Research Interests

My research interests focus on the integration of hydrology and ecology (hydroecology) within riverine ecosystems. Combining fieldwork and data mining techniques, this inter-disciplinary approach concentrates on the significance of environmental variability for macroinvertebrate communities across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Working in collaboration with academics, environmental consultancies and government/provincial agencies allows me to explore both applied and theoretical research issues.

Hydroecological linkages

I am interested in quantifying the effects of climate, hydrological and thermal regimes on the structure and functioning of instream aquatic communities. With climate change scenarios predicting an increase in climatic variability, there is a need to develop models exploring the ecological response to hydroclimatological variability. These will enable the identification of indicators of change and provide important information for future management policies. I would like to develop my previous research on the importance of hydrological variability, especially inter-annual variability, on riverine communities at different spatial and temporal scales.

In collaboration with researchers from Loughborough University, University of Birmingham and the Environment Agency of England and Wales, I have explored the importance of hydrological variability in structuring macroinvertebrate communities within river systems at a range of spatial and temporal scales. In addition, I have evaluated the use of a variety of ecological indices (for example abundance, diversity, water quality indices and the Lotic-invertebrate Index for Flow Evaluation) in relation to quantifying and exploring environmental variability. I have also explored the response of biodiversity to historical changes in fluvial systems.

This research area is important for the interpretation of potential future responses made by different taxonomic groups. Recent research, in collaboration with Malcom Greenwood and Dr. Paul Wood at Loughborough University, has focused on the sub-fossil caddisfly of the middle reaches of the River Trent, UK, with a view to environmental reconstruction of the fluvial system during the Holocene and the last Late Glacial period.

Developing tools for scalar linkages between landscape variables and instream communities

There is a need to explore the integrated spatial and temporal patterns in instream communities and associated physical variables. I am interested in developing multivariate hydroecological tools and techniques to expand research knowledge to safeguard water resources. I am interested in exploring integrative approaches between thermal, hydrological and biological patterns at the watershed scale by upscaling from traditional reach-scale assessments.

I have been working with researchers from Environment Canada to explore and quantify hydroecological patterns within Canadian rivers, particularly relating to the impacts of agriculture on water resources. I have also been involved in developed multivariate classifications of hydrological regimes and using these to structure further analyses, for example how rivers are responding to changing climates.

Ecological impact of hydrological and thermal disturbances

Natural hydrological disturbances (for example flooding, low flows and their effect on sedimentation) are known to affect instream ecological communities. The effects of climate change and urban development will increase flow regime variability and become evident in the transformation of the structure of aquatic communities. Developing models of community response and individual macroinvertebrate sensitivities to the impact of disturbance at the microscale will be beneficial to the wider research community and water resource managers.

Working with Dr. Allen Curry, I am exploring the use of GIS-based thermal imagery to quantify cool water sources within river systems. Potentially at risk under future climates, these cool water areas provide invaluable refugia for fish communities. Using aerial thermal imagery, I am examining the relationship with structure and adjacent landuse to provide workable resources for local river managers.

Macroinvertebrates as indicators of stream health

Instream communities reflect the combined effects of water chemistry, physical habitat, hydrology and nutrient levels. Developing models for the assessment of watercourses based on community response to changing environmental conditions is important for applied management strategies. I have developed a predictive model based on the reference condition approach for watercourses within New Brunswick in collaboration with the NB Department of Environment.