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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Emily Smith

Emily Smith


Inca trail.jpg

Emily Smith
Department of Geography
University College London
Pearson Building
Gower Street


Primary: Dr Helen Bennion (UCL)
Secondary: Dr Carl Sayer (UCL)


Case Partner:
The Angling Trust

Current Research

PhD Title: Conduits of Invasive Aquatic Species into the UK: The Angling Route?

Currently, around £1.7 billion yr-1 is spent in the UK attempting to manage and eradicate invasive, non-native species (INNS) (Williams et al., 2010). Recognised as the second greatest cause of biodiversity loss worldwide (Wilcove, 1998), rates of INNS introduction into the UK has accelerated during the 20th century, from one new species every 30 years to currently around one every 5 years (Gallardo and Aldridge, 2014). The identification of at least four new aquatic invasive species in the UK, including the killer shrimp Dikerogammarus villosus, demon shrimp Dikerogammarus haemobaphes, quagga mussel Driessena bugensis and gulf wedge clam Rangia cuneata supports this. Furthermore, there are at least ten other freshwater invasive species in Western Europe with a high risk of introduction into the UK (Gallardo and Aldridge, 2014). Consequently unless effective measures are put in place to reduce the spread of INNS, the environmental and socio-economic impacts of invasive species are anticipated to vastly increase (Gallardo and Aldridge, 2013)

A new European Regulation of Invasive Alien Species came into force on the 1st of January 2015. Stated by Genovesi et al., (2014:1308) as the ‘first large EU piece of legislation on biodiversity in more than 20 years’, this regulation places prevention at the forefront of invasive species management and makes it an obligation for all EU Member States to implement Pathway Action Plans (PAPs) to minimize potential human pathways of INNS introduction. Angling has been identified as one of these potential pathways (Gollasch, 2006; Kelly et al., 2013). However, despite there being around four million recreational anglers in the UK (EA, 2004), there is currently limited evidence to determine the importance of this conduit.

My PhD represents the first attempt to investigate whether angling constitutes a significant pathway for invasive species introduction into the UK from Europe. For my study, I will be particularly focusing on Ponto-Caspian macroinvertebrates and macrophytes and their potential dispersal between angling water bodies on damp fishing equipment.


  1. Assess anglers’ awareness of aquatic invasive species and the Check, Clean, Dry initiative.
  2. Identify the frequency and patterns of movements of British anglers travelling to and from Europe for recreational fishing.
  3. Investigate the direct and indirect impacts of invasive species on angling.
  4. Identify which aquatic invasive species are currently present in popular angling lakes in France and The Netherlands.
  5. Determine the desiccation tolerance of different Ponto-Caspian taxonomic groups on angling equipment and the implications for current biosecurity practices.
  6. Evaluate the implications of these findings for the European Invasive Alien Species Regulation and Code of Conduct for Coarse Anglers.



    Academic Qualifications

    2014- Present: PhD, University College London

    PhD Title: Conduits of Invasive Aquatic Species into the UK: The Angling Route?

    2012-2013: MSc Aquatic Science, University College London

    Grade: Distinction

    MSc Dissertation: The role of active management in conserving pond diversity

    2008-2012, BSc (Hons) Environmental Geography, University College London

    Grade: First

    BSc (Hons) Dissertation: Introduction and dispersal of invasive aquatic macrophytes in "pristine" Gloucestershire

    Work Experience

    2014- Present: Invasive Non-native Species Manager, The Angling Trust

    2014: Water Lead Adviser, Natural England

    2013-14: Sustainable Development Adviser, Natural England

    2010-11: Wetland Conservation Placement Student, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)

    Grants and awards

    2013 - ECRC Trust fund


    Qualification: Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHE)


    2013- Present: Teaching Assistant, Department of Geography

    GEOG 1002 Environmental Systems and Processes

    GEOG 2001 Practice in Geography

    GEOG 2002 Methods in Physical Geography

    GEOG 2007 Ecological Patterns and Processes

    GEOG 3057 Global Environmental Change

    2012: University College London, First Year Geography Mentor


    Impact and Other Research:

    The findings of my project can provide invaluable information to feed into the creation of an Angling Pathway Action Plan (PAP) for the UK, and the European Code of Conduct on Recreational Fishing and Invasive Alien Species. Although my project focuses on the movement of INNS into the UK, my findings will also have wider applicability to other EU countries where fishing constitutes a major recreational activity.

    Conferences and Workshops:

    2016 - Poster session at Freshwater Invasive Networking for Strategy (FINS), Zagreb Croatia

    2016 - Attended European Anglers Alliance Freshwater Meeting, London

    2016 – Oral presentation and workshop at the EA Fisheries, Biodiversity and Geomorphology Conference, Birmingham.

    Title: ‘Influencing the biosecurity behaviour of anglers’

    2015 – Attended Bern Convention’s 11th Meeting of Group of Experts on Invasive Alien Species, Slovenia

    2013 – Oral presentation at 45th Robson Meeting, Reading

    Title: The role of active management in conserving pond diversity

    2012: Oral presentation at the 44th Robson Meeting, Cambridge

    Title: Introduction and dispersal of invasive aquatic macrophytes in "pristine" Gloucestershire


    I sit on the following groups:

    • England Working Group on Invasive Non-native Species
    • GB Non-native Species Media and Communications Working Group
    • Wildlife and Countryside LINK Invasive Non-Native Species Group
    • Wildlife and Countryside LINK Blueprint Group