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/
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.
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
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
THOMAS STANTON, MATTHEW JOHNSON, PAUL NATHANAIL, WILLIAM MACNAUGHTAN and RACHEL L. GOMES, 2019. Freshwater and airborne textile fibre populations are dominated by ‘natural’, not microplastic, fibres Science of the Total Environment. 666, 377-389 RICHARD MASON, STEPHEN RICE, PAUL WOOD and MATTHEW JOHNSON, 2019. The zoogeomorphology of case‐building caddisfly: quantifying sediment use Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.
EVERALL, N.C., JOHNSON, M.F., WOOD, P and MATTINGLEY, L., 2018. Sensitivity of the early life stages of a mayfly to fine sediment and orthophosphate levels Environmental Pollution.
Matt's current postgraduate research students include:
Liberty Mgbanyi (Tetfund scholarship). Developing topographic models to predict gully formation in data sparse regions
Thomas Stanton (Sir Francis Hill studentship). Sources and pathways of microplastics in freshwater environments
Fernando Garzón (National scholarship). Modelling suitability of catchments to Natural Flood Management interventions
Hazel Wilson (EPSRC studentship). Reefs of rubbish: the ecological and geomorphological implications of litter in urban streams
Alistair Delboyer (Leverhulme MASS studentship). Modelling the impacts of heat pumps on thermal conditions in rivers
Amit Kumar (Vice Chancellors scholarship for research excellence). Investigation into transitions from meteorological to hydrological droughts.
Abdulaziz Alsalah (KSU scholarship). Hydrological consequences of rapid urban development in Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia
Andrea Sartorius (NERC ENVISION studentship). Impacts of historic mine waste on ecosystem health.
Yuyao Xu (UNNC IGSNRR studentship). Quantifying microplastics in freshwater environments in China.
Beth Dunstan (MRes) Response of caddisfly larvae to heavy metal pollution in former mining areas
Emily Richardson (MRes) Public engagement with projection relief augmented models for flood risk education
Cesar Rodrigues (Sir Francis Hill Scholarship) Thermal ecology of invasive and native crayfish
Charlotte Viner (School of Geography and Engineering Scholarship) Incorporating biogeomorphological feedbacks into sediment transport modelling in rivers
Tianyang Du (Vice Chancellors Scholarship) Monitoring and modelling thermal pollution in river systems
Callum Ramage (NERC ENVISION) Sources, pathways and ecological impacts of heavy metal and organic pollutants in Kruger National Park
Hannah Markham (NERC ENVISION) Impact of elevated phosphorus and fine sediment on aquatic invertebrate egg development
Thomas Stanton (MRes 2014-15) Methodological developments for extracting microplastics from environmental matrices
Mikaela D'Souza (MRes 2018-19) Public perceptions of flood management schemes in the UK
Samuel Valman (MRes 2018-19) Developing a typology of stream in the anthropocene: Disconnections between controls on river characteristics
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:
- 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:
- Earth and Environmental Dynamics (1st year - F81125)
- Foundations of Environmental Management (MSc Environmental Management - F84153)
- Environmental Management in Practice (MSc Environmental Management - F84154)
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.