Dr Paul D Jepson
BVMS PhD DipECZM (Wildlife Population Health) MRCVS
Senior Research Fellow
2012: Member, IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group.
2012: Member, IUCN Wildlife Health Specialist Group.
2011: European Veterinary Specialist in Wildlife Population Health.
2007: appointed Institute of Zoology PhD student Graduate Tutor (until 2012).
2006: awarded 5 year RCUK post-doctoral Fellowship in Marine Mammal Epidemiology (held until 2011).
2003: PhD, Royal Veterinary College (University of London).
1991: BVMS, University of Glasgow Veterinary School.
After two years in general veterinary practice I joined the Institute of Zoology (IoZ) in 1993 as veterinary pathologist/project coordinator for the UK Department of the Environment-funded Marine Mammal Strandings Project (England and Wales). From July 2003 until December 2006 I was a post-doctoral Researcher (PDRA) at IoZ and remained Technical Co-ordinator (Defra-funded UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme). In 2006 I was awarded a 5-year RCUK Fellowship in Marine Mammal Epidemiology at the Institute of Zoology and I was the PhD student Graduate Tutor (Institute of Zoology) from 2007-2012. I was promoted to Senior Research Fellow at IoZ in January 2007. In August 2007 I was became an internal examiner (MSc Wild Animal Health/Wild Animal Biology) co-taught by the Royal Veterinary College (University of London) and the IoZ. I am currently a member of the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Working Group on Marine Mammal Ecology (2010-present) and a member of the IUCN Wildlife Health Specialist Group.
I am currently the main grant holder for the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme
(since 2007). Other significant grants held at IoZ include the UK Government-funded investigation into the impact of the UK phocine distemper epizootic on UK seal populations in 2002 and an EU-funded Marie Curie post-doctoral Fellowship “CETACEAN STRESSORS” with Dr Sinead Murphy.
My long-term research interests include investigation the causes of morbidity (disease) and mortality in stranded marine mammals, turtles and basking sharks. This can involve rapidly responding to live stranding or mass stranding events as they happen, but most of our research is focused on postmortem examinations (necropsies) of dead stranded animals. This pathological and ancillary research includes investigation of natural and anthropogenic factors such as effects of fisheries interactions and chemical and acoustic pollution. The Defra and devolved administrations-funded UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) is main source of UK funding for these research activities. The UK CSIP maintains a >20 year online strandings database (including causes of death) and a national archive of marine mammal tissues that facilitate a broad and increasing range of parallel and interdisciplinary research activity.
My doctoral thesis specifically investigated the potential relationships between contaminant exposure and health status in UK-stranded harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). In collaboration with CEFAS (Lowestoft Laboratory) over the past 20 years plus we have generated probably the largest database on chemical contaminants in marine mammals globally. Although some data exists for many species we have mainly used the UK-stranded harbour porpoises as a sentinel species. Levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in harbour porpoises remain stable since 1997 unlike organochlorine pesticides (DDTs, dieldrin, etc) that have declined and are now at much lower levels. Blubber concentrations of PCBs in some marine top predator species such as killer whales (Orcinus orca) and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) consistently exceed all known thresholds for mammalian toxicity and may be the main driver of marked population declines in the NE Atlantic region.
Collaborative research with Professor Antonio Fernandez (University de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) has identified acute gas and fat embolism in mass stranded beaked whales associated with a suite of tissue injuries (lesions) similar to decompression sickness (DCS) in human divers. Acute and chronic gas embolic pathology has also been identified in single UK-stranded cetaceans of predominantly deep-diving species. The proximity of beaked whale mass strandings to naval exercises using active sonar suggest that acoustic exposure may be a causal factor in the pathogenesis of this gas embolic condition. Investigations of other cetacean mass stranding events (MSEs) in UK and overseas are ongoing.
Although the bulk of my research is cetacean-focused I led a 12-month Defra-funded investigation into the impact of the 2002 phocine distemper virus (PDV) epizootic on UK seal populations in collaboration with the Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Agricultural College (Inverness) and the Natural History Museum. I have also actively participated in the scientific investigation of marine mammal stranding/mortality events overseas including a mass mortality of Caspian seals (Phoca caspica) in 2000; a mass mixed species cetacean mortality event in Taiwan in 2006; high calf mortality in Southern right whales in Patagonia, Argentina (2006-2010); and causes of mortality in the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, Cambodia in 2012.
