Professor of Conservation BiologyADR

Fellow of Somerville College



Phone: 01865 271104

Fax: 01865 310 447





Research Interests

The oceans are under severe threat from direct and indirect human impacts, including the all-encompassing effects of climate change. In order to understand the implications of such threats my work is aimed at understanding how the biodiversity of the oceans is distributed, how marine ecosystems work and the location and magnitude of human impacts. Only through such a holistic approach is it possible to help to plan for future management and conservation of marine ecosystems and their component parts. Inevitably this means that we also address and shape the policies that govern human activities influencing both coastal and oceanic marine ecosystems.

Over the last 10 years my work has focused on deep-sea hotspots of diversity, endemism or biological activity including cold-water coral reefs, hydrothermal vents and seamounts. However, my interest is becoming more focused on the links between diversity and ecosystem function, particularly on coral reef ecosystems. My work is achieved through a range of technologies including: SCUBA-based survey and sampling; acoustics; large remotely operated vehicles; molecular biology, particularly DNA sequencing and genotyping; microscopy.

My work has applied aspects and I have undertaken projects for the UN International Seabed Authority, UN Division of Oceans and Law of the Sea, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the G8+5 Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) and for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including Greenpeace, the Pew Foundation, The World Wildlife Fund for Nature and The Deep-Sea Conservation Coalition. I am also the Scientific Director of the NGO the International Programme on State of the Ocean.

Recent scientific achievements include:

  • The discovery of the first deep-sea hydrothermal vent communities in the Southern Ocean
  • The development of methods to model the distribution of deep-sea species, especially corals
  • The use of molecular methods to reveal the true species diversity of groups such as hydroids and corals

Academic Profile

Alex Rogers is a Professor of Conservation Biology at the Department of Zoology and a Fellow of Somerville College, University of Oxford. He obtained his first degree in Marine Biology at the University of Liverpool and a Ph.D. in the genetics and taxonomy of marine invertebrates also at Liverpool. In his early career Alex held Research Fellowships at the Marine Biological Association, Plymouth and at the University of Southampton’s National Oceanography Centre. Since then he has lead the Core Programme on Biodiversity at British Antarctic Survey and then moved to the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, where he became a reader in marine ecology.
Alex is the Scientific Director of the International Programme on State of the Ocean (IPSO).

Current Research

Current research projects are focused on the ecology and evolution of deep-sea and ecosystems and human impacts on them. These include:

  1. The ecology and evolution of Southern Ocean Chemosynthetic Ecosystems (Funded by NERC). This is a collaborative project aimed at identifying the role of Southern Ocean in the evolution and biodiversity of chemosynthetic ecosystems globally. During this project we have discovered new deep-sea vents in the Southern Ocean and have studied the biota around them.
  2. The ecology of the seamounts of the South West Indian Ocean Ridge (Funded by GEF, UNDP, IUCN, Total, CENSEAM and NERC). This project addresses global questions related to the maintenance of hotspot ecosystems around and on seamounts. It is also focused on the distribution of the fauna of seamounts in the Indian Ocean, one of the least explored parts of the deep ocean. Finally it will provide important ecosystem-level information for the management of deep-sea fisheries within the region. To date the project has completed a cruise on pelagic biology where important new data on the trophic basis of seamount fisheries was gathered and a new species of large deep-water squid was found.
  3. The ecology of cold-water coral ecosystems (Funded by EC Coralfish Project, The Lighthouse Foundation, NERC). This project focuses on understanding the distribution of cold-water coral ecosystems and the potential impacts of fishing on them. It includes work to understand the connectivity of populations of deep-sea corals using molecular methodologies. Project locations include the NE Atlantic and the South Atlantic. The project has included some of the deepest investigations of cold-water corals on ridges, the identification of several new coral species and important new information on coral distribution and habitat preferences.
  4. The diversity of the coral reef cryptofauna (NERC CASE Studentship). This project focuses on how degradation of coral reefs influences the diversity of the animals associated with corals rather than the corals themselves. It addresses the question of how the reef cryptofauna is affected by human impacts and whether or not degradation of coral reefs also has a knock on effect on wider reef biodiversity. It is a joint project between the University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, the Natural History Museum Oxford and the Zoological Society of London.

International Prizes/Awards

December 2011   Awarded ZSL Conservation Fellowship for services to marine conservation.


