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Loch Ness Field Research 

Geology - Habitats - Loch Ness - Facilities,
BSc Dissertations - MSc - PhD - Contacts.

Loch Ness and the Great Glen provide an ideal base for Ecology, Geography and Environmental Science field trips. Whether you are a university course organiser, research worker or an individual B.Sc. student looking for a novel location for a dissertation you will find a welcome with the Loch Ness Project.  

The  Geology
The Great Glen is one of the most spectacular geographical features of the British Isles.  It is certainly the best example of a tear fault which fractured across the Moine schists  about 380 million years ago towards the end of the Caledonian Mountain building episode.   Granite intrusions suggest a transverse movement of some 60 miles. To the north of Loch Ness there are deposits of Old Red Sandstone. The ancient fault is still active with minor tremors still occurring. The shattered rocks made an easy road for Ice Age glaciers.
The glen bears  the marks  of massive glaciation with  its legacy of moraines, eskers, raised beaches and ice dammed lakes. The Field Centre itself is located just below a raised beach beside Loch Ness and Inverness, just 14miles to the north has two very good examples of eskers at Torvean (St. Bean’s Hill) and Tomnahurich (The Hillock of the yew trees). Just 25 miles  up the glen are the famous “parallel roads” of Glen Roy and Glen Spean, marking the vanished shorelines of ice dammed lakes which, it is thought,  drained in a series of catastrophic floods, through Loch Ness and on to lay the gravel foundations of Inverness.

Habitats within the glen range widely, extending from the rocky west coast to the salt marshes of the inner Moray Firth; from virtually pristine uplands to the effluents of  Inverness. Effects of a pronounced diminishing rainfall gradient are reflected in the vegetation, from the moorland grasses of the West to the heathers of the East.
Remnants of both deciduous and Caledonian Pine forest are found within half an hour of    the Centre, which itself is on the edge of the Urquhart Bay Alder Wood (SSSI). This special habitat is maintained by yearly inundations from the rivers Enrick and Coiltie which converge on Urquhart Bay before entering the loch. The most outstanding remnant of the Great Wood of Caledon lies in Glen Affric just 14 miles from the Centre. Here there are many “granny” pines over 200 years old and a luxuriant undergrowth of blueberry and other woodland plants. There are many examples of birchwoods mixed with rowan and hazel.
The Loch Ness catchment has an abundance of streams, rivers, shallow lochans, and peat bogs.

Loch Ness
Loch Ness is Britain's premier volume of freshwater with steep rocky walls descending to a flat silt bed at depths in excess of 200m.
The loch's regularity and orientation parallel to the prevailing winds, renders it exceptionally physically dynamic with large scale internal seiches generating underwater waves up to 40m high.
The surface waters have an oligotrophic plankton community with Arctic Charr as the predominant pelagic fish. Brown Trout  feed on insect larvae along the stony littoral.
Deep down, on the abyssal silt plain, a surprising variety of benthos include Ice-age relict species of sufficient quantity to support a profundal population of charr.  

Studies Undertaken by the Loch Ness Project.  

Based at The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition at Drumnadrochit, the Loch Ness Project has supported the following studies.


BSc Dissertations - MSc - PhD - Research w ith the Loch Ness Project.

Some of the work which has been completed  at Loch Ness. An ideas list of M.Sc. and B.Sc dissertation topics is available on request. The Loch Ness Project also welcomes further collaborations and undertakes field work for research groups.  

B.Sc. Dissertations.  Usually the student contacts us directly and spends about two weeks with us to complete the fieldwork.  Laboratory space is available together with access to the library of previous work.

Baker,D.L. (1993). A Palaeolimnological Reconstruction of the Recent History of the Catchment of a Scottish Loch. B.Sc. Dissert. University of Wolverhampton.  

Bennett,S. (1993) Patterns and Processes of Sedimentation in Loch Ness . B.Sc. Dissert. University of Staffordshire.

