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About Dr Nick Fleming

Before joining the University of Chester, I worked in a number of academic and industrial/commercial positions across the UK and Ireland. I hold a Marine Biology Degree University of Wales, Swansea, an MPhil from University of Hull examining Marine Fisheries Ecology and a PhD in Marine Ecology from Queens University, Belfast.

My main research interests were shaped whilst at Queen’s University, Belfast where I investigated the spatial, temporal and trophic ecology of jellyfish in the Northeast Atlantic. This involved a multidisciplinary approach incorporating shoreline surveys, hydrodynamic modelling and stable isotope analysis. My research project was based around two key themes; (1) the broad-scale distribution and timing of jellyfish blooms around the North of Ireland using beach stranding and Lagrangian particle tracking simulations, respectively and (2) the use of stable isotope analysis (SIA) in trophodynamic studies of jellyfish in coastal marine systems.

Subsequent collaborative postdoctoral research projects at Queen’s University, Belfast explored the trophic ecology of elasmobranchs in the Irish Sea with (1) the Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems Branch of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Northern Ireland, investigating the trophic ecology of elasmobranchs in the Irish Sea and (2) the Basque government’s Marine Research Unit (AZTI-Tecnalia), examining the impacts of gelatinous zooplankton on the commercial fisheries in the Bay of Biscay. Postdoctoral research at the University of Hull considered stress responses of benthic marine organisms within the multidisciplinary EU funded HydraLab IV-PISCES (Protocols and InStrumentation for Combined hydraulic and Ecological modelS) project. The PISCES group aimed to develop innovative new technologies, experimental protocols and improved methodologies for incorporating ecological research in hydraulic experimental facilities.

As a teaching and research fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, I designed and delivered undergraduate lectures and lecture-style tutorials using audience response software and digital learning resources alongside running teaching labs across all biological science disciplines.

Whilst employed on the EU funded SEACAMS2 project at Swansea University, I lead the development of research projects considering ecological and environmental impacts of marine renewable energy (MRE) devices on commercially important fisheries species using a range of innovative methodologies including hydroacoustic, baited remote underwater vehicles (BRUVs) and contemporary molecular approaches (including Stable isotopes and genetic techniques) to describe marine fish community assemblages, detection of species-specific fish targets and resource use and natal homing in commercially important fish species.


I have lectured on a wide range of subjects in the biological sciences at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I bring experience in teaching zoology and biology especially freshwater and marine biology/ecology/zoology, fisheries and fundamental physiological, biochemical and statistical principles and concepts.

I am module leader for the Level five module BI5138 Conservation Technologies an area which is rapidly expanding owing to the leaps in computing and image technology. I also lecture on the Masters programme for BI7138 Biodiversity Informatics module, a level seven module exploring Geographic Information Systems (GIS) alongside statistical techniques in the R computing platform, providing experience of visualising and analysing ecologically relevant data on a range of different spatial scales and the BI7156 Marine Environmental Impact Assessment module, which provides a detailed understanding to the approach, use and process of Enivronmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to mitigate and protect marine biodiversity against human impacts on the marine and coastal zone environment.

I also teach on a number of undergraduate modules, which include level four modules BI4119 Ecology, BI4141 Global Biodiversity: Concepts & Threats, the level five modules BI5110 Research Methods, BI5135 Population Biology, BI5158 Physical & Biological Oceanography and the level six BI6110 Dissertation and BI6172 Managing Marine Environmental Impacts modules.


My research uses an integrated approach to understand factors affecting marine ecosystems, including marine food webs, trophic ecology and nutrient cycling in marine environments with an emphasis on gelatinous plankton predators (i.e. jellyfish). I also consider the effects environmental and anthropogenic stressors have on marine biodiversity and how this might influence ecosystem function, connectivity and services. More specifically, I explore the spatial, temporal and trophic (ecological) role of marine taxa (from plankton to apex predators) in the structure and function of marine ecosystems at both broad and fine-scales. To address questions related to these topics, I use a combination of experimental lab work (including Stable isotopes and genetic techniques), field studies, and modeling (including spatial analysis and food web modeling). I am particularly interested in applying novel technologies and approaches including contemporary biochemical and molecular techniques and the use of citizen scientists in the collection of data to answer questions related to marine ecology.

I am currently developing an innovative pilot research project in collaboration with a bioprospecting biotechnology industry partner to explore the feasibility of culturing jellyfish as a sustainable bioresource for the development of biomedical products.

Postgraduate supervision:

I welcome applications from potential PhD or research MSc students interested in marine ecology and conservation, especially marine food webs, trophic ecology and nutrient cycling in marine environments. If you are interested in joining my lab please don’t hesitate to contact me

Published Work

Peer-reviewed Publications

Jaspers, C., …. Fleming, N.E.C., et al. (2018). Ocean current connectivity propelling secondary spread of a marine invasive comb jelly across western Eurasia. Global Ecology and Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12742

Fleming, N.E.C., Houghton, J.D.R., Newton, J., Harrod, C. (2015). Not all jellyfish are equal: isotopic evidence for inter- and intraspecific variation in jellyfish trophic ecology. PeerJ. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1110

