Dr Gordon Paterson

Dr Gordon Paterson
  • Researcher
  • Life Sciences department
  • Invertebrates
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Education and Employment


2014           Merit researcher 

2012            Head of Aquatic Invertebrates Division

2003            Associate Keeper of Zoology (Deputy Head of Department)

1995            Head of Division, Invertebrates II

1993            Chair, Biodiversity: Ecological Patterns Programme

1993            Principal Researcher, Nematode & Polychaete Research Group

1989            Senior Scientific Officer, Deep-Sea  Research Group

1987            Research Scientist, Deep-Sea  Research Group

1980            Research Scientist, Cnidaria Section

1976            Research Assistant, Echinoderm & Protochordate Section

Higher Education

1989-93        University of Wales, Ph.D. (external)

1972-76        Department of Zoology, University of St. Andrews. B.Sc (hons). Zoology

Professional Roles

Professional Roles

External links

2005 Honorary Visiting Research Fellow, University of Southampton

External committees

2011 – Member of International Seabed Authority’s Endowment Fund Advisory Board

2004 – 2011 Member of steering group, CeDAMar

1998 – Special advisor Kasesart University Research and Development Institute 

1999 – 2004 Member of steering group, Biodiversity Aysén Project

Guest lectures
Taught courses

Biodiversidad Marina (Project MECESUP UVA 0205) 10 lectures to 20 final year students, University of Valparaiso, Chile, April 2007)

Editorial boards

2008 – Editorial board, Marine Biodiversity 


2013 Managing Impacts of Deep Sea Resource Exploitation (MIDAS). Work Package 4. EU Framework 7

2008 Analyses of Canyon Fauna EU HERMES subcontract)

2007 Benthic Biodiversity of seamounts in the southwest Indian Ocean. NHM PI NERC

2007 Conference Travel grant (9th International Polychaete Conference, Maine). Royal Society

2006 Tsunami impacts in Laem Son, Ranong Province, Thailand. NHM leader EU Pro Asian Fund

2006 Travel funds to visit NMNH Washington DC. CoML CeDAMar 

2006 Databasing abyssal polychaetes. CoML CeDAMar 

2005 Habitat assessment in Ranong – post tsunami impacts. EU CHARM 

2004 MarBEF NHM manager, contributor to Deepsets and PROPE Taxon RMPs EU DGXII 

2001- 2005: Systematics, gene flow and biogeography of polychaetes from the Clipperton Clarion Fracture zone. Kaplan Foundation 

1999 – 2002: Coastal Biodiversity in Ranong. Project Co-ordinator. EC Environment for Developing Countries 

1999 – 2002 Biodiversity Aysén Science Co-ordinator for NHM, member of Steering Group, Field programme. EC Environment for Developing Countries

1996 - 1998 Taxonomy across the Internet. Project Co-ordinator. Darwin Initiative 

1996 – 1998 Laguna San Rafael National Park Biodiversity Research Programme. NHM co-ordinator, Field programme, Darwin Initiative 

1997  -1999 Impact of predation on deep–sea benthos. Collaboration with Prof. J. Eckman and Prof. D. Thistle  National Science Foundation 


Research Focus

Biodiversity of benthic ecosystems

Focusing on biodiversity of high diversity environments particularly the deep sea and tropical shallow seas

1) Diversity of polychaetes in the central equatorial Pacific. This is an international collaboration with Prof Craig Smith, University of Hawaii, Dr Lenaick Menot, IFREMER, Prof Andy Gooday, National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton and International Seabed Authority assessing biodiversity across the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone manganese province using both morphological and molecular approaches. This work is partly supported by the European Commission funded project Managing Impacts of DDeep Sea Resource Exploitation (MIDAS).  

2) Temporal change in abyssal systems. This project is analysing changes in the infaunal assemblages over the past 10 years, using polychaetes as an exemplar. This work is focussed on the abyssal time series that has been running in the NW Pacific (Station M) and in the NE Atlantic (Porcupine Abyssal Plain Observatory).  The results to date suggest that there is a much closer link between upper ocean productivity and abyssal ecosystems that was previously thought. This project is a collaboration with  Dr Henry Ruhl, National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton and Prof. Ken Smith (Monterrey Bay Research Institute). Currently Claire Laguionie-Marchais is working on a PhD comparing the interannual variation of polychaete assemblages between these two abyssal sites.

3) Habitat complexity and benthic assemblage diversity. Seamounts frequently have high levels of biodiversity and abundance. They have a range of habitats from current swept course sands to extensive deep-water coral reefs. As part of a NERC-funded project the relationship between habitat heterogeneity in the form of coral structures and the diversity of the organisms which live on, in and around them is being investigated. Habitat heterogeneity is thought to be one of the main factors supporting biodiversity. Coral fragments from a range of seamounts in the SW Indian Ocean have been scanned using an X-ray microCT scanner. The analyses of the scans enable us to determine the size, volume and complexity of the coral framework. These measurements are then related to the abundance, size and diversity of the fauna allowing us to test the links between biodiversity and habitat heterogeneity.

