Prof Lynne Shannon

Principal Researcher

Lynne Shannon is the Principal Researcher leading the Marine Sustainability Lab group in the Department of Biological Sciences, and part of the Marine and Antarctic Research Centre for Innovation and Sustainability (MARIS) at the University of Cape Town. She undertakes ecological research and modelling to inform marine ecosystem-based management and has published 160 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Having a broad appreciation of marine food web dynamics and issues, she has constructed trophic models of the Benguela region to provide an understanding of structure, functioning and changes in marine food webs off South Africa and Namibia, with a view to supporting ecosystem-based management. A particular focus has been the examination of the relative and combined effects of fishing and environmental forcing on the ecosystem dynamics of the Benguela, including regime shifts. She explores pragmatic ways in which ecosystem considerations might be incorporated into fisheries management, especially the use of ecological indicators. She co-chaired the international working group “IndiSeas” (, evaluating effects of fishing and natural variability on marine ecosystems using suites of ecological, environmental, biodiversity and human dimension indicators in comparative approach. Lynne is the Benguela case study lead for two All Atlantic Alliance (Horizon 2020) projects, viz. “Triatlas” and “Mission Atlantic”, and is especially enthusiastic about her biodiversity science-policy work that has been undertaken as part of the “One Ocean Hub” UKRI project.  Lynne is Co-ordinating Lead Author of Chapter 2 “Visions of a sustainable world – for nature and people” of the Global Transformative Change Assessment currently underway in the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services  (IPBES). 

In June 2022, Lynne was awarded the Gilchrist Memorial Award “In recognition of the contributions of a distinguished scientist to marine science, to further stimulate excellence in South African marine science and to focus attention on South Africa’s marine and coastal environments”.


163 papers published: 35 first-authored papers published in internationally recognized journals; co-author of an additional 125 papers; 85 papers reviewed for internationally recognized journals.