Brookes, S. (1994) An Analysis of a Pollen and Diatom Record from Loch Ness Sediment. B.Sc. Dissert. Nene College.

Cahill, R.A. (1997)  A Comment on the Food-Chain Dynamics of a Large Oligotrophic Lake (Loch Ness, Scotland), during the Summer Period.  B.Sc. Dissert. University of Salford.

Davies, J. (1995) A Palaeolimnological Study on the Diatom Flora of Loch Morar, Scotland. B.Sc. Dissert. University of Wolverhampton.

Duckmanton, A. (1996) An Investigation into a Possible Predator/Prey Interaction Between Two Species of Zooplankton in Loch Ness. B.Sc. Dissert. Staffordshire University.

Frain, J. (1998)  A Geochemical Study of Heavy Metals in Loch Ness, Scotland. B. Sc. Dissert. Aberystwyth, University of Wales.

Grinvalds, R.S. (1979) Species of the Profundal Fauna at 300m Depth from Loch Morar, Scotland.  B.Sc. Dissert. Royal Holloway College.

Hartley,A. (1993) Plankton Bioassay of Loch Ness Water. B.Sc. Dissert. University of Lancaster.

Loveland, J.P. (1997)  Investigation into the Horizontal Distribution of Cladoceran Zooplankton in a Deep Oligotrophic Lake, Loch Ness, Scotland.  B.Sc. Dissert. University of Salford.

Marjoram, R.S. (1993). An Investigation of the Identification and Behaviour of an Acoustic Scattering Layer in Loch Ness, Scotland. B.Sc. Dissert. Worcester College of Education.

Meacham, N.J. (1993) The Fecundity and Associated Ecological Factors of the Arctic Charr, Salvelinus alpinus, and Brown Trout, Salmo trutta, in Loch Ness, Scotland. B.Sc. Dissert. University of Hull.

Miller, K.C. (1993). A Study of Sedimentary Markers. within the Lacustrine Environment. B.Sc. Dissert. University of Lancaster.

Millward, D. (1992) A Palynological Sedimentation Study of a Core from the South Basin of Loch Ness. B.Sc. Dissert. University of Hull.

Newton, A.  (1979) A Study of  the Distribution of Aquatic Macrophytes in Loch Morar and its Environs.   B.Sc. Dissert. University of London

Pritchard, M.A. (1995)  Palaeolimnological Analysis of a Sediment Core from Loch Morar, North West Scotland.  B.Sc. Dissert. University of Wolverhampton.

Reid, M. (1996) A Comment on the Biogeochemistry of an Oligotrophic Loch in Northern Scotland, Loch Ness. B.Sc. Dissert. Dundee University.

Round, S. (1996)  Mineral Magnetic and Geochemical Analysis of a Sediment Core from a small Scottish Loch.  B.Sc. Dissert. University of Wolverhampton.

Swinton, J. (1996) Diatom Analysis to Assess the Impact of Catchment  Afforestation and Deforestation of a Small Scottish Loch. B.Sc. Dissert. University of Wolverhampton.

Williams, P.A. (1995) Loch Ness, A Study of the Relative Importance of Grazer and Detritus Food Chains in the North and South Basins. B.Sc. Dissert.


M.Sc.  Dissertations.
Here the topic is normally set by the course tutor and the university is actively involved throughout.

Bracewell,C.E. (1993) A Geochemical Study of the Natural and Pollutant Compounds in Loch Ness, Scotland. M.Sc. Dissert. University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  

Harris, S.J. (1995)  Methanogenesis in Organic Rich Sediment Cores from a Deep Oligotrophic Lake, Loch Ness. M.Sc. Dissert. University of Newcastle.

Jensen, I.C.  (1996) Loch Ness as a Source of Atmospheric Methane. M.Sc. Dissert. University of Newcastle.

Mansfield, C.A. (1992). A Study of Biogenic and Anthropogenic Compounds in Sediment Cores from Loch Ness, Scotland. M.Sc. Dissertation. University of Newcastle.

