UCL Department of Geography
Dr. Carl Sayer
UCL Home ›› Department of Geography ›› About the Department ›› People ›› Academic Staff ›› Carl Sayer
Personal tools
Log in

Dr. Carl Sayer



Environmental Change Research Centre
Department of Geography
University College London
Pearson Building
Gower Street

Phone: +44 20 7679 0517
Fax: +44 20 7679 0565

E-Mail: c.sayer@ucl.ac.uk


2002-current Senior Lecturer in Limnology and Freshwater Ecology UCL

Natural Environment Research Council Post-doctoral Research Fellow

1997-1998 Post-doctoral Research Assistant for Biodiversity of Microorganisms in Aquatic Ecosystems (BIOMASS) project funded by EU Fourth Framework



PhD Loughborough University
BSc Loughborough University


DatesDetail of prize, award or honourAwarding/electing body
2013 Student Teaching Award (Nominee) UCL
2013 Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership award for conservation awarded to the River Glaven Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership

Conservation Group
“Quarry Life” Award (2nd place)
For “Improving biodiversity of a gravel pit lakes system at Barton-under-Needwood quarry

Hanson (Heidelberg Cement Group)

2011 Norfolk Award for The Hunworth restoration project, River Glaven

Campaign for the Protection of

Rural England

2010 River Restoration Award for River Bure Restoration Project, Blickling (Amateur category) Wild Trout Trust and Orvis
2007 River Restoration Award for River Glaven Cinderella Chalk Stream Project (Amateur Category) Wild Trout Trust and Orvis
2007 CPRE Norfolk Annual Awards: Award for River Glaven Cinderella Chalk Stream project

Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE)






Selected academic publications since 2001

Book chapters (published and in press)

Tibby J. & Sayer C.D. (in press 2015). Chapter 15 - Inferring environmental change in estuaries using plant macrofossils. In K. Weckström, K. Saunders, K., P. Gell & G. Skilbeck, Application of Paleoenvironmental Techniques in Estuarine Studies. Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York.

Wilkinson, I.P., Poirier, C., Head M.J., Sayer C.D. & Tibby J. (2014). Microbiotic signatures of the Anthropocene in marginal marine and freshwater palaeoenvironments. In C.N. Waters, J.A. Zalasiewicz, M. Williams, M.A. Ellis & A.M. Snelling, A Stratigraphical basis for the Anthropocene. Geological Society Special Publication. British Geological Society. doi:10.1144/SP395.14  

Hughes, M. & Sayer, C.D. (2010) Water Pollution and Wildlife in the UK. In N. Maclean (ed.), Silent Summer: The State of Wildlife in Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 141-150.

Bennion, H., Sayer, C.D., Tibby J. & Carrick, H. (2010) Diatoms as indicators of environmental change in shallow lakes. In J.P. Smol & E.F. Stoermer (eds), The Diatoms: Applications for the Environmental and Earth Sciences (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 152-173.

Bennion, H., Simpson, G., Battarbee, R.W., Cameron, N.G., Curtis, C., Flower, R.J., Hughes, M., Jones, V.J., Kernan, M., Monteith, D.T., Patrick, S.T., Rose, N.L., Sayer, C.D. and Yang, H. (2002) Environmental Change in Scottish Freshwaters. In Usher et al., (eds) The State of Scotland’s Natural Heritage. Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh, 145-152.

Journal articles (in press)

Thompson, M.S.A., Bankier, C., Bell, T., Dumbrel, A.J., Gray, C., Hart, K., Hitchmough, C., Hilliard, A., Ledger, M.E., Lehman, K., McKew, B.A., Sayer, C.D., Shelly, F., Trimmer, M., Warren, S.L. Woodward, G. (in press 2015) The impact of a catastrophic pesticide spill across multiple levels of organisation in a river ecosystem. Freshwater Biology. 

Wiik, E., Bennion, H., Sayer, C.D., Davidson, T.A., Clarke, S.J., McGowan, S., Prentice, S., Simpson, S. & Stone, L. (in press 2015) The coming and going of a marl lake: multi-indicator palaeolimnology reveals abrupt ecological change and alternative views of reference conditions. Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution.  

Wiik, E., Bennion, H., Sayer, C.D., Davidson, T.A., McGowan, S., Patmore, I.R. & Clarke, S.J. (in press 2015) Ecological sensitivity of marl lakes to nutrient enrichment: palaeolimnological evidence from Hawes Water, UK. Freshwater Biology.

Feld, C.K., Birk, S., Eme, D., Gerisch, M., Hering, D., Kernan, M., Maileht, K., Mischke, U., Ott, I., Pletterbauer, F., Poikane, S., Salgado, J., Sayer, C.D., van Wichelen, J. & Malard, F. (in press 2016) Disentangling the effects of land use and geo-climatic factors on diversity in European freshwater ecosystems. Ecological Indicators, 60, 71-83. 

Tarkan, S., Almeida, D., Godard, M.J., Gaygusus, O., Rylands, M., Sayer, C.D., Zieba, G. & Copp, G.H. (in press 2015). A review and meta-analysis of growth and life-history traits of a declining European freshwater fish, crucian carp Carassius carassius. Aquatic Conservation: Marine & Freshwater Ecosystems.

