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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Richard Walton

Richard Walton

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Pond Restoration Research Group

Environmental Change Research Centre

Department of Geography
University College London
Pearson Building
Gower Street
London
WC1E 6BT

Email: richard.walton.15@ucl.ac.uk

 

Supervisors:   
Dr. Carl Sayer
Dr. Jan Axmacher
Prof. Helen Bennion

 

Professional Affiliations:

British Ecological Society (BES)

Verrall Association of Entomologists

 

My PhD Research

PhD Title: “The pond pollinator pantry”: Assessing how pond management influences pollinators in the UK farmland landscape

Recent decades have seen major declines in invertebrate populations across agricultural landscapes, especially amongst pollinating insects. Concurrently, farmland ponds have faced ecological degradation through neglect and ecological succession leading to the widespread development of heavily overgrown and species-poor systems. Recent research has shown ponds to be highly beneficial to pollination, but the mechanisms that connect ponds to pollinating invertebrate species are poorly understood. Similarly, little is known on how the restoration and subsequent management of formerly overgrown farmland ponds impacts upon pollinating insect communities, and whether current pond restoration techniques, involving major woody vegetation removal, mimic what is believed to have occurred at farmland ponds in the past.

In my thesis, I examine the drivers of pollinator utilisation of farmland pond systems based on the presence of woody vegetation management, as well as examining historical changes to ponds ecosystems as a means to informing on past pond-plant-pollinator environments and the influence of historic management practices relative to contemporary UK pond restoration approaches. First, I studied the effects of occasional tree and shrub management and pond restoration on flowering plant communities. Influences of pond management on diurnal and nocturnal pollinator richness and abundance were then explored with the general conclusion that such efforts were largely beneficial. Indeed, enhanced flowering plant and pollinator communities also resulted in increased complexity in terms of plant-pollinator interactions. Finally, subfossil analysis of pond sediment cores indicated that current woody vegetation management has historical precedents in the past, with restored pond macrophyte communities having close similarities with subfossil assemblages. With farmland ponds scattered widely across UK farmland landscapes, their conservation represents a massive, untouched resource in the preservation of historical wetland plant and pollinating insect communities.

Biography

Academic Qualifications-

2015-2019   University College London

PhD Conservation Biology/Palaeoecology

 

2012-2013       University of Liverpool

MSc Environmental Science Distinction

MSc Dissertation:  Three week monitoring of methane activity at two closed landfills in the UK

 

2005-2007       Brigham Young University (USA)

BSc Plant Biology

 

Grants & Awards

The Clan Trust Student Bursary, 2016

The Mead Fund – Travel & Cross-Institutional Study Bursary, 2016 & 2017

Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service, Norfolk County Council, Research Materials Bursary, 2016

 

Work Experience

2015, New York City Department of Environmental Protection

City Research Scientist 1

 

2014, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, Freshkills Park

Environmental Monitoring & Education Intern

 

Committee Participation

2016-18 Academic Year, Organiser, Physical Geography Seminar Series, UCL

2016-19 Academic Year, Graduate Student Representative, Geography Lab Committee, UCL

2019-present, Organising Committee Member for 9th European Pond Conservation Network Conference

Teaching Experience

Teaching Experience

Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Geography 2016-present

GEOG1005, Environmental Change

GEOG0017, Physical Geography Field Research

GEOG0038, Managing Freshwaters in the 21st Century

GEOG2007, Ecological Patterns & Processes

GEOG2008, Reconstructing Past Environments

GEOG2001, The Practice of Geography

GEOGG070, Aquatic Systems: Structure & Functioning

GEOGG104, Scientific Basis for Freshwater and Coastal Conservation

GEOGG135, Biological Indicators of Environmental Change

Lectures

GEOG0038 - Freshwater Biodiversity; Ecosystem Services; Eutrophication; Water Framework Directive

GEOG070 - Aquatic-Terrestrial Linkages

UCL Conservation Society - Insect Insights II "British Lepidoptera", The effects of pond restoration on bee richness

London Freshwater Group Semi-annual meeting Nov. 2018 - The Pond Pollinator Pantry

Physical Geography Lunchtime Seminar Series - Understanding the impacts of scrub management on plant-pollinator relationships in a farmland pond ecosystem

Conference Participation

May 2-4, 2017: 7th European Pond Conservation Network Conference, University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal

  • Presented a poster on initial results of my fieldwork on pollinator communities at ponds. My poster won the "Best Poster Presentation"prize.

Dec.  11-14, 2016: Ecology Across Borders, British Ecology Society Joint Annual Meeting, Ghent, Belgium

  • Oral presentation on the effects of pond management and restoration on pollinating insect communities.

June 18-21, 2018: IPA-IALA 2019 Joint Meeting, University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

  • Oral presentation on using macrofossils to reconstruct the palaeoecological history of farmland ponds.

June 2-7, 2019: Europeas Societas Lepidopterologica Biennial Meeting, University of Molise, Italy

  • Oral presentation on moth pollen transportation at farmland ponds.