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Ecology and Conservation

Dr Sam Weber

Dr Sam Weber

Lecturer in Marine Biology


 Stella Turk Building B051-110


University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, TR10 9FE


I am a marine ecologist and conservation biologist with broad interests in tropical oceanic and island ecosystems, fisheries management, the ecology and conservation of marine vertebrates, and marine protected area (MPA) science and practice. Much of my research focusses on the UK Overseas Territory of Ascension Island, which is home to one of the world’s largest marine reserves, and where I was based for more than 5 years in the Government Conservation & Fisheries Directorate.  

I work on a range of marine vertebrate taxa, including sea turtles, sharks, seabirds, tuna, billfish and reef fish; applying tools such as biologging, dietary analysis, life history studies and population census techniques to inform policy and management. Results from my research have been used to compile population status assessments, inform fisheries management and support MPA designations. However, I am also interested in testing fundamental ecological hypotheses about the factors shaping the distribution, habitat use and behaviour of marine vertebrates.

My current research is primarily focussed on the spatial and trophic ecology of pelagic top predators - which have been among the worst affected by recent expansions of global fisheries - as well as evaluating threats to marine vertebrates posed by climate change and illegal fishing.


2006 – 2010      PhD Biological Sciences, University of Exeter.

2005 – 2006       MSc Conservation & Biodiversity (Distinction), University of Exeter

2000 – 2003       BSc (Hons.) Biochemistry (1st Class), University of Sheffield.


July 2021 – Present       Lecturer in Marine Biology, University of Exeter

Apr 2017 – July 2021     Research Fellow, University of Exeter.

Jan 2015 – Apr 2017      Principal Conservation Scientist, Ascension Island Government.

Jun 2012 – Dec 2015     Darwin Postdoctoral Research Associate, Ascension Island Government & University of Exeter

Oct 2011 – June 2012    Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Exeter.

