Dr Rodney Forster

Director, Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies; Reader in Applied Estuarine and Marine Sciences

Faculty of Science and Engineering

01482 466774

Rodney has been passionate about marine biology since an early age, following his research interests during work in Germany (Helgoland, Rostock), The Netherlands (NIOO), and the UK (Cefas) before moving to Hull to become Director at IECS.      

His work uses sensors, satellites and models to understand the patterns and processes which control marine ecosystems, with a focus on the primary production of phytoplankton and seaweeds. 

Much of Rodney's work is applied ecology - working with industry and government to understand, use and protect our seas.


Research Interests

  • Remote sensing of the marine environment

  • Operational oceanography

  • Estuaries and coasts

  • The North Sea

Research groups


Capuzzo et al.  ‘A decline in primary production in the North Sea over twenty-five years, associated with reductions in zooplankton abundance and fish stock recruitment’, Global Change Biology, in press (2017) 

Ford, D. et al, 'Observing and Modelling Phytoplankton Community Structure in the North Sea', Biogeosciences, 14, pp 1419–1444 (2017) 

Garcia C, Stillman R A, Forster R M, Silva T, Bremner J, 'Nuclear Power and Coastal Birds: Predicting the Ecological Consequences of Warm-Water Outflows', Ecological Modelling, 342 (2016) 

Capuzzo E, Stephens D, Silva T, Barry J, Forster R M, 'Decrease in Water Clarity of the Southern and Central North Sea during the 20th-Century', Global Change Biology, 21, pp 2206–2214 (2015) 

Tett,P. et al, 'Framework for Understanding Marine Ecosystem Health', Marine Ecology Progress Series, 494, pp 1–27 (2013) 

Jennings S, Melin F, Blanchard J L, Forster R M, Dulvy N K, Wilson R W, 'Global-Scale Predictions of Community and Ecosystem Properties from Simple Ecological Theory', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 275, pp 1375–1383 (2008)

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Geographical Information Systems for Biologists and Ecologists

Research PhDs

I welcome applications for PhD supervision in the fields of

  • applications of data analytics to satellite remote sensing

  • ocean observing systems

  • aquaculture

Completed PhDs

  • Dr Edd Morris, Quantifying Primary Production of Microphytobenthos: Application of Optical Methods, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (2005)

  • Dr Katy Owen, Flow Cytometric Investigation of the Size Spectrum of North Sea Phytoplankton Communities, University of East Anglia / Cefas (2014)

Current PhD supervisions 

  • James Fox, Utilising Chlorophyll Fluorescence to Assess the Variability of Phytoplankton Abundance and Productivity in the North-West European Shelf Seas, University of Essex (completion 2017)

  • Marta Vannoni, Fluorescence-Based Methods in Applied Ecotoxicology, University of Hull / Cefas (completion 2020)

  • Lucas Mander, Investigation of Habitat Suitability for Wading Birds in the Energy Estuary, University of Hull / BTO / University of Bournemouth (completion 2020)

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • PhD The Control of Photosynthetic Capacity in Marine Plants, Queens University Belfast. (1992)

Awards and accolades

DSC4COP - DataCube Service for Copernicus - H2020 - to deliver satellite-based commercial services to marine and maritime users. 

HIGHROC – FP7 - HIGH spatial and temporal Resolution Ocean Colour(HIGHROC) project will carry out the research and development necessary for the making the most of Europe’s new Sentinel satellites. 

DEVOTES – FP7 project to develop innovative tools for improving the efficiency of biodiversity monitoring (2012-2016)