Geerts, A., Vanoverbeke, J., Vanschoenwinkel, B., Van Doorslaer, W., Feuchtmayr, H., Atkinson, D., Moss, B., Davidson, T.A., Sayer, C.D. & De Meester, L. (in press 2015) Rapid evolution of thermal tolerance in the water flea Daphnia in the laboratory and in nature. Nature Climate Change. Doi: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2628 

Journal articles (published)

Bennion, H., Davidson, T.A., Sayer, C.D., Simpson, G.L., Rose, N.L. & Sadler, J.P. (2015) Harnessing the potential of the multi-indicator palaeoecological approach: an assessment of the nature and causes of ecological change in a eutrophic shallow lake. Freshwater Biology 60, 1423-1442. Doi:10.1111/fwb.12579

Sayer, C.D. (2014) Conservation of aquatic landscapes: ponds, rivers and lakes as integrated systems. WIRE’s Water 1, 573-585. Doi: 10.1002/wat2.1045

Wiik, E., Bennion, H., Sayer, C.D., Clarke, S. (2014) Assessing the status of marl lakes under the European Water Framework  Directive – insights from contemporary and palaeolimnological studies of three English lakes. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 185, 121-138. Doi: 10.1127/fal/2014/0648

Clarke, G.H., Sayer, C.D., Turner, S., Salgado, J., Meis, S., Patmore, I.R., Zhao Y. (2014) Spatial representation of aquatic vegetation change by plant macrofossils in a small and shallow freshwater lake. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 23, 265-276. Doi: 10.1007/s00334-013-0427-x

Seddon A.W.R, Mackay A.W., Baker A.G., Birks H.J.B., Breman E., Buck C.E., Elli E.C., Froyd C.A., Gill J.A., Gillson L., Johnson E.A., Jones V.J., Juggins S, Macias-Fauria M., Mills K., Morris J.L., Nogués-Bravo D., Punyasena S.W., Roland T.P., Tanentzap A.J., Willis K.J., Aberhan M., van Asperen E.N., Austin W.E.N., Battarbee R.W., Bhagwat S., Belanger C.L., Bennett K.D., Birks H.H., Bronk Ramsey C., Brooks S.J., de Bruyn M., Butler P.G., Chambers F.M., Clarke S.J., Davies A.L., Dearing J.A., Ezard T.H.G., Feurdean A., Flower R.J., Gell P., Hausmann S., Hogan E.J., Hopkins M.J., Jeffers E.S., Korhola A.A., Marchant R., Kiefer T., Lamentowicz M., Larocque-Tobler I., López-Merino L., Hsiang Liow L., McGowan S., Miller J.H., Montoya E., Morton O., Nogué S., Onoufriou C., Park Boush L., Rodriguez-Sanchez F., Rose N.L., Sayer C.D., Shaw H.E., Payne R., Simpson G., Sohar K., Whitehouse N.J., Williams J.W. & Witkowski A. (2014) Looking forward through the past: Identification of 50 priority research questions in palaeoecology. Journal of Ecology, 102, 256-267.

Wiik, E., Bennion, H., Sayer, C.D. & Willby, N.J. (2014) Chemical and biological responses of marl lakes to eutrophication. Freshwater Reviews, 6, 35-62. Doi: 10.1608/FRJ-6.2.630

Patmore, I.R., Sayer, C.D., Goldsmith, B., Davidson, T.A., Rawcliffe, R. & Salgado, J. (2014) Big Ben: a new wide bore piston corer for multi-proxy paleolimmology. Journal of Paleolimnology, 51, 79-86. Doi: 10.1007/s10933-013-9756-0

Almeida, D., Rodolfo, N., Sayer, C.D. & Copp, G.H. (2013) Seasonal use of ponds as foraging habitat by Eurasian otter with description of an alternative handling technique for common toad predation. Folia. Zool. 62, 214-221.   

Sayer, C.D., Shilland, E., Greaves, H., Dawson, B., Patmore, I.R., Emson, E., Alderton, E., Robinson, P., Andrews, K., Axmacher, J.A. & Wiik, E. (2013) Managing British ponds – conservation lessons from a Norfolk farm. British Wildlife, 25(1), 21-28.

Hilt, S., Köhler, J., Adrian, R., Monaghan, M.T. & Sayer, C.D. (2013) Clear, crashing, turbid and back – long-term macrophyte changes in macrophyte assemblages in a shallow lake. Freshwater Biology, 58, 2027-2036.

Davidson, T.A., Reid, M.A., Sayer, C.D. & Chilcott, S. (2013) Palaeolimnological records of shallow lake biodioversity change: exploring the merits of single versus multi-proxy approaches. Journal of Paleolimnology, 49, 431-446.

Okamura, B., Ayres, K., Salgado J., Davidson, T.A., Shaw, R.F., Stephens, T., Hoare, D. & Sayer, C.D. (2013) Shallow lake sediments provide evidence for metapopulation dynamics: a pilot study. Aquatic Ecology 47, 163-176.

Clilverd, H.B., Thompson, J.R., Heppell, C.M., Sayer, C.D. & Axmacher J.C. (2013) River floodplain hydrology of an embanked lowland chalk river and initial response to embankment removal. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 58, 627-650.

Smith, D., Zalasiewicz, J.A., Williams, M., Wilkinson, I.P., Scarborough, J.S., Knight, M., Sayer, C.D., Redding, M & Moreton S.G. (2012) A record of alternating environmental stasis and rapid change in the Holocene of the English Fenland. Proceedings for the Yorkshire Geology Society, 59, 145-159.

Sayer, C.D., Andrews, K., Shilland, E., Edmonds, N., Edmonds-Brown, R., Patmore, I. & Emson, D. Axmacher, J.A. (2012) The role of pond management for biodiversity conservation in an agricultural landscape. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 22, 626-638.

Dong, X., Bennion, H.,Battarbee R.W. & Sayer, C.D. (2012) A multi-proxy palaeolimnological study of climate and nutrient impacts on Esthwaite Water, England over the past 1200 years. The Holocene, 22, 107-118.

Bennion, H., Carvalho, L., Sayer, C.D., Wischnewski, J. & Simpson GL. (2012) Identifying nutrient and climate impacts on Loch Leven from recent sediment records and long-term datasets. Freshwater Biology, 57, 2015-2029.

