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Dr Gemma Harvey

Gemma

Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography

Email: g.l.harvey@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2772
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 212

Profile

My research addresses key research challenges in biogeomorphology to underpin sustainable river management and restoration.  Key themes: (i) impacts of invasive species on river sediment dynamics across multiple scales; (ii) quantifying habitat complexity and dynamics in river systems; and (iii) the potential for ecosystem engineering plants and animals to assist river recovery.  My research is strongly interdisciplinary and involves development of novel field and laboratory approaches and statistical analysis of large and complex environmental data sets.

I am an Associate Editor for the Water and Life domain of WIREs Water.

Key publications:

  • Harvey, G. L., Henshaw, A.J., Moorhouse, T.P., Clifford, N. J., Holah, H., Grey, J. and Macdonald, D. W. (2014) Invasive crayfish as drivers of fine sediment dynamics in rivers: field and laboratory evidence. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 39: 259-271.
  • Harvey, G. L., Moorhouse, T. M., Clifford, N. J., Henshaw, A. J., Johnson, M. F., Macdonald, D. W., Reid, I. and Rice, S. (2011) Evaluating the role of invasive aquatic species as drivers of fine sediment-related river management problems: the case of the signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus). Progress in Physical Geography 35: 517–533.
  • Harvey, G. L. and Clifford, N. J. (2010) Experimental field assessment of suspended sediment pathways for characterising hydraulic habitat. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 35: 600–610.
  • Clifford, N. J., Wright, N. G., Harvey, G. L., Gurnell, A. M., Harmar, O. P. and Soar, P. J. (2010) Numerical modelling of river flow for eco-hydraulic applications: some field experiences with velocity characterisation in field and simulated data.  Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 136 (12): 1033–1041.
  • Harvey, G. L., and Clifford, N. J. (2009) Microscale hydrodynamics and coherent flow structures in rivers: implications for the characterisation of physical habitat. River Research and Applications 25 (2): 160–180.
  • Harvey, G. L., Clifford, N. J. and Gurnell, A. M. (2008) Towards an ecologically meaningful classification of the flow biotope for river inventory, rehabilitation, design and appraisal purposes. Journal of Environmental Management 88: 638–650.

Teaching

I am the programme convenor for our MSc Integrated Management of Freshwater Environments and MSci Environmental Science. I teach across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, focusing on fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, river management and restoration and flood risk management. I also run the residential MSc field course to our research site on the Tagliamento River, Italy as well as local field courses in London and the surrounding area.

The following articles and field course blog provide some examples:

Undergraduate modules taught:

Masters modules taught:

Research

Research Interests:

Current research projects:


Crayfish burrows in the banks of the River Windrush

Biogeomorphic impacts of invasive species in river systems
Funded by British Society for Geomorphology and EU Erasmus Mundus.
Many plant and animal species are known to act as geomorphic agents in rivers, modifying flow and sediment dynamics.  Within this context invasive species can represent a special case, since they represent a disturbance to the system, have often been released from the suite of factors that would limit their abundance in their native habitats and may be present in very high densities.  My work includes development of an innovative conceptual model of the interactions and feedbacks between invasive crayfish and fluvial processes from the patch to whole catchment scale, identification of related sediment management problems and analysis of pulsed sediment mobilisation by invasive crayfish through field and laboratory research.
Published in Progress in Physical Geography, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

Fish and large wood habitat, Tagliamento River.
Fish and large wood habitat, Tagliamento River.

River habitat complexity and dynamics
Flows of water and sediment drive physical, chemical and biological processes in river systems, and their interactions create a mosaic of habitat for aquatic organisms. Understanding river habitat structure and dynamics is fundamental to effective river conservation and design of restoration measures for degraded environments. My work in this area includes evaluation of novel and ecologically-relevant parameters in habitat characterisation and assessment, critical appraisal of key concepts and methodologies and development of innovative field techniques and statistical approaches to explore habitat dynamics at microscales within rivers.  
Published in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems; Journal of Environmental Management, Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, River Research and Applications, Earth Surface processes and Landforms.

Large wood on the Tagliamento River.
Large wood on the Tagliamento River.

Ecosystem engineers as a ‘tool’ in river recovery
Funded by British Society for Geomorphology and EU Erasmus Mundus.
Given than plants and animals can have major effects on river processes and form, they may contribute to cost-effective approaches to restoration and river recovery through ‘working with nature’ approaches.  The scientific evidence base for such innovative approaches to sustainable river management does not yet exist and success rates of restoration projects remain low.  Work in this area assesses the biogeomorphic impacts of aquatic and riparian biota in diverse river environments to inform restoration design and appraisal.
Published in Aquatic Sciences, Freshwater Biology, Geomorphology.