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Journal articles

Weber SB, Richardson AJ, Brown J, Bolton M, Clark B, Godley B, Leat EHK, Oppel S, Soetaert KER, Weber N, et al (In Press). Direct evidence of a prey depletion ‘halo’ surrounding a pelagic predator colony. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA
Stevens M, Broderick AC, Godley BJ, Lown AE, Troscianko J, Weber N, Weber SB (In Press). Phenotype-Environment Matching in Sand Fleas. Biology Letters
van de Geer CH, Broderick AC, Carter MID, Irei AA, Kiponda FK, Kiptum J, Wandiga JN, Omar M, Parazzi N, Sawyer-Kerr H, et al (2024). Two decades of community-based conservation yield valuable insights into marine turtle nesting ecology. Oryx, 58(3), 310-322. Abstract.
Wiggins J, Baum D, Broderick AC, Capel T, Colman LP, Hunt T, Simmons DL, McGurk J, Mortlock L, Nightingale R, et al (2023). Efficacy of artificial nest shading as a climate change adaptation measure for marine turtles at Ascension Island. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 47(4). Abstract.
Muench A, Mengo E, Weber S, Baum D, Richardson AJ, Thomas H, Whomersley P (2022). An Assessment of Economic Viability of the Ascension Island Tuna Longline Fishery Management: Implications for Marine Protected Area Planning and Future Fisheries Management. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9 Abstract.
Madigan DJ, Devine BM, Weber SB, Young AL, Hussey NE (2022). Combining telemetry and fisheries data to quantify species overlap and evaluate bycatch mitigation strategies in an emergent Canadian Arctic fishery. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 702, 1-17. Abstract.
Andrzejaczek S, Lucas TCD, Goodman MC, Hussey NE, Armstrong AJ, Carlisle A, Coffey DM, Gleiss AC, Huveneers C, Jacoby DMP, et al (2022). Diving into the vertical dimension of elasmobranch movement ecology. Sci Adv, 8(33). Abstract.  Author URL.
Whomersley P, Bell J, Clingham E, Collins MA, Feary DA, Stockill J, Weber S, Yates O, Bamford K (2022). Editorial: Working Towards a Blue Future: Promoting Sustainability, Environmental Protection and Marine Management: Examples from the UK Government Blue Belt Programme and Current International Initiatives. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9
Dunn N, Savolainen V, Weber S, Andrzejaczek S, Carbone C, Curnick D (2022). Elasmobranch diversity across a remote coral reef atoll revealed through environmental DNA metabarcoding. ZOOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY, 196(2), 593-607.  Author URL.
Metcalfe K, White L, Lee ME, Fay JM, Abitsi G, Parnell RJ, Smith RJ, Agamboue PD, Bayet JP, Mve Beh JH, et al (2022). Fulfilling global marine commitments; lessons learned from Gabon. Conservation Letters, 15(3). Abstract.
Queiroz N, Humphries NE, Couto A, Vedor M, da Costa I, Sequeira AMM, Mucientes G, Santos AM, Abascal FJ, Abercrombie DL, et al (2021). Reply to: Caution over the use of ecological big data for conservation. Nature, 595(7866), E20-E28.  Author URL.
Queiroz N, Humphries NE, Couto A, Vedor M, da Costa I, Sequeira AMM, Mucientes G, Santos AM, Abascal FJ, Abercrombie DL, et al (2021). Reply to: Shark mortality cannot be assessed by fishery overlap alone. Nature, 595(7866), E8-E16.  Author URL.
Thompson CDH, Meeuwig JJ, Brown J, Richardson AJ, Friedlander AM, Miller PI, Weber SB (2021). Spatial Variation in Pelagic Wildlife Assemblages in the Ascension Island Marine Protected Area: Implications for Monitoring and Management. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8 Abstract.
Reynolds SJ, Wearn CP, Hughes BJ, Dickey RC, Garrett LJH, Walls S, Hughes FT, Weber N, Weber SB, Leat EHK, et al (2021). Year-Round Movements of Sooty Terns (Onychoprion fuscatus) Nesting Within One of the Atlantic’s Largest Marine Protected Areas. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8 Abstract.
Mallon JM, Tucker MA, Beard A, Bierregaard RO, Bildstein KL, Böhning‐Gaese K, Brzorad JN, Buechley ER, Bustamante J, Carrapato C, et al (2020). Diurnal timing of nonmigratory movement by birds: the importance of foraging spatial scales. Journal of Avian Biology, 51(12). Abstract.
Marengo I, Augé AA, Campioni L, Blake D, Cherrett S, Richardson AJ, Weber SB (2020). Island-based information management system-GIS data centre as a key tool for spatial planning in the South Atlantic UK overseas territories. Journal of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, 20(1), 49-60. Abstract.
Garrett LJH, Myatt JP, Sadler JP, Dawson DA, Hipperson H, Colbourne JK, Dickey RC, Weber SB, Reynolds SJ (2020). Spatio-temporal processes drive fine-scale genetic structure in an otherwise panmictic seabird population. Scientific Reports, 10(1). Abstract.
Madigan DJ, Richardson AJ, Carlisle AB, Weber SB, Brown J, Hussey NE (2020). Water column structure defines vertical habitat of twelve pelagic predators in the South Atlantic. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 78(3), 867-883. Abstract.