Dong, X., Bennion, H., Maberly, S. Sayer, C.D., Simpson, G.L. & Battarbee, R.W. (2012). Nutrients exert a stronger control than climate on recent diatom communities in Esthwaite Water: evidence from monitoring and palaeolimnological records. Freshwater Biology, 57, 2044-2056.

Sayer, C.D., Bennion, H., Davidson, T.A., Burgess, A., Clarke, G., Hoare, D., Frings P. & Hatton-Ellis, T. (2012) The application of palaeolimnology to evidence-led lake management and conservation: examples from UK lakes. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 22, 165-180.

Almeida, D., Copp G., Masson, L., Miranda, R., Murai, M. & Sayer, C.D. (2012) Changes in the diet of a recovering Eurasian otter population between the mid-1970s and 2010. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 22, 26-35.

Sayer, C.D., Copp, G.H., Emson, D., Godard, M.J., Zięba, G. & Wesley K.J. (2011) Towards the conservation of crucian carp Carassius carassius: understanding the extent and causes of decline within part of its native English range. Journal of Fish Biology, 79, 1608-1624.

Jeppesen, E., Nõges P., Davidson, T.A., Haberman, J., Nõges, T., Kätlin, B., Lauridsen, T.L., Søndergaard, M., Sayer, C.D., Laugaste, R., Johansson, L.S., Bjerring, R. & Amsinck, S.L. (2011) Bring the zooplankton back to lakes – a plea for including zooplankton in the ecological quality assessment of lakes according to the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). Hydrobiologia, 676, 279-297.

Davidson, T.A., Bennion, H., Sayer, C.D., Jeppesen, E., Clarke, G.H., Morley, D., Odgaard, B., Rasmussen, R., Rawcliffe, R., Salgado, J. & Amsinck, S.L. (2011) The role of cladocerans in tracking long-term change in shallow lake ecosystem structure and function. Hydrobiologia 676, 299-315.

Madgwick, G., Emson D., Sayer C.D., Willby N.J., Rose N., Jackson M.J. & Kelly A. (2011) Centennial-scale changes to the aquatic vegetation structure of a shallow eutrophic lake and implications for restoration. Freshwater Biology, 56, 2620-2636.

Bennion, H., Simpson, G.L., Anderson, N.J., Dong, X., Hobaeck, A., Guilizzoni, P., Marchetto, A., Sayer, C.D., Thies, H. & Tolotti. M. (2011) Defining ecological and chemical reference conditions and restoration targets for nine European lakes. Journal of Paleolimnology, 45, 415-431.

Bennion, H., Battarbee, R.W., Sayer, C.D., Simpson, G.L. & Davidson, T.A. (2011). Defining reference conditions and restoration targets for lake ecosystems using palaeolimnology: a synthesis. Journal of Paleolimnology, 45, 533-544.

Holmes J., Sayer C.D., Liptrott E., Hoare D.J. (2010) Complex controls on ostracod faunal palaeoecology in a shallow, coastal brackish-water lake: implications for palaeosalinity reconstruction. Freshwater Biology, 55, 2484-2498.

Salgado, J., Sayer, C.D., Carvalho, L., Davidson, T.A. & Gunn, I. (2010) Assessing aquatic macrophyte community change through the integration of palaeolimnological and historical data at Loch Leven, Scotland. Journal of Paleolimnology, 43, 191-204.

Rawcliffe, R., Sayer, C.D., Woodward, G., Grey, J., Davidson, T.A. & Jones, J.I. (2010) Back to the future: using palaeolimnology to infer long-term changes in shallow lake food webs. Freshwater Biology, 55, 600-613.

Sayer, C.D., Davidson, T.A., Jones, I.J. & Langdon, P.G. (2010) Combining contemporary ecology and palaeolimnology to understand shallow lake ecosystem change. Freshwater Biology, 55, 487-499.

Sayer, C.D., Davidson, T.A. & Jones, J.I. (2010) Seasonal dynamics of macrophytes and phytoplankton in shallow lakes: a eutrophication-driven pathway from plants to plankton. Freshwater Biology, 55, 500-513.

Davidson, T.A., Sayer, C.D., Langdon, P.G., Burgess, A. & Jackson, M.J. (2010) Inferring past zooplanktivorous fish and macrophyte density from sub-fossil cladoceran assemblages: Application of a new regression tree model. Freshwater Biology, 55, 584-599.

Davidson, T.A., Sayer, C.D., Perrow, M. & Jeppesen E. (2010) The simultaneous inference of zooplanktivorous fish and macrophyte density from sub-fossil cladoceran assemblages: A multivariate regression tree approach. Freshwater Biology, 55, 546-564.

Sayer, C.D., Burgess, A., Kari, K., Peglar, S., Davidson, T.A., Yang, H. & Rose, N. (2010) Long-term dynamics of submerged macrophytes and algae in a small and shallow, eutrophic lake: implications for the stability of macrophyte-dominance. Freshwater Biology, 55, 565-583.

Langdon, P.G., Ruiz, Z., Wynne, S., Sayer, C.D. & Davidson, T.A. (2010) Ecological influences on larval chironomid communities in shallow lakes: implications for palaeolimnological interpretations. Freshwater Biology, 55, 531-545.

Sayer, C.D., Davidson, T.A., & Kelly, A. (2008) Ornamental lakes - an overlooked conservation resource? Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 18, 1046-1051.

Ayres K., Sayer C.D., Perrow, M. & Skeate, E. (2008) The contribution of palaeolimnology to shallow lake management: an example from Upton Great Broad, Norfolk, UK. Biodiversity and Conservation 17, 2153-2168.