Publications

A full list of publications is available here

  • Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Parker C, Sayer CD. (2017) Re-introduction of structurally complex wood jams promotes channel and habitat recovery from overwidening: Implications for river conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems: 1–13. doi:10.1002/aqc.2824
  • Trinci G, Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Bertoldi W and Hölker F (2017) Life in turbulent flows: interactions between hydrodynamics and aquatic organisms in rivers. WIREs Water 4: e1213. doi:10.1002/wat2.1213.
  • Parker C, Henshaw AJ, Harvey GL, and Sayer CD (2017) Reintroduced large wood modifies fine sediment transport and storage in a lowland river channel. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 42: 1693–1703. doi: 10.1002/esp.4123.
  • Spencer KL, Carr SJ, Diggens LM, Tempest JA, Morris MA, Harvey GL (2017) The impact of pre-restoration land-use and disturbance on sediment structure, hydrology and the sediment geochemical environment in restored saltmarshes. Science of the Total Environment. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.032.
  • Cashman MJ, Harvey GL, Wharton G, Bruno MC (2016) Wood mitigates the effect of hydropeaking scour on periphyton biomass and nutritional quality in semi-natural flume simulations. Aquatic Sciences DOI: 10.1007/s00027-016-0510-3.
  • Faller M, Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Bertoldi W, Bruno MC and England J (2016) River bank burrowing by invasive crayfish: spatial distribution, biophysical controls and biogeomorphic significance. Science of the Total Environment 569-570: 1190-1200. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.194.  Available online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969716313651
  • Pilotto F, Harvey GL, Wharton G and Pusch MT (2016) Simple large wood structures promote hydromorphological heterogeneity and benthic macroinvertebrate diversity in low-gradient rivers. Aquatic Sciences.
  • Cashman MJ, Pilotto F, Harvey GL, Wharton G and Pusch MT (2016) Combined stable isotope and fatty acid analyses demonstrate that large wood increases the autochthonous trophic base of a macroinvertebrate assemblage. Freshwater Biology 61: 549-564.
  • Harvey GL and Bertoldi W (2015) Dynamic riverine landscapes: the role of ecosystem engineers. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 40: 1701–1704. doi: 10.1002/esp.3757.
  • Osei N, Gurnell AM and Harvey GL (2015) The role of large wood in retaining fine sediment, organic matter and plant propagules in a small, single-thread forest river. Geomorphology 235: 77–87.
  • Tempest JA, Harvey GL and Spencer KL (2015) Modified sediments and subsurface hydrology in natural and recreated saltmarshes and implications for delivery of ecosystem services.  Hydrological Processes 29: 2346–2357 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10368.
  • Pilotto F, Bertoncin A, Harvey GL, Wharton G and Pusch MT (2014) Diversification of stream invertebrate communities by large Wood.  Freshwater Biology 59: 2571–2583.  Available online through Earlyview: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fwb.12454/abstract.
  • Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Moorhouse TP, Clifford NJ, Holah H, Grey J and Macdonald DW (2014) Invasive crayfish as drivers of fine sediment dynamics in rivers: field and laboratory evidence. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 39: 259-271.
  • Spencer KL and Harvey GL (2012) Understanding system disturbance and ecosystem services in restored saltmarshes: Integrating physical and biogeochemical processes. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 106 (20): 23–32.
  • Harvey GL, Moorhouse TM, Clifford NJ, Henshaw AJ, Johnson MF, Macdonald DW, Reid I and Rice S (2011) Evaluating the role of invasive aquatic species as drivers of fine sediment-related river management problems: the case of the signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus). Progress in Physical Geography 35: 517–533.
  • Harvey GL and Clifford NJ (2010) Experimental field assessment of suspended sediment pathways for characterising hydraulic habitat. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 35: 600–610.
  • Clifford NJ, Wright NG, Harvey GL, Gurnell AM, Harmar OP and Soar PJ (2010) Numerical modelling of river flow for eco-hydraulic applications: some field experiences with velocity characterisation in field and simulated data. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 136 (12): 1033–1041.
  • Harvey GL and Clifford NJ (2009) River channel restoration for ecological improvement.  In: Ecological Restoration, Pardue GH and Olvera TK (Eds.). Nova Publishers.
  • Harvey GL, Thorne CR, Cheng X, Evans EP, Simm J, Song H and Wang Y (2009) Qualitative analysis of future flood risk in the Taihu Basin. Journal of Flood Risk Management 2: 85–100.
  • Harvey GL and Clifford NJ (2009) Microscale hydrodynamics and coherent flow structures in rivers: implications for the characterisation of physical habitat. River Research and Applications 25 (2): 160–180.
  • Harvey GL and Wallerstein NP (2009) Exploring the interactions between flood defence maintenance works and river habitats: the use of River Habitat Survey data. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 19: 689–702.
  • Harvey GL and Clifford NJ (2008) Distribution of biologically functional habitats within a lowland river. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management 11 (4): 465–473.
  • Harvey GL, Clifford NJ and Gurnell AM (2008) Towards an ecologically meaningful classification of the flow biotope for river inventory, rehabilitation, design and appraisal purposes.Journal of Environmental Management 88: 638–650.
  • Harvey GL, Gurnell AM and Clifford NJ (2008) Characterisation of river reaches: the influence of rock type. Catena 76: 78–88.
  • Mount N, Harvey GL, Aplin P and Priestnall G (Eds.) (2008) Innovations in GIS 13: Representing, Modeling, and Visualizing the Natural Environment, Taylor and Francis, Florida.
  • Harvey GL, Mount N, Aplin P and Priestnall G, (2008) Representing, Modeling and Visualizing the Natural Environment.  In Mount N, Harvey GL, Priestnall G and Aplin P (Eds.), Innovations in GIS 13: Representing, Modeling, and Visualizing the Natural Environment, Taylor and Francis, Florida.
  • Clifford NJ, Harmar OP, Harvey G, Petts GE (2006) Physical habitat, eco-hydraulics and river design: a review and re-evaluation of some popular concepts and methods. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 16 (4): 389–408.

