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International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT) staff member are listed under the Orkney Campus staff directory.

Associate Professor

+44 (0) 131 451 3311
Room 3.10, William Perkin Building, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, United Kingdom
Roles and responsibilities
  • Chair UK Rock and biogenic reef indicator development subgroup (for Marine Strategy Framework Directive)
  • Member UK Healthy & Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group
  • Chair of HWU Diving Safety Subgroup
  • Ecology, biodiversity, monitoring and societal benefits of:
  • Marine Protected Areas
  • Priority habitats of nature conservation importance
  • Complex habitats such as shellfish reefs
  • Biodiversity mapping and management in Marine Spatial Planning and sustainable development
  • Food resources and habitat use by species of high biodiversity conservation value
  • Restoration potential of structurally complex habitats
  • Win-win in marine (esp energy) developments
Selected publications
  • Sanderson, W.G., Harding, S.P. & Thorpe, J.P. 1996. An investigation of the effects of tidal fluctuations on the availability of intertidal seston as food for intertidal Bryozoa. In Gordon, D.P., Smith, A.M. & Grant-Mackie, J.A. (eds) Bryozoans in space and time. National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd, Wellington.
  • Sanderson, W.G., Holt, R.H.F. Kay, L.., Ramsay, K., Perrins, J. McMath, A.J. & Rees, E.I.S. 2008. Small-scale variation within a Modiolus modiolus (Mollusca: Bivalvia) reef in the Irish Sea. II Epifauna recorded by divers and cameras. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 88(1), 143-149.
  • Sanderson, W.G., McGregor, B.J. & Brierley, A.S. 1994. Dive Sites and Marine Life of the Calf of Man (and neighbouring area). IMMEL publishing, London. 96 pp, 50 colour plates. ISBN 1898162808.
  • Banks, A.N., Sanderson, W.G., Hughes, B., Cranswick, P.A., Smith, L.E., Whitehead, S. Musgrove, A.J., Haycock, B., & Fairney N., 2008. The Sea Empress oil spill (Wales, UK): Effects on Common Scoter Melanitta nigra in Carmarthen Bay and status ten years later. Marine Pollution Bulletin 56, 895-902.
  • Davies, J., Baxter, J. Bradley, M., Connor, D., Khan, J., Murray, E., Sanderson, W.G. Turnbull, C. & Vincent, M. (eds) 2001. Marine Monitoring Handbook. Peterborough, Joint Nature Conservation Committee 405pp
  • Gilliland, P.M. & Sanderson, W.G. 2000. Re-evaluation of marine benthic species of nature conservation importance: a new perspective on certain ‘lagoonal specialists' with particular emphasis on Alkmaria romijni Horst (Polychaeta: Ampharetidae). Aquatic Conservation, 10, 1-12.
  • Lindenbaum, C., Bennell, J.D., Rees, E.I.S., McClean, D., Cook W., Wheeler, A.J., & Sanderson, W.G. 2008. Small-scale variation within a Modiolus modiolus (Mollusca: Bivalvia) reef in the Irish Sea: I. Seabed mapping and reef morphology. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 88(1), 133-141.
  • Rees, E.I.S., Sanderson, W.G., Mackie, A.S.Y. & Holt, R.H.F. 2008. Small-scale variation within a Modiolus modiolus (Mollusca: Bivalvia) reef in the Irish Sea: III. Crevice, sediment infauna and epifauna from targeted cores. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 88(1), 151-156.
  • Stillman, R.A., Moore, J.J., Woolmer, A.P., Murphy, M.D., Walker, P., Vanstaen, K.R., Palmer, D., & Sanderson, W.G. 2010. Assessing coastal bird conservation objectives: an example for the Burry Inlet, UK Biological Conservation, 143, 2617-2630.
  • Numerous items of research work are pending preparation for the primary literature. Those in the final stages include:
  • Robinson, K.A., Mackie, A.S.Y., Lindenbaum, C., Darbyshire, T., van Landeghem, K.J.J., & Sanderson, W.G. Southern Irish Sea Habitats, with focus on a horse-mussel (Modiolus modiolus) bioherm. GeoHab Chapter (in review)
  • Stringell, T.B., Skates, L.R., Bamber, R.N., Nikitic, C., & Sanderson W.G. Assessment and management in a variable lagoon MPA: the use of control charts (under revision for resubmission)
  • West, A.D. Stillman, R.A. Drewitt, A. Frost, N.J. Mander, M. Miles, C. Langston, R. Sanderson W.G. & Willis. J. WADERMOD – a user-friendly model to advise shorebird policy and management. (in review)
  • Woolmer A.P., Mackie A.S.Y., Rees E.I.S., Skates, L.R. P.J. Hayward & Sanderson W.G. The macrobenthos of Carmarthen Bay: an internationally important common scoter (Melanitta nigra) wintering site (submitted).

My work has concentrated on the marine biodiversity research needed to support sensitive management and sustainable development. Within the modern policy context this means that I have experience and ongoing research interests in Marine Protected Areas and Marine Spatial Planning (including Energy Developments).

Over 17 years working in government agencies as a marine ecologist and monitoring specialist, my strategic marine research has concentrated on species and habitats of high nature conservation importance such as biogenic reefs, lagoons and habitats that support higher predators.

Modiolus modiolus biogenic reefs have been a strong focus of study for more than ten years; involving hydroacoustic mapping, remote cameras and in situ diving work. The work has underpinned MPA designation, the formation of bylaws, proactive management, assessment and enforcement.

I have also worked with a wide range of collaborators on the recovery of scoter duck (Melanitta nigra) and their benthic prey after the Sea Empress oil spill. This work has contributed to the proactive management of Carmarthen Bay (S Wales, UK) and been the corner-stone of its subsequent notification as the UK's first fully marine Special Protection Area (EC Birds Directive, 79/409/EEC). Oil spill recovery work, coupled with experience of EU funded programmes and a previous project in the Galápagos led to my recruitment by DGXI Civil Protection to the EU Task Force during the Jessica oil spill.

Over several years I have led the development of an evidence base for intertidal shellfish and wading birds that has enabled the application of Individuals Based Models in collaboration with Conservation Agencies, Fisheries Agencies, contractors and researchers at Bournemouth University (formerly CEH). Conservation objectives have been developed, management scenarios tested and the condition of MPAs assessed.

This last work area has featured in the Charting Progress report, a government assessment of the state of UK seas. I have contributed to this assessment and the developing Marine Strategy Framework Directive through work on the Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group. I have also served on other UK government monitoring groups such as the Interagency Marine Monitoring Group and the UK Technical Advisory Group, largely concerned with methods and strategy development under the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive (92/43/EEC and 2000/60/EC).

Overall, I have led government applied science and monitoring projects and programmes at the forefront of UK marine conservation implementation and MPA development (totalling about £4m). I have authored more than 40 reports, papers and a book. Within the MASTS programme, I will continue to develop the research and indicator needs of current legislative drivers such as the Marine Bill and MSFD, concentrating on the ecology and societal importance of priority habitats and species.