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Matej Faller


PhD Student

Room Number: Geography Building, Room 218


PhD research

Impact of invasive plant and invertebrate species on bank stability and sediment dynamics

My research is focused on concept of ecosystem engineers – animals and plants that impact physical processes in rivers. Invasive species act as a special case of ecosystem engineers due to their dual impact on biological and physical component of river ecosystem. These interactions will be investigated by focus on two case studies. Invasive signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) digs burrows and contributes to bank failure which has direct consequences on bank stability and river turbidity. Invasive Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) out-competes native species but dies in autumn, leaving river banks bare and much more prone to erosion. At this point in time, both these effects are recognised as potentially significant, but their distribution, quantitative impact and environmental factors that lead to its occurrence have not been properly explained. The most important impact of these changes would be negative impacts on bank stability and therefore flood defence management. 

River Enbourne, with crayfish burrows and signs of bank erosion (UK, May 2013)

First part of research will focus on distribution of crayfish burrows and Himalayan balsam in the Thames catchment. Approximately hundred sites will be chosen and surveyed for signs of river bank erosion, presence of crayfish burrows and areas with dense Himalayan balsam coverage. In addition, for each site data will be collected about hydrological, geological, geomorphological and vegetation characteristics via field survey and collection of publicly available data. Therefore the first phase of study aims to explain spatial distribution and factors that lead to burrowing and erosion on the catchment scale. Second part of study will focus on more detailed, reach scale analysis on several sites with obvious impacts of two species on erosion. Finally flow flume experiments and plot planting will be undertaken to try to understand the mechanisms of the both processes.

River Drava, invasive crayfish trapping survey (Croatia, 2008)


  • Dr Gemma Harvey, School of Geography, QMUL
  • Dr Alex Henshaw, School of Geography, QMUL
  • Dr Walter Bertoldi, Trento University
  • Dr Bruno Maiolini, Edmund Mach Foundation
  • Dr Cristina Bruno, Edmund Mach Foundation

Academic background

  • MSc Water Science Policy and Management, University of Oxford
  • BSc Biology, direction Ecology, University of Zagreb

International conferences attended

  • International Association of Astacology, Innsbruck, Austria 2012
  • International Water Week, Singapore 2010, 2011, 2012
  • European Invasive Crayfish Workshop (presentation), Pisek, Czech Republic 2009
  • Croatian Biological Congress (presentation), Osijek, Croatia 2009
  • Fourth Thematic Meeting of CRAYNET (poster), Florence, Italy 2005
  • International Association of Astacology Symposium (poster), London, UK 2004




  • Klobučar G.I.V, Podnar M., Jelić M., Franjević D., FALLER M., Štambuk A., Gottstein S., Simić V. and Maguire I. 2013. Role of the Dinaric Karst (western Balkans) in shaping the phylogeographic structure of the threatened crayfish Austropotamobius torrentium. Freshwater Biology 58 (6) 1089-1105
  • Lucić A., Hudina S., FALLER M. and Cerjanec D. A comparative study of the physiological condition of native and invasive crayfish in Croatian rivers. Biologia, Section Zoology, 67/1: 172-179.
  • Hudina S., FALLER M., Lucić A., Klobučar G. and Maguire I. 2009. Distribution and dispersal of two invasive crayfish species in the Drava River basin, Croatia. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems (2009) 394-395, 09
  • FALLER M., Maguire I. and Klobučar G., 2006. Annual activity of the noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) in the Orljava River (Croatia). Bull. Fr. Pêche Piscic., 383: 23-40
  • Maguire I., Hudina S., FALLER M., Lucić A. i Erben R. 2006. Morphometric Characteristics of Noble Crayfish (Astacus astacus) in Croatia. Freshwater Crayfish 15: 324-331.
  • Maguire I., Klobučar G., FALLER M., Machino Y., Kučinić M. and Žužul M. 2006. Updates on the distribution of the white-clawed and the narrow-clawed crayfish in Croatia. Crayfish News, 28 (1): 4-5
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