Fleming, N.E.C., Harrod, C, Griffin D.C., Newton, J., Houghton, J.D.R. (2014). Scyphozoan jellyfish provide short-term reproductive habitat for hyperiid amphipods in a temperate near-shore environment. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 510, 229–240. DOI: 10.3354/meps10896

Fleming, N.E.C., Harrod, C., Houghton, J.D.R. (2013). Identifying potentially harmful jellyfish blooms using shoreline surveys. Aquaculture Environment Interactions. 4: 263–272. DOI: 10.3354/aei00086

Collins, P.C., Kennedy, B., Copley, J., Boschen, R., Fleming, N. et al. (2013). VentBase: Developing a consensus among stakeholders in the deep-sea regarding environmental impact assessment for deep-sea mining – A workshop report. Marine Policy. 46, 334–336. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2013.03.002

Fleming, N.E.C., Houghton, J.D.R., Magill, C.L., Harrod, C., (2011). Preservation methods alter stable isotope values in gelatinous zooplankton: implications for interpreting trophic ecology. Marine Biology. 158, 2141–2146. DOI: 10.1007/s00227–011–1714–7

Delannoy, C.M.J., Houghton, J.D.R., Fleming, N.E.C., Ferguson, H.W., (2011). Mauve Stingers (Pelagia noctiluca) as carriers of the bacterial fish pathogen Tenacibaculum maritimum. Aquaculture. 311, 255 – 257. DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2010.11.033


Technical Reports:

Fleming, N.E.C., Johnson, M.F., Rice, S.P., Penning, W.E. and Dijkstra J.T. (2014). Maintaining the health and behavioural integrity of plants and animals in experimental facilities: guidelines for the transfer of invertebrates into hydraulic facilities. Deliverable D7.2 EC contract number 261520, HYDRALAB – IV

Fleming, N.E.C., Johnson, M.F., Rice, S.P., Evertsen, A.J.O., Paul, M. and Penning, W.E. (2014). Maintaining the health and behavioural integrity of plants and animals in experimental facilities: guidelines for the transfer of plants & algae into hydraulic facilities. Deliverable D7.3 EC contract number 261520, HYDRALAB – IV

McKnight, J. C., Fleming, N.E.C., & Houghton, J.D.R. (2010) Solent Seal Tracking Programme Provisional Report Appendix II. In: Chesworth, J. C., Leggett, V. L. and Rowsell, E. S. 2010. Solent Seal Tagging Project Summary Report. Wildlife Trusts’ South East Marine Programme, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Hampshire

Fleming N.E.C., Bannister, R.C.A., (2008). Stock assessment and Tagging of European Lobster Homarus gammarus (L.) off the Yorkshire Coast. A progress report for the Buckland Foundation. Pp11.

Fleming N.E.C., (2008). Status of the European Lobster Homarus gammarus (L.) stocks in relation to the lobster fishery off the Yorkshire Coast – 2008. Research Initiative Report. North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee. Town Hall Bridlington.

Burlinson, F & Fleming N.E.C., (2006). Monitoring of brine discharge at Aldbrough gas caverns – June 27th 2006. Report (v3) to SSE (Hornsea Ltd.). Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies, University of Hull


PhD Marine Biology, Queen’s University Belfast (Dec 2013)

Thesis title: Gelatinous zooplankton in the North East Atlantic: distribution, seasonality and trophic ecology

During my doctoral research at Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB) I investigated the spatial, temporal and trophic (ecological) role of macro- (gelatinous) zooplankton in the trophic structuring of temperate inshore marine systems at both broad and fine-scales. This research was primarily driven by the over-simplification or exclusion of jellyfish from many fisheries and ecosystem models. I used a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating shoreline/pelagic surveys, hydrodynamic modelling and stable isotope analysis (SIA). During my PhD, I gained successful funding (totalling £15,000) from the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC).

MPhil (part–time) Fisheries Marine Ecology, University of Hull (July 2008)

Thesis title: The Growth and Production Ecology of Mytilus edulis (L.) in the Wash

For my MPhil l I investigated the growth and production ecology of Mytilus edulis (L.) in the Wash, U.K. as part of the “Wash Mussel Restoration Project” run in conjunction with English Nature, Environment Agency, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, Ecomaris Ltd and The Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies (IECS) & Department of Biological Sciences, University of Hull. My researcht explored the variation in growth, secondary production and P/B ratios between local sites within the Wash and other U.K. locations. The findings of my research were used to provide suggestions for sustainable management options to fisheries committees. A copy of my MPhil thesis is housed at the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority's headquarters.


BSc (Hons) Marine Biology, University of Wales, Swansea (July 2003)

Dissertation title: Recruitment dynamics of intertidal organisms

During my honours degree in Marine Biology I was awarded a bursary placement (2002) to research Chthamalid barnacle settlement within the "Supply-side Ecology" Research Group under the supervision of Prof. Stuart Jenkins (now Bangor University) at the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, Plymouth (M.B.A.). From this placement I was able to propose and use the data collected for my final year dissertation. I investigated recruitment dynamics of intertidal barnacle species Chthamalus stellatus & C. montagui and is acknowledged in a peer-reviewed publication (Jenkins, 2005).

Fellowship of the Higher Education Authority (FHEA) – Swansea University (Nov 2019)

I successfully gained my Fellowship of the Higher Education Authority in Novemeber 2019 whilst employed at Swansea University through Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT).