Dr Leanne Hepburn

Senior Lecturer
School of Life Sciences
Dr Leanne Hepburn



I am interested in spatio-temporal dynamics and community structure in marine ecosystems. This research is underpinned by significance to the science policy interface. Research interests: Coral reef taphonomy Reef carbonate budgets Bioeroding sponge ecology Biodiversity Conservation Estuarine ecology Science policy interface Current research group: Sarah Allison: Collaborator: Conflicting conservation objectives and a new Europe Howard Freeman: EnvEast PhD Co-I with Dr. Tom Cameron (starting October 2018): What makes a habitat a home for juvenile fish? Assessing the importance of estuary habitat characteristics for growth and survival of European Sea bass Alice Lown: Env east PhD Co-I with Dr. Tom Cameron (3rd year): Factors affecting the recovery of the UK Native Oyster (Ostrea edulis) with a focus on the Essex estuaries Reem al Maella: PhD PI with Prof. Dave Smith (2nd year): Accretional health of reefs in the Persian-Arabian gulf and the Indian Ocean Fiona Watson: PhD PI with Dr. Tom Cameron (3rd year): The role of fish movement in managing fishery MPA interactions MSc projects Analysis of microplastic ingestion by fish from trophic levels across the Aegean An evaluation of the effect of human population size on neustonic microplastic and zooplankton density in the Mediterranean Sea


  • BSc University of Aberdeen,

  • MSc University of Aberdeen,

  • PhD Manchester Metropolitan University,


University of Essex

  • Employability Director, University of Essex (2/10/2017 - present)

  • Course Director (Marine Biology), University of Essex (5/10/2015 - 22/5/2017)

  • Coral Reef Research Unit, University of Essex (27/5/2013 - present)

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Marine Ecology (BS112)

  • Transferable Skills in Life Sciences (BS143)

  • Applied Wildlife Sciences (BS243)

  • Marine Vertebrates (BS254)

  • Fisheries Ecology (BS354)

  • Data Analysis and Visualisation (BS709)

  • Research Project: MSc Tropical Marine Biology (BS782)

  • Research Project in Biomedical Science (BS831)

  • Research Project in Life Sciences (BS832)

  • Professional skills for Ecological and Marine Scientists (BS257)


Journal articles (17)

Lown, A., Hepburn, L., Heywood, J. and Cameron, T., (2021). European native oysters and associated species richness in the presence of non-native species in a southern North Sea estuary complex. Conservation Science and Practice

Thomas, GE., Cameron, TC., Campo, P., Clark, DR., Coulon, F., Gregson, BH., Hepburn, LJ., McGenity, TJ., Miliou, A., Whitby, C. and McKew, BA., (2020). Bacterial Community Legacy Effects Following the Agia Zoni II Oil-Spill, Greece. Frontiers in Microbiology. 11, 1706-

Lown, AE., Hepburn, LJ., Dyer, R. and Cameron, TC., (2020). From individual vital rates to population dynamics: An integral projection model for European native oysters in a marine protected area. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 30 (11), 2191-2206

Watson, FM., Hepburn, LJ., Cameron, T., Le Quesne, WJF. and Codling, EA., (2019). Relative mobility determines the efficacy of MPAs in a two species mixed fishery with conflicting management objectives. Fisheries Research. 219, 105334-105334

Franco, C., Hepburn, LA., Smith, DJ., Nimrod, S. and Tucker, A., (2016). A Bayesian Belief Network to assess rate of changes in coral reef ecosystems. Environmental Modelling and Software. 80, 132-142

Hepburn, LJ., Blanchon, P., Murphy, G., Cousins, L. and Perry, CT., (2015). Community structure and palaeoecological implications of calcareous encrusters on artificial substrates across a Mexican Caribbean reef. Coral Reefs. 34 (1), 189-200

Powell, A., Smith, DJ., Hepburn, LJ., Jones, T., Berman, J., Jompa, J. and Bell, JJ., (2014). Reduced Diversity and High Sponge Abundance on a Sedimented Indo-Pacific Reef System: Implications for Future Changes in Environmental Quality. PLoS ONE. 9 (1), e85253-e85253

Cousins, LJ., McMellor, S., Underwood, GJC. and Hepburn, LJ., (2014). Offsetting: moving towards an evidence-based metric for biodiversity assessment. In Practice. 83, 24-27

Pronzato, R., Powell, A., Smith, DJ., Hepburn, LJ., Jones, T., Berman, J., Jompa, J. and Bell, JJ., (2014). Reduced Diversity and High Sponge Abundance on a Sedimented Indo-Pacific Reef System: Implications for Future Changes in Environmental Quality. PLoS ONE. 9 (1), creators-Hepburn=3ALeanne_J=3A=3A

McKew, BA., Dumbrell, AJ., Daud, SD., Hepburn, L., Thorpe, E., Mogensen, L. and Whitby, C., (2012). Characterization of Geographically Distinct Bacterial Communities Associated with Coral Mucus Produced by Acropora spp. and Porites spp.. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 78 (15), 5229-5237

Kerrison, P., Hall-Spencer, JM., Suggett, DJ., Hepburn, LJ. and Steinke, M., (2011). Assessment of pH variability at a coastal CO2 vent for ocean acidification studies. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 94 (2), 129-137

Powell, AL., Hepburn, LJ., Smith, DJ. and Bell, JJ., (2010). Patterns of Sponge Abundance Across a Gradient of Habitat Quality in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia. The Open Marine Biology Journal. 4 (1), 31-38

Bell, JJ., Berman, J., Jones, T. and Hepburn, LJ., (2010). Variability in the spatial association patterns of sponge assemblages in response to environmental heterogeneity. Marine Biology. 157 (11), 2503-2509

Green, BC., Smith, DJ., Earley, SE., Hepburn, LJ. and Underwood, GJC., (2009). Seasonal changes in community composition and trophic structure of fish populations of five salt marshes along the Essex coastline, United Kingdom. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 85 (2), 247-256

Perry, CT. and Hepburn, LJ., (2008). Syn-depositional alteration of coral reef framework through bioerosion, encrustation and cementation: Taphonomic signatures of reef accretion and reef depositional events. Earth-Science Reviews. 86 (1-4), 106-144

Carballo, JL., Hepburn, L., Nava, HH., Cruz-Barraza, JA. and Bautista-Guerrero, E., (2007). Coral boring Aka-species (Porifera: Phloeodictyidae) from Mexico with description of Aka cryptica sp. nov.. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 87 (6), 1477-1484

Peck, LS., Ansell, AD., Webb, KE., Hepburn, L. and Burrows, M., (2004). Movements and burrowing activity in the Antarctic bivalve molluscs Laternula elliptica and Yoldia eightsi. Polar Biology. 27 (6), 357-367

Book chapters (2)

Hennige, SJ., Suggett, DJ., Hepburn, LJ., Pugsley, A., Crabbe, J. and Smith, DJ., (2013). Coral reefs of the Wakatobi: Processes of reef growth and loss. In: Marine Research and Conservation in the Coral Triangle. 27- 44. 9781616684730

Bell, JJ., Berman, J., Powell, A. and Hepburn, LJ., (2013). The ecology of sponges in the Wakatobi National Park. In: Marine Research and Conservation in the Coral Triangle. 85- 110. 9781616684730

Grants and funding


Quantifying a marine ecosystem's response to a catastrophic oil spill

Natural Environment Research Council


Valuing Biodiversity: CASE Studentship Amy Sutcliffe

Natural England, DFSSD

Valuing Biodiversity for Offset

Essex Wildlife Trust

+44 (0) 1206 872752


3SW.6.17, Colchester Campus