Zambrano, L., Perrow, M.R., Sayer, C.D., Tomlinson, M.L. & Davidson, T.A. (2007) Relationships between fish feeding guild and trophic structure in English lowland shallow lakes subject to anthropogenic influence: implications for lake restoration. Aquatic Ecology 40, 391-405.

Reid, M.A., Sayer C.D., Kershaw, A.P. & Heijnis, H. (2007) Palaeolimnological evidence for submerged plant loss in a floodplain lake associated with accelerated catchment soil erosion (Murray River, Australia). Journal of Paleolimnology 38, 191-208.

Davidson, T.A., Sayer, C.D., Perrow, M.R., Bramm, M. & Jeppesen, E. (2007) Are the controls of species composition similar for contemporary and sub-fossil cladoceran assemblages? - A study of 39 shallow lakes of contrasting trophic status. Journal of Paleolimnology 38, 117-134.

Hill, S.L.L., Sayer, C.D., Hammond, P.M., Rimmer, V.K., Davidson, T.A., Hoare, D.J., Burgess, A. & Okamura, B. (2007) Are rare species rare or just overlooked? Assessing the distribution of the freshwater bryozoan, Lophopus crystallinus. Biological Conservation 135, 223-234.

Sayer, C.D., Jackson, M.J., Hoare, D.J., Waldock, M.J., Simpson, G.L., Boyle, J.F., Jones, J. I., Appleby, P.G., Liptrot, E.R. & Henderson, A.C.G. (2006) TBT causes regime shift in shallow lakes. Environmental Science & Technology 40, 5269-5275.

Zhao, Y., Sayer, C.D., Birks, H.H., Peglar, S.M. & Hughes, M. (2006) Spatial representation of aquatic vegetation by macrofossil and pollen remains in a small and shallow lake. Journal of Paleolimnology 35, 335-350.

Davidson, T.A., Sayer, C.D., Bennion, H., David, C., Rose, N. & Wade, M. (2005) A 250 year comparison of historical, macrofossil and pollen records of aquatic plants in a shallow lake. Freshwater Biology 50, 1671-1686.

Davidson, T.A., Sayer, C.D., Perrow, M.R. & Tomlinson, M.L. (2003) Representation of fish communities by scale sub-fossils in shallow lakes: implications for inferring cyprinid-percid shifts. Journal of Paleolimnology 30, 441-449.

Jones, J.I. & Sayer, C.D. (2003) Does the fish-invertebrate-periphyton cascade precipitate plant loss in shallow lakes? Ecology 84, 2155-2167.

Sayer, C.D. (2001) Problems with the application of diatom-total phosphorus transfer functions: Examples from a shallow English Lake. Freshwater Biology 46, 743-757.

Popular articles

See Blog posts of the River Glaven Conservation Group: http://www.riverglaven.co.uk/blog/

Thompson M.S.A., Brooks S.J., Sayer C.D. & Woodward G. (2012) Searching for clarity: Does habitat enhancement work? Salmo Trutta: The Annual Journal of the Wild Trout Trust, p. 52-53.

Wiik, E., Sayer, C.D., Bennion, H., Davidson, T.A. & Clarke, S. (2012) Malham Tarn - a marl lake recovering or degrading? Proceedings of the Malham Tarn Research Seminar, p. 33-36.

Sayer C.D. (2011) Himalayan balsam update – the battle continues. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Autumn 2011, p. 3.

Sayer C.D., Copp G. & Wesley K.J. (2011) Saving the crucian carp. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Autumn 2011, p. 4.

Sayer C.D., Almeida D., Copp G., Sayer D., Linford T., Cornwall C. & Murai M. (2011) What do otters eat in the Glaven catchment? River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Spring 2011, p. 6.

Shepherd V., Barr S., Sayer C.D. & Leach T. (2010) Glaven Herd – a conservation success. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Spring 2010, p. 4.

Sayer C.D., Copp G.H, Wesley K.J. (2010) The crucian carp: Norfolk’s New BAP species. Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership Winter Update 2010, p. 8.

Sayer C.D. (2009) The crucian carp: a native species on the brink. Norfolk Non-native Species Initiative Newsletter, Issue 2, April 2009.

Sayer C.D. (2009) Otters are back but what are the eating? River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Autumn, 2009, p. 6.

Sayer C.D. (2008) Crucian carp: a native species on the brink. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Autumn 2008, p. 3.

Sayer C.D. & Shilland E. (2008) Great Crested Newt: The discovery of pond heavan! River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Spring 2008, p. 3.

Sayer C.D. (2006) Histories of underwater weeds. NERC Planet Earth, summer 2006. p. 22-23.

Sayer C.D. (2006) The crystal clear waters of Selbrigg Pond. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Spring 2006, p. 4.

Devenish E.S. & Sayer C.D. (2007) A review of the ecology and conservation of the neotropical river otter, Lontra longicaudis (Ofers, 1818), with special reference to Trinidad. Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club, August, 2007, p. 8-11.

Sayer C.D. (2005) Sea trout in the River Glaven. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Spring 2005, p. 5.

Sayer C.D. (2004) Stoneworts - have you seen them? River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Autumn 2004, p. 3.

Recent research reports

Goldsmith, B., Lambert, S.J., Davidson T.A., Salgado, J., Yang, H. and Sayer, C.D. (2013). Restoration of Anglesey Marl Lakes: germination of plants in deep sediments. CCW Contract Science Report No: 1027, 31pp, CCW, Bangor.

Sayer, C.D. & Robinson, P. (2012) Crassula invasion levels and success of recent eradication attempts at the Thompson Common pingo ponds. Final Report to the Norfolk Non-Native Species Initiative. ECRC Research Report No. 153.

