UCL Department of Geography
Dr. Carl Sayer
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Dr. Carl Sayer

Senior lecturer at Geography UCL and passionate aquatic conservationist



Departmental Tutor (Room Pb204)

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

Office hours in room Pb204: Wednesdays 11-1 (bookable via the general office on geog.office@ucl.ac.uk) and Thursdays 2-3 (drop-in hour).

Pond Restoration Research Group

River Glaven Conservation Group and Blog

Norfolk Ponds Project



Senior Lecturer, UCL (2011-present)

Lecturer, UCL  (2002-2011)

Natural Environment Research Centre Fellow, UCL (1998-2002)

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Environmental Change Research Centre, UCL (1997-1998)

Recent Awards

UCL Student Choice Teaching Award (Nominee) 2015

UCL Public Engagement Award (Winner) 2015

UCL Student Choice Teaching Award (Nominee) 2013

Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership Group Award for conservation awarded to the River Glaven Conservation Group 2013


Selected publications since 2001


      Boyle, J.F., Sayer, C.D., Hoare, D., Heppell, K. & Lambert, S.J. (in press 2015) Toxic metal enrichment and boating intensity: sediment record evidence from shallow lakes in eastern England. Journal of Paleolimnology.

      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.

      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, 5 (7), 665-668. Doi: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2628

      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


      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

      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.


      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.

      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.

      Selected pre-2010

      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.

      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.

      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/

      Lansdown, R.V., Sayer, C.D., Shaw, M.W. & Stevens, P. (submitted 2015) Two new occurrences of Najas marina outside its traditional British range. BSBI News.

      Sayer C.D. (2015) University College London projects in the freshwaters of the Yorkshire Dales. Freshwater Biological Association News, 66 (Summer-Autumn), 6-8.

      Greaves, H. & Sayer, C.D. (2015) Aquatic restoration in the UK: underlying principles and possibilities. Freshwater Biological Association News, 66 (Summer-Autumn), 21-22.

      Sayer, C.D. (2014) Conserving Norfolk's Ponds. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter.
      Autumn 2014, p. 2-4.

      Sayer, C.D. (2014) Conserving the remarkable European eel. River Glaven Conservation Group NewsletterSpring 2014, p. 6-7.

      Sayer C.D. (2014) Norfolk’s Ponds. Norfolk FWAG Newsletter, Summer 2015, p. 2.

      Sayer C.D. (2014) Pond Conservation Advice. Magazine of the British Dragonfly Society
      Spring 2014
      , p. 2-3.

      Sayer C.D. (2014) Managing British Ponds. Response to Martin Hammond “Wildlife value of British ponds” Letter in British Wildlife 25(3). British Wildlife 25(6) p. 454-455.

      Sayer C.D. (2014) Conserving Norfolk’s Ponds. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter,
      Autumn 2014
      , p. 4-5.

      Baker, A.& Sayer, C.D. (2014) Can connectivity mitigate the adverse effect of eutrophication on shallow lake biodiversity and ecosystem services? FBA News, No. 63 Summer 2014, page 15.

      Sayer C.D. (2014) Conserving the remarkable European eel. River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter, Spring 2014, p. 4-5.

      Sayer C.D. (2014) The Glaven: Source of Inspiration. Norfolk Coast Guardian, p. 6.

      Sayer, C.D. (2013) Bayfield Lake: The secret history.  River Glaven Conservation Group Newsletter
      Spring 2013, p. 2.

      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.C.G., 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.

      Research reports

      Sayer, C.D., Boyle, J., Emson, D., Goldsmith, B., Patmore, I.R., Shilland, J. & Yang. H. (2015) Recent heavy metal contamination of the Thurne Broads. Report to the Broads Authority. ECRC Research Report Number 165.

      Phillips, G., Bennion, H., Perrow, M., Sayer, C.D., Spears, B., Willby, N. (2015) A review of lake restoration practices and their performance in the Broads National Park, 1980-2013. Report for Broads Authority and Natural England.

      Goldsmith, B., Lambert, S., Henderson, G., Sayer, C.D., Goodrich, S.Shilland, J. and Matyskova, V. (2014) Hoveton Great Broad macrophyte study: Using the sediment record to inform lake restoration. ECRC Research Report Number 161.

      Alderton E, Sayer C.D., Nobes G, Shilland E, Axmacher J.A. & Lambert S.J. (2014) The Ghost Ponds Project – Report No. 2. Report to the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership.

      Alderton, E. & Sayer, C.D. (2014) “Ghost ponds”: Resurrecting lost ponds and species to assist aquatic conservation. Report No. 1. Report to the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership.

      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.


      Biodiversity Action 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.


      Research ethos

      I am a passionate environmentalist with a research interest in aquatic habitats, including ponds, lakes and rivers. I was born in a small Norfolk village surrounded by ponds and developed a very early passion for natural history, especially in freshwaters. I now undertake research into the current-day ecology and ecological history of aquatic habitats and make major efforts to transfer scientific findings into practical conservation and restoration action. I am especially keen on landscape-scale ideas in conservation and in re-wilding approaches that put into place natural recovery processes. My research comes under a number of key themes:

      Pond restoration research

      A major part of my conservation-led research has been focused on ponds, especially in farmland landscapes. The Pond Restoration Research Group pages give details of this work which includes studies of pond terestralisation, pond restoration by tree and scrub removal, and influences of terrestrialisation, pond management and fish on landscape-scale biodiversity. A major part of this research is focused on the recovery of rare pond species, especially the crucian carp (Carassius carassius), a fish which has been in steep decline in the UK since the 1970s.

