Professor John Turner

Head of School / Professor in Marine Biology

Contact info

Room: 403 Westbury Mount       Phone: 01248 382881 (MOB 07726 348852 )


Web Google Scholar  ResearchGate


Contact Info

Room: 403 Westbury Mount       Phone: 01248 382881 (MOB 07726 348852 )


Web Google Scholar  ResearchGate



I graduated in Joint Honours Botany and Zoology at the University of Bristol in 1981, and then progressed to doctorate research at the University of Oxford (St John's College), investigating the 'Ecology of Temperate Symbiotic Anthozoa'. In 1985 I moved to a NERC funded postdoctoral position at Bangor University, School of Animal Biology, where I investigated the 'Behavioural Ecology of Shoaling Fish' and specifically the 'Twilight Hypothesis'. In 1987, I transferred to the School of Ocean Sciences to take up a 5 year Research Demonstratorship in Marine Biology. I was Course Director of the MSc in Marine Environmental Protection for 22 years between 1989 and 2011. I developed research interests in mapping coral reef biotopes, Environmental Impact Assessment, Marine Protected Areas and Coastal Zone Management. I became a permanent member of staff in 1990, Lecturer in 1993 and appointed to Senior Lecturer in 2000. I was awarded a University Teaching Fellowship at the Graduation ceremony in 2007, and won a Bangor University Research Impact Award 2015 and received a personal Chair in 2016, and became Dean of Postgraduate Research, heading the Doctoral School in November 2016. I was appointed Head of the School of Ocean Sciences in Novemebr 2018.  I am a Trustee of the Chagos Conservation Trust, and a Trustee of the Seawatch Foundation.

Teaching and Supervision

My teaching is research led; I generally teach areas linked to my research and use real world examples and case studies drawn from my own experience wherever possible to illustrate the subject.  I use underwater photography and use my own images rather than those mined from the internet. My philosophy is that subjects can be made more interesting if drawn from personal involvement.  I also believe that we must be aware of shifting baselines and we should also look at earlier studies because direct human impact and climate change have affected many of the ecosystems we study today. For example, many coral reefs close to human populations are very degraded and describing them in their current state would be like describing a forest after being slashed and burned – you often have to look at original descriptions and early studies to see them functionally intact!  I developed the MSc course in Marine Environmental Protection and ran this successfully for 23 years, enjoying the international perspective it provided and working with the many excellent students it attracted. I continue to offer overseas project placements with colleagues in the Department of the Environment in the Cayman Islands to provide research opportunities with a direct application in marine conservation.

Potential postgraduate research students should write to Prof Turner with a covering letter explaining their experience and motivation, and a CV. Supervision will be considered in the following areas: Tropical Marine Ecology; Subtidal Marine Biology, Coral Reefs and Associated Ecosystems, Marine Protected Areas, Coastal Zone Management; Marine Conservation in UK Overseas Territories, Marine Invertebrate Symbiosis with Zooxanthellae, Behavioural Ecology of Sentinel Marine Species' 

Postgraduate Teaching:

OSX4002  Coastal Habitat Ecology and Survey

OSX4004  Marine Environmental Impact Assessment (Module Organiser)

OSX4006  Conservation and Coastal Zone Management

OSX4008  Research Project Design and Planning

OSX4009  Research Project


Undergraduate Teaching

OSX4401 Literature Review and Project Plan

OSX4405 Research Project Investigation

OSX3001  Marine Conservation and Exploitation (Module Organiser)

OSX3011   Extreme Marine Habitats (Coral Reefs and Climate Change)

OSX3000   Dissertation

OSX2009   Marine Ecology

OSX2003   Marine Biology Practical II: Echinoderms (currently being covered)

OSX2003  Marine Biology Practical II: Cnidaria Photo-respiration(currently being covered)

OSX1000   Tutorial (currently being covered)

OSX1002   Marine Biology Practical (Taxonomy) (currently being covered)


Most of my current research is developed in partnership with end users (e.g. British Indian Ocean Territory Government Section of Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Cayman Islands Government; Seychelles Island Foundation; The Nature Conservancy, USA).  Recently, my research has focussed on coral reefs of the UK Overseas Territories, and research strategy is driven by the need to protect marine environments largely through the establishment and monitoring of Marine Protected Areas, or use of tools such as Environmental Impact Assessment and Coastal Zone Management, often to comply with the major conventions (e.g. Convention on Biological Diversity CBD, Convention on Migratory Species CMS, Convention on Trade in Endangered Species CITES, RAMSAR Convention on wetlands, and EU Habitats Directive.  Projects are generally established through links with leading scientists with complementary interests, and through liaison with stakeholder organisations (e.g. UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum, BIOT Scientific Advisory Panel, Chagos Conservation Trust, UNESCO) and implemented through practical research overseas involving scientific diving operations, training, stakeholder consultations and outreach initiatives, often including placement of Project Support Officers to build capacity within organisations. I am a member of the DEFRA Darwin Initiative panel of the  Darwin Plus Advisory Group for the British Overseas Territories.

Grant Awards and Projects

Current Projects:

Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science 2018-2021: Coral Reef condition in the Chagos Archipelago: Monitoring for (1) BIOT’s management needs, and (2) reef change and resilience research.  £2,101,326, with £999,258 to Bangor.  PI Turner.


ESRC IAA Impact Project Award Biodiversity Action Plans for the Chagos Archipelago, British Indian Ocean Territory Turner, J.R. (Principal Investigator & Project Lead); Roche, R. (Co-investigator).  £13,692.  1st July 2018, - 31st December 2018.


Recent Projects include:

DEFRA Darwin Plus: Sustainable Management of Threatened Keystone Predators (2015 -2017) to Enhance Reef Resilience. Marine Conservation International (Gore & Ormond), with Department of Environment Cayman Islands (Austin & McCoy),

Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (Harvey) and Bangor University (Turner). £300, 000 TO MCI.

Satellite drifter tagging – Mixed Fish spawning aggregations on coral reefs in Grand Cayman in collaboration with Cayman Islands Government Department of Environment: Guy Harvey Foundation. $25,000 to CIG DoE.

Aldabra atoll World Heritage Site, Seychelles, Indian Ocean coral reef benthic habitat monitoring. Collaborator (+ Rebecca Klaus) on GEF grant ($69,545) to Seychelles Island Foundation Global Environmental Facility Project ID 3925: Strengthening Seychelles’ protected area system through NGO management modalities.

Darwin Initiative Assuring Engagement in Cayman's Enhanced Marine Protected Area System 2013-2014 DEFRA £190,000

Darwin Initiative to strengthen Worlds largest MPA, Chagos Archipelago 2012-2015 DEFRA £287,778

Darwin Initiative to enhance an established marine protected area system, Cayman Islands 2010-2013 DEFRA £273,914

Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Aquaculture for the Atlantic Region of Europe 2007-2013, EU RDF (total €2.67m: Species and Ecosystem Conservation in relation to coastal aquaculture (activity lead) €801,765)

Marine Biology and Sustainable Development for East Africa, UNESCO / DfID-DelPHE 2009-14: £53k

Research areas and keywords


  • QH301 Biology - Marine Biology, Marine Ecology, Tropical Marine Biology, Marine Environmental Protection, Coral Reef Ecosystems, Marine Symbiosis, Coastal Zone Management,

Education / academic qualifications

  • DPhil , DPhil. The Ecology of Temperate Symbiotoc Anthozoa (1981 - 1985)
  • BSc , BSc Joint Honours Botany and Zoology (1979 - 1981)

Research outputs (79)

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Projects (4)

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