Jason Cleland, BSc, MSc
Research Assistant, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh
I am a marine ecologist with a particular interest in the benthic fauna of North Atlantic, Arctic, and Antarctic marine ecosystems, including cold seeps, artificial reef habitats and inshore habitats such as burrowed mud, maerl beds, flame shell beds and horse mussel beds.
As a member of the Changing Oceans group, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, I am working on a range of projects to better understand the biodiversity and connectivity of Atlantic marine ecosystems and to help improve the processes that underpin their conservation.
Much of my research to date involves combining video annotation techniques with environmental data to understand the drivers behind the distribution of deep-sea sponges, cold-water corals, sea anemones and echinoderms. I am also interested in how to improve the decision-making processes and criteria used to identify potential finfish aquaculture impacts on Scotland’s inshore benthic ecosystems.
I have over 5 years of academia training, which include various science-policy projects and collaborations, for example, with the EU ATLAS and iAtlantic projects, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, OSPAR Commission, Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative and Scottish Wildlife Trust.
My key aims for the near-future include continuing my research output, developing my marine field survey techniques, and further engaging at the science-policy interface. Topics of interest for future study include polar seas, and the behavioural ecology of cetaceans, reef fishes and octopuses; their communication, feeding strategies and predator-prey interactions.
Key interests: biodiversity conservation, behavioural ecology, biogeography, environmental monitoring, marine assessment
MSc, Marine Systems and Policies, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences (2019-2020, Distinction). Thesis: A risk-based approach to improve protections of the national status of Priority Marine Features from multiple-farm aquaculture impacts outside Scotland’s Marine Protected Area network.
BSc, Ecological and Environmental Sciences, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences (2014-2018, 2:1 Hons). Thesis: Distribution of deep-sea sponge grounds formed by the hexactinellid Poliopogon amadou on the Tropic Seamount in the High Seas.
I was awarded the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) scholarship for my Masters at the University of Edinburgh and in my thesis, I proposed the prototype for an improved risk-based approach to the assessment of multiple-farm impacts to benthic fauna during the aquaculture licensing process in Scotland.
I am an alumnus of the Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP) Class of 2013/14, during which I was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Dublin and the Rotary Club of Milledgeville and studied as a freshman at Georgia College and State University.
Cleland, J., Kazanidis, G., Roberts, J.M. and Ross, S.W. (2021). Distribution of Megabenthic Communities Under Contrasting Settings in Deep-Sea Cold Seeps Near Northwest Atlantic Canyons. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8, e692851.
Comments to the Government of India’s Ministry of Earth Science on the Environmental Impact Statement for a polymetallic nodule collector pre-prototype for deep-sea mining issued in March 2020 [May 2020] Minerals Working Group.
Ramiro-Sánchez, B., González-Irusta, J.M., Henry, L.A., Cleland, J., Yeo, I., Xavier, J.R., Carreiro-Silva, M., Sampaio, Í., Spearman, J., Victorero, L. and Messing, C.G. (2019). Characterization and mapping of a deep-sea sponge ground on the Tropic Seamount (Northeast Tropical Atlantic): Implications for spatial management in the high seas. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, 278.