UCL Department of Geography


Description Photo Here

Personal tools
Log in
This is SunRain Plone Theme
UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Academic Staff  /  Vivienne Jones

Professor Viv Jones

Viv-Jones.jpgDepartment of Geography,
University College London,
Pearson Building,
Gower Street,

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 0555
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 0565

wwt_logo_RGB.jpgFully Funded NERC- CASE PhD studentship with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)

Using Palaeolimnology to Inform Freshwater Restoration in Madagascar
UCL Department of Geography and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) are pleased to invite applications for an exciting fully funded PhD studentship which will inform wetland restoration in Madagascar and guide the reintroduction of a critically endangered endemic species; the Madagascar Pochard.
The research will use a unique combination of ecological and limnological surveys together with state-of-the-art palaeolimnological techniques to assess environmental change in severely degraded Malagasy lakes over the last thousand years. For the first time reference conditions will be established for wetlands in the central plateau region of Madagascar, and targets for restoration will be created. The project will involve fieldwork in Madagascar and the opportunity to work within an international team of conservation practitioners at WWT delivering community-based wetland management projects and conservation breeding programmes.

For more information about the project, the studentship, eligibility and details of how to apply, please see here.




  • 1984-87 PhD (NERC) University College London, Department of Geography A palaeoecological study of the post-glacial acidification of the Round Loch of Glenhead and its catchment.
  • 1980-1983 BSc (Hons) Geography and Botany, University of Liverpool

Career History

  • 2010 – present  Reader in Palaeolimnology,  Environmental Change Research Centre, Department of Geography, University College London
  • 2001- 2010 Principal Research Fellow Part time.
  • 1995-2001 Senior Research Fellow, ECRC, University College London.
  • 1987-1995 Research Fellow, ECRC, University College London.


International Paleolimnological Association, Freshwater Biological Association, British Ecological Society

Editorial Positions

  • 2013 - present: Editorial Advisory Board, The Anthropocene Review
  • 2008 – present Editorial Board, Journal of Paleolimnology


Membership of Committees

  • 2010 – present  Elected committee member of the International Society for Diatom Research
  • 2007 – 2013  Member of NERC radiocarbon committee
  • 2007 – 2010  Member of ESF proposal review panel
  • 2004 – 2007 Member NERC peer review committee
  • 2003 – 2010 Secretary of the International Society for Diatom Research.

Click here for Publications.

Viv's research often involves Diatoms which are microscopic unicellular algae which grow in a wide range of habitats in damp soils, lakes, rivers and seas. Extremely common in almost all freshwater and marine environments they are an excellent ecological indicator species sensitive to acidity, nutrients and salinity. Since they have a short life cycle they respond quickly to changes in conditions. Modern communities are used by environmental scientists for monitoring water quality especially in relation to the problems of acidification and eutrophication. Diatoms also preserve well in many lake and marine sediments and thus can be used reconstruct past conditions on a range of timescales from decades to tens of thousands of years.

However she is also an environmental scientist interested in the application of multi-proxy palaeoecological techniques to the understanding of present day environmental problems. Current research interests are wide ranging and cover the following:


Major grants since 1990

  • 2012-2015  NERC-LAC. Lakes and the arctic carbon cycle.

  • 2010-2013 NERC Kamchatka.  Influence of global teleconnections on Holocene climate in Kamchatka.

  • 2010-2012 NERC Greenland.  Long-range atmospheric Nitrogen deposition as a driver of ecological change in Arctic lakes.
  • 2006-2011 CARBO-North Quantifying the carbon budget in Northern Russia: past, present and future. Funding Source, EU Framework 6.
  • 2003 NERC Assessing regional climate signals from delta 18O diatom records in annually laminated lake sediments
  • 2000-2003 SPICE. Sustainable Pechora in a Changing Environment. Funding Source, EU INCO-COPERNICUS
  • 1998-2001 TUNDRA. Tundra Degradation in the Russian Arctic. funding source EU FW4
  • 2000-2005 NORPEC. Norwegian PalaeoEnvironments and Climates as reconstructed from lake sediments. Funding source NAVF (Norwegian Science Research Council)
  • 2000 NERC Palaeolimnological evidence for circumarctic climate warming in Northern Russia (NER/B/S/2000/00733)
  • 1995-1998 Lake sediment records of recent atmospheric pollution and environmental change on Spitzbergen. Funding source NAVF .
  • 1995-1997 NERC Diatom biodiversity and distribution in maritime and continental Antarctica. Joint with Dr Steve Juggins, University of Newcastle.
  • 1995-1997 NERC The use of lake sediments to determine the history of ecosystem change at Signy Island within the Holocene.

I am interested how we can use palaeolimnology to create a better understanding of how lake ecosystems may respond to future changes whether these are due to climate change or pollution. The key to this is a deep knowledge of how lakes have responded to climate change and pollution over a range of timescales, obtained in many cases by using a multi-proxy approach.

