Dr Adriana Vella

Dr Adriana Vella

Dr Adriana Vella


Senior Lecturer

Room 209
Biomedical Sciences Building
University of Malta
  +356 2340 2790
Adriana Vella graduated B.Ed. (Hons), Biology Specialisation with first class honours (University of Malta) and furthered her studies in Genetics, Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at MPhil and PhD level at the University of Cambridge, UK, through scholarships. She gained additional expertise on advances in conservation genetics at the Conservation Studies Centre in Virginia (USA).

Dr. Vella joined the University of Malta in 1995 as full-time academic in Genetics, Biochemistry, Developmental Biology and Conservation Biology courses and in the setting-up of innovative research tools applied to the assessment, monitoring and management of local terrestrial and marine species. Her pioneering large-scale marine research involving long-term studies related to vulnerable species and fisheries research consists of field surveys accompanied by laboratory and molecular genetic studies of wild species and populations. She authored several scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and books.

She has participated in various EU projects on biodiversity and has also taken part in international marine research expeditions. Dr. Adriana Vella has chaired the scientific committee of the international conference on cetaceans (dolphin and whales) held in Malta in 2015. She has been invited to participate actively in numerous international workshops and conferences, while also being asked to review international scientific research.

She is part of the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategies (EPBRS) where she has been repeatedly nominated steering committee member and chair of scientific committees of EPBRS conferences. Adriana's scientific dedication has been rewarded in various ways by international entities, including the Maritime Policy Commission that invited her to act as an “Ambassador for the EU Maritime Policy for Malta”.

Dr. Vella has supervised diverse undergraduate and post-graduate research of local and foreign students. More recently she has started mentoring post-doctoral research work as well. She was appointed member of the Committee of Guarantee on Cultural Heritage by the Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate change.

She is fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Society; Member of the Marine Biological Association of UK and other scientific societies; Malta national contact for the European Cetacean Society.
  • Biodiversity: Terrestrial and Marine - Genetic and Species diversity in diverse ecosystems
  • Conservation areas and their management
  • Conservation genetics, Molecular genetics and Phylogenetics
  • Fisheries and conservation of marine resources
  • Vulnerable species and habitat assessments for conservation
  • Recreational fishing and coastal marine conservation
  • Impacts of a changing marine environment: spreading of alien species, jellyfish blooming, sound pollution

Vella, A. & Vella, N. 2017, "Jellyfish Blooming in Maltese waters and its Socio-economic Interactions" in Jellyfish: Ecology, Distribution Patterns and Human Interactions, ed. G.L. Mariottini, Nova Science Publishers, Inc., USA, pp. 163-188.

Sorensen, M. & Vella, A. 2016, "Population Structure, Genetic Diversity, Effective Population Size, Demographic History and Regional Connectivity Patterns of the Endangered Dusky Grouper, Epinephelus marginatus (Teleostei: Serranidae), within Malta's Fisheries Management Zone. ", PLoS ONE, vol. 11, no. 7, pp. 1-33.

Vella, A., Agius Darmanin, S. & Vella, N. 2016, "The first records of Indo-Pacific sergeant Abudefduf vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825) and further notes on the occurrence of sergeant major A. saxatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) in Malta: expanding populations of an invasive genus in the Mediterranean Sea. ", Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 1-15.

Vella, A. & Vella, N. 2016, "Genetic barcoding and preliminary phylogenetic analysis of Serranidae species from Maltese coastal waters, with a perspective on their Mediterranean phylogeography. ", International Journal of Natural and Engineering Sciences, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 66-77.

Vella, A., Vella, N. & Agius Darmanin, S. 2016, "The first record of the African Sergeant, Abudefduf hoefleri (Perciformes: Pomacentridae), in the Mediterranean Sea.  ", Marine Biodiversity Records, vol. 9, no. 15, pp. 1-5.

Vella, A., Vella, N., Karakulak, S., Oray, I., Garcia-Tiscar, S. & de Stephanis, R. 2016, "Population genetics of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus (Linnaeus, 1758), in the Mediterranean: implications for its conservation management ", Journal of Applied Ichthyology, vol. 32, pp. 523-531.

Vella, A., Vella, N., Maslin, M. & Bichlmaier, L. 2016, "First molecular barcoding and record of the Indo-Pacific punctuated flatworm Maritigrella fuscopunctata (Newman & Cannon 2000), (Polycladida: Euryleptidae) from the Mediterranean Sea.", Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 119-127.

Mifsud, C.M. & Vella, A. 2015, "Seasonal habitat use by foraging pipistrelle bats (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in the Maltese Islands ", Acta Chiropterologica, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 337-346.

Vella, A., Agius Darmanin, S. & Vella, N. 2015, "Morphological and genetic barcoding study confirming the first Stegastes variabilis (Castelnau, 1855) report in the Mediterranean Sea. ", Mediterranean Marine Science, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 609-612.

Vella, A. & Vella, J. 2012, "Central-southern Mediterranean submarine canyons and steep slopes: role played in the distribution of cetaceans, bluefin tunas and elasmobranchs" in Mediterranean Submarine Canyons: Ecology and Governance, ed. M. Wurtz, IUCN, Spain, pp. 73-88.

  • BIO1090 - Introduction to Conservation Biology
  • BIO1100 - An Introduction to Marine Biology
  • BIO2070 - Biochemical Strategies of Life
  • BIO3070 - Studies in Conservation Biology
  • BIO3110 - Final Year Project in Biology
  • BIO3130 - Genetics and Developmental Biology
  • BIO3132 - Studies in Genetics
  • BIO3510 - Conservation Genetics
  • BIO5160 - Maintenance of Natural Living Resources
Current ongoing research on:

Molecular genetics studies on biodiversity
DNA barcoding of marine and terrestrial species
Field studies of dolphins, whales and turtles
Fisheries sustainability in the Mediterranean and artisanal fishing in Malta
Population studies of vulnerable species
Alien species
Marine sound pollution and impacts on marine species
Recreational fishing and coastal biodiversity
Bat species of the Maltese islands: habitat use, diet, conservation
Conservation Areas: monitoring and research