Examining ecosystem function across urban London rivers to determine the success of restoration

Profile Display Name:

Anna Lavelle

E-mail Address:


Start Year

2014 (Cohort 1)

Research interests:
Hobbies and interests:
PhD Project
PhD Title

Examining ecosystem function across urban London rivers to determine the success of restoration

Research Theme

Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



The “urban stream syndrome” asserts that the synergistic effects of physical habitat modification, hydrological change and poor water quality can lead to stream degradation. Of particular concern in urban environments are impervious surfaces coupled with misconnections which can trigger the expulsion of high nutrient loads into rivers. In-stream activity can further homogenize flow dynamics altering habitats for fish and invertebrate species. In recent decades, restoration projects aimed at improving the physical structure, flow dynamics and ecological condition of rivers have been implemented across London. Despite widespread aesthetic improvements, the biological and chemical merits of restoration measures are less well understood. The aim of this project is to examine ecosystem function across five urban London rivers to determine the success of restoration. Nitrate and ammonium flux dynamics will primarily be examined across restored and unrestored reaches to understand the effect of restoration on sediment-water interface flux activity. The second approach will use electrofishing and invertebrate surveys as tools to measure ecological responses to restoration. Subsequent in-stream decomposition experiments will deliver a better understanding of microbial responses to restoration. The results from this project will provide scope to understand the potential of restoration for improving the chemical and biological function of urban rivers.

Policy Impact
Background Reading


Conferences and Workshops
  • 2017 Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences Conference. Talk: Examining nitrogen biogeochemistry across the sediment-water interface in restored and unrestored urban London rivers.
  • 2017 River Restoration Centre Conference. Talk: Examining Nitrogen dynamics in restored & unrestored urban rivers.
  • RGS-IBG annual conference (September 2016). Talk: Leveraging Fieldwork and Microadventures to Enhance Student Experience and Engagement.
Training courses
  • Electrofishing Course, hosted by Institute of Fisheries Management. May 2015
  • Preparing to Teach in Higher Education, hosted by King’s College London. December 2015
  • Preparing for the Upgrade from MPhil to PhD, hosted by King’s College London. February 2016
  • Writing a Literature Review for the Sciences March 2016
  • Applying for Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, hosted by King’s College London. March 2016
  • Consulting Skills, hosted by University College London. July 2016
  • Urban Rivers and Streams: Assets or Pollution Pathways, hosted by CIWEM. July 2017
  • Fine Sediment and Hydroecology, hosted by Environment Agency. July 2017
  • Introduction to the UK Water Industry, hosted by CIWEM. May 2017
  • Freshwater Bioassessment, hosted by University of Stirling. September 2016
  • Geography Tutorials: Critical Thinking and Techniques
  • Intrepid Explorers
Social Links
University Departmental Website:

Personal Website:





Stay informed

Click here to subscribe to our RSS newsletter by email.

Find Us

University College London is the administrative lead.

North-West Wing, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Follow us on Twitter