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About Dr Simon Oliver

My doctoral work focused on the behaviour, biology and conservation of pelagic thresher sharks with particular emphasis on their cleaning and hunting strategies.   In 2013 my work in this area gained recognition in the scientific community from Nature, Science, and Scientific American, and has attracted considerable media attention (BBC, The Guardian, NERC Planet Earth, National Geographic etc.).

In 2008 I founded the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project (TSRCP) and its field station in the Philippines to promote and disseminate shark research, education and conservation to a broad local, regional and international public and scientific outreach.  TSRCP, which is ongoing and has sustained itself since its inception, regularly hosts BSc and MSc students who join its expeditions to assimilate data for their thesis projects.  These have enabled me to expand the scope of my research interests to encompass the relevance and impact of conservation on local communities, and foster international collaborations.


My current teaching responsibilities include leading undergraduate modules on conservation and environmental impact, managing marine environmental impacts, and team teaching on population biology, conservation genetics, behavioural ecology, and threats to biodiversity. At the postgraduate level, I lead the research (thesis) module for the MSc programme in Wildlife Conservation, and team teach on managing wildlife populations.


My research interests revolve around using integrated approaches to understanding animal behaviour in the context of their use of habitats, ecological services, cooperation, and predator-prey interactions. I am particularly interested in the behavioural ecology of oceanic sharks in response to their cleaning, hunting, and migration strategies, and applying associated behavioural knowledge to address conservation problems. 

Recently I was awarded £500,000 by Discovery Communications to further my research on pelagic thresher sharks in the Philippines, and I am currently collaborating with colleagues from Rutgers University Marine Field Station, Ghent University’s Marine Biology Research Group, Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences, and the Department of Marine Ecology at University of Liverpool.

Published Work

Murie C, Spencer M, Oliver SP (2020) Current strength, temperature, and bodyscape modulate cleaning services for giant manta rays. Marine Biology 167: 54. doi: 10.1007/s00227-020-3674-2

Oliver SP, Grothues TM, Williams AL, Cerna V, Silvosa M, Cases G, Reed M, Christopher S (2019) Risk and resilience: high stakes for sharks making transjurisdictional movements to use a conservation area.  Biological Conservation 230: 58-66.  doi:  10.1016/j.biocon.2018.11.013

Hood FE, Klinger B, Newlaczyl AU, Sieber A, Dorel M, Oliver SP, Coulson JM, Blüthgen N, Prior IA (2019) Isoform-specific Ras signaling is growth factor dependent. Molecular Biology of the Cell. mbcE18100676. PMID 30785867 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E18-10-0676

Oliver S. (2016), Integrating role-play with case study and carbon footprint monitoring; A transformative approach to enhancing learners' behaviour for a more sustainable environment.  International Journal of Environmental and Science Education 11(6), 1323-1335.  doi: 10.12973/ijese.2016.346a

Oliver SP, Bicskos AE (2014) A pelagic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus) gives birth at a cleaning station in the Philippines.  Coral Reefs. doi: 10.1007/s00338- 014-1249-8

Cadwallader HF, Turner JR, Oliver SP (2014), Cleaner wrasse forage on ectoparasitic digeneans (phylum Platyhelminthes) that infect pelagic thresher sharks (Alopias pelagicus). Marine Biodiversity  do:i10.1007/s12526-014-0290-8

Balabanova S, Holmberg C, Steele I, Ebrahimi B, Rainbow L, Burdyga T, McCaig C, Tiszlavicz L, Lertkowit N, Giger OT, Oliver S, Prior I, Dimaline R, Simpson D, Beynon R, Hegyi P, Wang TC, Dockray GJ, Varro A (2014), The neuroendocrine phenotype of gastric myofibroblasts and its loss with cancer progression. Carcinogenesis. 35(8):1798-806. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgu086

Oliver SP, Turner J R, Gann K, Silvosa M, D’Urban Jackson T (2013), Thresher Sharks Use Tail-Slaps as a Hunting Strategy. PLoS ONE 8(7): e67380. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067380.

Oliver SP, Hussey N E, Turner J R, Beckett A J (2011), Oceanic Sharks Clean at Coastal Seamount. PLoS ONE 6(3): e14755. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014755

Cocks D, King J, Oliver S, Turner J, Roberts G (2008), A software package for Environmental Impact Assessments. Centre for Applied Marine Sciences. Report 2008-06. (id:1682)


BA (McGill University), MSc (University of Wales, Bangor), PhD (Bangor University).