Dr. Lucy Woodall 

Oxford University


Twitter: water_nomad

My current research focuses on elucidating the processes that drive biodiversity in the marine biome and understanding the resilience of the ocean. I use genetic methods such as environmental DNA analysis to document cryptic diversity. I also seek to understand the impacts of human activities on the marine environment. In particular I have published a number of papers on microplastics and marine litter, have consulted on this matter and continue to be actively involved in many aspects of research associated with marine litter.

I started my academic career with my PhD research into the conservation genetics of European seahorses. This was the first genetic assessment of any seahorse species over a large geographic range. The conclusions of this research fed into the European seahorse captive breeding program maintained in European aquariums and have contributed to in-situ management plans developed my many countries. I continue to work in seahorse conservation and taxonomy, advising national and international bodies, and am founder member of the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Stickleback specialist group.

Having used my molecular ecology and conservation skills in shallow water and terrestrial systems I now focus on the deep sea, its stewardship and connections to the shallows and land. I am Principal Scientist with Nekton Foundation. I managed the expeditions including pre and post cruise organisation and oversee the scientific outputs while developing plans for our future endeavours.

Research Experience

2015      Research Officer, Marine anthropogenic litter                                                       University of Oxford

2011-15 Postdoc Research Assistant, Biodiversity of seamounts in the SW Indian Ocean Natural History Museum, London

2011       Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Taxonomy of Western Australian Seahorses   University of Gothenburg

2010-11 Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Cryptic bumblebee species complex            University of Stirling

2004      Field Assistant, Seahorse Ecology                                                                                       University of British Columbia

Selected Teaching Experience

Lecturer, Alpine Studies and Research Methods                                                                 2011    University of Stirling- Course given in Switzerland

Graduate Teaching Assistant, General Entomology                                                       2005-08       Royal Holloway, University of London

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Invertebrate Biology                                                      2004-07        Royal Holloway, University of London


Natural History Museum, London                                                                    Scientific Associate

Project Seahorse, University of British Columbia                                            Research Associate


I have been featured in five television documentaries, interviewed for three national radio shows and my research has been the focus of many media articles. I regularly give talks to non-scientific audiences, advise government agencies on policy and am a founder member of the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Stickleback Specialist Group. I am also a council member of the Ray Society.

Publications (Most cited first in each section)

Marine Litter and Microplastics

Woodall LC, Sanchez-Vidal A, Canals M, Paterson GLJ, Coppock R, Sleigh V, Calafat A, Rogers AD, Narayanaswamy B and Thomson R (2014) The deep sea is a major sink for microplastic debris. Royal Society Open Science, 1: 140317.

Woodall LC, Gwinnett C, Packer M, Thompson RC, Robinson LF and Paterson GL (2015) Using a forensic science approach to minimize environmental contamination and to identify microfibres in marine sediments. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 95 40-46.

Woodall LC, Robinson LF, Rogers AD, Narayanaswamy BE and Paterson GL (2015) Deep sea litter: A comparison of seamounts, banks and a ridge in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans reveals both environmental and anthropogenic factors impact accumulation and composition. Frontiers of Marine Science, 2: 3.

Taylor ML, Gwinnett C, Robinson LF and Woodall LC (2016) Plastic microfibre ingestion by deep-sea organisms. Scientific Reports, 6: 33997.

Environmental and Conservation Genetics

Darvill B, Lepais, O, Woodall LC, and Goulson D (2012) Triploid bumblebees indicate a direct cost of inbreeding in fragmented bumblebee populations. Molecular Ecology, 21 3988-3995.

Woodall LC, Koldewey HJ and Shaw P (2011) Historical and contemporary population genetic connectivity of the European short snouted seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus, and implications for management. Journal of Fish Biology, 78 1738-1756.

Boehm JT, Woodall LC, Teske P, Lourie SA, Baldwin C, Waldman J and Hickerson M (2013) Marine dispersal and barriers drive Atlantic seahorse diversification. Journal of Biogeography, 40 1839-1849.

Woodall LC, Koldewey HJ, Santos SV and Shaw P (2009) First occurrence of the lined seahorse Hippocampus erectus (Perry 1810) in the Eastern Atlantic. Journal of Fish Biology, 75 1505-2512.

Woodall LC, Koldewey HJ and Shaw P (2011) Serial monogamy in the Long-snouted Seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus. Conservation Genetics, 12 1645-1649.

Scriven JJ, Woodall LC, Tinsley MC, Knight M, Williams PH, Carolan JC, Brown MJF and Goulson D (2015) Revealing the hidden niches of cryptic bumblebees in Great Britain: implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 482 126-133.

Scriven JJ, Woodall LC and Goulson D (2013) The direct amplification of bumblebee DNA from faeces. Molecular Ecology Resources, 13 225-229.

Woodall LC, Koldewey HJ, Boehm JT and Shaw PW (2015) Past and present drivers of population structure in a small coastal fish, the European long snouted seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus. Conservation Genetics, 16 1139-1153.

Behavioural Studies and Techniques for Conservation

 Woodall LC, Zimmerman B, Jones R, Shaw P and Koldewey HJ (2012) Partial fin-clipping as an effective tool for tissue sampling in seahorses, Hippocampus spp. Journal of the Marine Biological Association, 92 1427-1432.

Naud M-J, Curtis JM, Woodall LC and Gaspar M (2009) Mate choice, operational sex ratio and social promiscuity in a wild population of the long-snouted seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus. Behavioural Ecology, 20 160-164.

Kubasiewicz LM, Minderman J, Woodall LC, Quine CP, Coope R and Park KJ (2016) Fur and faeces: an experimental assessment of non-invasive DNA sampling for the European pine marten. Mammal Research, 61 299-307.


June- August 2016, CCGS Hudson NW Atlantic including Bermuda and the Gully canyon- Deep Sea Biodiversity

October-November 2013, RRS James Cook Equatorial Atlantic Seamounts- Paleoclimate studies using fossil corals,

August 2012, RRS James Cook Western Approaches to English Channel including Whittard Canyon- Trial cruise

October- December 2011 RRS James Cook SW Indian Ocean Ridge Seamounts- Seamount Biodiversity

September 2008- Southern Portugal SCUBA Diving

October 2007- Southern Portugal SCUBA Diving

September 2007- Greece SCUBA Diving

August 2007- Malta SCUBA Diving

November 2006- Canary Islands SCUBA Diving

July 2006- Southern Spain SCUBA Diving

June 2006- Bulgaria SCUBA Diving

May 2006- Malta SCUBA Diving

October 2005- Southern Portugal SCUBA Diving

July 2005- Southern France SCUBA Diving

June 2005- Southern Portugal SCUBA Diving

May 2005- Southern Spain SCUBA Diving

September- October 2004 Southern Portugal SCUBA Diving