Richardson AJ, Burgess GH, Shepherd CM, Weber SB (2019). First record of an Odontaspidid shark in Ascension Island waters. Arquipélago : Life and Marine Sciences, 37, 79-84.
Clark BL, Handby T, Leat EHK, Weber SB (2019). First three-dimensional tracks for the Ascension Frigatebird Fregata aquila highlights the importance of altitude for behavioural studies. Seabird, 32, 1-19.
Queiroz N, Humphries NE, Couto A, Vedor M, da Costa I, Sequeira AMM, Mucientes G, Santos AM, Abascal FJ, Abercrombie DL, et al (2019). Global spatial risk assessment of sharks under the footprint of fisheries. Nature, 572(7770), 461-466. Abstract.  Author URL.
Weber N, Weber SB (2019). Important Bird Areas: Ascension Island. British Birds, 112, 661-682.
Reynolds SJ, Hughes BJ, Wearn CP, Dickey RC, Brown J, Weber NL, Weber SB, Paiva VH, Ramos JA (2019). Long-term dietary shift and population decline of a pelagic seabird-A health check on the tropical Atlantic?. Glob Chang Biol, 25(4), 1383-1394. Abstract.  Author URL.
Tilley D, Ball S, Ellick J, Godley BJ, Weber N, Weber SB, Broderick AC (2019). No evidence of fine scale thermal adaptation in green turtles. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 514-515, 110-117. Abstract.
Richardson AJ, Downes KJ, Nolan ET, Brickle P, Brown J, Weber N, Weber SB (2018). Residency and reproductive status of yellowfin tuna in a proposed large-scale pelagic marine protected area. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 28(6), 1308-1316. Abstract.
Oppel S, Bolton M, Carneiro APB, Dias MP, Green JA, Masello JF, Phillips RA, Owen E, Quillfeldt P, Beard A, et al (2018). Spatial scales of marine conservation management for breeding seabirds. Marine Policy, 98, 37-46. Abstract.
Weber SB, Weber N, Godley BJ, Pelembe T, Stroud S, Williams N, Broderick AC (2017). Ascension Island as a mid-Atlantic developmental habitat for juvenile hawksbill turtles. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 97(4), 813-820. Abstract.
Nolan ET, Barnes DKA, Brown J, Downes K, Enderlein P, Gowland E, Hogg OT, Laptikhovsky V, Morley SA, Mrowicki RJ, et al (2017). Biological and physical characterization of the seabed surrounding Ascension Island from 100-1000 m. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 97(4), 647-659. Abstract.
Nolan ET, Downes KJ, Richardson A, Arkhipkin A, Brickle P, Brown J, Mrowicki RJ, Shcherbich Z, Weber N, Weber SB, et al (2017). Life-history strategies of the rock hind grouper Epinephelus adscensionis at Ascension Island. Journal of Fish Biology, 91(6), 1549-1568. Abstract.
Williams SM, Weber SB, Oppel S, Leat EHK, Sommerfeld J, Godley BJ, Weber N, Broderick AC (2017). Satellite Telemetry Reveals the First Record of the Ascension Frigatebird (Fregata aquila) for the Americas. Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 129(3), 600-604. Abstract.
Oppel S, Weber S, Weber N, Fox D, Leat E, Sim J, Sommerfeld J, Bolton M, Broderick AC, Godley BJ, et al (2017). Seasonal shifts in foraging distribution due to individual flexibility in a tropical pelagic forager, the Ascension frigatebird. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 585, 199-212. Abstract.
Oppel S, Beard A, Fox D, Mackley E, Leat E, Henry L, Clingham E, Fowler N, Sim J, Sommerfeld J, et al (2015). Foraging distribution of a tropical seabird supports Ashmole’s hypothesis of population regulation. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 69(6), 915-926.
Hartnoll RG, Regnier-McKellar C, Weber N, Weber SB (2014). RETURN TO THE LAND; THE STAGES OF TERRESTRIAL RECRUITMENT IN LAND CRABS. CRUSTACEANA, 87(5), 531-539.  Author URL.
Weber SB, Weber N, Ellick J, Avery A, Frauenstein R, Godley BJ, Sim J, Williams N, Broderick AC (2014). Recovery of the South Atlantic's largest green turtle nesting population. BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION, 23(12), 3005-3018.  Author URL.
Pickett SRA, Weber SB, McGraw KJ, Norris KJ, Evans MR (2013). Environmental and Parental Influences on Offspring Health and Growth in Great Tits (<i>Parus major</i>). PLOS ONE, 8(7).  Author URL.
Weber N, Weber SB, Godley BJ, Ellick J, Witt M, Broderick AC (2013). Telemetry as a tool for improving estimates of marine turtle abundance. Biological Conservation, 167, 90-96. Abstract.
Weber SB, Broderick AC, Groothuis TGG, Ellick J, Godley BJ, Blount JD (2011). Fine-scale thermal adaptation in a green turtle nesting population. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences Abstract.
Weber SB, Blount JD, Godley BJ, Witt MJ, Broderick AC (2011). Rate of egg maturation in marine turtles exhibits 'universal temperature dependence'. J Anim Ecol, 80(5), 1034-1041. Abstract.  Author URL.


Weber N, Weber S (2020). Impacts and Management of Invasive Species in the UK Overseas Territories. In  (Ed) Land Cover and Land Use Change on Islands Social & Ecological Threats to Sustainability, Springer, 277-298. Abstract.

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Tuesday & Thursday, 11am - 12pm

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