Much of my recent work has been concerned with changes in The Arctic, a region which is already responding to anthropogenic warming and which is predicted to be impacted by enhanced warming this century. The Carbo-North project ( and the SPICE project provided scenarios of Arctic change under various warming projections which were presented to stakeholders in Town Meetings in Usinsk, Pechora and Naryan Mar, in the Komi Republic region. I am one of the few active palaeo researchers in Russia and was recently invited to a Department of Energy and Climate Change meeting in Moscow to discuss better collaborative links with Russia.  I have been involved with several major palaeolimnological research programmes in the Arctic, I am currently a co-investigator on a NERC Arctic programme project (NERC-LAC) leading the Russian aspect of the research.

Another key aspect has been the development of the use of palaeolimnology in conservation.  Working with the RSPB at Loch Ruthwen in Scotland we established a link between past productivity of the lake and the population of the rare Slavonian Grebe; this has directly led to ongoing research in the Flow Country in Caithness, funded by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, examining whether a palaeolimnological approach can help to understand why populations of the Common Scoter have declined in the last 3 decades

I remain a committed member of the International Diatom Society, having served as Secretary and now a committee member. I have taught diatoms to undergraduates, masters students, PhD students, including many overseas students, and professionals, running courses for the Environment Agency for example.


Recently I have talked to sixth formers and the local Civic Society in Hertfordshire about climate change, hosted widening participation events for sixth formers at UCL and been involved with the Science Lates series at the Science Museum.

First Year

Contributions to GEOG

Second Year

Convenor GEOG2008

Third Year



Convenor GEOGG135

PhD research students

  • 2013- present Hannah Robson  (IMPACT WWT) Using palaeolimnology to assess bird populations
  • 2013 – present Kirstie Scott (SeCret, Crime science) Diatoms and forensic applications
  • 2010 – present Alex Lombino (NERC project award) Oxygen isotopes in chironomids
  • 2011 – present Luca Marazzi (self funding) Biodiversity in the Okavango Delta
  • 2008 – present Samanta Skulmowska (self funding) Diatoms and Lake Ontogeny
  • 2005 - present Angela Self NERC/CASE award Chironomids and climate in the Russian arctic
  • 2003 - present Jonathan Tyler NERC/CASE award Diatoms and delta 18O
  • 1999 - 2004 Gina Clarke. The relationship between diatoms and climate in a European mountain lake training set: implications for detecting the Little Ice Age in lake sediments from Central Norway.
  • 1996 - 2000 Patrick Rioual. Reconstruction of palaeoclimatic and palaeolimnological changes during the last interglacial from sedimentary diatom assemblages in the French Massif Central
  • 1994 – 2000 Nadia Solovieva A palaeoecological study of holocene environmental change in a small upland lake from the Kola Peninsula, Russia
  • 1993 -1998 NERC/CASE student Philippa Noon with the British Antarctic Survey. Lake sediments and climatic change in Antarctica

Masters Students

  • 2013 Christian Quintana Carbon cycling in Russia
  • 2012 Laurence Evans  Nitrogen deposition in Greenland
  • 2012 Kate Jenner Carbon trading
  • 2011 Sarah Roberts  Holocene climate in northern Fennoscandia
  • 2011 Catherine Peters Amphibians  in Uganda
  • 2010 Emma Watson Nutrient reconstruction at Loch Ruthwen
  • 2009 Emily Parrott  Chironomid palaeolimnology in northeast European Russia
  • 2009 Emma Khardoun  Missoula flood events
  • 2009 Ambroise Baker Multi-proxy palaeoindicators in shallow eutrophic lakes
  • 2006 Liam Macrae Evidence for global warming at 5 Russian Arctic lakes
  • 2005 Virginia Panizzo Diatom evidence for the impact of the ‘8.2 k event’ in Norway
  • 2004 Claire Twiddle The impact of Iron Age industrial activities on the landscape of the Seille Valley, northeast France
  • 2003 Francis Attwood An assessment of the acidification history of Loch Cor’a’Ghrunnda using diatoms and other proxies
  • 2003 Jonathan Tyler Holocene palaeoproductivity in Sweden
  • 2003 Giovanni Contracello Productivity changes in Lago Nemi, Italy
  • 2002 Gemma Swindle Climate history of Peru from lake sediments
  • 2000 Zoe Hazzell Acid deposition in Massif Central, France
  • 1998 Emily Bradshaw Diatom-based reconstruction of environmental change at the Younger Dryas - Holocene transition, Kråkenes, Norway.
  • 1997 Anja Nimmergut. Late glacial oscillations at Lago Grande di, Monticchio.
  • 1996 Coral Dyson. Antarctic tephrological studies at Midge Lake, Livingstone Island, South Shetland Islands and at Sombre Lake Island, South Orkney
  • 1996 Emma Devoy High resolution diatom - based reconstruction of abrupt environmental changes at Lake Albano, central Italy, during the LGM.


I am a Director and Company Secretary of the Environmental Consultancy ENSIS