The River Science Research Group (RSRG) at the University of Worcester (UW) brings together a team of academic staff, postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate research students based in the Institute of Science and the Environment.

Research Lead: Professor Ian Maddock

Most of our research and consultancy work is interdisciplinary and is focused at the boundaries of Fluvial Geomorphology, Hydrology and Ecology. We have expertise in the areas of Hydromorphological and Ecohydraulic Assessment, Hydroecology, Bio-assessment, Remote Sensing and Glacial Hydrology. We also have strong links with the University’s Socio-ecological Systems and Sustainability Research Group and offer opportunities for postgraduate study through our MRes in River Science and PhD research supervision. Further information is provided on each of these topics and opportunities below.

More specifically, we specialise in environmental monitoring and assessment of river systems. Much of our research examines the nature and extent of impacts on riverine ecosystems, including those caused by a change in flow, morphology and / or water quality, such as from surface and groundwater abstraction, hydropower generation, reservoir releases, land-use practices, and the assessment of river restoration projects.

Research and consultancy funds have been obtained from a range of funding bodies and organisations, including the European Union, Environment Agency (EA), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) Wallingford, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG), the British Hydrological Society (BHS), Worcestershire County Council, the Earth Heritage Trust, the Institute of Water for the Republic of Slovenia, the University of Concepcion (Chile), and numerous environmental consultancies (e.g. Arup, ULG Consultants, Munro & Whitten Landscape Architects).


River Science Equipment

The University has made significant investments in specialist equipment for our River Science research including:

  • A range of electromagnetic current meters, a 2D Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (Flowtracker) and an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (Teledyne StreamPro) for discharge measurement and hydraulic data collection
  • Survey grade GPS for detailed topographic and channel morphology surveys
  • Mapping grade GPS for rapid assessment of hydromorphology, river habitat mapping, walkover surveys · Water quality and water level monitoring stations on two local streams, equipped with multi-parameter probes, automatic liquid samplers and pressure transducers and with real-time remote access to data via telemetry
  • A number of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) including rotary-winged (Draganflyer X6, DJI Inspire one Pro and DJI Matrice 600) and fixed-wing (c-Astral Bramor rtk) models and a Helikite for low altitude, high resolution remote sensing of river habitats and aquatic macrophytes (including visible light images, near infra-red and video)
  • A Leica Geosystems Scanstation C10 Terrestrial Laser Scanner
  • Field ruggedised laptops (Panasonic Toughbooks) and tablets (Panasonic Toughpads) for field use
  • Image analysis software for the production of high resolution ortho photos and Digital Elevation Models (DEM) from UAV surveys of river and floodplain environments (including ENVI, Trimble Ecognition and Agisoft PhotoScan)
  • ArcGIS software for spatial data analysis and mapping · Software for hydrometric data analysis and archiving
  • Laboratories, equipment and kit for water quality analysis and macro-invertebrate identification, including high resolution microscopes

Glacial Hydrology

Glacier hydrology is the study of the drainage systems of glaciers, and includes understanding the processes which lead to melt, how the water flows within and beneath the glacier and the fluctuations of the rivers after they have left the glacier’s snout. The glacier drainage system has a significant impact on how glacier velocities react to changes in melt rates. Runoff from glaciers is also a useful resource for communities downstream (e.g. for hydropower or irrigation). Our research focuses specifically on the hydrology of debris-covered glaciers. Debris-covered glaciers are common in the Himalayas and Karakorum and have a covering of silt to boulder sized sediment – where the cover is thick this reduces the melt rate, whereas where the cover is patchy or thin then it can increase melt rate.

Our research uses a range of field, remote sensing and modelling approaches to investigate glacier hydrology. For instance the drainage system can be investigated using dye tracing – dye is injected into a stream on the surface of the glacier and when detected downstream it can indicate the form of the hydrological system. We are currently investigating the use of drone imagery to provide information on the elevation and surface characteristics of debris-covered glaciers. Improvement of mathematical models which can simulate melt across the glacier is also a focus since this allows a clearer picture of how the debris cover influences melt and consequently how it might affect the quantity and timing of runoff.