Law, R.J., Barry, J., Barber, J.L., Bersuder, P., Deaville, R., Reid, R.J., Brownlow, A., Penrose, R., Barnett, J., Loveridge, J., Smith, B. and Jepson, P.D. (2012) Contaminants in cetaceans from UK waters: status as assessed within the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme from 1990 to 2008. Marine Pollution Bulletin 64: 1485-1494.
Yap, X., Deaville, R., Perkins, M.W., Penrose, R., Law, R.J., and Jepson, P.D. (2012) Investigating links between polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure and thymic involution and thymic cysts in harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). Marine Pollution Bulletin 64: 2168-2176.
Law, R.J., Barry, J., Bersuder, P., Barber, J., Deaville, R., Reid, R.J. and Jepson, P.D. (2010) Levels and trends of BDEs in blubber of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) from the UK, 1992 – 2008. Environmental Science & Technology 44, 4447–4451.
Law, R.J., Bersuder, P., Barry, J., Wilford, B.H., Allchin, C.R. and Jepson, P.D. (2008) A significant downturn in levels of HBCD in the blubber of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) stranded or bycaught in the UK: an update to 2006. Environmental Science & Technology 42, 9104-9109.
Hall, A.J., Hugunin, K., Deaville, R., Law, R.J., Allchin, C.R., Jepson, P.D. (2006) The risk of infection from polychlorinated biphenyl exposure in harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) – A case-control approach. Environmental Health Perspectives 114: 704-711.
Hall, A.J., Jepson, P.D., Goodman, S.J. and Härkönen, T. (2006) Phocine Distemper Virus – Data and models, nature and nurture. Biological Conservation 131: 221 –229.
Jepson, P.D., Deaville, R., Patterson, I.A.R., Pocknell, Ross, H.M., Baker, J.R., Howie, F.E., Reid, R.J., Colloff, A. and Cunningham, A.A. (2005) Acute and chronic gas bubble lesions in cetaceans stranded in the United Kingdom. Veterinary Pathology 42: 291-305.
Jepson, P.D., Bennett, P.M., Deaville, R., Allchin, C.R., Baker J.R. & Law, R.J. (2005) Relationships between PCBs and health status in UK-stranded harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 24: 238–248.
Lawson, B. and Jepson, P.D. (compilers) (2004) UK Phocine Distemper Virus Epizootic: Investigation Report 2002/2003. Report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 221pp.
Jepson, P.D., Arbelo, M., Deaville, R., Patterson, I.A.R., Castro, P., Baker, J.R., Degollada, E., Ross, H.M., Herráez, P., Pocknell, A.M., Rodriguez, E., Howie, F.E., Espinosa, A., Reid, R.J., Jaber, J.R., Martin, V., Cunningham, A.A., and Fernandez, A. (2003) Gas-bubble lesions in stranded cetaceans. Nature 425: 575-576.
Jepson, P.D., Baker, J.R., Kuiken, T., Simpson, V.R., Kennedy, S. & Bennett, P.M. (2000) Pulmonary pathology of harbour porpoises stranded in England and Wales between 1990 and 1996. Veterinary Record 146: 721-728.
Jepson, P.D., Bennett, P.M., Allchin, C.R., Law, R.J., Kuiken, T., Baker, J.R., Rogan, E., & Kirkwood, J.K. (1999) Investigating potential associations between chronic exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and infectious disease mortality in harbour porpoises from England and Wales. The Science of the Total Environment 243/244: 339-348.
Collaborators & Links:
• Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD.
• Wildlife Unit, SAC Veterinary Science Division (Inverness), Drummondhill, Stratherrick Road, Inverness, IV2 4JZ.
• CEFAS Lowestoft Laboratory, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT.
• Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool, 'Leahurst', Chester High Road, Neston, South Wirral, CH64 7TE.
• Sea Mammal Research Unit, Gatty Marine Laboratory, St Andrews University, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8LB.
• Department of Veterinary Pathology, University de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria, Spain.
T: 020 7449 6691
F: 020 7586 1457
Institute of Zoology
Zoological Society of London
London, United Kingdom