However, to investigate sub-tidal cycle events we shall also construct a high resolution model with full water column representation.
01-Jan-2008 - 30-Jan-2014
Population structuring of Cod around the UK; scale, mechanisms and dynamics
Gurney, William (Principal Investigator) Speirs, Douglas (Co-investigator)
Many global marine fisheries have collapsed, or are at record low levels of abundance. Continuing exploitation and the uncertain impacts of climate change are adding further pressures on fish resources. New strategies are therefore required to assist in our management and conservation efforts. One such development will be to incorporate the extent and dynamics of spatially-associated biological differences that exist among fish stocks into stock assessment. Such information is important since most exploited fish species comprise assemblages of individuals that differ in their vital rates of growth, reproduction, migratory tendency and mortality. It therefore becomes desirable, for example, to match the level of fishing intensity to the projected rate of replenishment following harvesting, thereby reducing the probability that individual stocks will become extinct. Conserving such biological differences among stocks is also important in the maintenance of genetic diversity in wild fish populations, so endowing them with greater evolutionary potential for adapting to changes in the environment. A critical component of such work involves the testing of hypotheses relating to the relative contributions of such factors as dispersal of eggs and larvae, and behaviour of juveniles and adults in maintaining such biological differences. By integrating research efforts across each of the three major UK fisheries agencies (FRS, CEFAS, AFBI) with partners in UK Universities, a NERC Institute and an international cod expert from Denmark, we will for the first time examine the extent, patterns and stability of cod (Gadus morhua) population structuring throughout UK waters. We will employ existing (microsatellites) and new (single nucleotide polymorphisms) genetic markers to assess the extent to which individuals from different spawning groups interbreed, and will compare these indirect methods of dispersal with direct measure of fish movement taken from chemical analysis of ear-bones ('otoliths') and individuals that have been electronically 'tagged'. We will then input these data to tailored cod population models that will test the likely effects of young-stage and adult dispersal on observed patterns of stock separation, as well as simulating the likely consequences of spatially-based differences in stocks on such things as fishing effort, stock recovery and the design of marine protected areas. The proposal will represent the first opportunity for UK Universities and all three UK Fisheries agencies to work together on a problem that has to take account of the interdependence of fish stocks across large regions of UK and adjoining waters. The proposal will generate new genetic estimates of stock separation, especially in areas of uncertainty such as the Celtic and Irish Seas and the Southern North Sea and English Channel, as well as the provision of new theoretical tools (population models) than can be used to forecast the impact of continued fishing pressure and environmental change on cod populations. Moreover, the tools will provide information on the appropriate spatial scale and distribution of marine protected areas and the probable rates of stock recovery in a species that is now formally endangered and listed in the IUCN Red List (
01-Jan-2007 - 31-Jan-2012
Modelling Calanus helgolandicus in the North Atlantic - Andrew Speak
Gurney, William (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2006 - 30-Jan-2009
Strategic Partnership - fish ecology, biology, population modelling and marine ecosystem modelling
Gurney, William (Principal Investigator)
23-Jan-2005 - 30-Jan-2009

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Professor Bill Gurney
Emeritus Professor
Mathematics and Statistics

Tel: 548 3804