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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Owen S. Wangensteen

Research Assistant


I grew up in Almeria, a Spanish Mediterranean town surrounded by 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) to get a BSc in Biology, a MSc in Animal Biodiversity and, finally, a PhD in biology of marine invertebrates (2013).

In my postdoctoral stage, 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 were mainly field courses with a very high practical component, involving sampling trips to coastal areas in order to discover marine biodiversity in situ.

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. In the University of Salford I collaborate in the teaching during the marine biology field trip. Recently I have been teaching specialized courses on eukaryotic metabarcoding in several international institutions.

I have been supervising several master students' theses on marine molecular ecology of invertebrates, and co-supervising several PhD students.

Research Interests

I am a molecular marine ecologist. Thus, I use molecular tools to study organisms and their populations as functional actors of marine ecosystems. I study the genetic endowments of these organisms and the traces they leave in their environment to understand the processes that are shaping their populations, communities and ecosystems.

Recently, I have turned my main focus on molecular biodiversity assessment using eukaryotic metabarcoding. This is a promising technique that allow us to 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.

Qualifications and Memberships

- PhD Biology (University of Barcelona). 2013

- MS Animal Biodiversity (University of Barcelona). 2009

- BSc Biology (University of Barcelona). 2008

- Specialist in 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 British Ecological Society (BES)

- Member of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and

  Oceanography (ASLO)

- Member of the Catalan Association of Oceanographers (ACOIO)


- García-Cisneros A, Pérez-Portela R, Wangensteen OS, Campos-Canet M, Palacín C (2017) Hope springs eternal in the starfish gonad: preserved potential for sexual reproduction in a single-clone population of a fissiparous starfish. Hydrobiologia 787: 291-305.

- Guardiola M, Wangensteen OS, Taberlet P, Coissac E, Uriz MJ, Turon X (2016) Spatio-temporal monitoring of deep-sea communities using metabarcoding of sediment DNA and RNA. PeerJ 4:e2807.

- Wangensteen OS, Turon X (2016) Metabarcoding techniques for assessing biodiversity of marine animal forests. In: Rossi S, Bramanti L, Gori A, Orejas C (eds.) Marine Animal Forests: The Ecology of Benthic Biodiversity Hotspots. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-319-17001-5.

- Wangensteen OS, Turon X, Palacin C (2016) Reproductive strategies in marine invertebrates and the structuring of marine animal forests. In: Rossi S, Bramanti L, Gori A, Orejas C (eds.) Marine Animal Forests: The Ecology of Benthic Biodiversity Hotspots. ISBN: 978-3-319-17001-5.

- 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 80, 207–216.

- 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