Marine Scotland Science: directory

Details of specialists working for Marine Scotland Science.

This document is part of a collection

Dr Rich Howells 

Renewables and Energy Programme
Renewables and Environmental Advice Group
Marine Ornithologist


Marine Scotland, Victoria Quay, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ

Pronouns: he/him/his

Details of specialism

As a marine ornithologist I am interested in the human and environmental factors that influence Scotland’s internationally important seabird populations. In particular, I am interested in both the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on seabird demography, which was the focus of my PhD. I am also heavily involved with seabird conservation in Scotland, with a particular focus on seabird bycatch.

Within the broad topic area of seabird research and conservation my particular focuses currently include:

  • providing ornithological advice and expertise for the cross-border MarPAMM project
  • expert input to the development of the Scottish Seabird Conservation Strategy
  • developing and overseeing the delivery of seabird tracking and monitoring fieldwork throughout Scotland

Main policy links

  • steering group member for the Scottish Seabird Conservation strategy
  • steering group member for the “Improving Understanding of Seabird Bycatch in Scottish Longline Fisheries” project
  • steering group member for the Fair Isle Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area 
  • member of the Marine Scotland Science’s Athena SWAN team

Papers of relevance

Keogan K, Lewis S and Howells RJ, et al. (2020) No evidence for fitness signatures consistent with increasing trophic mismatch over 30 years in a population of European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis. Journal of Animal Ecology 90: 432-446.

Daunt F, Fang Z, Howells R, Harris M, Wanless S, Searle K and Elston D (2020) Improving estimates of seabird body mass survival relationships. Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 11 No 13, 54pp.  

Howells RJ (2019) European shag diet and demography at a North Sea colony over half a century of environmental change. Doctoral Thesis. University of Liverpool.

Howells RJ, Burthe SJ and Green JA et al. (2018) Pronounced long-term trends in year-round diet composition of the European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis. Marine Biology 165, 188. 

Howells RJ, Burthe SJ, Green JA and Harris MP et al. (2017) From days to decades: short- and long-term variation in environmental conditions affect offspring diet composition of a marine top predator. Marine Ecology Progress Series 583, 227-242.

Details of linked research pages

Richard Howells’s ResearchGate profile



Marine Scotland Science
Scottish Government
Marine Laboratory
PO Box 101
375 Victoria Road
AB11 9DB


+44 (0)131 244 2500


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