  • 72 Science papers published in peer-reviewed journals, 3 in press.
  • 8 Policy communications and papers published inc. in peer-reviewed journals.
  • 1 published book, 1 edited book and 2 edited volumes
  • 16 Chapters in books and 3 in press.
  • 39 Reports

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Marsh L, Copley JT, Huvenne VAI, Linse K, Reid WDK, Rogers AD, Sweeting CJ, Tyler PA (2012) Microdistribution of faunal assemblages at deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the Southern Ocean. PLoS ONE 7: e48348. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048348
  • Boersch-Supan PH, Boehme L, Read JF, Rogers AD, Brierley AS (2012) Elephant seal foraging dives track prey distribution, not temperature: Comment on McIntyre et al. (2011). Marine Ecology Progress Series 461: 293-298.
  • Morris K, Tyler PA, Murton B, Rogers AD (2012) Lower Bathyal and abyssal distribution of coral in the axial volcanic ridge if the Mid-Atlantic ridge at 45oN. Deep-Sea Research I 62: 32-39.
  • Jamieson R, Rogers A, Billett D, Smale D, Pearce D (2012) Patterns of marine bacterioplankton biodiversity in the surface waters of the Scotia Arc, Southern Ocean. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 80: 452-468.
  • Moura CJ, Cunha MR, Porteiro FM, Rogers AD (2012) A molecular phylogenetic appraisal of the systematics of the Aglaopheniidae (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa, Leptothecata) from the NE Atlantic and W Mediterranean. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society of London 164: 717-727.
  • Yesson C, Taylor M, Tittensor DP, Davies A, Guinotte J, Baco-Taylor A, Black J, Hall-Spencer J,Rogers AD (2012) Global distribution and habitat preferences of deep-sea octocorals. Journal of Biogeography 39: 1278-1292.
  • Sheppard CRC, Bowen B, Carr P, Chen CA, Clubbe C, Craig M, Eble J, Fitzsimmons N, M. Gaither M, Gan C-H, Gollock M, Guzman N, Graham NAJ, Harris A, Jones R, Keshavmurthy S, Koldeway H, C.G. Lundin CG, Mortimer JA, Obura D, Pfeiffer M, Price ARG, Purkis S, Raines P, Riegl B, Rogers A, Schleyer M, Seaward MRD, Sheppard ALS, Tamelander J, Turner JR, Visram S, Vogler C, Vogt S, Yang JM-C, Yang S-Y, Yesson C (2012)Reefs and islands of the Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean: Why it is the world’s largest no-take marine protected area. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Research 22: 232-261.
  • Rogers AD, Tyler PA, Connelly DP, Copley JT, James R, Larter RD, Linse K, Mills RA, Naveira-Garabato A, Pancost RD, Pearce DA, Polunin NVC, German CR, Shank T, Boersch-Supan PH, Alker B, Aquilina A, Bennett SA, Clarke A, Dinley RJJ, Graham AGC, Green D, Hawkes JA, Hepburn L, Hilario A, Huvenne VAI, Marsh L, Ramirez-Llodra E, Reid WDK, Roterman CN, C.J. Sweeting   CJ, Thatje S, Zwirglmaier K (2012) The discovery of new deep-sea hydrothermal vent   communities in the Southern Ocean and implications for biogeography. PLoS Biology. PLoS Biol 10(1): e1001234. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001234.

Recent Book Chapters

  • Rogers AD, Laffoley, D, Polunin N, Tittensor D (2013) Ocean conservation: current challenges and future opportunities.In: Macdonald DW, Willis KJ (Eds.) Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2. John Wiley and Sons. In press.
  • Rogers AD, Laffoley D (2012) Human interactions with the ocean must quickly become more sustainable. In: Miller DA (Ed.) Current Controversies: Pollution Greenhaven Press, Gale, Cengage Learning.Farmington Hills, Michigan, USA. Pp 140-148.
  • Rogers AD (2012) Evolution and biodiversity of Antarctic organisms: a molecular perspective. In:Rogers AD, Johnston NM, Murphy EJ, Clarke A (Eds.) Antarctic Ecosystems: An Extreme Environment in a Changing World, Wiley Publishers, Oxford, UK, pp 417-467.
  • Clarke A, Johnston NM, Murphy E, Rogers AD (2012) Introduction: Antarctic ecology in a
    changing world. In: Rogers AD, Johnston NM, Murphy EJ, Clarke A (Eds.) Antarctic Ecosystems: An Extreme Environment in a Changing World, Wiley Publishers, Oxford, UK, pp 1-9.

Recent Policy Papers

  • Rogers AD, Sack K (2012) Not seeing the wood for the trees: A response to Basurto & Nenadovic (2012). Global Policy. In press.
  • Veitch L, Dulvy NK, Koldewey H, Lieberman S, Pauly D, Roberts CM, Rogers AD, Baillie JEM (2012) Avoiding empty ocean committments. Science 336: 1383-1385.

Recent Reports

  • Rogers AD, Yesson C, Gravestock P (2012) A Biophysical, Economic and Legal Profile of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Pew Environment Group, London, U.K., 267pp.
  • Rogers AD, Taylor ML (2012) Benthic biodiversity of seamounts in the southwest Indian Ocean Cruise report – R/V James Cook 066 Southwest Indian Ocean Seamounts expedition – November 7th – December 21st, 2011. 235pp.

Communication of Science

  • 62 Invited keynote presentations
  • Numerous presentations, media interviews and other public communication activities including participation in one movie (Aluna the Movie), National Geographic’s Alien Deep with Robert Ballard and David Attenborough’s Attenborough’s Ark. Web – blogs and other media coverage of recent scientific expeditions (e.g. Seamount Blog).