2001-present: Research Entomologist, Band 3, The Natural History Museum.
1995-2001: Senior Scientific Officer (Band 4), Natural History Museum
1989-1995: Higher Scientific Officer, Natural History Museum
1985-1989: Scientific Officer, Natural History Museum
1979-1985: Assistant Scientific Officer, Natural History Museum
1977 MSc Public Health Engineering, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
1976 BSc Zoology, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Honorary Reader, Department of Geography, University College London.
Associate Editor, Journal of Paleolimnology
University of Surrey, UK
University of Helsinki, Finland
University of Ghent, Belgium
University of Loughborough, UK
University of Southampton, UK
Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Brunel University, UK
University of Birmingham, UK
1984 - 2009: British Dragonfly Society. Board of Trustees1984-1992, 2005-2009; Editor of Journal of the British Dragonfly Society 1984-1992; Member of Conservation Committee 1985-1998; 2011-present.
1984 -1995: London Natural History Society, Odonata Recorder
1987 - 1998: Joint Committee for the Conservation of British Invertebrates. Member of Committee 1987-1998; Chairman of Executive Committee 1991- 1998.
1987-1994: Wildlife & Countryside Link. Member of Committee 1987-1994; Member of Administrative Committee 1990-1993, Chair of Administration Committee 1993.
1992 - 1995: Ecological Working Party. Member of Committee
1989- 1998: Peatlands Campaign. British Dragonfly Society Representative
1992 - 1998: Pond Conservation Group. Member of Committee
2005-present. Riverfly Partnership. Member of Steering Group and Executive committee
Royal Entomological Society
Quaternary Research Association
British Ecological Society
British Dragonfly Society
Head capsule of the chironomid midge larva Hetertrissocladius grimshawi, an indicator of cold summer temperatures
The central theme of my interests lies in the systematics and ecology of freshwater insects, the use of freshwater insects as environmental indicators and public engagement in natural history.
Chironomid midges are powerful indicators of past climate change. Their aquatic larvae are numerous, species-rich and well-preserved in lake sediments. Many species are stenothermic and, because of the dispersal abilities of the winged adults, they respond rapidly to environmental change. My research over the last 20 years has focussed on using chironomid assemblages from lake sediment samples to reconstruct quantitatively past summer air temperatures. Working with Prof. John Birks at Bergen University, Norway, I have developed a chironomid-based mean July air temperature inference model, which is widely used by the palaeoclimate community to reconstruct climate change from the last ice age to the present day throughout northwest Europe. In addition, my research group has been developing similar chironomid-based temperature inference models in Patagonia and arctic Russia and we are currently working on a NERC-funded project in collaboration with Dr Viv Jones (UCL) to investigate Holocene climate change in Kamchatka. Recently I have established collaborative links with Prof. Fahu Chen, Lanzhou University, and we are developing models using chironomids to reconstruct past changes in salinity and temperature in western China. In a related project NERC-funded PhD student, Phil Sanders, is investigating the subsdidy to the terrestrial ecosystem provided by mass emergence of chironomids from the hypersaline Laske Bogoria, Kenya. A down core study, to investigate how this subsidy has changed through time shows changes in chironomid diversity and abundance with past salinty change
The smelter and a settling pool at Karabash, southern Urals, Russia
Chironomids are useful indicators environmental change including trophic change, acidification and heavy metal contamination of freshwaters. Some of my recent work has included the development of a chironomid-based total phosphrous inference model which has been used to quantify trophic change in English lowland lakes. Chironomids are also being used by Dr Jorge Salgado to investigate the links between recent trophic change and connectivity in structuring lake communities in the Loch Erne area of Northern Ireland.
In two recent projects involving my research group, chironomids and other freshwater insects were used to investigate the impact of copper smelting the southern Urals, Russia, and the ecological impact of heavy metal mining on streams in northern Sweden. Other investigations have included using chironomids to assess the impact of acid rain and subsequent liming on lakes in Scotland.
