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Dr Douglas Speirs

Senior Lecturer

Mathematics and Statistics

Personal statement

I joined the faculty staff of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 2007 and was appointed senior lecturer in Marine Resource Modelling in 2014.  I am also the departmental Director of Knowledge Exchange, responsible for helping colleagues develop KE activities such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Continuous Professional Development, and consultancy. My research involves developing computationally efficient population models of fish stocks in which physiological structure and spatial structure and combined, and I have strong track record of widely cited peer-reviewed publications (average of 24 citations per article, three papers with >100 citations). My research on spatial modelling of zooplankton, as part of the NERC MarProd programme, established a new to modelling the growth and transport by ocean currents of stage-structured populations (e.g. Speirs et al. 2006, Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 313, 173-192). With partners at Marine Scotland Science I led the development of a new size-structured multispecies model for fish communities (Speirs et al. 2010, Fish. Res. 106, 474-494), now known as FishSUMS (Fish Strathclyde University – Marine Scotland). Motivated by policy-driven concerns about the effects of multi-species fisheries, the model has been used to explore the consequences of a range of fisheries management scenarios. Over the last seven years I have been PI or Co-I in grants totalling over £1.3 million FEC. I am an editor for Ecology and the Journal of Biological Systems, and I sit on steering groups of the Strathclyde Marine Institute and the Centre for Mathematics Applied to the Life Sciences (CMALS).  I am deputy convener of the MASTS Fisheries Forum, a group that has representation from all major fisheries related institutes in Scotland, and covers diverse disciplines including biology, stock assessment, ecosystem modelling, economics, and stakeholder experience.


A general framework for combining ecosystem models
Spence Michael A., Blanchard Julia L., Rossberg Axel G., Heath Michael R., Heymans Johanna J., Mackinson Steven, Serpetti Natalia, Speirs Douglas C., Thorpe Robert B., Blackwell Paul G.
Fish and Fisheries, (2018)
A synthetic map of the northwest European Shelf sedimentary environment for applications in marine science
Wilson Robert J., Speirs Douglas C., Sabatino Alessandro, Heath Michael R.
Earth System Science Data Vol 10, pp. 109-130, (2018)
Energyscapes and prey fields shape a North Atlantic seabird wintering hotspot under climate change
Amélineau F., Fort J., Mathewson P.D., Speirs D.C., Courbin N., Perret S., Porter W.P., Wilson R.J., Grémillet D.
Royal Society Open Science, (2018)
Projected impacts of 21st century climate change on diapause in Calanus finmarchicus
Wilson Robert J., Banas Neil S., Heath Michael R., Speirs Douglas C.
Global Change Biology Vol 22, pp. 3332–3340, (2016)
Spatial modelling of Calanus finmarchicus and Calanus helgolandicus : parameter differences explain differences in biogeography
Wilson Robert J., Heath Michael, Speirs Douglas
Frontiers in Marine Science Vol 3, pp. 1-15, (2016)
Modelling sea level surges in the Firth of Clyde, a fjordic embayment in south-west Scotland
Sabatino Alessandro, O'Hara Murray Rory B., Hills Alan, Speirs Douglas C., Heath Michael R.
Natural Hazards, (2016)

more publications

Professional activities

5th International Zooplankton Production Symposium in Pucon
Invited speaker
University of Glasgow, DEEB seminar “Cod in a web: modelling multi-species length-structured interactions in a North Sea fish community”, 2nd December 2009.
Invited speaker
Subject matter editor for Ecology
NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) (External organisation)
NERC of Canada (External organisation)
Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (External organisation)

