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Isabel Bishop


ibishop.jpgIsabel Bishop

Environmental Change Research Centre (ECRC)

UCL Department of Geography
Pearson Building
Gower Street





Dr. Helen Bennion

Dr. Carl Sayer




2011-                          PhD: “The conservation of the rare aquatic plant Najas flexilis in Scotland: Insights from the seedbank and sediment record.

2009 – 2010              MSc. Aquatic Resource Management, Kings College London. Distinction.

2006 – 2009              BSc. (Hons.) Geography, UCL. 2:1.



2010-2011                 Water Quality Scientist, Thames Water.



My research combines my three main fields of interest:

  • Palaeoecology.
  • Aquatic plant ecology.
  • Conservation.

Research Question

How can the seedbank and sediment record be used to assess the changing status of the rare aquatic plant Najas flexilis in the UK?




The subject of my PhD research is the macrophyte Najas flexilis (pictured). N. flexilis carries national and international conservation status from the EC Habitats Directive (1992), the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (2008), and as a Schedule 8 species of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). Following the extinction of the plant in its last English locality over the past 50 years, Scotland remains one of the only European strongholds for the plant. However, it is believed that N. flexilis is at risk of large-scale habitat loss across Scotland due to eutrophication. Direct monitoring of this decline has been hindered by the fact that typical monitoring strategies for N. flexilis are known to under-record the plant. SCUBA and snorkel surveys are considered necessary for reliable assessments of N. flexilis populations, but are rarely affordable.

There are two strands to my study; spatial analysis of the seedbank and temporal analysis of the sediment record.



Spatial analysis of the seedbank (ecological approach)

  1. To assess current methodologies for sampling N. flexilis.
  2. To investigate whether the N. flexilis seedbank can provide an additional tool for sampling the plant.
  3. To investigate the ways in which lake sediment characteristics may influence the colonization of N. flexilis plants.


Temporal analysis of the sediment record (palaeoecological approach)

  1. To provide additional information about the changes in N. flexilis distribution in Scotland over the past ~150 years.
  2. To investigate environmental changes that may have lead to changes in N. flexilis populations over the past ~150 years.

Planned Outputs

A full, commissioned research report will be presented to Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency alongside a database containing all of the known records of N. flexilis in the UK. This will be used to aid future conservation planning for, and possible re-introduction of, N. flexilis in Scotland. Publications in academic journals on a) the effects of eutrophication on N. flexilis in Scotland and b) the implications of macrophyte seed distribution on palaeoecological studies are also planned.


Awards and Funding


2012   International Palaeolimnology Symposium: Highly commended poster presentation.



UCL Graduate Research Fund.

Scottish Natural Heritage/Scottish Environmental Protection Agency research grant.
Research grant from green ICT company Memset.

2009 – 2010             
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Studentship.