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Matthew Johnson

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Biography

Matt is a fluvial geomorphologist with an interest in how aquatic organisms occupy, utilise and modify environments. He is currently working on projects focused on:

  • The ability of animals to alter physical processes, such as sediment transport, in rivers;
  • The sensitivity of river reaches to temperature change, with implications for the growth and development of aquatic animals, and;
  • Identifying and quantifying the physical processes that partially control the distribution and activity of animals in rivers.

Further details can be found at Matt's external website: http://www.mattjohnson.org.uk/

Expertise Summary

Matt has expertise in the use of large laboratory flumes and has written European guidelines for the use of living organisms in hydraulic facilities. Matt's research also involves substantial field-based research, in addition to statistical and landscape modelling, and he currently maintains water temperature networks in the Peak District, Exmoor National Park and tributaries of the River Welland, UK. Matt also collated and now maintains an online database of published work on aquatic invertebrate-environment interactions as part of the EC-funded HYDRALAB IV project. He also sits on the technical advisory panel of the national climate adaptation program, Keeping Rivers Cool.

Teaching Summary

Matt teaches on all four years of taught study in the School of Geography. His teaching reflects his research experience, being focused on river processes and management. Matt's modules include field… read more

Research Summary

Matt's research focuses on the interactions between fluvial geomorphology, freshwater ecosystems and river hydrology. He is involved in a number of continuing research projects, outlined below and… read more

Recent Publications

Matt's current postgraduate research students include:

Liberty Mgbanyi (Scholarship)- developing topographic models to predict gully formation in data sparse regions

Thomas Stanton (Sir Francis Hill Scholarship) - sources and pathways of microplastics in freshwater environments

Fernando Garzón (Scholarship) - flood modelling and management in Colombia.

Hazel Wilson (EPSRC studentship) - reefs of rubbish: the ecological and geomorphological implications of litter in urban streams

Alistair Delboyer (Leverhulme MASS studentship) - modelling impacts of heat pumps on thermal conditions in rivers

Matt teaches on all four years of taught study in the School of Geography. His teaching reflects his research experience, being focused on river processes and management. Matt's modules include field trips to rivers across the UK, where students can engage with management practitioners and projects, as well as undertaking more fundamental work, performing experiments in laboratory flume facilities.

Matt convenes and lectures on:

  • Earth and Environmental Dynamics (1st year - F81125)
  • River Processes and Dynamics (2nd year - F82164)
  • River Management and Restoration (3rd year - F83164)

as well as taking 15 students on a field course to Mt St Helens, Washington, USA with Dr. Nick Mount and Prof. Colin Thorne to learn about practical river management. Matt also supervises undergraduate and Masters dissertation students researching river processes and management.

Matt is also lectures on the following modules as part of the MSc Environmental Management:

  • Foundations of Environmental Management (F84153)
  • Environmental Management in Practice (F84154)

Current Research

Matt's research focuses on the interactions between fluvial geomorphology, freshwater ecosystems and river hydrology. He is involved in a number of continuing research projects, outlined below and further detailed at his external website (http://mattjohnson.org.uk).

1) Aquatic biogeomorphology

Living organisms can alter environments through their presence and activity, with implications for geomorphic and biochemical processes. Matt is interested in how invertebrate animals alter the flow of material through river systems. This includes research into the destabilisation of river beds and banks by the invasive signal crayfish, which can also increase the transport of sediment through rivers. He is also interested in caddisfly larvae, which spin silk to construct cases and filter nets, which also binds river bed material together.

2) The thermal regime of rivers and managing rising temperatures

Water temperature in rivers is rising, globally. In collaboration with Prof. Robert Wilby, Matt is using an array of temperature sensors that record air and water temperature every 1-hour, distributed along the River Dove and Manifold, English Peak District. The ultimate aim is to develop simple parameters for determining the vulnerability of river reaches to rising water temperature. The work has generated interest and collaboration from the Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Aquascience Consultancy, Wild Trout Trust and Rivers Trusts. More details can be found at the dedicated website: http://www.luten.org.uk

3) Environmental controls on sensory information in rivers

Matt is interested in how aquatic animals interact with their environment and, in particular, how animals make informed decisions when responding to their surroundings and other organisms. In particular, his research aims to understand the specific environmental processes that animals can perceive and how this information is transmitted through rivers. This includes obtaining high-resolution measurements of turbulent flow conditions over living crayfish to study how the animals interact with near-bed flows.

4) Pollution and biomonitoring

Matt is researching pollutants in rivers, including the bioaccumulation of heavy metals in freshwater organisms and the presence of microplastics in rivers. Matt is particularly concerned with the impacts of pollutants on invertebrate organisms and is working on developing biomonitoring techniques with colleagues.

School of Geography

Sir Clive Granger Building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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