Current research activities

Dr Cat Fyffe is exploring using UAV imagery for two key purposes: 1) to determine spatially distributed melt and 2) to identify changes in the debris cover over an area of dirty ice (where the debris-cover is thin and patchy). The data collected will also be used to validate improved models of ablation of dirty ice areas. Funding from the British Society for Geomorphology of £3,526 has been awarded to cover fieldwork to collect the necessary data in July and August 2017. This work will be conducted in collaboration with Dr Amy Woodget, as well as Prof Ben Brock, Dr Matt Westoby and Tom Shaw from Northumbria University and Dr Martin Kirkbride from Dundee University.

Recently completed research projects

Much of the following research has been conducted in collaboration with Prof Ben Brock and Tom Shaw (Northumbria University), Dr Martin Kirkbride (University of Dundee), Prof Doug Mair (University of Liverpool) and Prof Claudio Smiraglia and Dr Guglielmina Diolaiuti (University of Milan). ·

  • Investigation of the spatial variation in air temperature across glaciers and how this influences modelled melt.
  • The production of a spatially distributed energy balance melt model for a debris-covered glacier. This research also focussed on the influence of debris on the timing of the melt signal and how ablation varied spatially across the glacier.
  • Investigating how debris influences the structure and formation of the englacial and subglacial drainage system.
  • Determining the influence of supraglacial debris on the proglacial runoff fluctuations and water chemistry.
  • Investigating the short term dynamics of the debris-covered Miage Glacier, Italian Alps.

Recent publications

Shaw, T. E., Brock, B. W., Fyffe, C. L., Pellicciotti, F., Rutter, N. and Diotri, F. (2016) Air temperature distribution and energy balance modelling of a debris-covered glacierJournal of Glaciology, 62(231): 185-198. doi: 10.1017//jog.2016.31

Fyffe, C. L., Reid, T. D., Brock, B. W., Kirkbride, M. P., Diolaiuti, G., Smiraglia, C. and Diotri, F. (2014) A distributed energy-balance melt model of an alpine debris-covered glacierJournal of Glaciology, 60(221): 587-602. doi: 10.3189/2014JoG13J148

Fyffe, C. L. (2013) Section 4.3: Tracer Investigations. In: Clarke, L. (ed.) Geomorphological Techniques (Online Edition). British Society for Geomorphology; London, UK. ISSN: 2047-0371

Fyffe, C. L. (2012) The hydrology of debris-covered glaciers, University of Dundee, PhD thesis.

Remote Sensing for River Science

Remote sensing techniques are an effective way of obtaining information about our (natural) environment. For example, the recent rapid development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Systems (UAVs/UAS), also known as drones, has provided highly flexible platforms for the collection of very high resolution image and topography data. As a result, UAS now enable us to view river systems in unprecedented detail, which is improving our ability to map, measure, monitor and manage different aspects of river systems.

Our research group employs a range of fixed winged and rotary winged UAS to collect data from both the submerged and exposed river environments. In addition to this we use cutting edge image and data analysis techniques, including Structure from Motion photogrammetry (SfM) and Object Based Image Analysis (OBIA), to derive important information such as stream bed topography and aquatic vegetation species distribution. A range of other remote sensing and GIS techniques are also employed by the group to improve our understanding of river systems. A non-technical overview of our work is available to watch on YouTube.

Dr Amy Woodget is the current Chairperson of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society’s (RSPSoc) UAVs special interest group and UW has held successful conferences on the use of UAVs for Environmental Applications in 2013 and 2016. Dr Fleur Visser and Dr Amy Woodget both work on the Council of the RSPSoc.

Current Research Activities

Dr Fleur Visser is currently working on a method to map aquatic plant biodiversity of clear-water rivers from ultra-high resolution (<1cm) image data collected with a UAS. She uses OBIA techniques and particularly tries to simulate experts' cognitive image interpretation steps in the mapping process. Such a method could be applied over much larger areas than is currently the case and ensure unbiased and reproducible assessments.

Dr Amy Woodget is focussed on exploring novel methods for quantifying a range of physical habitat parameters within river systems at hyperspatial resolutions, using UAS and SfM. Her aim is to investigate whether these emerging techniques hold value as a tool for robust, reliable, routine assessments of river habitat for applications within both river science and management. She is establishing links with industry, conservation and restoration groups and management agencies to ensure her research is informed by current needs and to test its application beyond theoretical research.

Dr Cat Fyffe and Dr Amy Woodget are working together on two research projects:

(1) To explore the use of UAS and SfM for monitoring glacier ablation and debris cover formation on glaciers in the Italian Alps (with the Universities of Dundee and Northumbria). 
(2) To quantify the effects of image blurring on grain size estimation in fluvial environments (with Durham University and the University of Valencia, Spain).

