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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Lilian Unger

Lilian Unger

Contact

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Email: lilian.unger.16@ucl.ac.uk

Address: UCL Department of Geography, University College London, Gower Street London WC1E 6BT.

Part of the Environmental Change Research Centre (ECRC): https://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/research/research-centres/environmental-change-research-centre

Project Blog: https://madagascarlakesphd.wordpress.com/

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lilian_Unger

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lilian-unger-317008130/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lilyunger

Supervision and Funding: a NERC CASE funded PhD based at UCL, with primary and secondary supervision from Professor Viv Jones and Dr Jan Axmacher respectively. Additional external supervision is provided by Dr Hannah Robson, from the CASE partner the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek from Newcastle University.

 

 

 

 

Research

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Title: Using Palaeolimnology to inform freshwater restoration in Madagascar

PhD project: Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot with high levels of endemism, however, many of its species are now threatened. Madagascar’s wetlands specifically have become heavily degraded as a result of stressors such as fertiliser and pesticide run-off, siltation and the introduction of invasive species. This project aims to use palaeolimnology to determine the effect of these different stressors as well as establishing pre-disturbance reference conditions for Madagascar’s freshwater systems. Specifically, this project will take sediment cores from lakes related to the Madagascar Pochard, the world’s rarest duck. Thought to be extinct, in 2006 a small population was rediscovered in an isolated volcanic crater lake called Matsaborimena in the North-West. Since, successful captive breeding efforts by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust see individuals ready to be released at a new, relatively nearby site, called Lake Sofia. This lake was identified as the most suitable habitat for the Madagascar Pochard currently in Madagascar, although, restoration work is still needed to ensure its survival there.

Methodology: Sediment cores will be taken from Lake Matsaborimena, Sofia and Aloatra, where the Pochard used to live in greater numbers. Diatom, macrofossil and geochemical analyses will be used to determine the environmental change and extent of degradation in each of these lakes over the last few hundred years.

Impact: The project will help inform the restoration work being done at Lake Sofia, where in late 2018 the Madagascar Pochard was reintroduced. It will also provide information about the conservation requirements of Lake Matsaborimena and Aloatra. Inferences from these lake records can also be used to inform the restoration and conservation of other lakes and their catchments across Madagascar. Consequently, this project has great potential to inform environmental policy in Madagascar, especially in the absence of long-term monitoring data for guidance. It will also provide an important contribution to the so far limited use of palaeolimnology outside of temperate environments.

Supervision and Funding: a NERC CASE funded PhD based at UCL, with primary and secondary supervision from Professor Viv Jones and Dr Jan Axmacher respectively. Additional external supervision is provided by Dr Hannah Robson, from the CASE partner the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek from Newcastle University.

Past projects:

  • Using macrofossils to reconstruct vegetation change over 90,000 years from a sediment core taken from Welsby Lagoon, North Stradbroke Island, Australia (MSc Dissertation)
  • Testing the effect of initial inorganic phosphorus availability on the tolerance of Scenedesmus sp., a green algae, to zinc toxicity in the context of evaluating the use of this species in bioremediation (BSc Dissertation).

Publications

Paper:  Cadd, H.R., Tibby, J., Barr, C., Tyler, J., Unger, L., Leng, M.J., Marshall, J.C., McGregor, G., Lewis, R., Arnold, L.J., Lewis, T. and Baldock, J., (2018). Development of a southern hemisphere subtropical wetland (Welsby Lagoon, south-east Queensland, Australia) through the last glacial cycle. Quaternary Science Reviews, 202, 53-65.

Biography

Education:

  • MSc Aquatic Science, University College London
  • BSc Biology, University of Bristol