Goldsmith, B.J, Shilland, E.M, Bennion, H,B, Sayer, C.D., Salgado, J, Burgess, A & Darwell, A. (2010) Lake macrophyte and habitat surveys for the Water Framework Directive, 2010: Final Data Report to the Environment Agency.

Bennion H., Goldsmith B.J., Clarke G., Rawcliffe R., Rose N., McGowan, S., Willby N., Davidson T.A, Sayer C.D., Panizzo V. & Roe K. (2010) Using novel palaeolimnological techniques to define lake conservation objectives for three Cheshire meres. Final Report to Natural England. ECRC Research Report No. 146.

Sayer, C.D., Copp G.H., Emson D., Godard M.J., Zięba G. & Wesley K.J. (2009) The decline of crucian carp Carassius carassius in its native English range: the example of rural ponds in north Norfolk. Report to the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership. ECRC Research Report No. 139.

Davidson T.A., Clarke G., Rawcliffe R., Roe K., Rose N., Sayer, C.D. & Turner S. (2009) Defining lake restoration targets for Llyn Cadarn: A palaeolimnological approach. ECRC Research Report No. 133.

Jones J.I., McGowan S., Sayer C.D. & Rawcliffe R. (2009) The ecology and conservation of ribbon-leaved water-plantain (Alisma gramineum Lejeune) in the United Kingdom. Natural England Contract No. SAE03-02-202.

Bennion H., Rawcliffe R., Burgess A., Clarke G., Davidson T., Rose C., Rose N, Sayer C.D., & Turner S. (2009) Using novel palaeolimnological techniques to define lake conservation objectives. Final Report to Natural England. Natural England Commissioned Report No. 22.

Bennion H., Rawcliffe R., Burgess A., Davidson T., Sayer C.D., Rose N. & Clarke S. (2009) Using novel palaeolimnological techniques to define lake conservation objectives (Phase 2). Final Report to Natural England. ECRC Research Report No.135.

Sayer C.D., Goldsmith B., Davidson T.A. & Hughes M. (2008) Nutrient Sources to Blickling Hall Lake. Final Report to the National Trust. ECRC Research Report No. 131.

Bennion H., Clarke G., Davidson T., Rose C., Rose N., Turner S. & Sayer C.D. (2008) Using novel palaeolimnological techniques to define lake conservation objectives (Phase 1). Final Report to Natural England. ECRC Research Report No.126.

Hughes M., Sayer C.D., Davidson T.A. (2008) Conservation value of non-Broads lakes in Norfolk: Final Report to to Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership. ECRC Research Report No. 125.

Davidson T.A., Appleby P.G., Clarke G., Morley D., Rose N., Sayer C.D., Tuffin S. & Turner S. (2008) A palaeoecological study of Rockland Broad. ECRC Research Report No. 124.

Davidson T.A., Clarke G., Morley D., Rose N., Turner S. & Sayer C.D. (2008) Palaeoecological investigation of the past biological structure and function of the Trinity Broads: Report to the Trinity Broads Partnership. ECRC Research Report No. 122.

Shilland E. & Sayer C.D. (2006) Pond amphibian survey: Manor Farm, Melton Constable, Norfolk. ECRC Research Report No. 118.

Davidson T.A.,  Hoare D., Morley D., Cundy A. & Sayer C.D. (2006) Reconstructing the macrophyte flora of three Broads: A palaeolimnological analysis. Report to the Broads Authority. ECRC Research Report No. 106.

Rose N.L., Appleby P.G., Sayer C.D. & Bennion H. (2005) Sediment accumulation in the Broads. Final Report to the Broads Authority. ECRC Research Report No. 101.

Skeate E.R., Perrow M.R., Sayer C.D., Wheeler B., Shaw S., Hughes M., Shilland E. & Ayres K. (2004) A feasibility study into the restoration of Upton Broad including potential sediment removal. Final Report to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Perrow M.R., Sayer C.D., Skeate E.R., Shilland E.M., Goldsmith B.J. & Hughes M.J. (2004) The future management of Falcondale Lake Site of Special Scientific Interest, Ceredigion. CCW Contract Report No. 620.

Hoare D.J., Sayer C.D., Liptrot E., Emson D., Bennion H., Appleby P.G. & Waldock M.J. (2004) Tributyltin (TBT) and the decline of the Norfolk Broads: Hickling Broad and Barton Broads. Final Report to DEFRA. ECRC Research Report  No. 96.

Goldsmith B.J., Hoare D.J., Jones J.I., Nobes G.N. & Sayer C.D. (2004) A biological survey of the Blakeney Freshes: North Norfolk. Report to the National Trust. ECRC Research Report No. 95.

Bennion H., Burgess A., Boyle P.G., Appleby P.G., Rose N., Sayer C.D. & Theophile S. (2003) Sediment survey of the Suffolk Broads. Final Report to English Nature on Contract No. NB/T/806/02-04. ECRC Research Report  No. 92.

Goldsmith, B.J., Luckes, S.J., Bennion, H., Carvalho, L., Hughes, M., Appleby P.G. & Sayer C.D. (2003) Feasibility studies on the restoration needs of four lake SSSIs. Final Report to English Nature, Contract No. EIT 30-05-005. ECRC Research Report  No. 87.

Sayer C.D., Jackson M.J., Simpson G.L., Waldock M.J., Reed J., Henderson A.C.G., Boyle J.F. & Appleby P.G. (2001) Tributyltin (TBT) and the decline of the Norfolk Broads. Final Report to DEFRA. ECRC Research Report  No. 83.