Recently Completed Research Projects

  • Very high resolution remote sensing and Object Based Image Analysis for monitoring of submerged aquatic vegetation in rivers (with University of Antwerp, Belgium)
  • Using image analysis techniques to map mapping of urban development from historic Ordnance Survey maps.
  • The use of UAS and SfM for rapid mapping of native fish habitat in Chile (with University of Concepcion, Chile)
  • Quantifying fluvial grain size using hyperspatial resolution UAS imagery and SfM, compared to terrestrial laser scanning (with Bath Spa University, UK, Institute for Water for the Republic of Slovenia)

Recent Publications

Visser F., Buis K., Verschoren, V and Schoelynck J. (2016) Very high resolution remote sensing and Object Based Image Analysis for monitoring of submerged aquatic vegetation in riversHydrobiologia doi:10.1007/s10750-016-2928-y

Woodget A.S., Visser F., Maddock I.P. and Carbonneau P.E. (2016) The Accuracy and Reliability of Traditional Surface Flow Type Mapping: Is It Time for A New Method of Characterising Physical River Habitat? Rivers Research and Applications 32(9): 1825–1995. doi:10.1002/rra.3047

Visser F., Buis K., Verschoren V. and Meire P. (2015) Depth estimation of submerged aquatic vegetation in clear water streams using low-altitude optical remote sensingSensors 15: 25287-25312. doi:10.3390/s151025287

Woodget A. S., Carbonneau P.E., Visser F. and Maddock I.P. (2015) Quantifying submerged fluvial topography using hyperspatial resolution UAS imagery and structure from motion photogrammetryEarth Surface Processes and Landforms 40(1): 47-64. doi: 10.1002/esp.3613

Visser F. (2014) Rapid mapping of urban development from historic Ordnance Survey maps: An application for pluvial flood risk in WorcesterJournal of Maps 10(2): 276-288. doi: 10.1080/17445647.2014.893847


Aquatic systems, including rivers, streams, and ponds are dynamic systems characterised by differing velocity patterns, sediment and nutrient loads, and thermal regimes. These physical habitat and water quality conditions change temporally (from seconds to annual fluctuations) and spatially (from habitat patches to a catchment scale). These variations produce a range of geomorphological features and habitats (i.e. depositional bars, terraces, eroding banks) that influence ecological communities. Aquatic biota, such as benthic invertebrates, fish, macrophytes, and algae have adapted to hydraulically different fluvial environments.

‘Hydroecology’ or ‘Ecohydrology’ research is at the interface between hydrological and ecological sciences, and focuses on the effects of hydrology on ecosystems or vice versa. Our hydroecological research within the RSRG has focused on how hydrological and physical habitat differences (i.e. flow, sediment and water quality) influence benthic invertebrate diversity and community composition. Identifying the influences of hydrological and physical habitat variations on aquatic biota is important for understanding the impacts of anthropogenic impacts on aquatic systems, community assemblage processes and conservation, sustaining water resources and ecosystem management. Our projects within the RSRG focus on how different hydrological and geomorphic conditions influence aquatic biota at different spatial and temporal scales.

Current Research Projects

The effect of a fine sediment pulse and differing substrate characteristics on invertebrate communities.

Dr Tory Milner and Dr Ian Maddock are currently supervising George Bunting, a river science PhD student, who is investigating the effect of a fine sediment pulse on benthic and hyporheic invertebrate communities, and how this effect is influenced by varying substrate characteristics. The studentship is fully funded by UW, and is in collaboration with Dr Iwan Jones at Queen Mary, University of London.

George’s PhD project used twelve open-air stream mesocosms to identify the effect of a fine sediment pulse on bed sediments and the dispersal pathways (i.e. surface, longitudinal and vertical) of benthic and hyporheic invertebrates. The experiment was conducted between June and October 2015 using stream mesocosms at the Freshwater Biological Association’s River Laboratory in Dorset, UK. Four blocks of mesocosms containing three aluminium linear flumes (0.33m width, 12.4m length and 0.3m in depth) are gravity-fed from the Mill Stream, a tributary of the River Frome. The use of stream mesocosms permitted us to test the influence of fine sediment on invertebrate communities, whilst allowing other factors (e.g. water quality, temperature, water depth) to be constant, which is not possible in natural rivers.