Picots, A.P. (1993) Studies of Bacterioplankton in Loch Ness- Is Growth Limited by Organic Carbon Availability, Mineral Nutrient Availability or Grazing?  M.Sc. Dissert. University of Lancaster.

Winder, J. (1995) A Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Lateglacial in Lochan Dubh, Loch Ness catchment, Scotland, using mineral magnetics data. M.Sc. Thesis  University of Wolverhampton.

Ph. D. Theses. 
These  generally arise as part of full scale collaborations by research workers who may be conducting grant funded studies.

Cooper, M.C. (1998) Laminated Sediments of Loch Ness, Scotland: Indicators of Holocene Environmental Change.  Ph.D. Thesis. University of Plymouth.

Fulcher,A.S. (1996) Rotifers of Loch Ness and the Cumbrian Lakes. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Lancaster.

Griffiths,H.I., (Ongoing) Applications of Freshwater Ostracods in the Study of Late Quaternary Palaeoenvironments of North Western Europe. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Cardiff.

Wheeler, A. (2000) The Structure and Periodicity of Laminae in Holocene Sediment Cores from Loch Ness, Scotland. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Wolverhampton.

Published studies by, in association with or assisted by the Project.
These range widely in scope, often as a result of invitations by the Project to utilise some new facility or sampling capability.

Bennett,S and Shine,A.J. (1993) Review of Current Work on Loch Ness Sediment Cores. Scottish Naturalist 1993. 105:55-63.

Cooper, M.C., O'Sullivan, P.E., Harkness, D.D., Lawson, E.M., Bull, D., Kemp, A.E.S., Peglar, S.M., Matthews, N.M., Jones, R.I. and Shine, A.J. (1998) 14C Dating of laminated sediments from Loch Ness, Scotland.  Radiocarbon, Vol 40, No2 : 781-793.

Cooper, M.C., O’Sullivan, P.E. and Shine, A.J. (2000) Climate and solar variability recorded in Holocene laminated sediments – a preliminary assessment. Quaternary International 68-71 : 363-371  

Dean, J., Kemp, A.E.S., Bull, D., Pike, J., Patterson, G. and  Zolitschka, B., (1999). Taking varves to bits: scanning electron microscopy in the study of laminated sediments and varves. Journal of Paleolimnology 22 : 121-136

Fulcher,A.S. (1993) Studies of the Plankton of Loch Ness, Scotland. 3. Rotifers. Verhandlugen der Internationalen Vereinigung fur Theoretische und Angewandte Limnologie. 25:460.

George, D. G. and Winfield, I.J. (2000) Factors influencing the spatial distribution of zooplankton and fish in Loch Ness, UK. Freshwater Biology 43: 557-570

Grey, J. (2001) Ontogeny and dietary specialization in brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) from Loch Ness, Scotland, examined using stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 10 : 168 - 176.

Grey, J. and Jones, R.I (1999)  Carbon Stable Isotopes Reveal Complex Trophic Interactions in Lake Plankton.  Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 13 :1311-1314

Grey, J. and Jones, R.I. (2001) Seasonal changes in the importance of the source of organic matter to the diet of zooplankton in Loch Ness, as indicated by stable isotope analysis. Limnol. Oceanogr., 2001, 505-513.

Grey, J., Jones, R.I. and Sleep, D. (2000) Stable isotope analysis of the origins of zooplankton carbon in lakes of differing trophic state. Oecologia 123: 232-240

Griffiths,H.I. and Martin,D.S. (1993) The Spatial Distribution of Benthic Ostracods in the Profundal Zone of Loch Ness. Scottish Naturalist 105: 137-147.

Griffiths,H.I., Martin,D.S., Shine,A.J., and Evans,J.G. (1993). The Ostracod Fauna (Crustacea, Ostracoda) of the Profundal Benthos of Loch Ness. Hydrobiologia, 254: 111-117.