I am a great believer in the need to transfer research findings and scientific knowledge into practical conservation action and policy. In these respects I am a regular speaker to local interest groups, natural history societies, landowners and the general public with regards to lake, pond and river conservation. I am also a regular adviser to Natural England, Broads Authority, Environment Agency, Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, National Trust and the Norfolk Rivers Trust on aquatic conservation issues. In association with UCL PhD student Helen Greaves I have organised three recent field workshops focused on pond conservation, most recently in summer 2013. The latter event, held at Manor Farm, Norfolk, was attended by representatives of all the major UK conservation agencies. I have written several popular articles and blog posts to help inform UK aquatic conservation and to publicise UCL research.

I am a co-founder of the River Glaven Conservation Group (RGCG) which has led the way in terms of river-catchment conservation and restoration in East Anglia over the last decade, winning a number of river restoration and biodiversity awards (see: http://www.riverglaven.co.uk/2013/08/rgcg-wins-biodiversity-award/).


Recent talks and workshops (post-2011)

2013 – “Natural history of the River Glaven” (Invited Talk to Norfolk Farmer’s Wives – November)

2013 – “Forgotten fish of Norfolk” (Invited Talk to the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists Society – October)

2013 – Upper Glaven river restoration project (Stakeholder Workshop organised with the Norfolk Rivers Trust – June)

2013 – Pond Restoration Field Worksop at Manor Farm, Norfolk (30 attendees covering major conservation groups – June)

2013 – Conservation perspectives: Norfolk farmland ponds (Invited Talk to the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership AGM – May)

2013 – “Going wild with river conservation: lessons from Norfolk chalk streams” (Invited Talk to the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Living Rivers project – April)

2013 – “Tales from the Norfolk Pond Wilderness” (Talk to the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership – April)

2013 – Upper Glaven catchment walk (Field Workshop for Natural England and the Norfolk Rivers Trust – February)

2012 – “The Trinity Broads ecosystem: Mysterious historical insights” (Invited Talk - Broads Authority Christmas Lecture – December)

2012 – “Reducing sediment and nutrient pollution in Upper Glaven” (Invited Talk to Norfolk Rivers Trust – December)

2012 – “Things you didn’t know about the ponds around Bodham” (Invited Talk to the Norfolk Farmers Wives – November)

2012 – “Wildlife on the River Glaven: Conservation successes and challenges” (Invited Talk to Norfolk Wildlife Trust – October)

2012 – “Natural history of the River Glaven” (Invited Talk and Pond Life Demonstration at “Glad About the Glaven” event, Holt Hall Field Studies centre – October)

2012 – Field Workshop on pond ecology for Thames Ditton School, Surrey (Pond life demonstrated to 3 x 3 classes of 30 10-11 yr old children – August).

2012 - Tour of the Manor Farm Ponds, North Norfolk (Pond Tour for the Pond Conservation Trust – June)

2012 – “Ecological histories of Blickling and Felbrigg Lakes: implications for restoration (Invited Talk at Natural England Catchment Sensitive Farming Stakeholder Meeting, North Norfolk – April)

2012 – Reducing sediment and nutrient pollution in the Upper Glaven (Field workshop for Norfolk Rivers Trust – February)

2012 – “The secret life of North Norfolk ponds with an otter twist” (Invited Talk to the Holt Farmers Club – February)

2012 – “The secret life of North Norfolk ponds with an otter twist” (Invited Talk to the Hempstead Village Natural History Society – January)

2011 – Natural Neighbours: Norfolk’s Community Biodiversity Conference (Stakeholder Workshop and Talk on “River Life and River Conservation” focusing on how volunteer organisations can contribute to aquatic conservation – July)

2011 – Tour of the Manor Farm Ponds, North Norfolk for the UK conservation agencies (Pond Tour and Field workshop – June)

2011 – “Recovering the crucian carp in North Norfolk” (Talk and Workshop for local stakeholders on the Norfolk crucian carp conservation project, Bodham, Norfolk – March)


Recent media coverage of UCL research (post-2011)


Pond conservation newspaper articles:

2013 – Eastern Daily Press 2 page article 22/9/2013 “Conservation project aims to resurrect the old ghost ponds of Norfolk”


2013 – Eastern Daily Press 2 page article 22/6/2013 “Ponds could be every farm’s wildlife reserve”


2012 – Eastern Daily Press page article 18/2/2012 “Norfolk’s rich pond heritage gets new lease of life”: http://www.edp24.co.uk/business/farming-news/norfolk_s_rich_pond_heritage_gets_new_lease_of_life_1_1212899

2011 – Researcher for Ray Mears ITV “Wild Britain” programme on lowland river conservation.



Contributions to conservation policy


Author of Biodiversity Action Plans (BAP plans)


Copp, G.H. & Sayer, C.D. (2010). Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan – Local species Action Plan for Crucian Carp. Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership Reference:LS/3. http://www.norfolkbiodiversity.org/actionplans/speciesactionplans/cruciancarp.aspx.

Easton, K., Sayer, C.D. & Copp, G.H. (in prep. 2013). Norfolk Biodiversity Action Plan – Local species Action Plan for Burbot. Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership.