      Shallow lake ecology and palaeoecology

      Research in this field has centred on the interface between contemporary shallow lake ecology and palaeoecology. A key research strand has been the reconstruction of centennial-scale changes to the submerged macrophyte communities of shallow lakes using plant macro-remains. Combined with studies of plant seasonality, this work has alluded to some of the key pathways and mechanisms that underly eutrophication-induced plant loss in shallow lakes. Much work has also focused on the development of new palaeolimnological procedures suitable for analysing lesser studied fossil remains in sediment cores, especially from invertbrates and fishes.

      River restoration research

      I have a strong interest in the restoration of lowland chalk rivers, inspired by my work with the River Glaven Conservation Group. This research seeks to determine the hydro-ecological consequences of key river restoration techniques, especially river-floodplain re-connection, re-meandering, the use of woody debris as an ecological engineer and the value of installing gravel riffles to assist salmonid spawning.

      Conservation of the European eel

      Recently I have started some research into the distribution and passage of the European eel in the catchment of the River Glaven, Norfolk. This work is closely linked to a River Glaven Hertage Lottery funded eel project as run by the Norfolk Rivers Trust (NRT). A major focus of this work is the use of headwater ponds and ditch systems by eels and their potential importance for eel conservation. In addition, in association with the NRT, I am undertaking studies of elver migrations. A major source of information for these studies are the stories and experiences provided by local people, especially the great Roger Grady, a retired eel catcher.

      The great Roger Grady with a freshwater eel caught using fyke-nets.


      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 a regular adviser to the Natural England, Broads Authority, Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, National Trust and the Norfolk Rivers Trust on aquatic conservation issues.

      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.

      I founded the Norfolk Ponds Project in 2014, which aims to promote and enact pond conservation and restoration in Norfolk, whilst influencing UK conservation policy more generally. Myself and UCL student Helen Greaves co-run the project at present with funding support from the Natural Environment Research Council via the UCL Office of the Vice Provost (Research). Each year we arrange pond restoration workshops for landowers and farmers, attend agricultural shows and organise practical pond restoration events. In September 2015 we are running an ambitious event called "Seven Ponds in Seven Days".

      I have written several popular articles and blog posts to help inform UK aquatic conservation and to publicise UCL research.

      In 2015 I received the Provost's award of UCL "Engager of the Year".


      Undergraduate teaching

      GEOG2007 Ecological Patterns and Processes

      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


      Richard Walton: Terrestrialisation of farmland ponds: ecological changes, processes and timescales inferred from monitoring and palaeolmnology (2016-present)

      Sara Varandas: Hyrdrological influences on invertebrate communities in coastal temporary ponds (2015-present)

      Lucy Roberts: Reconstruction and impact of salinity change in coastal lakes (2015-present)

      Emily Smith: Conduits of invasive aquatic species to the UK: The Angling route (2015-present)

      Dan Chadwick: Conservation of the White-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes in the face of invasive non-native species pressures (2015-present)

      Lucia Lecioni: Recent responses of Scottish Lochs to eutrophication, climate change and lake restoration inferred from palaeolimnology (2014-present)

      Hannah Robson: Causes of decline in the common scoter inferred from palaeoecology (2013-present)

      Emily Alderton: “Ghost ponds”: resurrecting lost ponds and species to assist aquatic biodiversity conservation (2012-present)

      Helen Greaves: Assessing the value of pond management for biodiversity conservation (2011-present)

      Isabel Bishop: Assessing the changing status of Najas flexilis in Scottish mesotrophic lochs using the sediment record: implications for conservation (2011-present)

      Luke Mitchell: Hydrogeomorphic succession of rehabilitated gravel habitat and implications for salmonid spawning (2010-present)

      Hannah Clilverd: Hydrological and ecological implications of floodplain re-connectance (part-time, 2007-present)



      Dave Emson: Palaeoecological studies in ponds to explore past Lemna abundances and consequences for pond food-webs (2006-2014 - part-time)

      Murray Thompson: Consequences of woody debris introduction in lowland chalk rivers and implications for restoration ecology (2009-2014)

      Victoria Shepherd: Coleopteran diversity in floodplain ecosystems (2008-2014)

      Jorge Salgado: The relative importance of eutrophication and connectivity in structuring biological communities of the upper Lough Erne system, Northern Ireland (2007-2012)

      Emma Wiik: 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)


      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.

      Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

      2015: £3.65M (FEC) and £789,040 to UCL for NERC Consortium Grant (Co-I) on “Hydroscape: Connectivity x stressor interaction in freshwater habitats” (UCL PI Neil Rose, other UCL Co-Is Jones, Bennion)

      2014-2015: £12,308 from NERC Impact Accelerator Award Phase III (PI). "Norfolk Ponds Partnership project"

      2013-2014: £64,971 for NERC Urgency Grant (Co-I) on 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) onFish kills and their consequences in shallow lakes: the potential of palaeolimnology” NE/D008344/1

      2004-2006: £24,910 for NERC Small Grant (PI) onAchieving 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) onPalaeoecological 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