What are the environmental and biological factors conditioning current and historic changes in the aquatic plant communities of upland waterbodies in the United Kingdom?

Profile Display Name:

Ewan Shilland

E-mail Address:


Start Year

2018 (Cohort 5)

Research interests:
Hobbies and interests:
PhD Project
PhD Title

What are the environmental and biological factors conditioning current and historic changes in the aquatic plant communities of upland waterbodies in the United Kingdom?

Research Theme

Environmental Pollution

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution


CASE Partner


CASE Supervisor

Iain Sime

Additional supervisor(s)

Anne Jungblut (Natural History Museum),


Freshwater ecosystems and the biodiversity that they contain are some of the most threatened on the planet. The UK Upland (formerly Acid) Waters Monitoring Network was established in 1988 by the UK Government to monitor the effects of emission control legislation on the water chemistry and biodiversity of 22 lakes and streams across the UK. Aquatic plants are a key component of freshwater biodiversity, and detailed records spanning 30 years have been collected. To date, however, no systematic analysis of the aquatic plant data has been performed.

This novel project aims to (i) investigate the drivers of changes in aquatic plant diversity in upland freshwaters, and (ii) determine how these changes impact aquatic ecosystem functioning. Drivers to be considered include pollutants (e.g. atmospheric deposition of sulphur and nitrogen), climate-related changes in maximum temperatures, hydrology, flow and storminess, hydromorphology and additionally the changing light climate/ice cover environment in lakes.

The third aim (iii) is to examine the preservation and scientific potential of plant eDNA in lake sediments for reconstructing past aquatic plant assemblages. Plant eDNA and where possible macrofossil and pollen data from sediment cores will be compared with three- decades of historic biomonitoring archives of plant abundance and distribution records.

Policy Impact
Background Reading
Grants and awards
  • Quaternary Research Association New Research Workers Award – Quaternary Research Association
  • Bill Mead Travel Fund – Bill Mead Travel Fund
  • Shilland, E.M. (2022) Drivers Of Long-Term Aquatic Plant Change in Upland Lakes and Streams in the UK: a DNA Approach
  • Monteith, D. T., Shilland, E. M., Norris, D. A., Keenan, P., Jones, J. I., Millidine, K., Murphy, J., Pretty, J., Proudlock, P., Malcolm, I. A. (2022) UK Upland Waters Monitoring Network (UKUWMN) Progress Report to Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales. April 2021 – March 2022. Llyn Llagi, Llyn Cwm Mynach, Afon Hafren and Afon Gwy: Annual Summary
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  • Monteith, Donald T. Henrys, Peter A. Hruška, Jakub de Wit, Heleen A. Krám, Pavel Moldan, Filip Posch, Maximilian Räike, Antti Stoddard, John L. Shilland, Ewan M. Pereira, M. Gloria Evans, Chris D. (2023) Long-term rise in riverine dissolved organic carbon concentration is predicted by electrolyte solubility theory Science Advances DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.ade3491
  • Velle, Gaute; Bodin, Christian Lucien; Arle, Jens; Austnes, Kari; Boggero, Angela; Bojkova, Jindriska; Fornaroli, Riccardo; Fölster, Jens; Goedkoop, Willem; Jones, Iwan; Juggins, Steve; Lau, Danny C.P.; Monteith, Don; Murphy, John; Musazzi, Simona; Shilland, Ewan; Steingruber, Sandra; Wiklund, Magda-Lena; de Wit, Heleen (2023) Responses of benthic invertebrates to chemical recovery from acidification
  • Monteith, D. T. Norris, D. Murphy, J. Jones, J. I. Juggins, S. Shilland, E. M. Battarbee, R. W. Henderson, G. Pretty, J. Tomlinson, S. Thacker, S. Salisbury, E. Grant, H. Evans, C. D. (2022) UK Upland Waters Monitoring Network data interpretation 1988-2019
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Daily temperature data from the UK Upland Water Monitoring Network (UKUWMN) standing waters monitoring programme Temperature. Contributors: Shilland E.M., Proudlock P., Shilland J.D., Monteith D.T. & Millidine K.UK Upland Water Monitoring Network (UKUWMN) Rivers Summary Data Temperature. Contributors: Shilland, E.M., Proudlock, P., Shilland, J.D., Monteith, D.T., Millidine, K., Jackson, F.L. Malcolm, I.A.

Conferences and Workshops
  • Natural History Museum, London. PhD Student Conference. (March 2020). Poster: Aquatic Macrophyte Change in the UK Upland Waters Monitoring Network.
  • Engaging Sustainability. NERC Joint DTP Conference. (September 2020). Poster: What has driven long-term aquatic plant change in upland lakes and streams? Do plant eDNA and sediment DNA match known assemblages and historical change?.
  • Natural History Museum Student Conference (June 2021). Talk
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