Alex Rogers

Professor in Conservation Biology

Fellow of Somerville College


Research Interests

I am fascinated by the diversity, ecology, conservation and evolution of marine species. I have special interests in the deep sea, particularly seamounts, cold-water corals and chemosynthetic ecosystems. I employ molecular tools and traditional methods of taxonomy to study the evolution of marine organisms at a range of temporal and spatial scales. These encompass current environmental factors influencing genetic structure of populations, to historical events associated with past climate change that have shaped the current biota of the oceans. I am also deeply concerned about the impacts of human activities on the oceans and in this respect I work on marine policy. I have undertaken projects for the UN International Seabed Authority, UN Division of Oceans and Law of the Sea, the IUCN and with the G8+5 Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) as a Commissioner for the Commission on Land Use Change and Ecosystems. I am also Scientific Director of the NGO the International Programme on State of the Ocean and I have also worked for other NGOs including the WWF, Greenpeace and the Deep-Sea Conservation Coalition.

Academic Profile

Alex Rogers is a Professor of Conservation Biology at the Department of Zoology and a Fellow of Somerville College, University of Oxford. He obtained his first degree in Marine Biology at the University of Liverpool and a Ph.D. in the genetics and taxonomy of marine invertebrates also at Liverpool. In his early career Alex held Research Fellowships at the Marine Biological Association, Plymouth and at the University of Southampton’s National Oceanography Centre. Since then he has lead the Core Programme on Biodiversity at British Antarctic Survey and then moved to the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, where he became a reader in marine ecology.

Alex is currently a Commissioner for the International Commission on Land Use Change and Ecosystems for the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE International). He has recently been the Chair of the SCOR Technology Panel on New Technologies for Observing Marine Life and is a UK representative on InterRidge Steering Committee. Alex is the Marine Invertebrate Red List Authority for the IUCN Red List (Species Survival Commission) and is also member of the Marine Conservation Sub-Committee and Invertebrate Conservation Sub-Committee of the SSC. Alex is also the Scientific Director of the International Programme on State of the Ocean (IPSO).

Current Research

Current research projects are focused on the ecology and evolution of deep-sea and ecosystems and human impacts on them. These include:

(i) The ecology and evolution of Southern Ocean Chemosynthetic Ecosystems (Funded by NERC). This is a collaborative project aimed at identifying the role of Southern Ocean in the evolution and biodiversity of chemosynthetic ecosystems globally. During this project we have discovered new deep-sea vents in the Southern Ocean and have studied the biota around them.

(ii) The ecology of the seamounts of the South West Indian Ocean Ridge (Funded by GEF, UNDP, IUCN, Total, CENSEAM and NERC). This projects addresses global questions related to the maintenance of hotspot ecosystems around and on seamounts. It is also focused on the distribution of the fauna of seamounts in the Indian Ocean, one of the least explored parts of the deep ocean. Finally it will provide important ecosystem-level information for the management of deep-sea fisheries within the region. To date the project has completed a cruise on pelagic biology where important new data on the trophic basis of seamount fisheries was gathered and a new species of large deep-water squid was found.

(iii) The ecology of cold-water coral ecosystems (Funded by EC Coralfish Project, The Lighthouse Foundation, NERC). This project focuses on understanding the distribution of cold-water coral ecosystems and the potential impacts of fishing on them. It includes work to understand the connectivity of populations of deep-sea corals using molecular methodologies. Project locations include the NE Atlantic and the South Atlantic. The project has included some of the deepest investigations of cold-water corals on ridges, the identification of several new coral species and important new information on coral distribution and habitat preferences.






Selected Publications

  • Tittensor DP, Baco AR, Hall-Spencer JM, Orr JC, Rogers AD (2010) ¬Seamounts as refugia from ocean acidification for cold-water stony corals. Marine Ecology 31 (Suppl.1): 212-225.
  • Rogers AD, Gianni M (2010) The Implementation of UNGA Resolutions 61/105 and 64/72 in the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries on the High Seas. Report prepared for the Deep-Sea Conservation Coalition. International Programme on State of the Ocean, London, United Kingdom, 97pp.
  • Veron JEN, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Lenton TM, Lough JM, Obura DO, Pearce-Kelly P, Sheppard CRC, Spalding, M, Stafford-Smith MG, Rogers AD (2009) The coral reef crisis: the critical importance of <350ppm CO2. Marine Pollution Bulletin 58 (10):
  • Tittensor DP, Baco-Taylor AR, Brewin P, Clark MR, Consalvey M, Hall-Spencer J, Rowden AA, Schlacher T, Stocks K, Rogers AD (2009) Predicting global habitat suitability for stony corals on seamounts. Journal of Biogeography 36: 1111-1128.
  • Strugnell JM, Rogers AD, Prodöhl PA, Collins MA, Allcock AL (2008) The thermohaline expressway: The Southern Ocean as a centre of origin for deep-sea octopuses. Cladistics 24: 1-8.
  • Carpenter KE, Abrar M, Aeby G, Aronson RB, Banks S, Bruckner A, Chiriboga A, Cortés J, Delbeek JC, DeVantier L, Edgar GJ, Edwards AJ, Fenner D, Guzmán HM, Hoeksema BW, Hodgson G, Johan O, Licuanan WY, Livingstone SR, Lovell ER, Moore JA, Obura DO, Ochavillo D, Polidoro BA, Precht WF, Quibilan MC, Reboton C, Richards ZT, Rogers AD, Sanciangco J, Sheppard A, Sheppard C, Smith J, Stuart S, Turak E, Veron JEN, Wallace C,Weil E, Wood E (2008) One third of reef-building corals face elevated extinction risk from climate change and local impacts. Science 321: 560-563.1428-1437.
  • Moura CJ, Harris DJ, Cunha MR, Rogers AD (2008) DNA barcoding reveals cryptic diversity in marine hydroids (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa) from coastal and deep-sea environments Zoologica Scripta 37 (1): 93-108.
  • Rogers AD (2007) Evolution and biodiversity of Antarctic organisms: a molecular perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 362: 2191-2214.
  • Le Goff-Vitry M, Pybus OG, Rogers AD (2004) Genetic structure of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa in the North East Atlantic revealed by microsatellites and ITS sequences. Molecular Ecology 13: 537-549.
  • Rogers AD (1999) The biology of Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus 1758) and other deep-water reef-forming corals and impacts from human activities. International Review of Hydrobiology 84 (4): 315-406.
  • Rogers AD (1994) The biology of seamounts. Advances in Marine Biology 30: 305-350.