Polychaete functional anatomy

Pharyngeal anatomy of Aciculata polychaetes. The pharyngeal anatomy of polychaetes is surprisingly complex. The arrangement of muscles and nerves has been used in studies of the evolutionary relationships between polychaete families. However, new methods of visualizing internal anatomy have been developed using X-ray microCT scanners. Using the Museum’s extensive collections and fresh material specially stained, providing new insights into the anatomy of the pharynx. Analyses of a representative specis of most families within the orders Phyllodocida and Eunicida has been scanned. This is a collaborative project involving Dan Sykes and Dr Farah Ahmed (NHM IAC), Dr Christos Arvanitidis, Sarah Faulwetter (Hellenic Center for Marine Research), Dr Lawrence Hawkins and Dr John Dinley (University of Southampton).


Research Supervision

PhD projects (external supervisor)

2010 – Claire Laguionie-Marchais - Community structure, biodiversity, and ecosystem change at the abyssal seafloor (University, NERC Deepseas Group) University of Southampton.

2005 - 2013: John Dinley – Anatomy of polychaete guts (Self funded), University of Southampton

2006 – 2009: Claudio Vassapolo Analyses of the spatial and temporal variability  in the distribution and population structure of selected invertebrates in Posidonia oceanica meadows and relationships with plant  features. Statione Zoologica, Napoli - Open University.

2006 – 2010: Chris Allen – Ecology and population structure of the intertidal crab Dotilla following the 2004 tsunami (NERC-CASE) University of Southampton

2005 – 2009:  Eulogio Soto – Ecology of polychaetes from an abyssal time series (externally funded), University of Southampton

2001 – 2005:  Chris Barrio Frojan – Ecology of intertidal macrofauna communities of tropical intertidal habitats (self-funded), University of Southampton

1996 - 1999: Adrian Glover – Abyssal polychaete ecology (NHM and University of Southampton funded), University of Southampton

1993 - 1996: Torin Morgan – the biology and ecology of Pygiospio elegans (NERC CASE), University of Southampton

1990 - 1995: Grant Rowe – Ecology of the intertidal sediment systems of Solent Breezes (Self funded), University of Southampton

1990 - 1993:  Sonia Batten – Ecophysiology of (NHM and University of Southampton funded), University of Southampton


2012 – Reece Merk: Staining techniques for examining polychaetes with X-ray CT. University of Southampton

2011 – Dan Sykes: X-ray CT techniques for examining museum polychaete specimens. University of Southampton.

2011 – Hanna Tilson: Hadal biodiversity. University of Southampton

2007 – Nick Higgs: Bathymetric zonation in deep-sea ophiuroids, University of Southampton

2007 – Agnes Mittermayr: Offshore biodiversity in Ranong, Thailand, University of Southampton

2004 – 2006 Dylan Clarke: Polychaete community structure from Namibia Coast. University of the Western Cape, RSA 

Undergraduate projects

1989 – present: Jointly supervised 10 undergraduate final year projects with University of Southampton staff


Recent publications


C. Laguionie-Marchais, D.S.M. Billett, G.L.J. Paterson, H.A. Ruhl, E.H. Soto, K.L. Smith Jr., S. Thatje. 2013. Inter-annual dynamics of abyssal polychaete communities in the North East Pacific and North East Atlantic—A family-level study. Deep-Sea Research 75: 175-186.53


Paterson, G. L. J., M. A. Kendall, C. Aryuthaka, N. J. Evans, Y. Monthum, C. Jittanoon, P. Campbell, L. R. Noble, K. M. O’Neill. 2012. Chapter 10: Tsunami impacts in the marine environment: review and results from studies in Thailand. In Gower D.J., Johnson KG, Richardson J.E., Rosen B.R., Rüber, L. & Williams S.T. Biotic (Eds) Evolution and environmental change in Southeast Asia. Cambridge University Press.


Paterson, G L J, A G Glover, M R Cunha, L Neal, H de Stigter, Dr Kostas Kiriakoulakis, D S.M. Billett, G Wolff, A Tiago, A Ravara, Peter Lamont, and P A Tyler. 2011. Disturbance, productivity and diversity in deep-sea canyons: a worm’s eye view Deep-Sea Research II 58: 2448-2460.

Cunha, Marina R, G LJ Paterson, D Alves, T Amaro, S Blackbird, H C. de Stigter, C Ferreira, A G Glover, A Hilário, K Kiriakoulakis, L Nealova, A Ravara, C F. Rodrigues, Á Tiago, D S M Billett. 2011. Biodiversity of macrofauna assemblages from three Portuguese submarine canyons (NE Atlantic). Deep-Sea Research II 58: 2433-2447.


Soto, E., G. L. J. Paterson, D. S. M. Billett, L. E. Hawkins, J. Galeron, and M. Sibuet. (2010) Temporal variability in polychaete assemblages of the abyssal NE Atlantic Ocean. Deep-Sea Research II, 57(15): 1396-1405.