Effects of flow intermittency on invertebrate diversity and community composition in an intermittent river network.

Dr Matthew Hill, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in river science and freshwater ecology is examining the impacts of mid-reach drying on invertebrate diversity and community assembly processes in the River Hamps and River Manifold in Derbyshire. Matt is collaborating with Dr Tory Milner (principal investigator) and Dr Rachel Stubbington at Nottingham Trent University.

Intermittent rivers constitute more than a quarter of the total length and discharge of the global river network. Further, climate models predict that the intensity, frequency and duration of drought events will increase significantly over the next 100 years in temperate environments, increasing the occurrence and frequency of river drying. Despite this, temporary freshwaters in temperate regions have received little research attention historically. Flow cessation (drying) is a key determinant of aquatic diversity and community assemblage in flowing systems. The loss of surface flow typically causes a decline in available wetted habitat and a reduction in habitat heterogeneity and hydrological connectivity. Matt’s post doc aims to: (1) quantify the total diversity and conservation value of an intermittent river network (incorporating diversity from lotic, lentic and terrestrial phases of intermittent rivers); (2) examine the beta-diversity (nestedness/turnover) and local and regional drivers of macroinvertebrate communities among intermittent streams and; (3) examine the compositional variation in macroinvertebrate taxa between lotic and ponding stages (does intermittent stream ponding act as a refuge for lotic taxa and/or habitat for newly colonising taxa?). Understanding the impact of drying to biodiversity and community processes at the catchment scale is increasingly important given predicted changes in climate and for the effective conservation and management of these important, but understudied systems.

Pebble clusters as refugia for benthic invertebrates in mixed bedrock-alluvial streams.

Hydrological disturbances (i.e. floods and droughts) strongly influence benthic invertebrate communities. Hydraulic stresses associated with high and low flows may cause changes to benthic community structure via downstream drift, vertical movement and may increase mortality rates. However, a range of different habitat patches, such as stable stone surfaces, macrophytes, and the hyporheic zone can potentially provide refuges for invertebrates from hydraulic stress. Our research in this area examines the spatial and temporal use of pebble clusters as flow refuges for invertebrates in mixed bedrock-alluvial streams. The project is a joint collaboration between Dr Tory Milner (principal investigator), Dr Matt Hill (both UW) and Professor Paul Wood, Loughborough University.

Dr Rachael Carrie, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in sustainable development, has specialist knowledge of stream bio-assessment gained by working and undertaking research in the UK and Belize, Central America.  Rachael’s recent research has explored context specific ecological and social methods for monitoring tropical streams in developing country contexts, with outputs including protocols for Belize’s National Biodiversity Monitoring Plan (NBMP), and the development of a checklist of macroinvertebrates for Belize, which Rachael continues to maintain. Rachael’s current research focus is an exploration of the impacts and processes of the ‘Functional Landscape Approach’: a ‘people-centred’ approach that seeks to contribute to environmentally sensitive and climate-resilient strategies for safeguarding wetland ecosystem services and improving livelihoods and well-being at the catchment-scale.

Recent Publications

Carrie, R., Dobson, M. & Barlow, J. (in press) Challenges using extrapolated family-level macroinvertebrate metrics in moderately disturbed tropical streams: a case-study from Belize. Hydrobiologia.

Carrie, Rachael (2016) Annex 6: Freshwater Macroinvertebrate Identity, Status and Distribution and the Development of an Index of Biotic Integrity for Belize’s Wadeable Streams in the 'National Biodiversity Monitoring Program' 2016 Report. Documentation. The University of Belize Environmental Research Institute, University of Belize. (Unpublished).  

Carrie, R., Dobson, M. & Barlow, J. 2015. The influence of geology and season on macroinvertebrates in Belizean streams: implications for tropical bio-assessment. Freshwater Science 34(2): 648–662.

Carrie, R. & Kay, E. 2014. Belize. pp 33-62. In Alonso-Eguía-Lis, P. et al. (Eds). Diversidad, conservación y uso de los macroinvertebrados dulceacuícolas de México, Centroamérica, Colombia, Cuba y Puerto Rico. Instituto Mexicano de Tecnología del Agua, Morelos, México.

Polhemus, D. A & Carrie R.H. 2013. A new species of Potamocoris (Heteroptera: Potamocoridae) from Belize and synonymy of the genus Coleopterocoris.  Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 156, 141–149.