more professional activities


Microbes to Megafauna Modelling of Arctic Seas (MiMeMo)
Heath, Michael (Principal Investigator) Speirs, Douglas (Co-investigator)
Period 01-May-2018 - 30-Apr-2021
Mechanistic understanding of the role of diatoms in the success of the Arctic Calanus complex and implications for a warmer Arctic
Banas, Neil (Principal Investigator) Heath, Michael (Co-investigator) Speirs, Douglas (Co-investigator)
"Copepod species of the genus Calanus (Calanus hereafter) are rice grain-sized crustaceans, distant relatives of crabs and lobsters, that occur throughout the Arctic Ocean consuming enormous quantities of microscopic algae (phytoplankton). These tiny animals represent the primary food source for many Arctic fish, seabirds and whales. During early spring they gorge on extensive seasonal blooms of diatoms, fat-rich phytoplankton that proliferate both beneath the sea ice and in the open ocean. This allows Calanus to rapidly obtain sufficient fat to survive during the many months of food scarcity during the Arctic winter. Diatoms also produce one of the main marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that Calanus require to successfully survive and reproduce in the frozen Arctic waters. Calanus seasonally migrate into deeper waters to save energy and reduce their losses to predation in an overwintering process called diapause that is fuelled entirely by carbon-rich fat (lipids). This vertical 'lipid pump' transfers vast quantities of carbon into the ocean's interior and ultimately represents the draw-down of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), an important process within the global carbon cycle. Continued global warming throughout the 21st century is expected to exert a strong influence on the timing, magnitude and spatial distribution of diatom productivity in the Arctic Ocean. Little is known about how Calanus will respond to these changes, making it difficult to understand how the wider Arctic ecosystem and its biogeochemistry will be affected by climate change.
The overarching goal of this proposal is to develop a predictive understanding of how Calanus in the Arctic will be affected by future climate change. We will achieve this goal through five main areas of research:

We will synthesise past datasets of Calanus in the Arctic alongside satellite-derived data on primary production. This undertaking will examine whether smaller, more temperate species have been increasingly colonising of Arctic. Furthermore, it will consider how the timing of life-cycle events may have changed over past decades and between different Arctic regions. The resulting data will be used to validate modelling efforts.

We will conduct field based experiments to examine how climate-driven changes in the quantity and omega-3 content of phytoplankton will affect crucial features of the Calanus life-cycle, including reproduction and lipid storage for diapause. Cutting-edge techniques will investigate how and why Calanus use stored fats to reproduce in the absence of food. The new understanding gained will be used to produce numerical models of Calanus' life cycle for future forecasting.

The research programme will develop life-cycle models of Calanus and simulate present day distribution patterns, the timing of life-cycle events, and the quantities of stored lipid (body condition), over large areas of the Arctic. These projections will be compared to historical data.

We will investigate how the omega-3 fatty acid content of Calanus is affected by the food environment and in turn dictates patterns of their diapause- and reproductive success. Reproductive strategies differ between the different species of Calanus and this approach provides a powerful means by which to predict how each species will be impacted, allowing us to identify the winners and losers under various scenarios of future environmental changes.

The project synthesis will draw upon previous all elements of the proposal to generate new numerical models of Calanus and how the food environment influences their reproductive strategy and hence capacity for survival in a changing Arctic Ocean. This will allow us to explore how the productivity and biogeochemistry of the Arctic Ocean will change in the future. These models will be interfaced with the UK's Earth System Model that directly feeds into international efforts to understand global feedbacks to climate change."
Period 01-May-2017 - 30-Apr-2021
Scoping the background information for an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries
Heath, Michael (Principal Investigator) Speirs, Douglas (Co-investigator)
Period 25-Apr-2016 - 31-Jan-2017
Speirs, Douglas (Principal Investigator) Heath, Michael (Co-investigator) Hunter, Aidan (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2012 - 27-Jan-2017
Kelly, Louise (Principal Investigator) Speirs, Douglas (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2012 - 07-Jan-2016
PhD studentship on modelling Norway lobster and Hematodinium sp. in the Clyde
Speirs, Douglas (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2015 - 31-Mar-2019

more projects


Mathematics and Statistics
Livingstone Tower

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