School of Geography

Dr Gemma Harvey

Gemma

Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography

Email: g.l.harvey@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2722
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 212

Profile

My research addresses key questions in biogeomorphology to inform sustainable environmental management.  This includes understanding system disturbance and the biogeomorphic feedbacks influencing landscape restoration and management. I develop and test conceptual frameworks for understanding system responses to invasive species impacts and to different styles of environmental restoration. I use novel field and laboratory approaches to develop foundational evidence for the biogeomorphic effects of invasive species, and the potential role of plants and animals as ‘ecosystem engineers’ in environmental restoration.

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

Key publications:

  • Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Brasington J and England J (2019) Burrowing invasive species: an unquantified erosion risk at the aquatic-terrestrial interface. Reviews of Geophysics. DOI:10.1029/2018RG000635.
  • Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Parker C, Sayer CD. (2018) Re-introduction of structurally complex wood jams promotes channel and habitat recovery from overwidening: Implications for river conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems: 28: 395-407.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Teaching

I teach at undergraduate and postgraduate level, focusing on geomorphology, hydrology, river management and restoration and flood risk management. I am the programme convenor for the Water and Environmental Management MSc. In addition to lectures and seminars, my teaching incorporates physical modelling experiments in our River Lab, statistical analysis of research data sets and field teaching at my research sites. I also develop modules and projects that engage our students with external organisations and events related to environmental management to support future careers in the water and environment sector.

Modules taught:

  • GEG5225 Geomorphology (convenor)
  • GEG7318 Catchment Science in Practice (convenor)
  • GEG7319 Environmental Data Acquisition and Analysis (convenor)
  • GEG7317 River Assessment and Restoration
  • GEG7314 Flood Risk Management and Modelling
  • GEG7308 Individual Research Project (convenor)
  • GEG7142 Advanced Readings (convenor)

Research

Research Interests:

Biogeomorphic feedbacks influencing landscape restoration and management

Plants and animals acting as ‘ecosystem engineers’ can have profound effects on landform and landscape dynamics. My research explores the biogeomorphic effects of a range of ecosystem engineers including aquatic plants, trees, mammals and invertebrates and across multiple scales, from individual sediment grains to landscapes. Many species have the potential to contribute to sustainable and cost-effective environmental restoration by working with natural processes. I am co-leading a QMUL-funded research project that will characterise vegetation dynamics at a pioneering rewilding site to support research into the hydrological and geomorphological effects of landscape rewilding. Some of my recent projects have explored the potential for reintroduced instream wood to promote geomorphological recovery (Harvey et al., 2018; Parker et al., 2017), increase biodiversity (Pilotto et al., 2014; 2016) and mitigate the ecological impacts of hydrological disturbance (Cashman et al., 2016) in river systems. I am also interested in the two-way interactions between aquatic organisms and turbulence in rivers (Trinci et al., 2017) and have used novel field approaches to understand system responses to environmental restoration (Tempest et al., 2015; Spencer et al., 2017).

Biogeomorphic impacts of invasive species

Invasive non-native species acting as ecosystem engineers have the potential to create system disturbance and environmental management concerns. Despite this, little is currently known about the nature and extent of such impacts, despite the increasing rate of species invasions globally. I have made key contributions in this area by developing novel conceptual models to explore the impacts of invasive species on sediment dynamics and erosion in aquatic environments (Harvey et al., 2011; Harvey et al., 2019). I have also generated foundational evidence for the these impacts through novel field and laboratory approaches and analysis of large data sets. This includes establishing the role of invasive crayfish in driving fine sediment suspension through movement and burrowing activities (Harvey et al., 2014) and revealing a link between invasive species burrows and erosion across multiple catchments (Faller et al., 2016). Current research is developing tools to capture the biogeomorphic impacts of invasive species using crowd-sourced data and Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry.