Carrie, R.H. 2013. A checklist of the freshwater macroinvertebrates of Belize. Figshare.  

Hassall, C., Hill, M. Gledhill, D. and Biggs, J. 2016. The ecology and management of urban pondscapes. In: Francis, R. A., Millington, J. and Chadwick M. A. 2016. (eds.) Urban landscape ecology: Science, Policy and Practice, Routledge.

Hill, M. J., Sayer, C. D. and Wood, P. J. 2016. When is the best time to sample aquatic macroinvertebrates in ponds? Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 188: 1-11

Hill, M. J., Swaine, J. and Wood, P. J. 2016. Aquatic macroinvertebrate biodiversity associated with artificial agricultural drainage ditches. Hydrobiologia. 776: 249-260

Hill, M. J. and Wood, P. J. 2016. Macroinvertebrate diversity in urban and rural ponds: Implications for freshwater biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation. 201: 50-59

Hill, M. J., Mathers, K. L. and Wood, P. J. 2016. Macroinvertebrate community composition and diversity in ephemeral and perennial ponds on unregulated floodplain meadows in the UK. Hydrobiologia.

Hill, M. J., Biggs, J., Gledhill, D., Thornhill, I., Wood, P. J. Briers, R. and Hassall, I. 2016. Urban ponds as a biodiversity resource in modified landscapes. Global Change Biology.

Mathers, K. L., Hill, M. J. and Wood, P. J. 2017. Benthic and hyporheic macroinvertebrate distribution within the heads and tails of riffles during baseflow conditions. Hydrobiologia.

Milner, V. S., Gilvear, D. J. and Thoms M. C. 2016. Characterising Riverine Landscapes; History, Application and Future Challenges. In Gilvear D, Greenwood M, Thoms MC and Wood P. (Eds) River Science: Research and Applications for the 21st Century. Wiley-Blackwell: 239-258.

Milner, V. S., Willby, N. J., Gilvear, D. J. and Perfect, C. 2015. Linkages between reach scale physical habitat and invertebrate assemblages in upland streams. Marine and Freshwater Research, 66: 438-448.

Wood, P. J. Armitage, P.D. Hill, M. Mathers, K. and Millett, J. 2016. Faunal response to fine sediment deposition in urban rivers. In: Gilvear, D. J., Greenwood, M. T., Thoms, M. C. and Wood P.J. 2016. (eds.) River Science: Research and Management for the 21st Century. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.

Hydromorphological and Ecohydraulic Assessment

Understanding the links and interactions between river channel morphology and the flow regime lies at the heart of hydromorphological studies. It is the interaction of these two that determines the nature of the hydraulic environment and when applied to quantify physical habitat dynamics and therefore gain an ecological significance, the research moves into the realm of ecohydraulics. Successful modern river management requires sustainable solutions including the design and implementation of environmental flows and river restoration including fish pass design or weir removal and these require hydromorphological and ecohydraulic assessment. Our hydromorphology and ecohydraulics research has focused on measuring and mapping the fluvial geomorphology and hydraulic environment, quantifying and modelling physical habitat availability and assessing their influence on the aquatic ecology, especially fish and macroinvertebrates (also see the Hydroecology section).

Research within the RSRG has focused on ways of measuring and quantifying hydromorphology and ecohydraulics at a range of spatial scales. This has included the use of rapid assessment methods for morphological surveys at the broader scale including River Habitat Surveys, walkover surveys, mapping and measurement of channel geomorphic units. Smaller scale hydraulic surveys have included the use of current meters for point measurements and an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) for transect-based surveys. More recently, we have been at the forefront of the application of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) for river habitat assessment using Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry across a range of spatial scales. This Remote sensing technology (see Remote Sensing for River Science section below) is enabling very high resolution analysis of river channel and floodplain morphology, river channel change, surface flow dynamics and river bed substrate on a spatially continuous basis. Terrestrial laser scanner surveys can be used as an alternative or in conjunction with UAS data for more complete hydromorphological analyses.


