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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Ilaria Coscia

Research and Teaching Fellow


I studied at the University of Genoa (Italy), where I obtained my MSc in 2004 in Biology, with a thesis on the population genetics of the barnacle Balanus amphitrite. I then moved to University College Dublin, to do my PhD. The research focused on the use of genetics tools to study the evolutionary dynamics of sea bass, gilthead seabream, and shad. After completing my PhD in 2009, I remained at UCD for a year to work on deep sea fish species. In 2010 I moved to Wales, where I studied the population connectivity of cockles within the Irish Sea.

In 2013, I accepted a position at the University of Leuven, to join the European project AquaTrace. There, I was awarded a prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship to work on deep sea fish species of the genus Molva. I have been back in the UK since 2016, when I joined the University of Salford.


I contribute teaching to:  Professional Communication, Marine Biology, Biological Principles, Strategies Mitigating Global Threats, Invasions and Infections, Global Distribution of Wildlife, Frontiers in Wildlife Biology, Zoological Research Skills, Research and Professional Practice and Earth Surface Processes.

Research Interests

My main field of research is population genetics/genomics of marine fishes.

I am interested in using population genomics to answer ecological questions. The field of population genetics has been transforming over the last few years, and is now able to use the genome as a whole instead of the few tens of markers that were routinely employed before.

The amount of data produced is astounding, and can be used to investigate several questions, from speciation, adaptation, hybridisation and seascape genetics to stock identification and management.  Importantly, these new techniques involve the use of new bioinformatics analysis techniques.

Qualifications and Memberships

I am a member of the ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) Working Group on the Application of Genetics on Fisheries and Mariculture, and a member of the Scientific Committee of the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).


Benvenuto C., Coscia I., Chopelet J., Sala-Bozano M., Mariani S. “Protogyny vs protandry: population consequences of individual fitness variance”. (2017). In press. Scientific Reports

Hillen J., Coscia I., Vandeputte M., Herten K., Hellemans B., Maroso F., Vergnet A., Allal F., Maes G.E., Volckaert F.A.M. (2017) “Estimates of genetic variability and inbreeding in experimentally selected populations of European sea bass”.  Aquaculture 479, 742-749.

Coscia I., Chopelet J., Waples R.S., Mann B.Q., Mariani S. (2016) “Sex change and effective population size: implications for population genetic studies in marine fish”. Heredity 117, 251-258.

Watson H.V., McKeown N.J., Coscia I., Wootton E., Ironside J.E. (2016) “Population genetic structure of the European lobster (Homarus gammarus) in the Irish Sea and implications for the effectiveness of the first British marine protected area”. Fisheries Research 183, 287-293.

Gormley K., Mackenzie C., Robins P., Coscia I., Cassidy A., James J., Hull A., Piertney S., Sanderson W., Porter J. (2015) “Connectivity and dispersal patterns of protected biogenic reefs: implications for the conservation of Modiolus modiolus (L.) in the Irish Sea”. PLoS ONE 10, e0143337.

Sala Bozano M., Barratt C.D., Sacchi, C., Boufana B., Mariani S, Coscia I. (2015) “Spatio-temporal variability in the population structure in North-East Atlantic stocks of horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus)”. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 115B, No. 3, 211-220.

Coscia I., McDevitt A.D., King J.J., McLoughlin C., Mariani S.  (2013) “A species-to-be? The genetic status of the critically endangered Killarney shad”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69, 1190-1195.

Atalah J., Fitch J., Coughlan, J., Chopelet J., Coscia I., Farrell E.  (2013) “Diversity of demersal and megafaunal assemblages inhabiting sandbanks of the Irish Sea”. Marine Biodiversity 43, 121-132.

McDevitt A.D., Carden R.F., Coscia I., Frantz A.C. (2013) “Are wild boars roaming Ireland more?”.  European Journal of Wildlife Research 59, 761-764.

Cunha R., Coscia I., Madeira C., Mariani S., Stefanni S., Castilho R. (2012) “Ancient mitochondrial DNA divergence in the trans-oceanic deep-sea shark Centroscymnus crepidater”.  PLoS ONE 7, e49196.

Coscia I., Robins P.E., Porter J.S., Malham S.K., Ironside J.E. (2013) “Modelled larval dispersal and measured gene flow: the common cockle in the southern Irish Sea”. Conservation Genetics 14, 451-466.

Coscia I., Desmarais E., Guinand B., Mariani S. (2012) “Phylogeography of European sea bass in the northeast Atlantic: a correction and reanalysis of mitochondrial DNA data of Coscia & Mariani (2011)”. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 106, 455-458.

Coscia I., Vogiatzi E., Kotoulas G., Tsingenopoulos C.S., Mariani S. (2012) “Exploring neutral and adaptive processes in expanding populations of gilthead sea bream, Sparus aurata L., in the North-East Atlantic”. Heredity 108, 537-546.

Coscia I., Mariani S. (2011) “Population genetic structure of European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax L., in the North East Atlantic”. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 104, 364-377.

McDevitt A.D., Kaitoch L., Mazgajski T.D., Carden R.F., Coscia I., Osthoff C., Coombes R.H., Wilson F. (2011) “The origins of Great Spotted Woodpeckers Dendrocopos major colonizing Ireland revealed by mitochondrial DNA”. Bird Study 58, 361-364.

Helyar S., Coscia I., Sala-Bozano M., Mariani S. (2011) "New microsatellite loci for the longnose velvet dogfish Centroselachus crepidater (Squaliformes: Somniosidae) and other deep sea sharks". Conservation Genetics Resources 3, 173-176.

Hayden B., Coscia I., Mariani S. (2011) “Low Cytochrome-b variation in bream (Abramis brama, L.)”. Journal of Fish Biology 78, 1579-1587.

Coscia I., Rountree V., King J.J., Roche W.K., Mariani S. (2010) “A highly permeable species boundary between two anadromous fish”. Journal of Fish Biology 77, 1137-1149.

Massa-Gallucci A., Coscia I., O’Grady M., Kelly-Quinn M., Mariani S. (2010) “Patterns of genetic structuring in a brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) metapopulation”. Conservation Genetics 11, 1689-1699.

Craig G., Paynter D., Coscia I., Mariani S. (2008) “Settlement of gilthead Sea Bream (Sparus aurata L.) in a southern Irish sea coastal habitat”. Journal of Fish Biology 72, 287-291.



Martinsohn J., Gamito Jardim J.E., Coscia I., Neat F.  (2016). “Deep sea Close kin – A genetic approach for improved fisheries management”. Joint Research Centre Technical Report DOI: 10.2788/277218 (online).

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