Publications

A full list of publications is available here

  • Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Brasington J and England J (in press) Burrowing invasive species: an unquantified erosion risk at the aquatic-terrestrial interface. Reviews of Geophysics. DOI:10.1029/2018RG000635.
  • Pinto C, Ing R, Browning B, Delboni V, Wilson H, Martyn D and Harvey GL (2019) Hydromorphological, hydraulic and ecological effects of restored wood: findings and reflections from an academic partnership approach.  Water and Environment Journal 33: 353-365.
  • Cashman M, Wharton G, Harvey GL, Naura M and Bryden A (2018) Trends in the use of large wood in UK river restoration projects: insights from the National River Restoration Inventory. Water and Environment Journal 33: 318-328.
  • Connor-Streich G, Henshaw AJ, Brasington J, Bertoldi W and Harvey GL (2018) Let’s get connected: a new graph theory-based approach and toolbox for understanding braided river morphodynamics. WIREs Water DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1296.
  • Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Parker C, Sayer CD. (2018) Re-introduction of structurally complex wood jams promotes channel and habitat recovery from overwidening: Implications for river conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems: 28: 395-407.
  • 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.

Supervision

I welcome enquiries for applicants interested in undertaking a PhD or MSc by Research in one of the following areas:

  • Rewilding and Natural Flood Management
  • Ecosystem engineers and environmental restoration
  • Biogeomorphic impacts of invasive species

PhD students (completed):

  • 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. Awarded 2019.
  • 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. Awarded 2018.
  • Giuditta Trinci: Spatial organisation of ecologically relevant high order flow properties and implications for river habitat assessment. 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. Awarded 2017.
  • 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.

MSc by Research students (completed):

  • Mirko Mucciarelli: Geomorphological effects of large wood. Visiting Erasmus+ research masters student. Co-supervised with Dr Alex Henshaw (QMUL). Completed 2015.
  • Linda Manziezzi: Biogeochemical effects of large wood. Visiting Erasmus+ research masters student. Co-supervised with Dr Alex Henshaw (QMUL). Completed 2015.
  • James Tempest: Physical sediment properties in de-embanked saltmarshes and implications for surface and subsurface hydrological functioning. Co-supervised with Dr Kate Spencer (QMUL). Completed 2012.

Public Engagement

I collaborate with a range of external organisations in the water and environment sector to support best practice and provide decision support for environmental management and restoration. Current and recent projects involve collaboration with the Environment Agency, Jacobs, Knepp Wildland, the National Trust and the River Restoration Centre.

Examples of public engagement events, publications and collaborations include:

  • Invited paper: Invasive non-native species and biocontrol workshop, Medway Valley Partnership, 2020.
  • Articles co-published with the River Restoration Centre and the Environment Agency for a Special Issue of the water management best practice journal Water and Environment on “Large wood in river restoration and management” (Cashman et al., 2019; Pinto et al., 2019).
  • Webex with Environment Agency regional teams: Developing smartphone-based capability for assessing and managing the impacts of invasive species on river bank erosion, 2019.
  • Poster: River Restoration Annual Conference, Brighton, 2017.
  • Co-organiser: Water Conservation Trust Annual Debate, QMUL in collaboration with Ricardo-AEA and the Water Conservation Trust, 2015.
  • Event lead: UK-Brazil Learning: Cost Effective River Restoration workshop, QMUL in collaboration with the Environment Agency and Aplysia Environmental Solutions Brazil, 2015.
  • River restoration guidance document: River Restoration Centre Manual of River Restoration Techniques (2013) Introducing Sinuosity to a Straightened Channel 5.7 Felling trees into a channel to create flow diversity (River Bure).
  • Invited Speaker: UKWIR Technical Workshop on Effectiveness of Alternatives to Abstraction Reduction, UK Water Industry Research Limited and Atkins Global, 2012.
  • Advisory Board chair for Water and Environmental Management MSc (formerly Integrated Management of Freshwater Environments) comprising representatives from Atkins Global, Environment Agency, Mott Macdonald, The National Trust, Wessex Water. 2012-present.