any search words all search words

Dr Emma Wells

Area of Expertise: Intertidal Algal Ecologist

Address: 1 North Lynn Business Village, Bergen Way, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 2JG

Tel. No: 07817 533661


Date of Birth: 6th Nov 1975


Qualifications and Certifications

• Ph.D. in Marine Biology specialising in intertidal algal communities, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

• B.Sc in Applied Marine Biology, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

• Associate member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, Bath University – Nov. 2003

• PRIMER (Statistical analysis package) – Feb. 2002

• SURFER 8 course, contouring, mapping and terrain modelling – June 2004

• Duke of Edinburgh Award for BSAC (Project Utila) – 1999

• PADI Open Water and BSAC Sports diver certificates

• RYA level II and advanced level power boating – Dec. 2001

• Sea Survival Skills (RYA approved) - 2003

• Marine VHF radio license – 2002

• Foundation certificate in Health and Safety – 2003

Key Experience

I have over 8 years experience in the field of algal taxonomy and community assessment gained as part of my PhD, during my employment at the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) and more recently as a marine consultant. This is a skill that is currently causing concern owing to its near loss in British Universities.

I have been involved in a number of intertidal field surveys ranging from routine monitoring, long term algal surveys through to baseline studies which have assisted in the investigation of anthropogenic and natural impacts on intertidal communities. These studies have been mainly driven by environmental quality and conservation issues through current environmental legislation.

My experience of intertidal assessment is extended to the design and development of monitoring programmes utilizing innovative means of surveying algal communities assisting those with limited knowledge in the field. This has included the interpretation of data to enable classification of water bodies and ensure compliance under the Nitrates Directive, Urban Waste Water Directive and OSPAR Common Assessment Criteria.

Consultancy and Work Experience

Aug 2004 to present: Marine Consultant, Wells Marine Surveys.

Seal Sands, Tees Estuary, Investigation (IECS) – An assessment of the species of macroalgae present on Seal Sands. A brief desk study on the conditions required for mat formation, establishing the relative role of nutrients in promoting algal growth versus elevation, sediment type and light etc and physical conditions necessary to promote the growth of Enteromorpha spp.

Water resource standards for freshwater flows to transitional water bodies (ENTEC) – Providing advice on the ecological sensitivities of marine benthic macroalgae to freshwater flows in the UK with development of a typology, considering the impact of low freshwater flows, the regulation of these flows and the sensitivity of the ecological elements within different transitional water body types.

Intertidal Macroalgae Surveys (EA) – Production of comprehensive algal species lists and subsequent interpretation for the Environment Agency under the guidelines of the WFD for the assessment of water bodies and their ecological quality status.

Granton Shore Baseline Survey (SERG:ES - Sediment Ecology Research Group: Environmental Services) – Assessment of the potential for remedial re-colonisation of the Granton foreshore achieved through the baseline survey of four sites impacted by the four primary trickle streams together with a baseline survey of two nearby reference stations.

METRIC Project (Marine Institute, RoI) – Providing guidance to subcontractors involved in the metric project, advice and expertise on the classification tools that have been developed by the UK-Ire Marine Plant Task Team (MPTT) and assisting with the analysis of macroalgae data to test the tool and ensuring applicability to Irish sites with refinement of the tool where necessary.

UK Intercalibration Field Surveys (EA, CEFAS) – Numerous intertidal algal surveys conducted around the UK as part of a data collection exercise under the Marine Plants Task Team in order to fulfill the requirement of the intercalibration process of the WFD.

Database Management (various regulatory bodies) – The continued development of a marine benthic algal database for the UK and RoI, including the sourcing and collation of all published and grey literature inputting full species lists and associated information driven by the WFD.

Intercalibration Exercise (EA) – Production of a WFD intercalibration report for the EA providing an auditable record of sample collection and data analysis for all biological data including fish, benthic invertebrates and marine plants. This involved presenting information on the practical field methods employed and general information which would inform or assist in the development of WFD classification methods and as a final step an analysis of the data from each water body to show provisional classification status.

Intertidal Algal Identification Guide (various regulatory bodies) – Production of an algal identification guide and sampling procedure to assist with the increasing demand for macroalgae monitoring under the WFD. This includes visual aids of in-situ, macroscopic and microscopic images along with comprehensible and descriptive keys. This guide has been published through the Environment Agency.

Algal identification training courses (ECSA and Heriot-Watt University) – Providing expertise as a tutor on algal taxonomy workshops run by the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association demonstrating both field and laboratory techniques.

Quality Assurance (NMBAQC) – Development of a macroalgae quality assurance scheme under the National Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control (NMBAQC) scheme. This has included the production of a trial macroalgae ring test distributed to existing members of the NMBACQ and additional laboratories involved in the identification of intertidal macroalgae species.

Policy and Legislation (EA, CEFAS) – A key member of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) Marine Plants Task Team for over 5 years with continual involvement in the development of various plant classification tools to be used as a means of monitoring for ecological quality status. Representing the UK at several national and international meetings including several North East Atlantic - Geographical Intercalibration Group (NEA GIG) meetings based throughout Europe, as well as chairing the macroalgae component. This work includes the development of European intercalibration monitoring protocols for plant tools considered for the intercalibration process and establishing a level of consistency and comparability for all biological quality elements between member states.

Nov 2001 to Aug 2004: Higher Scientific Officer (Marine Biologist), Environment and Heritage Service (Northern Ireland).