Allen, C. J., G. L. J. Paterson, L. E. Hawkins, C. Hauton, P. Clark and C. Aryuthaka (2010) Zonation on sandy tropical beaches: a case study using Dotilla intermedia (Brachyura; Ocypodidae). Marine Ecology-Progress Series 408: 97-107.

Clarke, D. T., G. L. J. Paterson, W. K. Florence and M. Gibbons (2010). new secies of Magelona (Polychaeta: Magelonidae) from southern Namibia. African Natural History, 6: 77-82.

Glover A.G., Gooday A.J., Bailey D.M., Billett D.S.M., Chevaldonné P., Colaço A., Copley J., Cuvelier D., Desbruyères D., Kalogeropoulou V., Klages M., Lampadariou N., Lejeusne C., Mestre N.C., Paterson G.L.J., Perez T., Ruhl H.A., Sarrazin J., Soltwedel T., Soto E.H., Thatje S., Tselepides A., Van Gaever S. and Vanreusel A. (2010). Temporal change in deep-sea benthic ecosystems: a review of the evidence from recent time-series studies. Advances in Marine Biology. 58 DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2881(10)58001-5

Soto, E. H. and G. L.J. Paterson, 2010. Poliquetos bentónicos intermareales y sublitorales de la región de Aisén, Patagonia Chilena. Anales Instituto Patagonia (Chile) 38(2):69-80.


Dinley, J., L.E. Hawkins, G.L.J. Paterson, A. Ball , I. Sinclair, P. Sinnet-Jones, and S. Lanham. (accepted). Micro-computed tomography-a new nondestructive method of assessing sectional, fly-through and 3d imaging of soft bodied marine worms. Journal of Microscopy. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2818.2009.03335.x

Barrio Froján, C.R.S., M.A. Kendall, G.L.J. Paterson, L.E. Hawkins, S. Nimsantijaroen, & C. Aryuthaka, 2009 The importance of bare sedimentary habitats for maintaining high polychaete diversity and the implications for the design of marine protected areas. Aquatic Conservation:  Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.1031

Gordon L J Paterson, Adrian G Glover, Christopher R.S. Barrio Froján, Amoret Whitaker,Nataliya Budaeva, Jim Chimonides and Stacy Doner, A census of abyssal polychaetes, Deep–Sea Research II, 56: 1739-1746 Doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.05.018. 

Ayari, R. A. Muir, G.L. J. Paterson, A. Afli, P.Aissa. 2009. An updated list of polychaetous annelids from Tunisian coasts (Western Mediterranean Sea). Cahiers de Biologie Marine. 50: 33-45.

Kendall, M. A., C. Aryuthaka, J. Chimonides, D. Daungnamon, J. Hills, C. Jittanoon, P. Komwachirapitak, V. Kongkaew, A. Mittermeyr,Y. Monthum, S. Nimsantijaroen, G. L. J. Paterson, R. Foster-Smith, J. Foster-Smith, N. Thongsin 2009. The Post-Tsunami Recovery of Shallow Water Biota and Habitats on the Andaman Coast of Thailand. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies. 18(1): 69-75.


Mincks S. L., P. L. Dyal, G. L. J. Paterson, C. R. Smith, and A. G. Glover. 2008. Ecology and phylogenetics of an abundant new Antarctic polychaete (Annelida, Spionidae, Aurospio), including revision of the genus, and evidence of evolutionary links to deep-sea fauna. Marine Ecology An Evolutionary Prespective. 2008: 1-17.

Thistle, D., J. Eckman and G.L.J. Paterson 2008. Large, motile epifauna interact strongly with harpacticoid copepods and polychaetes at a bathyal site. Deep-Sea Research Part I: 324-331.


Kendall, M. A., G. L. J. Paterson, C. Aryuthaka, , S. Nimsantijaroen, , W. Kongkaeow, and N. Whanpetch 2006. Impact of the 2004 Tsunami on intertidal sediment and rocky shore assemblages in Ranong and Phang Nha Provinces, Thailand. Phuket Marine Biological Centre. Research Bulletin 67: 63-75

Paterson, G. L. J., A. G. Glover and C. Tillman 2006. Body size response of abyssal polychaetes to different nutrient regimes. Scientia Marina 70S3: 319-330.

Barrio Frojan, C., M. A. Kendall, G. L. J. Paterson, L.E.Hawkins, S. Nimsantijoroen, and C. Aryuthaka 2006. Patterns of polychaete diversity in tropical intertidal habitats. Scientia Marina 70S3: 239-248


Barrio Froján, C.R.S., L.E. Hawkins, C. Aryuthaka, S. Nimsantiajaroen, M. A. K. Kendall  and G.L.J. Paterson 2005. Patterns of polychaete communities in tropical sedimentary habitats: a case study in SW Thailand. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 53(1): 7-17.

  • Paterson, G L. J., M A. Kendall, C Aryuthaka, N J Evans, Y Monthum, C Jittanoon, P Campbell, L R Noble, K M O’Neill.

    ( 2011 ) Tsunami impacts in the marine environment: review and results from studies in Thailand  (Submitted to Proceedings of SE Asian Gateway Conference) .