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Department of Zoology



David is building and supervising a research team 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. Much of this work focusses on bivalve shellfish – clams, mussels, and oysters – which are rich in protein, omega-3, and essential micronutrients, and have a lower environmental footprint than meat and many terrestrial crops. For example we are investigating the development of a new ‘Naked Clam’ aquaculture sector, involving shell-less clams which feed on wood and grow an order of magnitude faster than other bivalves. The team is also looking at developing ‘Urban Bivalve’ production systems to enable production of bivalves more rapidly, to a higher quality and food safety level, and to enable access in new locations. David collaborates with innovative global food manufacturers on research across the supply chain to help bring bivalve-based foods to the consumer mass market.

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. Behavioural choice experiments have been run across University Canteens, aiming to find ways to increase consumption of sustainable bivalves and low-trophic fish. Other areas under investigation include the importance of processing to drive mass-market consumption of bivalves, the role of fish and seafood in mother, baby and brain health, and systems to drive consumption of underutilised components and by-products of fish and seafood.

David works extensively on thought leading policy related projects which aim to improve the global sustainability and performance of fishery and aquaculture food systems.  This includes developing new metrics and tools to assess production efficiency and footprint in for example in high-value finfish aquaculture and cephalopod fisheries.  It also includes projects aiming to better define our global marine activities in order to more effectively enforce policy. This work also helps to inform team work on seafood production and demand to ensure that it is highly relevant and makes wise use of resources.



Food Security

Planetary Health

Human Health


Key publications: 


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

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