Linked projects


CRESS is connected to numerous research projects within the University of Stirling:


From engineered channel to functioning stream ecosystem; rates, patterns and mechanisms of development in realignment projects

Charlie Perfect’s PhD is focused on the colonisation of engineered river channels by plant and macroinvertebrate communities. Through investigation of colonisation patterns at the reach scale and interactions with the development of physical habitat diversity, his PhD project should both evaluate the outcomes of a number of river realignment projects and contribute the science of ecological restoration. This project follows an early PhD completed in 2006 by Ian Griffin who undertook an assessment of the recovery time for engineered channels to reach investigating the biological and ecological recovery of the River Nith (Ayrshire). Work was undertaken to assess the recovery time for engineered channels to reach a ‘natural’ biological and physical state, and to identify key morphological and environmental variables that influence this transition.

Charlie's research is supported by Scottish Coal and The University of Stirling.





Ecological Effects of the Feeding and Construction Activities of the Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber) in Scotland: Implications for Reintroduction


Kevin Jones has recently completed his PhD, investigating the possibility of reintroducing the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). Much scientific, political and public attention has recently been given to the potential reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver to mainland Britain, after the extirpation of the species over 300 years ago, and following numerous successful reintroductions throughout Europe.  Beavers are known to be a keystone species, altering the landscape to benefit themselves, which in turn affects the flora and fauna within their habitat.  Kevin’s study investigated the extent and nature of the hydroecological impacts of these “ecosystem engineers”, on the stream and riparian environment, through environmental monitoring and plot-scale experiments within the enclosures of captive individuals in Perthshire, Scotland.  These data provided scientific answers to contentious issues that surround a proposed trial reintroduction to Scotland, and possible future full reintroduction to the British countryside.

Kevin’s research was supported through a Natural Environment Research Council CASE studentship in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).





Geomorphological and ecological validation of river typing within Scotland: A basis for assessing the impact of river engineering on ecological status

Tory Milner’s PhD will examine the extent to which morphological types can be predicted from the primary controls for slope, geology, valley confinement and stream power, the meso-habitats present within river types and whether individual river types have distinctive biological communities. The specific objectives of this project are to identify whether the adopted typology is the best way of typing Scottish rivers geomorphologically, quantify the geomorphic controls on river types and determine the extent to which each river types maintains a distinct biological community (focussing on macroinvertebrates). Hypotheses to be tested will include: (i) is stream power the key control on river type, and (ii) is physical habitat more important than natural water chemistry in determining stream biota in Scottish rivers.

Tory’s research is supported by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).




Hyporheic biodiversity within the gravel-bed rivers of Scotland: a three-dimensional perspective

David Pryce just started this PhD research project that will be examining the biology, hydrology and chemistry of the hyporheic zone of gravel-bed rivers in Scotland. The work follows a pilot project undertaken for SNH in 2005; during this work 22 taxa from 12 invertebrates groups (including one species new to Scotland) were recorded in the hyporheos of a small number of sites on the river Spey, Tay and Dee.

David’s research is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and The University of Stirling.





Interaction of floods and aquatic vegetation dynamic at the interface of backwaters and main channel of a large river system


Antoine Keruzoré’s PhD will examine interaction of floods and aquatic vegetation dynamic in a large river system. The PhD focuses on backwaters along River Tummel and River Tay in central Scotland. Specific aims of the project are to assess (i) ecological importance of backwaters with regards to plants diversity, abundance and biomass production; (ii) floods impact on biomass of aquatic plants after a flood; (iii) plants propagules dispersion in a large river from backwaters. Main hypothesis are (i) backwaters are hotspots of aquatic plants diversity and abundance; (ii) plants will experience a loss of biomass after floods; (iii) plants will disperse on long distances in a large river system.

Antoine’s PhD is supported by the Centre for River Ecosystem Science (CRESS) and the University of Stirling’s Strategic Research Development Fund.



Impacts of windfarm construction on downstream aquatic ecosystems

Melanie Van Niekerk’s PhD will investigate the impacts of windfarm construction on downstream aquatic systems. The study area is located in Ayrshire in the southwest of Scotland where Scottish Power is building a windfarm of 60 turbines in Arecleoch Forest.  As with many such projects in Scotland, the land upon which this windfarm is to be built consists mainly of peat. Although there has been much work investigating the impacts of disturbance and land use change on water quality in relation to forestry practices, until recently the impacts of windfarm development had not been studied. In particular this research will focus on concentrations and fluxes of suspended sediment and dissolved organic carbon (DOC), the latter of which has received much interest due to long-term increasing concentrations being recorded in surface waters draining peatland and implications for climate change, water resources and peatland conservation.

Melanie’s PhD is funded by Scottish Power and the University of Stirling’s Strategic Research Development Fund