Providing expertise and advice in the field of Phycology and general water quality issues to internal personnel and external bodies. This included field monitoring and laboratory services, with particular reference to the characterisation of Northern Irelands’ transitional and coastal waters, as required by local and national legislation. Representing EHS, along side other government agencies, on national committees/working groups providing guidance and advice on the development of classification tools required for the current EU WFD and providing expert advice on EHS policy.

Managing operations of the Phycology Unit – staff and team supervision, training and motivation, the establishment of a macroalgal monitoring programme as directed by eutrophication concerns and general water quality issues, including the development of innovative monitoring techniques ensuring efficient transfer and interpretation of algal and associated data and providing written interpretive reports as required. Resource management including project and general budget maintenance.

Sept 1998 - Nov 2001: Field and Laboratory Demonstrator - Heriot-Watt University

Assisting and demonstrating field and laboratory techniques to undergraduate students in the field of marine biology and water chemistry. Responsibility for the health and safety of a number of students whilst in potentially hazardous environments.

Aug 1998 - Sept 1998: Diver & Marine Biologist - ‘Project Utila’, Honduras.

Voluntary member of a research dive expedition on the coral reefs of the Bay Islands, Honduras, contributing to the development of an education pack as part of an ongoing monitoring program aimed at the conservation of the local reefs.


Nov 1998 - Nov 2002 PhD in Marine Biology – Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

‘Seaweed Species Biodiversity on Rocky Intertidal Seashores in the British Isles’.

General overview

A desk and field base study on the levels of species richness to be expected on various shores, how these values change over various time scales, the effects of natural and anthropogenic impacts and alternative means of representing species richness to facilitate field sampling. The product of this investigation was applicable to conservation agencies, regulatory bodies dealing with coastal environmental quality and to environmental consultants by enabling identification of shores worthy of conservation due to high species richness as well as those affected by adverse human influence. Personal outcomes

    • Exceptionally good knowledge of the taxonomy and identification of British seaweed species. • Experience in design and execution of field surveys in ecology. • Experience of interpretation of field data from very disparate sources. • Training in use of computer aided techniques in ecological data analysis.

Oct 1994 - July 1998 B.Sc (Hons) in Applied Marine Biology – Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

The degree covered various elements of the marine environment focusing on their biological, technological, and economic importance. Key aspects of pollution control, marine environmental management and monitoring were further focuses of the course.

A research dissertation was undertaken as part of my honours year investigating the environmental factors affecting the community structure of transitional waters.


E. Wells and M. Wilkinson, 2003. Intertidal seaweed biodiversity of Orkney. Coastal Zone Topics. 5, 25-30

E. Wells and M. Wilkinson, 2002. Intertidal seaweed biodiversity in relation to environmental factors – a case study from Northern Ireland. Marine Biodiversity in Ireland and Adjacent Waters, Ulster Museum, Belfast.

Wells, E., 2002b. Seaweed Species Biodiversity on Rocky Intertidal Seashores in the British Isles. Ph.D. Thesis, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

E. Wells, P. Wood, M. Wilkinson and C. Scanlan, 2007. The use of macroalgal species richness and composition on intertidal rocky seashores in the assessment of ecologcial quality under the European Water Framework Directive. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 55, 151 – 161.

Scanlan, C., Foden, J., Wells, E. and Best, M.A., 2007. The monitoring of opportunistic macroalgal blooms for the Water Framework Directive. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 55, 162 – 171.

M. Wilkinson, P. Wood, E. Wells and C. Scanlan, 2007. Using attached macroalgae to assess ecological status of British estuaries for the European Water Framework Directive. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 55, 136 – 150

E. Wells, 2006. Report on the sampling and analysis for WFD classification using the reduced and full species list rocky shore macroalgal tool. Technical report for the Environment Agency, November 2006.

E. Wells, 2007. Water Framework Directive – coastal water rocky shore monitoring: Field guide to British seaweeds. Environment Agency, Bristol.

Refereed short communications and abstracts

M. Wilkinson, E. Wells and J. Snelgrove, 1999. The occurrence of brackish-water algae in inland waters of the Cheshire salt field. Bulletin of the estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association. 31, 14.

M. Wilkinson, E. Slater, J. Snelgrove and E. Wells, 1999. Attached intertidal algae in estuaries and man-made lakes of Lancashire and the Wirral Peninsula. Bulletin of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association. 31, 14-15.

E. Wells and M. Wilkinson, 2000. Biodiversity of intertidal seaweeds I. Species richness in relation to environmental parameters in Northern Ireland. Bulletin of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association. 34, 22.

M. Wilkinson, I. Tittley, C. Scanlan and E. Wells, 2000. Biodiversity of intertidal seaweeds II. Reassessment of shores on Orkney over 25 years. Bulletin of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association. 34, 17.

E. Wells, and M. Wilkinson, 2000. Biodiversity of intertidal seaweeds I. Species richness in relation to environmental parameters in Northern Ireland. The Phycologist. 55, 33.

M. Wilkinson, I. Tittley, C. Scanlan and E. Wells, 2000. Biodiversity of intertidal seaweeds II. Reassessment of shores on Orkney 25 years after the British Phycological Society Field Meeting. The Phycologist, 55, 33.

E. Wells and M. Wilkinson, 2001. Intertidal seaweed biodiversity around Orkney. Bulletin of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association. 37, 15-16.

Terms & ConditionsCopyright Aquatonics LtdSite Map