Dr Susan Fitzer


Institute of Aquaculture Pathfoot F13

Dr Susan Fitzer

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About me

About me

I am a Lecturer in marine invertebrate physiology and Programme Director of Marine Biology in the Institute of Aquaculture. I joined the Institute of Aquaculture in January 2018 as a NERC Independent Research Fellow after 6 years of Post-Doctoral research at the University of Glasgow examining the impact of climate change on mussel shell growth. My research examines how climate change affects shell growth in commercial mussel and oyster aquaculture.

It was during my PhD at Newcastle University that I developed an interest in the impacts of climate change and in particular ocean acidification and warming on marine plankton, as a food source for juvenile fish studying the multigenerational effects of CO2-induced ocean acidification on the copepod Tisbe battagliai (PhD 2012). Before undertaking a PhD I worked as a research technician at the Scottish Association for Marine Science within the Marine Biogeochemistry department. Prior to this I graduated from Plymouth University with a master’s degree in Applied Marine Science and an interest in the characterisation of boatyard paints as a source of copper in an estuary (MSc 2006). I come from a background of marine biology and biogeosciences, graduating from Plymouth University with a degree in Marine Science and Oceanography (BSc Hons 2005) and an interest in temperature effects on respiration and metabolism in poikilothermic tropical amphibious fishes.

Research (1)

As a marine biologist, with expertise in marine invertebrate physiology, I am interested in how understanding mechanisms of biomineralisation pathways can be used to predict the climate change impact on shellfish aquaculture. I am interested in the impact of different forms of climate change driven coastal acidification on shell growth, comparing the impact of ocean acidification, and the deleterious effects of runoff for example from acid sulphate soils which also decreases environmental pH. Changes in the carbon source may limit shell formation although biomineralising shellfish such as mussels and oysters can control biomineral growth. Understanding this process of shell growth is vital to predict how vulnerable shellfish are to shell breakage and reduced survival under exposure of climate change induced coastal acidification.


An understanding of biomineralisation pathways is key to predict climate change impact on aquaculture
PI: Dr Susan Fitzer
Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council

Outputs (24)


Book Chapter

Fitzer SC, Bin San Chan V, Meng Y, Chandra Rajan K, Suzuki M, Not C, Toyofuku T, Falkenberg L, Byrne M, Harvey BP, de Wit P, Cusack M, Gao KS, Taylor P, Dupont S, Hall-Spencer JM & Thiyagarajan V (2019) Established and Emerging Techniques for Characterising the Formation, Structure and Performance of Calcified Structures under Ocean Acidification. In: Hawkins SJ, Allcock AL, Bates AE, Firth LB, Smith IP, Swearer SE & Todd PA (eds.) Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review, 57. Boca Raton, FL, USA: CRC Press, pp. 89-126. https://www.crcpress.com/Oceanography-and-Marine-Biology-An-Annual-Review-Volume-57/Hawkins-Allcock-Bates-Firth-Smith-Swearer-Todd/p/book/9780367134150; https://doi.org/10.1201/9780429026379


Fitzer S, Caldwell GS, Close AJ, Clare AS, Upstill-Goddard RC & Bentley MG (2012) Ocean acidification induces multi-generational decline in copepod naupliar production with possible conflict for reproductive resource allocation. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 418-419, pp. 30-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2012.03.009


Caldwell GS, Fitzer S, Gillespie CS, Pickavance G, Turnbull E & Bentley MG (2011) Ocean acidification takes sperm back in time. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 55 (4), pp. 217-221. https://doi.org/10.1080/07924259.2011.574842



I am Programme Director for BSc (Hons) Marine Biology. I teach on the the BSc (hons) Marine Biology degree for modules, Thirsty Planet, Managing Living Aquatic Resources, Changing Oceans, Aquaculture, Animal Physiology, Advanced Marine Systematics and Taxonomy and I am also module coordinator for the Marine Biology Field Course. I teach within my research expertise in marine invertebrate physiology including temperature tolerance mechanisms in marine invertebrates as part of animal physiology, climate change impact on shellfish aquaculture and ocean acidification as part of the changing oceans module.

I teach on the MSc Sustainable Aquaculture courses in areas relating to my research including mollusc aquaculture in modules Foundations of Aquatic Production, Aquaculture in Practice.

I supervise PhD students, currently two in the Institute of Aquaculture for the projects:

'Effect of mussel farming practices on genetics pool and shell material properties'

'Modelling impacts of stressors such as climate change, competition, and predation on Scottish blue mussels as an indicator species'

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