Current Research Activities

  • Evaluating the use of Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) for flood flow measurement. Funded PhD studentship, working in collaboration with Mark Corbett, Motion Research Centre UW and Nick Everard, Environment Agency, commencing October 2017.
  • An investigation into the effects of river restoration on sediment transport in the Hampshire Avon SAC. Lev Dahl. MRes in River Science research commenced October 2016.
  • The use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to assess flood dynamics. Emma Dabbs. MRes in River Science research commenced October 2016.
  • Assessing the impact of weirs and weir removal on instream hydraulics using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Carly Gant. MRes in River Science research commenced October 2016.
  • An evaluation of the accuracy of Terrestrial Laser Scanner and Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry from UAS imagery to assess river channel morphology. Laura Sutton. MRes in River Science research commenced October 2015.
  • An evaluation of the use of terrestrial laser scanning for the assessment of river bank erosion. Becky Collins. PhD research commenced September 2015.

Recently Completed Research and Consultancy Projects

  • A hydraulic assessment of selected weirs on the River Arrow, Worcestershire. Consultancy work for Worcestershire County Council completed 2017.
  • Quantifying Physical River Habitat Parameters Using Hyperspatial Resolution UAS Imagery and SfM-photogrammetry. Dr Amy Woodget. PhD thesis completed 2015.
  • Evaluating the microscale hydrodynamics of hydraulic river habitats. Dr Martin Wilkes. PhD thesis completed 2014.
  • An evaluation of the spatial configuration and temporal dynamics of hydraulic river habitats.  Dr Caroline Wallis.  PhD thesis completed 2014.
  • Further development of the Rapid Assessment of Physical Habitat Sensitivity to Abstraction (RAPHSA). Dr Megan Klaar, Post-Doctoral Research Assistant funded in collaboration with the Environment Agency 2013-2014.
  • The impact of hydro-electric dams on the Soca River, Slovenia. Funded by the Institute for Water for the Republic of Slovenia 2011-2012.
  • The relationship of benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages to water-surface flow types in British lowland rivers.  Dr Graham Hill. PhD thesis completed 2011.
  • The impact of hydro-electric dams on the Idrijca River, Slovenia. Funded by the Institute for Water for the Republic of Slovenia 2010-2011.

Recent Publications

Wilkes, M.A., Maddock, I.P., Visser, F. & Acreman, M.C. (in press) Position choice and swimming costs of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in turbulent flows. Journal of Ecohydraulics.

Maddock, I.P. (2016) Environmental flows: habitat modelling. In, Finlayson, C.M., Everard, M., Irvine, K. & McInnes, R.J. (Eds.) The Wetland Book, Volume I: Structure and Function, Management and Methods. pp.1-6.

Woodget, A.S., Visser F., Maddock I.P. and Carbonneau, P.E., (2016) The accuracy and reliability of traditional surface flow type mapping: Is it time for a new method of characterising physical river habitat? River Research and Applications.32: 1902-1914.

Nestler, J.M, Baigun, C. and Maddock, I.P. (2016) Achieving the aquatic ecosystem perspective. Integrating interdisciplinary approaches describe instream ecohydraulic processes. In, Gilvear, D., Greenwood, M. Thoms, M & Wood, P. (Eds.) River Science: Research and Applications for the 21st Century. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 84-102.

Wilkes, M.A., Maddock, I.P., Link, O. & Habit, E. (2016) A community-level, mesoscale analysis of fish assemblage structure in shoreline habitats of a large river using multivariate regression trees. River Research and Applications. 32: 652-665.

Woodget, A.S., Carbonneau, P.E., Visser F. & Maddock I.P. (2015) Quantifying submerged fluvial topography at hyperspatial resolutions with UAS imagery and SfM-photogrammetry. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 40: 47-64.

Maddock, I.P., Harby, A., Kemp, P. & Wood, P. (eds.) (2013) Research Needs, Challenges and the Future of Ecohydraulics Research. In, Maddock, I.P. Harby, A., Kemp, P. & Wood, P. (Eds.) Ecohydraulics: An Integrated Approach. Wiley-Blackwell. pp.431-436.

Hill, G., Maddock, I.P. and Bickerton, M. (2013) Testing the relationship between surface flow types and benthic macroinvertebrates. In, Maddock, I.P. Harby, A., Kemp, P. & Wood, P. (Eds.) Ecohydraulics: An Integrated Approach. Wiley-Blackwell. pp.213-228.

Wilkes, M., Maddock, I.P., Visser, F. & Acreman, M. (2013) Incorporating hydrodynamics into ecohydraulics: The role of turbulence in the swimming and habitat selection of river-dwelling salmonids. In, Maddock, I.P. Harby, A., Kemp, P. & Wood, P. (Eds.) Ecohydraulics: An Integrated Approach. Wiley-Blackwell.  pp.9-30.