Jenkins,P.H. (1993). Loch Ness Sediments: A Preliminary Report. Scottish Naturalist 105:65-86.

Jenkins,P.H. (1993) Results of Water Chemistry Study of Loch Ness. Scottish Naturalist 105:45-54.

Jones, R.I., Fulcher, A.S., Jayakody, J.K.U., Laybourn-Parry, J., Shine, A.J., Walton, M.C. and Young, J.M. (1995) The horizontal distribution of plankton in a deep, oligotrophic lake- Loch Ness, Scotland. Freshwater Biology  33: 161-170

Jones, R.I. and Grey, J. (2001) Sources and fluxes of inorganic carbon in a deep, oligotrophic lake (Loch Ness, Scotland). Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol.15, No 4 : 863 - 870.

Jones, R.I., Grey, J., Sleep, D. and  Quarmby, C. (1997) An assessment, using stable isotopes, of the importance of allochthonous organic carbon sources to the pelagic food web in Loch Ness. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B (1998) 265 : 105 –111

Jones, R.I., Laybourn-Parry, J., Walton, M.C. and Young, J.M. (1997) The forms and distribution of carbon in a deep, oligotrophic lake (Loch Ness, Scotland)  Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 26 : 330 – 334.

Jones, R.I. and Young, J.M. (1998)  Control of  bacterioplankton growth and abundance in  deep, oligotrophic Loch Ness (Scotland). Aquatic Microbial Ecology, 15 : 15 – 24.

Jones, R.I., Young, J.M. and Hartley, A.M. (1996)  Light limitation of phytoplankton development in an oligotrophic lake  - Loch Ness, Scotland.  Freshwater Biology 35 : 533 – 543.

Jones, V.J., Battarbee, R.W., Rose, N.L., Curtis, C., Appleby, P.G., Harriman, R. and Shine, A.J. (1997)  Evidence for the pollution of Loch Ness from the analysis of its recent sediments. The Science of the Total Environment 203 : 37-49  

Kubecka, J., Duncan, A., and Butterworth, A.J. (1993) Large and Small Organisms Detected in the Open Waters of Loch Ness by Dual-Beam Acoustics. Scottish Naturalist 105: 175-193.  

Laybourn-Parry, J.E.M. and Walton, M.C. (1993) Studies of the Plankton of Loch Ness Scotland. 2. The Microbial Loop. Verhandlugen der Internationalen Vereinigung fur Theoretische und Angewandte Limnologie, 25:459.

Laybourn-Parry, J., Walton, M.C., Young, J., Jones, R.I. and  Shine, A.J. (1994) Protozooplankton and bacterioplankton in a large oligotrophic lake- Loch Ness, Scotland. Journal of Plankton Research. Vol.16 no12 :1655-1670  

Laybourn-Parry, J. and Walton, M. (1998) Seasonal heterotrophic flagellate and bacterial plankton dynamics in a large oligotrophic lake – Loch Ness, Scotland. Freshwater Biology 39: 1-8

Martin, D.S. and Shine, A.J. (1993) The Food and Feeding Relationships of Pelagic Fish in Loch Ness.  Scottish Naturalist 105 : 149-174.

Martin, D.S., Shine, A.J. and Duncan, A. (1993) The Profundal Fauna of Loch Ness and Loch Morar. Scottish Naturalist 105 : 113-136.

O'Sullivan, P., Cooper, M., Henon, D., Huckerby, E., Salter, N., Williams, T., Nicholson and Shine, A. Anthropogenic/climate interactions recorded in the sediments of Loch Ness, Scotland. Terra Nostra 2000/7: 5th ELDP Workshop, Pallanza.

O'Sullivan, P., Cooper, M., Shine, A.J., Huckerby, E., Matthews, N., Salter, N., Henon, D., Jones, V., Williams, T., Nicholson, M., Sandford, R. and Morris, A. (2000) Long -term response of Loch Ness, Scotland, to changes in inputs from its catchment. Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 27: 2307-2311

Sanders, G., Jones, K.C. and Shine, A.J. (1993). The Use of a Sediment Core to Reconstruct the Historical Input of Contaminants to Loch Ness: PCBs and PAHs. Scottish Naturalist 105:87-111

Shine, A.J. (1993) Postscript: Surgeon or Sturgeon? Scottish Naturalist 105 : 271-282.