20 selected key publications

  1. Shannon, L.J., Moloney, C.L., Jarre, A. and Field, J.G. 2003. Trophic flows in the southern Benguela during the 1980s and 1990s. Journal of Marine Systems  39 (1-2):83-116.
  2. Shannon, L.J., Christensen, V. and Walters, C. 2004. Modelling stock dynamics in the southern Benguela ecosystem for the period 1978-2002. In Ecosystem Approaches to Fisheries in the Southern Benguela. Shannon, L.J., Cochrane, K.L. and S.C. Pillar (Eds). Afr. J. mar. Sci. 26:179-196.
  3. Shannon, L.J., Cury, P.M., Nel, D., van der Lingen, C.D., Leslie, R.W., Brouwer, S.L., Cockcroft, A.C. and Hutchings, L. 2006. How can science contribute to an ecosystem approach to pelagic, demersal and rock lobster fisheries in South Africa? African Journal of Marine Science 28(1): 115-157.
  4. Shannon, L.J., Coll, M., Neira, S., Cury, P.M., and Roux, J.-P. 2009. Impacts of fishing and climate change explored using trophic models. Chapter 8, pp. 158-190  in Checkley, D.M., C. Roy, J. Alheit, and Y. Oozeki (eds.), Climate Change and Small Pelagic Fish. Cambridge University Press 7.
  5. Shin, Y.-J., and Shannon, L. J. 2010. Using indicators for evaluating, comparing and communicating the ecological status of exploited marine ecosystems. 1. The IndiSeas Project. ICES Journal of Marine Science 67: 686-691.
  6. Shannon, L.J., Coll, M., Yemane, D., Jouffre, D., Neira, S., Bertrand, A., Diaz, E., and Shin, Y.-J. 2010. Comparing data-based indicators across upwelling and comparable systems for communicating ecosystem states and trends. ICES Journal of Marine Science 67: 807-832.
  7. Smith, A.D.M., Brown, C.J., Bulman, C.M., Fulton, E.A., Johnson, P., Kaplan, I.C., Lozano-Montes, H., Mackinson, S., Marzloff, M., Shannon, L.J., Shin, Y.-J., Tam, J. 2011. Impacts of fishing low-trophic level species on marine ecosystems. Science 333: 1147-1150.
  8. Cury PM, Boyd IL, Bonhommeau S, Anker-Nilssen T, Crawford RJM, Furness RW, Mills JA, Murphy EJ, Österblom H, Paleczny M, Piatt JF, Roux J-P, Shannon LJ and SydemanWJ. 2011. Global seabird response to forage fish depletion – one-third for the birds. Science 334: 1703-1706.
  9. Shannon, L.J., Coll, M., Bundy, A., Gascuel, D., Heymans, J.J., Kleisner, K., Lynam, C., Piroddi, C., Tam, J., Travers, M. and Shin, Y.-J. Trophic level-based indicators to track fishing impacts across marine ecosystems. 2014. Marine Ecology Progress Series 512: 115–140. doi: 10.3354/meps10821
  10. Coll, K. Shannon, L. J., Kleisner, ; K.M, ; Juan Jordà, M.J, Bundy, ; A., Akoglu, G., Banaru, D., Boldt, J.L., Borges, M.F., Cook, A., Diallo, I., Fu, C., Fox, C., Gascuel, D, Gurney, L., Hattab, T., Heymans, J.J., Jouffre, D., Knight, B.R., Kucukavsar, S., Large, S.I., Lynam, C., Machias, A., Marshall, K.N., Masski, H., Ojaveer, H., Piroddi, C., Tam, J., Thiao, ; D., Thiaw, M., Torres, M.A., Travers-Trolet, M.; Tsagarakis, K., Tuck, ; I., van der Meeren, ; G.I., Yemane, ; D.G., Zador, ; D.G., Shin, Y.-J. 2016. Ecological indicators to capture the effects of fishing on biodiversity and conservation status of marine ecosystems. Ecological Indicators (60):947-962.
  11. Shannon, L.J., and Coll, M. 2018. Assessing the changing biodiversity of exploited marine ecosystems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2018, 29:89–97.
  12. Lockerbie, E.M. and Shannon, L.J. 2019. Toward exploring possible future states of the southern Benguela. Frontiers in Marine Science 6(380):1-13.
  13. Brauman, K.A., Garibaldi, L.A., Polasky, S., Aumeeruddy-Thomas, Y., Brancalion, P.H.S., DeClerck, F., Jacob, U., Mastrangelo, M.E. Nkongolo, N.V., Palang, H., Pérez-Méndez, N., Shannon, L.J., Shrestha, U.B., Strombom, E., Verma, M. 2020. Global trends in nature’s contributions to people.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2020 Dec 22;117(51):32799-805.
  14. Shannon, L.J., Ortego Cisneros, K., Lamont, T., Winker, H., Crawford, R., Jarre, A. and Coll, M. 2020. Exploring temporal variability in the Southern Benguela ecosystem over the past four decades using a time-dynamic ecosystem model. Frontiers in Marine Science.  doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00540
  15. Díaz, S., Zafra-Calvo, N., Purvis, A., Verburg, P. H., Obura, D., Leadley, P., ..Shannon, L., .... & Shaw, M. R. (2020). Set ambitious goals for biodiversity and sustainability. Science, 370(6515), 411-413.
  16. Shannon, L, Waller, L. 2021. A Cursory Look at the Fishmeal/Oil Industry From an Ecosystem Perspective. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9. DOI=10.3389/fevo.2021.645023    URL=    
  17. Tittensor, DP, Novaglio C, Harrison, CS, Heneghan RF, Barrier N, Bianchi D, Bopp L, Bryndum-Buchholz A, Britten GL, Büchner M, Cheung WWL, Christensen V, Coll M, Dunne JP, Eddy TD, Everett JD, Fernandes-Salvador JA, Fulton EA, Galbraith, ED, Gascuel D, Guiet J, John JG, Link JS, Lotze HK, Maury O, Ortega-Cisneros K, Petrik CM, du Pontavice H, Rault J, Richardson AJ, Shannon LJ, Shin Y-J, Steenbeek J, Stock CA Blanchard JL. 2021. Next-generation ensemble projections reveal higher climate risks for marine ecosystems. Nature Climate Change. 11(11), 973-981.
  18. Leadley, P., Obura, D., Archer, E., Costello, M. J., Dávalos, L. M., Essl, F., ... & Visconti, P. (2022). Actions needed to achieve ambitious objectives of net gains in natural ecosystem area by 2030 and beyond. PLOS Sustainability and Transformation1(12), e0000040.
  19. Keith, D. A., Ghoraba, S. M. M., Kaly, E., Jones, K. R., Oosthuizen, A., Obura, D., ... Shannon, L.J., ...& Ferrer‐Paris, J. R. (2022). Contributions of Red Lists of Ecosystems to risk‐based design and management of protected and conserved areas in Africa. Conservation Biology.
  20. Bograd, Steven J., Michael G. Jacox, Elliott L. Hazen, Elisa Lovecchio, Ivonne Montes, Mercedes Pozo Buil, Lynne J. Shannon, William J. Sydeman, and Ryan R. Rykaczewski. "Climate change impacts on eastern boundary upwelling systems." Annual review of marine science 15 (2023): 303-328.