Anglers being trained in biomonitoring techniques
I am interested in public engagement in science projects and have developed several projects involving large-scale public involvement in monitoring British plants and invertebrates. These projects have included: a) ElmMap in which members of the Rambler’s Association mapped the distribution of mature elm trees, which may have been immune to Dutch Elm disease, and estimated their age by hugging the tree to determine trunk diameter; b) the Riverfly Partnership
and Anglers’ Monitoring Initiative in which fly-fishers have been trained to undertake biomonitoring of rivers using freshwater invertebrates to determine water quality; c) a survey of national earthworms through the OPAL project. All these projects have involved the development of new, easy to use identification guides and survey methods suitable for non-specialists. Similar guides to promote engagement of new public audiences have been developed through our Darwin Initiative project in Nahuel Huapi National Park, northern Patagonia.
The small red-eyed damselfly Erythromma viridulum has recently colonised England in response to climate warming
I have been a dragonfly enthusiast for most of my life and have worked on the taxonomy and ecology of dragonfly faunas in Central America, western and southern Africa, western Europe and the UK. I have published a field guide to the British dragonflies and, with Philip Corbet, a New Naturalist volume on British dragonflies. I am currently interested in the recent changes in the distribution of British dragonflies which appear to be in response to climate change. Other freshwater invertebrates in Britain also appear to have undergone marked changes in abundance and distribution in recent years and in a project funded by John Spedan Lewis Foundation Murray Thompson is investigating the impact and effectiveness of river management undertaken by the fly-fishing community.
As a separate strand I have maintained an interest in the systematics of the genus Chrysoperla. I have been working in collaboration with Prof. Charles Henry, Connecticut University, USA, who has characterised the low frequency, substrate-borne courtship songs of many species of Chrysoperla, a genus which is widely used as a predator in bio-control programmes. After segregating populations on the basis of their courtship songs, I have investigated the morphological characteristics of adults which in many cases are diagnostic of the species. Formerly C. carnea s. lat. was thought to be the only species in the genus to occur in Western Europe. However, we have now characterised five species in Western Europe. Morphological and song analyses of populations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia are currently on-going and we expect to discover more cryptic species in the near future.
Murray Thompson (UCL with Dr C. Sayer and Queen Mary University Dr G. Woodward) Impact of river management on riverfly life – a threatened link in the food chain?
Philip Sanders (Queen Mary with Dr Jonathan Grey). Linkage between saline lakes and their catchments under climate change.
Ginny Benardout (Queen Mary with Dr David Horne) Quantifying Quaternary climate change: testing micropalaeontological proxy methods for palaeotemperature estimation.
Alex Lombino (UCL with Dr Viv Jones) Understanding the systematics of the oxygen isotope signal in chironomids; application to lake sediments from Kamchatka.
Frazer Bird (Open University with Dr Will Gosling) Quantifying Quaternary climate change in the tropical Andes using non-biting midges (chironomids)
Barbara Milne (Edge Hill University with Dr A. Bedford). Holocene palaeoclimate reconstruction using chironomid analysis.
Gaute Velle (University of Bergen with Dr E. Willassen). Quantitative reconstruction of Holocene temperatures in S. Norway from chironomid subfossils.
Sarah Gilchrist (University of Edinburgh with Dr S. Metcalfe). Response of chironomid midges to late-glacial and Holocene climate change in Patagonia.
Marjut Nyman (University of Helsinki with Prof. A. Korhola). Distribution of non-biting midges (Diptera, Chironomidae) in subarctic lakes of Finnish Lapland – applications in lake classification and paleolimnology.
Jenny Watson (Queen’s University Belfast with Dr N. Whitehouse). Quantifying climate change in northern Europe during the last glacial-interglacial change: testing the hypotheses of synchronous climate change.