Shine, A.J. Kubecka, J.,  Martin, D.S. and Duncan, A. (1993) Fish Habitats in Loch Ness. Scottish Naturalist 105 : 237-255.

Shine, A.J. and Martin, D.S. (1988) Loch Ness Habitats Observed by Sonar and Underwater Television. Scottish Naturalist 105:111-199.

Shine, A.J. Martin, D.S., Bennett, S. and Marjoram, R.S. (1993) Allochthonous Organic Inputs as an Explanation of Spatial Biomass Gradients Observed in the Pelagic and Profundal Zones of Loch Ness. Scottish Naturalist 105 : 257-269.

Shine, A.J., Martin, D.S. and Marjoram, R.S. (1993) Spatial Distribution and Diurnal Migration of the Pelagic Fish and Zooplankton in Loch Ness. Scottish Naturalist 105:195-235.

Shine, A.J., Minshull, R.J. and Shine, M.M. (1993) Historical background and Introduction to the Recent Work of The Loch Ness and Morar Project. Scottish Naturalist 105:7-22.

Thackeray, S.J., Grey, J. and Jones, R.I. (2000)  Feeding Selectivity of Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) in Loch Ness, Scotland.  Freshwater Forum 13 : 47-59.

Turner, A., Woodward, J., Dunning, S.A., Shine, A.J., Stokes, C.R., O'Cofraigh, C. (2012) Geophysical surveys of deglacial sediments of Loch Ness, Scotland; implications for the deglaciation of the Moray Firth Ice Stream, British-Irish Ice Sheet. Journal of Quaternary Science, 27 (2). pp.221-232. ISSN 0267-8179.

Young,I. and Shine, A.J. (1993). Loch Ness Bathymetric and Seismic Survey, December 1991. Scottish Naturalist 105:23-43.

Young, J.M., Jones, R.I. and Bailey-Watts, A.E. (1993). Studies of the Plankton of Loch Ness, Scotland. 1.Phytoplankton. Verhandlugen der Internationalen Vereinigung fur Theoretische und Angewandte Limnologie, 25: 459.

Young, J., Laybourn-Parry, J., Jones, R.I. and Walton, M. (1995)  A Stalkless Sub-species of Clathrulina elegans Cienkowski (1867) from the Plankton of Loch Ness, Scotland. (1995)  Europ. J. Protistol.  31 : 54 - 57










































Coast to coast 65 Miles
of diverse habitats


Loch Ness 23 Miles long.
1 Mile wide. 230m deep.



The Field Centre at
Loch Ness 2000

University of Greenwich
sampling mudflats in the
Beauly Firth. (15 miles)


Relict Caledonian Pine forest
in Glen Affric (14 miles)



River Enrick ( Just 50 metres away!)



Moorland lochan (5 miles)



University of Wolverhampton
Peat bog coring (5 miles)


University of Salford
in the laboratory

In the classroom


Research Vessel


Always the ceilidh!

Justin Loveland prepares
a sampling net



Rosie Marjoram counting
plankton for her dissertation


Preparing a core for a
photography dissertation.


Moving coring equipment
up to Loch Dubh.




Newcastle University's
Mass Spec. at the Centre.



Adrian Shine & Dr.Roger
Jones sampling for Lancaster
University's 3 year plankton
study at Loch Ness






Dr Colin Bean of the Freshwater
Biological Association & David
Martin of the Project running
acoustic fish stock surveys.






Adrian Shine & Project Engineer
John Minshull aboard the
Loch Ness Submarine
during the "Swatch
ROSETTA Project".





The Swatch ROSETTA
on the loch bed
200m down.