Maddock, I.P., Harby, A., Kemp, P. & Wood, P. (eds.) (2013) Ecohydraulics: An Integrated Approach. Wiley-Blackwell. 446p.

Wallis, C., Maddock, I.P., Visser, F. & Acreman, M. (2012) A framework for evaluating the spatial configuration and temporal dynamics of hydraulic patches. River Research and Applications. 28: 585-593.


Research Opportunities with the RSRG

PhD Research Opportunities

Fully-funded PhD studentships with RSRG will be advertised on the Research School webpage and on the Find A PhD webpage.

Approaches from self-supporting PhD students are accepted all year round. Topics of interest to RSRG focus on our four main research themes: i) Hydromorphological and Ecohydraulic Assessment, ii) Hydroecology, iii) Remote Sensing and iv) Glacial Hydrology. Please contact Professor Ian Maddock to express an interest with an outline of your research ideas.

If you are interested in any of the topics listed below, please contact Dr Tory Milner in the first instance.

  • The ecological dynamics of mixed-bedrock alluvial streams.
  • Meso and micro habitats (i.e. the hyporheic zone, pebble clusters) as refuges for benthic invertebrates.
  • The resistance and resilience of freshwater invertebrates in temporary streams.
  • The biodiversity and conservation value of intermittent rivers.
  • The impact of fine sediment on benthic invertebrate distribution pathways.

MRes in River Science

We welcome any approach from high achieving graduates that would like to consider studying for an MRes in River Science at UW. Unlike an MSc where the majority of course credits are gained through taught modules, the emphasis of an MRes is on the research project and thesis (120 out of the 180 credits with the remaining 60 credits gained via taught modules at the start of the course). At UW, we aim to recruit a small number of highly motivated students on the topics of interest relating to our key research themes identified above. This ensures we are supervising students in areas that we have expertise and not supervising very large number of postgraduates means we can maintain a high standard of supervision. Please contact the course leader Professor Ian Maddock to express an interest with an outline of your research ideas.

Please note that funding for projects is not available and that students will self-support their fees. However, new Postgraduate Loans for Masters degrees in the UK were introduced for students in the 2016/17 academic year.

Specified topics

From time to time we will invite applications on named topics that specific RSRG staff are interested in supervising. These will be listed below with the member of staff that you should contact in the first instance if you wish to discuss them in more detail.

Mapping plant stress in submerged aquatic vegetation using very-high and ultra-high resolution multi-spectral imagery and structure from motion photogrammetry (co-supervised by Dr Amy Woodget and Dr Jonas Schoelynck (University of Antwerp, Belgium). Please contact Dr Fleur Visser for more details.

Visiting Researchers

UW runs a scheme for Visiting Researchers. The scheme is aimed at postdoctoral researchers currently based at another (normally overseas) Higher Education Institution, although it may be extended to PhD students if appropriate. The RSRG welcomes the opportunity to host visiting researchers, particularly when this will complement research activities of the group. Please contact Professor Ian Maddock to express an interest along with an outline of the research you would like to pursue.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Teaching and School Liaison Activities

In addition to our research, we also teach on a range of undergraduate modules with a River Science focus that are offered as part of our degree courses in Geography, Physical Geography, Conservation Ecology and Environmental Management.

 Modules include:


•          GEOG1112 Introduction to River Science

•          GEOG2122 River Monitoring and Assessment

•          GEOG3120 River Conservation and Management

•          GEOG3121 River Science Research Project

•          ENVS2104 Ecology of Freshwater


We work with external organisations, including Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency who support a number of our undergraduate students with their final year Independent Studies (dissertations) on River Science related projects on local rivers.

We are also involved with outreach activities and engagement with the local community, including assisting local schools with river-based fieldwork and remote sensing and GIS activities.


For further information, please contact  Professor Ian Maddock 

Meet our River Science team

Academic Staff

Ian Maddock 
Tory Milner 
Fleur Visser
Cat Fyffe       

Research staff and postgraduate students

Amy Woodget
Rachael Carrie 
George Bunting
Becky Collins
Matt Hill
Emma Dabbs
Lev Dahl
Carly Gant
Laura Sutton

Technical support staff

James Atkins        
Jo Dyson