PhD Supervision

Postgraduate research opportunities in Earth Surface Science

Phd Supervision

Current students:

  • Gabriel Streich: Understanding the behavioural characteristics of braided river channels using graph theory.  Co-supervised with Dr Alex Henshaw (QMUL) and Dr Walter Bertoldi (University of Trento).  Funded by QMUL River Science Studentship.
  • Giuditta Trinci: Improving methods for surveying and assessing the hydromorphology of river ecosystems. Co-supervised with Dr Alex Henshaw (QMUL), Dr Walter Bertoldi (University of Trento) and Dr Massimo Rinaldi (University of Florence).  Funded by EU Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate SMART programme.
  • Maria Vasilyeva: Exploring interrelationships between floods and morphodynamics in braided rivers using multispectral satellite data.  Co-supervised with Dr Alex Henshaw (QMUL) and Dr Walter Bertoldi (University of Trento).  Funded by EU Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate SMART programme.
  • Matej Faller: Impact of invasive plant and invertebrate species on bank stability and sediment dynamics. Co-supervised with Dr Alex Henshaw (QMUL), Dr Walter Bertoldi (University of Trento) and Dr Cristina Bruno Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy). Funded by EU Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate SMART programme.

Previous students:

  • Francesca Pilotto: Woody debris as trigger for invertebrate habitat diversity in lowland rivers. Co-supervised with Dr Geraldene Wharton (QMUL) and Dr Martin Pusch (IGB Berlin). Funded by EU Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate SMART programme. Awarded 2015.
  • Matthew Cashman: Hydromorphological and ecological responses to habitat heterogeneity associated with large wood. Co-supervised with Dr Geraldene Wharton (QMUL), Dr Martin Pusch (IGB Berlin) and Dr Cristina Bruno (Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy). Funded by EU Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate SMART programme. Awarded 2015.
  • Jean-Philippe Belliard: Modelling the eco-geomorphological evolution of tidal drainage networks. Co-supervised with Dr Kate Spencer (QMUL) and Dr Marco Toffolon (University of Trento, Italy). Funded by EU Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate SMART programme. Awarded 2014.
  • Nana Osei: Riparian large wood: structure and function in fluvial systems. Co-supervised with Prof Angela Gurnell (QMUL).  Funded by QMUL Studentship. Awarded 2014.

I welcome expressions of interest and enquiries from potential PhD students who would like to work on projects related to my fields of expertise.

MSc by Research Supervision

  • James Tempest (completed 2012) Physical sediment properties in de-embanked saltmarshes and implications for surface and subsurface hydrological functioning. Co-supervised with Dr Kate Spencer (QMUL). Now working as a Research Technician.

Public Engagement

I have developed strong links with external organisations in the water sector through my research and teaching activities.

Through my research I engage with government agencies and not-for-profit organisations in order to support best practice and decision-making in river management and restoration, for example:

In addition I chair the MSc Integrated Management of Freshwater Environments Advisory Board comprising representatives from the environmental/ water sector: Atkins Global, Chilterns Conservation Board, Environment Agency, Mott Macdonald, The National Trust, Wessex Water, and private consultancy who provide valuable input on programme content and structure, career advice and offer dissertation project opportunities that address research questions of direct relevance to catchment management.  The MSc programme also includes seminars from guest speakers from a range of water sector organisations and field visits with Environment Agency teams.

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