Jianhui Chen (Lanzhou University with Prof. F. Chen). Holocene Climatic Variability in Arid and Semi-arid Area of Western China. National Natural Science Foundation of China
Angela Self (University College London with Dr V. Jones) Chironomid-inferred temperature reconstructions for the late Holocene in arctic Russia.
Lizzy Jeffers (Oxford University with Prof. K. Willis). Nitrogen cycling and vegetation dynamics at a climatic threshold in north-western Europe.
Wing Wai Sung (Loughborough University with Prof. N. Anderson). Lake-climate interactions: hydrological forcing and ecological response.
Joseph Williams (Open University with Dr Will Gosling). Human-climate impacts on Polylepis woodlands in the Andes
Jorge Salgado (NHM with Prof. B. Okamura and University College London with Dr C. Sayer). Historical metapopulation ecology
Dr Angela Self Influence of global teleconnections on Holocene climate in Kamchatka (NERC-funded)
2010-2013. Principal Investigator. Influence of global teleconnections on Holocene climate in Kamchatka. NERC standard grant.
2007–2011. Co-Investigator. ARCTREC (Arctic Records of Climate - dynamics, feedbacks, and processes) PI: S. Dahl (Bergen University). Norwegian Research Council.
2006–2009. Principal Investigator. Capacity building for biodiversity studies of freshwater insects in Argentina. Darwin Initiative (Defra).
2007-2008. Principal Investigator. Developing a user-friendly field guide to the common species of British earthworms. Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
2006-2007. Principal Investigator. Wild Worms – a mass participation survey of UK earthworms. Proof of concept pilot study. Strategic Innovation Fund, Natural History Museum.
2004 –2007. Co-Investigator. UK Biodiversity Coordinators (invertebrates and cryptogams). PI: J. Vogel Natural History Museum. Natural England.
2003–2006. Co-Investigator. Quantification of terrestrial climate records – combination of biological and chemical proxies. PI: J. Marshall (Liverpool University) NERC standard grant
2002–2004. Principal Investigator. Development of quantitative biomonitoring methodologies for surface waters in areas of base metal mining and minerals processing in Sweden. European Commission (Georange).
2002–2004. Principal Investigator. Climate dynamics in Scotland during the Younger Dryas: inferring changes in summer temperature and annual precipitation. NERC small grant
2000-2004. Co-I. Norwegian palaeoenvironments and climates (NORPEC) as reconstructed from lake sediments. Research Council of Norway
1999-2002. Co-I. Sustainable management of protected areas in Region XI, Chile. EU - DG1b
1999-2001. Co-PI. The use of fossil chironomids to reconstruct climatic changes during postglacial times in Patagonia. National Research Council of Argentina
1999-2002. Co-I. Onchocerciasis control on the island of Bioko (Republic of Equatorial Guinea) by vector elimination. World Health Organisation
1998-1999. Co-PI. Quantitative analysis of Holocene climate history in the Pyrenees using chironomid midge assemblages in lake sediments: improving the tool. EU Marie Curie Research Training Grant
1998-2001. Partner. Climate history as recorded by ecologically sensitive arctic and alpine lakes in Europe during the last 10,000 years: a multi-proxy approach. (CHILL-10,000). EU (Framework IV)
1996-1999. Partner. Measuring and modelling the dynamic response of remote mountain lake ecosystems to environmental change (MOLAR). EU (Framework IV)
1995-1998. Co-I. Lake sediment records of recent atmospheric pollution on lakes in Spitsbergen. Norges forskningsråd (Norway)
1992-1995. Co-PI. Responses of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems to rapid climatic changes: the last 1000 years and the end of the Late-glacial. NSF (Swiss)
1993-1996. Co-I. Hidden taxonomic diversity in European Chrysoperla green lacewings. NSF (USA)
1993-1996. Consortium member. Responses of terrestrial ecosystems to variations in climate, CO2 and surface chemistry, 14-8 ka BP. NERC
1992-1995. Co.PI. Proxy records of climate change in the UK over the last two millennia. NERC