Characterising the catchment effect on physical habitats in UK rivers

Profile Display Name:

Eleanore Heasley

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Start Year

2015 (Cohort 2)

Research interests:

Fluvial geomorphology, ecohydrology and catchment hydrology

Hobbies and interests:
PhD Project
PhD Title

Characterising the catchment effect on physical habitats in UK rivers

Research Theme

Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



Investigating controls on the distribution of physical habitats through the catchment is vital to aid river management decisions. Prior studies have shown that habitat distribution is linked to catchment characteristics but the functional processes that connect spatial variations in the catchment to distributions of habitats are poorly understood. The objective of this project is therefore to better characterise the catchment effect by accounting for components of the catchment often simplified in prior studies. This project focusses on the topology of the stream network and the land use patterns of the catchment. Both components influence the rate of flow throughout the catchment either on land as run-off to the stream or in the river as water moves downstream. The rate of flow controls the hydrograph of the stream, vital to maintain the geomorphology of physical habitats and biological controls on the resident biota. This project will investigate relationships between (1) network topology, (2) land use pattern and (3) hydrograph types on habitat distribution in UK streams using a broad-scale analysis in order to better understand the hydrological links between catchment and river habitats at a national scale. This information will be applied to identify regions that are sensitive to changes in the catchment and how hydrological modification due to abstraction, impoundments and future climate change may influence the distribution of river habitats across the UK stream network.

Policy Impact
Background Reading



Atkins, supervised by Dr Kevin Skinner. 05/12/2018 – 08/10/2018.

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