Miss Amy Walsh

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Personal profile

PhD student funded by the London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership and supervised by Dr Alice Milner (RHUL), Dr Celia Martin-Puertas (RHUL) and Professor Helen Bennion (UCL). Interests in tephrochronology, palynology and palaeolimnology. 

PhD title: Understanding lake ecosystem responses to natural and human stressors through the Holocene: a palaeolimnological approach.

Understanding how lake ecosystems respond to stressors is a priority research area in ecology. Many ecological processes within lake systems occur on longer timescales than that typically addressed in contemporary ecological studies. A long-term perspective using palaeolimnological approaches therefore provides the opportunity to adequately validate ecosystem response to both climatic and anthropogenic drivers. Palaeolimnological approaches are increasingly sought within contemporary ecological studies and play a key role in addressing research questions relevant to ecology, policy and management decisions related to the resilience and recovery of ecosystems after disturbance.

Multi-proxy approaches are critical to establish a more comprehensive view of interactions between catchment processes and lake responses over the Holocene. However, current assessments of existing lake sediment records in Britain are compounded by the lack of chronological control, coarse stratigraphic resolution and limited spatial distribution of sites.

This project will address this knowledge gap in Britain through the study of the annually-laminated lake record of Diss Mere, Norfolk. Working with my supervisors, we have developed the first Holocene varve Chronology for the UK, based on the integration of varve counting, radiocarbon dating and tephrostratigraphy. My project will now focus on the generation of high-resolution palynological, charcoal and diatom data from Diss Mere. This multi-proxy investigation into the interactions between aquatic functioning and vegetation in the catchment, combined with chronological infromation, provides the opportunity to establish the timing, magnitude and direction of ecological response associated with environmental stressors in lake systems.

Educational background

PhD, Department of Geography (Present)- Royal Holloway University of London

Thesis: ‘Understanding lake ecosystem responses to natural and human stressors through the Holocene: a palaeolimnological approach.’

MSc, Quaternary Science (2016-2017)- Royal Holloway University of London

Dissertation: ‘Characterising the vegetation and sediments of the Early Holocene within the annually-laminated record of Diss Mere, East Anglia’.

BSc, Geography (2013-2016)- Royal Holloway University of London

Dissertation: ‘Developing a strategy to approach the scientific investigation of Pleistocene deposits along the High Speed Rail Two (HS2) route through Buckinghamshire.’

Other work

Postgraduate Research Assistant in Tephrochronology  (Sept 2017-Aug 2018)-Royal Holloway University of London

This full-time role involved working on tephra from archaeological and environmental sites in Europe, Armenia and the Levant as part of Leverhulme PAGES (Pleistocene Archaeology, Geochronology and Environment of the Southern Caucasus) and Royal Society funded projects. 

Research interests

  • Palaeolimnology
  • Palynology
  • Varved sediments
  • Tephrochronology

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