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Chris Gibbins

Professor and Head of School (UNMC) - School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Biography

Chris moved to UNMC in January 2017 to take up the post as Professor of Hydro-ecology and Head of the School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences. Prior to this he was a Senior Lecturer at University of Aberdeen (Scotland), working in the Northern Rivers Institute within the School of Geosciences. He was in Aberdeen for 17 years, following his PhD and Post-doctoral research working on environmental flow projects on rivers in Northern England.

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Expertise Summary

River ecology, Human impacts on river ecosystems, Environmental flows and River restoration science

Teaching Summary

My specialist teaching covers freshwater ecology, hydrology and sustainable catchment management. Introductory level teaching includes biogeography, hydrology and data analysis.

Research Summary

Overview

Chris is a hydro-ecologist with research focussed on understanding the links between physical habitat conditions and organisms in freshwater ecosystems. Applied aspects of his research include assessment of human impacts on river ecosystems and the sustainable management of rivers and their catchments. Specific areas of interest are: (i) interactions between rivers flow hydraulics, sediments and biota (chiefly invertebrates and fish), (ii) impacts of flow and thermal habitat modification on river ecosystems, (iii) the ecology of intermittent streams, and (iv) sustainable river management (development of ecologically acceptable flow regimes and river restoration).

Current funded research projects

1. River Ehen (NW England) Restoration Initiative. This ongoing project has funded 2 PhD students to-date; a 5-year Research Assistant is due to start on the project in May 2017 and will continue the work through until 2022. The restoration involves the reconnection of a formerly diverted tributary, with the aim of improving habitat in the river for the endangered freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera. Funded by Environment Agency and United Utilities.

2. Morphpeak. This 3 year project was recently (January 2017) awarded funds by the Spanish Ministry of Science. It aims to understand the impacts of hydropeaking flow regimes on the fluvial dynamics and ecology of Mediterranean rivers. PI is Dr Damia Vericat of the University of Lleida; I am a co-investigator and lead supervise one of the two PhD students working on the project.

3. HYTECH. This Marie Curie Training Network grant funds two Aberdeen-based PhD students who work jointly between myself and Prof. Vladimir Nikora in the School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen. These two students are working on flow-biota interactions and form part of the network that funds 15 PhD students and 2 Post-docs across Europe.

4. Impacts of thermal mismatches on invertebrate fitness across life-stages. This project is funded by a grant from The Royal Society. It focusses on how dams impact river thermal regimes and how such thermal modification affects insect populations. It is the first project of its type to link across life stages and use genetic and population modelling approaches to understand how the thermal regimes experienced by larvae influence their fitness (fecundity and dispersal ability) once they become adults. In collaboration with Lesley Lancaster, Zoology, Aberdeen.

5. BIOMA (Biology of intermittent streams on Mallorca). This project is based on Mallorca and aims to understand how water abstraction is impacting the hydrology and ecology of the island's temporary stream ecosystems. The project is funded by the Government of the Balearic Islands and employs a Research Assistant based on Mallorca; it is in collaboration with University of the Balearic Islands, the University of Lleida and University of Vigo.

6. Morphsed. This project is based in Spain and aims to understand the impact of instream gravel mining on fluvial processes and invertebrate communities. It is led by University of Lleida and funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science. I am a co-investigator, and lead supervise one of the three PhD students working on the project. See www.morphsed.es for details.

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