Owen Wangensteen

Dr Owen S. Wangensteen

Research Assistant

Office Times

Please contact me via e-mail for an appointment


I grew up in Almeria (Spain), a small Mediterranean town close to Cabo de Gata Natural Park, one of the few nearly untouched coastal areas remaining in Southern Europe. Despite being a natural-born marine naturalist, I sought for the elementary underlying mechanisms of life and I first specialized in Chemistry at the University of Granada (Spain), where I got a PhD degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. Later, I returned to my real passion: marine invertebrates, by moving to the University of Barcelona (Spain) and pursuing a BSc in Biology, a MS in Animal Biodiversity and, finally, a PhD in marine invertebrate biology (2013).

After that, I worked for the Spanish Research Council (CSIC), introducing next-generation sequencing techniques for biodiversity assessment (metabarcoding). In 2016 I moved to the University of Salford to become a member of the SeaDNA Project, a project aimed at developing new molecular techniques for biodiversity assessment in marine environments.


In the University of Barcelona I collaborated in the teaching of several courses on marine animal biodiversity, both at the BSc and MS levels. These are courses with a very high practical component, involving sampling trips to coastal areas in order to discover marine biodiversity in situ, even doing scuba-diving with the students (which is somehow far from what one would call “formal teaching”!). I was also responsible of the animal biodiversity course for the “Universitat de l'Experiencia”, a very interesting initiative of the University of Barcelona aimed at senior citizens, so to get them involved in higher education.

During my postdoctoral stage, I have been supervising several master students' theses on marine molecular ecology of invertebrates

Research Interests

I define myself as a molecular marine ecologist. Thus, I am kind of a “bipolar” biologist, who thinks on whole organisms and their populations as functional actors of the ecosystems, while my molecular background makes me think analytically on the subjacent genetic endowments which allow them to survive and thrive in a changing world, and on how can we study these genetic treasures for understanding the processes that are shaping organisms, populations, communities and ecosystems.

Recently, I have turned my main focus on molecular biodiversity assessment of marine ecosystems using metabarcoding. This is a promising technique that will allow us to ultimately describe and objectively quantify the real biodiversity present in a given community. The future applications of this technique will be enormous: ranging from analysis of water quality or monitoring changes in natural communities to early detection of non-native species introduced in the ecosystems. All of this, using a faster, less expensive, more repeatable and less subjective technique than current morphological assessment. It is such an exciting field to work on.

Qualifications and Memberships

PhD Biology (University of Barcelona). 2013

MS Animal Biodiversity (University of Barcelona). 2009

BSc Biology (University of Barcelona). 2008

Specialist Clinical Chemistry (Vall d'Hebron Hospital, Barcelona). 2006

PhD Chemistry (University of Granada). 1999

BSc Chemistry (University of Granada). 1995


Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (FLS)

Member of the Catalan Association of Oceanographers (ACOIO)


- Balsalobre M, Wangensteen OS, Palacín C, Clemente S, Hernandez JC (2016) Efficiency of artificial collectors for quantitative assessment of settlement rates of sea urchins. Scientia Marina. In press.

- Rodriguez-Barreras R, Wangensteen OS (2016) Assessing the reliability of two tagging techniques in the echinoid Echinometra lucunter. Regional Studies in Marine Science 5, 51-54.

- Guardiola M, Uriz MJ, Taberlet P, Coissac E, Wangensteen OS, Turon X (2015) Deep-sea, deep-sequencing: metabarcoding extracellular DNA from sediments of marine canyons. PLoS ONE 10, E0139633.

- Wangensteen OS, Guardiola M, Palacin C, Turon X (2015) DNA metabarcoding of marine hard-bottom communities using 18S and COI. Genome 58, 294.

-  Hazan Y, Wangensteen OS, Fine M (2014) Tough as a rock-boring urchin: adult Echinometra sp. EE from the Red Sea show high resistance to ocean acidification over long-term exposures. Marine Biology 161, 2531–2545.

- Wangensteen OS, Turon X, Casso M, Palacín C (2013) The reproductive cycle of the sea urchin Arbacia lixula in northwest Mediterranean: potential influence of temperature and photoperiod. Marine biology 160, 3157-3168.

- Wangensteen OS, Dupont S, Casties I, Turon X, Palacín C (2013) Some like it hot: Temperature and pH modulate larval development and settlement of the sea urchin Arbacia lixula. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 449, 304–311.

- Wangensteen OS, Turon X, Pérez-Portela R, Palacín C (2012) Natural or naturalized? Phylogeography suggests that the abundant sea urchin Arbacia lixula is a recent colonizer of the Mediterranean. PLoS ONE 7 (9), e45067

-  Wangensteen OS, Turon X, García-Cisneros A, Recasens M, Romero J, Palacín C (2011) A wolf in sheep’s clothing: carnivory in dominant sea urchins in the Mediterranean. Marine Ecology Progress Series 441, 117-128