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Department of Zoology



David is building and supervising a research team at the University of Cambridge focussed on innovation in underexploited and high potential fish and seafood sectors to benefit human health and environmental sustainability as well as thought leadership to guide policy.

A key component of work is the development of novel ‘breakthrough’ aquaculture production systems.

David also looks at mechanisms that could be used to drive demand of sustainable nutritious fish and seafood in place of other meat and fish products.

Work on thought leading policy related projects aims to improve the global sustainability and performance of fishery and aquaculture food systems.

David leads interdisciplinary and collaborative projects spanning numerous academic disciplines and institutions, industries, and regulatory bodies.

Consultancy for leading companies in the food sector aims to drive greater sustainability. David is a Director and Co-founder of Naked Clam Ltd, speaks widely at international events and has an active media presence.

David holds a Henslow Research Fellowship at Murray Edwards College. His background includes a PhD in Zoology and a 1st class degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University. He maintains a passion for fitness and the outdoors, competes in multisport and adventure races, and is a Health Coach.



Food Security

Planetary Health

Human Health


Key publications: 


Willer, D.F., Newton, R., Malcorps, W., Kok, B., Little, D., Lofstedt, A., de Roos, B., Robinson, J.P.W. (2024). Wild fish consumption can balance nutrient retention in farmed fish. Nature Food.  

McCarthy, A.H., Steadman, D., Richardson, H., Murphy, J., Benbow, S., Brian, J.I., Brooks, H., Costa-Domingo, G., Hazin, C., McOwen, C., Walker, J., Willer, D.F., Abdi, M., Auster, P.J., Bealey, R., Bensted-Smith, R., Broadburn, K., Carvalho, G., Collinson, T., Erinosho, B., Fabinyi, M., Febrica, S., Forbi, W.N., Garcia, S.M., Goad, D., Goldsworthy, L., Govan, H., Heaphy, C., Hiddink, J.G., Hosch, G., Kachelriess, D., Kinch, J., Lancaster, A.M.S.N., Le Manach, F., Matthews, T., Ortiz, A.M., Morgan, A., Motta, H., Murua, H., Namboothri, N., Ndiritu, E., Passfield, K., Pilcher, N.J., Portus, J.O., Rguez-Baron, J.M., Robertson, M., Sharma, A., Suazo, C.G., Tamini, L.L., Vilata-Simon, J., Mukherjee, N. (2024). Destructive fishing: An expert-driven definition and exploration of this quasi-concept. Conservation Letters. 

Willer, D. F., Aldridge, D. C., Mehrshahi, P., Papadopoulos, K. P., Archer, L., Smith, A. G., Lancaster, M., Strachan, A., & Shipway, J. R. (2023). Naked Clams to open a new sector in sustainable nutritious food production. npj Sustainable Agriculture 1, 4.

Willer, D.F., Aldridge, D.C. (2023). Enhancing domestic consumption to deliver food security in a volatile world. Global Sustainability, 6, E18. 

Gawel, J. P. F., Aldridge, D. C., & Willer, D. F. (2023). Barriers and drivers to increasing sustainable bivalve seafood consumption in a mass market economy. Food Frontiers, 00, 1–14.  

Willer, D.F., Aldridge, D.C., Gough, C., Kincaid, K. (2023) Small-scale octopus fishery operations enable environmentally and socioeconomically sustainable sourcing of nutrients under climate change. Nature Food, 4, 179-189 (2023).

Willer, D.F., Brian, J.I., Derrick, C.J., Walker, J., Benbow, S., Brooks, H., Hazin, C., McCarthy, A., Mukherjee, N., McOwen, C., Steadman, D. (2022). ‘Destructive fishing’—A ubiquitously used but vague term? Usage and impacts across academic research, media and policy. Fish and Fisheries, 2022;00:1–16.

Willer, D.F., Robinson, J., Patterson, G. & Luyckx, K. (2022). Maximising sustainable nutrient production from coupled fisheries-aquaculture systems. PLOS Sustainability and Transformation 1(3): e0000005.

Willer, D. F., Nicholls, R.J. & Aldridge, D. C. (2021). Opportunities and challenges for upscaled global bivalve seafood production. Nature Food, 2(12), 935-943. 

Campanati, C., Willer, D.F., Schubert, S. & Aldridge, D.C. (2021). More fish, less waste, Blue Growth: sustainable intensification of aquaculture through nutrient recycling and circular economies. Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture. 

Willer, D. F. & Aldridge, D. C. (2020). Sustainable bivalve farming can deliver food security in the tropics. Nature Food, 1(7): 384-388. 

Willer, D. F. & Aldridge, D. C. (2020). Vitamin bullets. Microencapsulated feeds to fortify shellfish and tackle human nutrient deficiencies. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7:102.

Willer, D. F., Furse, S. & Aldridge, D. C. (2020). Microencapsulated algal feeds as a sustainable replacement diet for broodstock in commercial bivalve aquaculture. Scientific Reports, 10:12577.  

Willer, D. F. & Aldridge, D. C. (2020). From pest to profit - The potential of shipworms for sustainable aquaculture. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 4:575416. 

Willer, D.F., & Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture for global food security. Global Food Security, 23, 64-73.

Willer, D. F., Smith, K. & Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Matches and Mismatches Between Global Conservation Efforts and Global Conservation Priorities. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7, 297.

Willer, D., & Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Microencapsulated diets to improve growth and survivorship in juvenile European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis). Aquaculture, 505, 256-262.

Fitch, A., Orland, C., Willer, D., Emilson, E., & Tanentzap, A. J. (2018). Feasting on terrestrial organic matter: Dining in a dark lake changes microbial decomposition. Global Change Biology, 24, 5110–5122.

Willer D, Aldridge DC. (2017). Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture. Royal Society Open Science, 4, 171142.

Other publications: 


Interesting Stories

How can we catch less, but eat more fish and seafood. Financial Times. Click here

Mackerel en croute? Britons are told to swap out salmon for wild fish in order to get essential nutrients. Daily Mail.

Naked Clams on air.

When the King is the warm-up act for Naked Clam aquaculture

The healthiest way to eat salmon, the ‘chicken of the sea’. 

Small-scale octopus fisheries can provide sustainable source of vital nutrients for tropical coastal communities.

Frozen food giants look to develop farmed shellfish products. 

Swap salmon for sardines to keep four million tonnes of fish in the sea

The world’s their fish finger

Scientists supercharge shellfish to tackle vitamin deficiency in humans

The simple food that fights climate change 


Aldridge D, Arantzamendi L, Einarsson M, Keeper A, Schubert J, Willer DF, Zorita I, Campatini C. (2020). Microencapsulated diets offer new opportunities for sustainable bivalve production. Aquaculture Europe Magazine, 45:28.

Henslow Research Fellow

Contact Details

Room 3.01 David Attenborough Building
+44 (0) 7507 723137
Accepting applications for PhD students.
Available for consultancy