• SAMS, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA

    United Kingdom

  • PA35 1HY

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

  • 1957 Citations
  • 26 h-Index
1991 …2019
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Personal profile

Research expertise

My research centres on marine microbes, in particular phytoplankton, their grazers and their cycling of nutrients. Work over the last 10 years has concentrated on harmful phytoplankton and their implications for shellfish and finfish aquaculture and human health.

I have a background in physics but have become increasingly interested in  phytoplankton since I first started to attempt to model their growth as an undergraduate.

I now have wide interests related to marine microbes and marine biogeochemistry in terms of better understanding the factors that govern cell growth, interactions between organisms and the cycling of carbon and nutrient in marine pelagic environments.

Currently the main focus of my research is related to harmful algal blooms (HABs). These events are caused by a range of phytoplankton genera and can negatively impact human, other mammal or fish health through the production of natural biotoxins and other mechanisms. My research centers of how the physical/chemical/biological environment governs these HAB events. We are using this increased understanding to develop methods, including models and other risk assessment tools, that provide early warning of HAB events for aquaculture, regulators and the public.

Current projects

Combining Autonomous observations and Models for Predicting and Understanding Shelf seas (CAMPUS): This project aims to deliver an improved evidence-base for ecosystem-based marine management and to identify a cost-effective optimised observing network. Funded by NERC. 2018-21.

Predicting Risk and Impact of Harmful Events on the Aquaculture Sector (PRIMROSE): This project with partners in Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Spain and Portugal is developing common methodologies for better harmful algal bloom and biotoxin early warning for European aquaculture. Funded by NWE Interreg. 2017-20

Arctic Productivity in the seasonal Ice Zone (Arctic PRIZE): We are investigating the seasonally and spatially varying relationship between sea ice, water column structure, light, nutrients and phytoplankton productivity and the roles they play in structuring energy transfer to pelagic zooplankton and benthic megafauna. Funded by NERC. 2017-21

Satellite-based water quality bulletins for shellfish farms to support managememt decisions (Shelleye-2): We are evaluating the use of satellites for high biomass harmful algal bloom identification and early warning. Funded by NERC. 2017-19

Risk Assessing Harmful Algal Generated Biotoxin Events: We produce weekly HAB and biotoxin risk assessments that are made available through the habreports.org web site. Funded by the European Fisheries Fund. 2017-19

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Strathclyde

Bachelor of Science, University of Strathclyde


  • Prosperity from Ecosystems
  • harmful algal blooms
  • Marine Processes and Climate
  • marine phytoplankton
  • nutrient cycling

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Keith Davidson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 8 Similar Profiles
Bacillariophyceae Agriculture & Biology
algal bloom Earth & Environmental Sciences
shellfish Earth & Environmental Sciences
Pseudonitzschia Agriculture & Biology
nutrient Earth & Environmental Sciences
nutrients Agriculture & Biology
phytoplankton Earth & Environmental Sciences
diatom Earth & Environmental Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2009 2013

NPP WATER: Warning of Algal Toxin Events to Support Aquaculture in the Northern Periphery Programme Coastal Zone Region

Raine, R., Shelmerdine, R. L., Stone, D., Davidson, K., Gard, E., Naustvoll, L., Henderson, R. & Gubbins, M.


Project: Research

Research Output 1991 2019

Annual report on the results of the Shellfish Official Control Monitoring Programmes for Scotland - 2018: Annual report on the results of the E. coli, biotoxin, phytoplankton and chemical contaminants Official Control Monitoring Programmes for Scotland - 2018

Parks, R., Swan, S., Davidson, K., Turner, A., Maskrey, B., Powell, A., Ford, C. & Petch, R. G., Apr 2019, 76 p. Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).

Research output: Other contribution

Open Access
79 Downloads (Pure)

Variability of Amnesic Shellfish Toxin and Pseudo-nitzschia occurrence in bivalve molluscs and water samples–Analysis of ten years of the official control monitoring programme

Rowland-Pilgrim, S., Swan, S., O'Neill, A., Johnson, S., Coates, L., Stubbs, P., Dean, K., Parks, R., Harrison, K., Teixeira Alves, M., Walton, A., Davidson, K., Turner, A. & Maskrey, B., 1 Jul 2019, In : Harmful Algae. 87, 26 p., 101623.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
domoic acid
3 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)

A change in phytoplankton community index with water quality improvement in Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong

Yue, L., Whyte, C., Davidson, K., Tett, P. & Yin, K., Feb 2018, In : Marine Pollution Bulletin. 127, p. 823-830 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Ports and harbors
Water quality
water quality
115 Downloads (Pure)

A generic approach for the development of short-term predictions of E. coli and biotoxins in shellfish

schmidt, W., Evers-King, H., Campos, C., Jones, D., Miller, P., Davidson, K. & Shutler, J. D., 19 Apr 2018, In : AQUACULTURE ENVIRONMENT INTERACTIONS. 10, p. 173-185 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Escherichia coli

Biophysical modelling of marine organisms: fundamentals and applications to management of coastal waters: Chapter 3

Aleynik, D., Adams, T., Davidson, K., Dale, A., Porter, M., Black, K. & Burrows, M., 9 Mar 2018, Environmental Management of Marine Ecosystems (Applied Ecology and Environmental Management Series).: Handbook. Islam, M. N. & Jorgensen, S. E. (eds.). USA: Taylor and Francis / CRC Press (USA), p. 65-98 34 p. (Applied Ecology and Environmental Management Series).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Aquatic Organisms
Harmful Algal Bloom
coastal water

Activities 2001 2017

The risk of Harmful algal blooms in a changing climate

Keith Davidson (Speaker)
20 Sep 2017

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

TAB participation

Keith Davidson (Member)
13 Jun 201714 Jun 2017

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Research and Teaching at External Organisation

Marine Science at SAMS

Keith Davidson (Speaker)
8 Nov 2017

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Harmful Algal Bloom Early Warning

Keith Davidson (Member)
7 Jun 20178 Jun 2017

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

Press / Media


Keith Davidson


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Research

£5.1m UKRI funding for UK aquaculture research and innovation

Keith Davidson


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Research

Top minds turn to algae

Keith Davidson


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Research


FSA Phytoplantkon Monitoring

Keith Davidson (Participant), Sarah Swan (Participant), Callum Whyte (Participant)

Impact: Economic Impacts

HAB bulletins

Keith Davidson (Participant), Callum Whyte (Participant), Arlene Ditchfield (Participant)

Impact: Economic Impacts


Investigating the distribution, seasonal dynamics and toxicity of Azadinium spinosum in Scottish waters using qPCR

Author: Paterson, R., 5 Mar 2018

Supervisor: Davidson, K. (Supervisor) & Green, D. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


Environmental drivers and advective transport of harmful phytoplankton in North West European shelf seas

Author: Siemering, B., 4 Aug 2017

Supervisor: Davidson, K. (Supervisor), Inall, M. (Supervisor) & Bresnan, E. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


The competitive dynamics of toxic and non-toxic ribotypes of the harmful dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense in Scottish waters

Author: Eckford-Soper, L., 10 Sep 2013

Supervisor: Davidson, K. (Supervisor), Bresnan, E. (Supervisor) & Turrell, E. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


Bioavailability of dissolved organic matter in coastal waters

Author: Lønborg, C., 28 Nov 2009

Supervisor: Davidson, K. (Supervisor), Alvarez-Salgado, X. (Supervisor) & Miller, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


Effect of organic nutrient perturbation on microbial community dynamics and composition in Scottish coastal waters

Author: Pete, R., 1 Jan 2008

Supervisor: Davidson, K. (Supervisor) & Miller, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)