Contributor to agri-environment policy

Written input to Natural England for “New Environmental Land Management Scheme - NELMS” agri-environment scheme options for ponds


Undergraduate teaching

  • GEOG2007 Ecological Patterns and Processes (co-convenor)
  • GEOG3042 Restoration and Management of Freshwater Ecosystems (contributor)


Masters teaching for MSc Aquatic Science & MSc Conservation

  • GEOGG070 Aquatic Systems (convenor)
  • GEOGG074 Lakes (contributor)
  • GEOGG103 Aquatic Macrophytes (co-convenor)
  • GEOG104 Scientific Basis for Freshwater and Coastal Conservation (convenor)
  • GEOGG135 – Biological Indicators of Environmental Change (contributor)

PhD Students


PhD supervision



  • HANNAH ROBSON: Causes of decline in the common scoter inferred from palaeoecology; 2013-current
  • EMILY ALDERTON: “Ghost ponds”: resurrecting lost ponds and species to assist aquatic biodiversity conservation; 2012-current
  • HELEN GREAVES: Assessing the value of pond management for biodiversity conservation; 2011-current
  • ISABEL BISHOP: Assessing the changing status of Najas flexilis in Scottish mesotrophic lochs using the sediment record: implications for conservation; 2011-current
  • LUKE MITCHELL: Hydrogeomorphic succession of rehabilitated gravel habitat and implications for salmonid spawning; 2010-current
  • MURRAY THOMPSON: Consequences of woody debris introduction in lowland chalk rivers and implications for restoration ecology; 2009-current
  • VICTORIA SHEPHERD: Coleopteran diversity in floodplain ecosystems 2008-current
  • HANNAH CLILVERD: Hydrological and ecological implications of floodplain re-connectance; 2007-current
  • DAVE EMSON: Palaeoecological studies in ponds to explore past Lemna abundances and consequences for pond food-webs; 2006-current



  • JORGE SALGADO: The relative importance of eutrophication and connectivity in structuring biological communities of the upper Lough Erne system, Northern Ireland; 2007-2012
  • EMMA WICK: Understanding the ecological response of marl lakes to enrichment: a combined limnological and palaeolimnological approach; 2008-2012
  • XUHUI DONG: Using diatom to understand climate-nutrient interaction in shallow lakes: evidence from observational and paleolimnological records; 2006-2010
  • GENEVIEVE MADGWICK: Macrophyte community change in two lowland lake districts in the UK; 2005-2009.
  • TOM DAVIDSON: Zooplankton ecology and palaeoecology in nutrient enriched shallow lakes; 2002-2006
  • DANIEL HOARE: Did boat-derived toxicity lead to plant loss in the Norfolk Broads shallow lakes? 2003-2007
  • AMY BURGESS: The potential of UK lowland reservoirs for the development of diatom-nutrient palaeolimnological inference models; 2000-2004


MSc supervision


  • MARCO BENUCCI (MSc Aquatic Science 2013) Reach-scale contribution of introduced backwaters to invertebrate diversity in a re-meandered lowland river.
  • AMY PRYOR (MSc Aquatic Science 2013) Hydrological connectivity for a man-made river backwater in the lower freshwater River Thames: Conservation of the European Eel.
  • OLIVER VAN BIERVLET (MSc Aquatic Science 2013) The effect of stream bank erosion caused by cattle on fine sediment and phosphorus mobilisation, transport and deposition
  • PARIS STEPHANOUDIS (MSc Aquatic Science 2012) Unraveling drivers of zooplankton community structure in small, shallow, fish- and fishless ponds
  • ELEANORA ARCESCE (MSc Conservation 2012) Comparing the diet oft the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra L.) on the the River Glaven and the River Stiffkey, North Norfolk
  • TOM PRYKE (MSc Conservation 2012) The influence of feeding resources on breeding productivity in a population of Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus): Implications for conservation.
  • EMILY ALDERTON (MSc Aquatic Science 2012) Diet composition of Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) at Malham Tarn
  • JONATHAN PAYNE (MSc Aquatic Science 2012) An investigation of the history of brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) at Malham Tarn.
  • LAURA GEORGE (MSc Aquatic Science 2012) Short-term effects of river restoration on the macroinvertebrate community in the River Glaven at Hunworth, North Norfolk, UK
  • KRIS CHAN (MSc Conservation, 2011) Can great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) co-exist with fish?
  • HOLLY WATSON (MSc Conservation, 2011) The potential of the River Stiffkey as an Ark site for the white-clawed crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes.
  • JOSCELYNE ASHPOLE (MSc Conservation, 2011) Conserving urban birds: identifying important features of the urban eenvironment to inform future conservation action.
  • CLEO RIDGEWAY (MSc Conservation, 2011) Going with the flow? The effects of drifting weed on invertebrate populations as a consequence of weed management in English chalk streams.
  • JAMES MCPHERSON (MSc Quaternary Science, 2010) Long-term changes in the benthic-pelagic primary production balance of shallow lake ecosystem: A δ13C approach.
  • MIZUKI MURAI (MSc Conservation, 2010) The diet of Eurasian otter Lutra lutra (L.) around ponds and their significance in the Glaven catchment, North Norfolk.
  • SARAH ASBERRY (MSc Conservation, 2010) Fostering local stewardship: Opportunities and constraints for stakeholder participation in river conservation groups.
  • ADAM DEVENISH (MSc Conservation, 2010) Bloomers Valley diversification: a template for grassland enhancement.
  • CHRIS JENNINGS (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2009) The effects of partial carp removal on shallow lake recovery.
  • KATIE ANDREWS (MSc Conservation 2009) The value of pond management for biodiversity conservation.
  • AMBROISE BAKER (MSc Quaternary Science, 2009) Long-term origins of plant loss in a shallow lake.
  • SARAH ELLIS (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2008) Response of shallow lakes to isolation from a polluted river as determined by palaeolimnological analyses.
  • LAURA PETETTI (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2008) A preliminary palaeolimnologcal assessment of biodiversity changes with particular emphasis on the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha): Upper Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.
  • EMILY DRESNER (MSc Conservation 2008) Biodiversity in open and shaded ponds: Implications for conservation and management.
  • KATHERINE WOTHERSPOON (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2008) The influence of land management on the composition of lowland wet meadow vegetation, with implications for restoration.
  • SEBASTIAN MEIS (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2008) Spatial and temporal macrophyte dynamics in three shallow lowland lakes: implications for their stability of aquatic macrophyte cover.
  • LUKE MITCHELL (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2008) An investigation into the effects of different basal resources on ecological networks: A study from a small chalk stream.  
  • RUTH RAWCLIFFE (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2007) The effects of eutrophication on the community structure and function of shallow lakes.
  • JORGE SALGADO (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2006) Assessing macrophyte responses to eutrophication and recovery using both contemporary survey and palaeolimnological data; Loch Leven, Kinross, Scotland.
  • THOMAS STEPHENS (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2005) A palaeoecological test of fossil plant assemblages from Calthorpe Broad, a shallow lake in Norfolk.
  • CHRISTINE KOGLER (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2004) A study of bicentennial macrophyte trait dynamics in the Norfolk Broads, UK.
  • KATHRYN AYRES (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2004) The contribution of palaeolimnology to lake management: an example from Upton Great Broad.
  • LAURA EVANS (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2004) Factors affecting the distribution and abundance of the submerged aquatic macrophyte community in Hickling Broad, Norfolk: Is boating activity having an adverse impact?
  • MARKOS SARRIS (MSc Freshwater and Coastal Sciences 2003) Acidification history of a shallow lowland lake (Calthorpe Broad, Norfolk) using a diatom-based palaeolimnological approach
  • KIRSTY EVANS (MSc Quaternary Science 2003) The trophic development of a medieval fish pond: a palaeolimnological analysis
  • ELEANOR DEVENISH (MSc Conservation 2003) The importance of habitat disturbance factors for the local distribution of neotropical river otter (Lontra longicaudis) in Trinidad, with implications for its conservation
  • SHARON MCAUSLAN (MSc Conservation 2003) The use of agricultural buildings by the long-eared bat Plecotus auritus.
  • MARKOS SARRIS (MSc Freshwater & Coastal Sciences 2003) Acidification history of a shallow lowland lake (Calthorpe Broad, Norfolk) using a diatom-based palaeolimnological approach.
  • ZOË COKELISS (MSc Conservation 2003) Characteristics of threatened bird species inhabiting avian threat hotspots in Australasia: implications for conservation.
  • ELEANOR LIPTROT (MSc Quaternary Science 2002) Recent palaeosalinity reconstructions in Hickling Broad, Norfolk: A multi-proxy analysis
  • AMY BURGESS (MRes Environmental Science 1998) A palaeolimnological assessment of eutrophication-related changes in the ecological status of Felbrigg Lake, Norfolk
  • DAVE EMSON (MRes Environmental Science 1999) A palaeoecological assessment of the botanical history of Barton Broad, Norfolk




