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Conservation Research Institute



I am an interdisciplinary scientist aiming to improve the health of our population and planet through innovations in sustainable nutritious food production. 

Our current food production system is failing us – with suboptimal diet the biggest cause of death worldwide, and the global food system the single largest greenhouse-gas emitting sector. Bivalve shellfish (clams, mussels, oysters) offer a highly nutritious, sustainable, affordable food solution that is woefully underutilised. Bivalves have a higher protein content than beef, are a rich source of essential fatty acids and micronutrients, have a lower environmental footprint than all other meats and many plant crops, are cheap to produce, and developing just 1% of the suitable coastline worldwide could fulfil the protein requirements of over one billion people.

My work focusses on developing mechanisms to increase the productivity of and facilitate demand for bivalve shellfish aquaculture to realise global potential. Recently this has included the development and testing of novel microencapsulated feeds in laboratory and commercial settings to overcome key bottlenecks in bivalve production. I also work on collaborative projects with the IUCN, Cambridge Global Food Security, and Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

“The world’s their fish finger” – click here to read story from the University of Cambridge, on how a twist on one of the nation's favourite foods could help with sustainably feeding the world.



Food Security

Planetary Health

Human Health


Key publications: 

Willer, D. F. & Aldridge, D. C. (2020). Sustainable bivalve farming can deliver food security in the tropics. Nature Food 

Willer, D.F., & Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture for global food security. Global Food Security, 23, 64-73. 

Willer, D. F., Smith, K. & Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Matches and Mismatches Between Global Conservation Efforts and Global Conservation Priorities. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7, 297. 

Willer, D., & Aldridge, D. C. (2019). Microencapsulated diets to improve growth and survivorship in juvenile European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis). Aquaculture, 505, 256-262. 

Fitch, A., Orland, C., Willer, D., Emilson, E., & Tanentzap, A. J. (2018). Feasting on terrestrial organic matter: Dining in a dark lake changes microbial decomposition. Global Change Biology, 24, 5110–5122. 

Willer D, Aldridge DC. (2017). Microencapsulated diets to improve bivalve shellfish aquaculture. Royal Society Open Science, 4, 171142. 

Willer, D. F. & Aldridge, D. C. (2020). Microencapsulated algal feeds as a sustainable replacement diet for broodstock in commercial bivalve aquaculture. In review.

Willer, D. F. & Aldridge, D. C. (2020). Vitamin bullets. Microencapsulated feeds to fortify shellfish and tackle human nutrient deficiencies. In review.


Geographical region

Australasia / Oceania
Central America
Central Asia
East Africa
East Asia
North Africa
North America
North Asia
South America
South Asia
South East Asia
Southern Africa
West Africa
PhD Student


Departments and institutes: 
Research keywords: 
Food Security
European Agricultural Areas
Public Health
Climate Change
Conservation Biology