Recent funding (since 2000)

Consultancy projects for conservation agencies

  • Approximately £600,000 of consultancy from Natural England, National Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust Broads Authority, Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, Countryside Council for Wales and Environment Agency managed through ENSIS Ltd. since 2000.






Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)


  • 2013-2014: £64,971 for NERC Urgency Grant (Co-I) Quantifying ecosystem resilience: catastrophic collapse and recovery of a large river food web”
  • 2013-2015: £148,000 for NERC BESS project (PI) on “Dispersal and biodiversity impacts on community assembly and ecosystem services in shallow lake landscapes” NE/K015486/1
  • 2011-2014: £79,000 for NERC Industrial CASE PhD Studentship (PI) on “Assessing the value of pond management for biodiversity conservation
  • 2008-2012: £78,000 for NERC CASE PhD Studentship (Co-I) on “Understanding the ecological response of marl lakes to enrichment: a combined limnological and palaeolimnological approach”
  • 2006-2009: £49,592 for NERC Small Grant (PI) on “Fish kills and their consequences in shallow lakes: the potential of palaeolimnology” NE/D008344/1
  • 2004-2006: £24,910 for NERC Small Grant (PI) on “Achieving species-level identification of fossil oospores from UK Characeae” NE/C515155/1
  • 2003-2004: £29,213 for NERC Small Grant (Co-I) on “Ecological influences on larval chironomid communities in shallow lakes: implications for palaeolimnological interpretations” NER/B/S/2003/00824
  • 2000-2002: £34,000 for NERC Small Grant (Co-I) on “Assessing the value of plant macrofossil records in shallow lakes” NER/M/S/2000/00320
  • 1999-2000: £35,011 for NERC Small Grant (PI) on “Palaeoecological methods for reconstructing past fish communities in shallow lakes” GR8/04350
  • 1998-2002: c.£150,000 for NERC Fellowship (PI-Fellow) on “Inferring eutrophication-related changes in the trophic structure and biodiversity of shallow lakes” GT5/98/22/CB


Royal Society

  • 2004-2006: c.£18,000 for Joint Project Grant between between UCL and the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, China (Co-I) on “Palaeolimnology and shallow lake ecosystem restoration
  • 1999-2000: c.£25,000 China Fellowship Grant to Carl Sayer (PI) for Yan Zhao on “Representation of aquatic vegetation by macrofossil remains in a shallow lake



  • 2003-2004: £1250 (PI) “Tributyltin contamination of the Norfolk Broads II
  • 2001-2002: £5000 (PI) “Tributyltin contamination of the Norfolk Broads I


    European Union
  • 2010-2014: c. 227,000 Euros going to UCL (Participant) for FP7 project “Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems: Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities (BIOFRESH)” Contract No. 226874
  • 2004-2009: c. 1.5 M Euros to UCL (Participant) for FP6 project “Integrated Project to Evaluate the Impacts of Global Change on European Freshwater Ecosystems (EURO-LIMPACS)


National Science Foundation of China (NSFC)

  • 2012-2014: £24,645 =250,000 RMB (Co-I) for “Historical patterns and mechanisms of aquatic plant changes in large shallow lakes: a case study on Liangzi Lake” Project No. 41102105