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Rachel Stubbington

Rachel Stubbington


School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Dr Rachel Stubbington:

Career overview

Dr Stubbington has a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Biology from Nottingham Trent University and a PhD in freshwater ecology from Loughborough University (Department of Geography).

Dr Stubbington joined the Biosciences team at NTU in 2010, having previously been employed as a:

  • Research Assistant on a NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) funded project investigating the response of river invertebrates to drought (Loughborough University, Department of Geography).
  • Ecological Appraisal Assistant at the Environment Agency, a role which included biomonitoring of groups including fish, invertebrates and macrophytes as well as assessing environmental impacts of proposed developments.

Research areas

Dr Stubbington's research interests centre on the responses of freshwater invertebrate communities to flow variability in dynamic stream ecosystems. In particular, she is interested in:

  • Resistance and resilience of aquatic invertebrates in temporary streams
  • Effective biomonitoring in temporary streams: transcending aquatic-terrestrial boundaries
  • The hyporheic zone and 'seedbank' as refuges for aquatic invertebrates
  • Invertebrate community responses to variation in surface flow, including drying
  • Interactions between connected benthic and hyporheic communities
  • The distribution, spread and impacts of invasive freshwater invertebrates

Dr Stubbington leads the Dynamic Streams Research Groupan internationally renowned centre of research exploring ecological responses to drought and drying in temporary and perennial streams:

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research exist within the discipline of freshwater ecology, in particular relating to the effects of drought disturbances and natural intermittence on invertebrate communities in temporary and perennial streams. Further information regarding MPhil/PhD study may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

External activity

Freshwater Ecology

Dr Stubbington was a member of the EU-funded COST Action CA15113 Science and Management of Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams (IRES) 2016-2020, including membership of the Management Committee and Steering Group, and leadership of Working Group 4: Biomonitoring of IRES.

She is an Editor-in-Chief for the journal Fundamental and Applied Limnology (FAL), and has recently reviewed articles for journals including FAL, Freshwater Biology, Freshwater Science, Global Change Biology, Journal of Applied Ecology and PLoS One, and is a member of the British Ecological Society Review College.

Dr Stubbington participates in international conferences as a presenter and session co-convener, including events organised by the Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences and the Society for Freshwater Science. She is regularly invited to speak at international events, and delivered a plenary at the 3rd Central European Symposium for Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Research (CESAMIR) in Łódź, Poland, in 2018, and at the World Biodiversity Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2020.

She is a member of the following organisations:

Dr Stubbington is Director of Studies for PhD researchers Carlos Abrahams, Chloe Hayes, Kieran Gething at NTU. She previously co-supervised PhD researcher Atish Vadher, based at Loughborough University. She also manages Research Assistant Giulio Biondi, and previously supervised NTU-based post-doctoral research projects completed by Romain Sarremejane, George Bunting, and Kate Mathers.

In collaboration with Environment Agency scientists, Dr Stubbington has organised and hosted a national meeting about Temporary Rivers and Streams at NTU each year since 2016, attracting support from funders including the British Ecological Society Aquatic Ecology Group, and bringing together participants from across industry and academia.

Bioscience learning and teaching

Dr Stubbington acted as External Examiner covering Ecology and Environmental Biology provision at the University of Hull from 2016 to 2020.

She is an active participant in UK bioscience learning and teaching events and has contributed to OUP Bioscience Education Summits, a Higher Education Academy STEM conference, and Royal Society of Biology Heads of UK Bioscience (HUBS) meetings.

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and recent collaborators include:


Drs Thibault Datry and Romain Sarremejane (EcoFlowS lab, INRAE, Lyon, France)

Drs Alex Laini and Gemma Burgazzi (University of Parma, Italy)

Drs Núria Bonada, Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles and Daniel Von Schiller (FEHM Lab, Universitat de Barcelona)

Professor Andrew Boulton (University of New England, Australia)

Dr Cath Leigh (RMIT University, Australia)

Dr Ross Vander Vorste (University of Wisconsin La Crosse)

Dr Albert Ruhi (UC Berkeley)


Professor Paul J Wood (Loughborough University)

Dr Judy England, Richard Chadd and Tim Sykes (Environment Agency)

Jon Webb (Natural England)

Chris Westwood (independent)

Recent external research funding has included:

  • Stubbington R, Sykes T (collaborators). Characterising the diversity of temporary chalk spring and winterbournes. Research Assistant. Environment Agency. 2021. £29,700
  • Stubbington R, Sykes T (collaborators). Recognizing and protecting the aquatic-terrestrial biodiversity of dynamic river ecosystems. Matched-funding PhD studentship. 2019-22. £40,000.
  • Stubbington R, Sykes T, England J (collaborators). Understanding the Candover Brook Winterbourne Project. Research Assistant. Environment Agency. 2019. £39,000
  • Stubbington R, England J (collaborators). Invertebrate community responses to flow intermittence and drought in Hertfordshire chalk streams. Research Fellow. Environment Agency. 2019. £24,000
  • Stubbington R (principal investigator) et al. Natural Capital Synthesis Report. The Natural Capital of Temporary Rivers. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) via the Valuing Nature Programme NE/M005410/1. 2018. £8,000.
  • Bonada N, Stubbington R (co-applicant) et al. MECODISPER: Freshwater metacommunities in intermittent rivers. Ministerio de Economia, Industria y Competitividad, Spain. 2018-2021. E175,000
  • Stubbington R, England J (collaborators). Drought effects on invertebrate communities in chalk rivers. Research Fellow. Environment Agency. 2017, £44,000.
  • Stubbington R, England J (collaborators). Ecological responses to hydrological dynamism in temporary river ecosystems. Matched-funding PhD studentship. 2016. £44,000.
  • Datry T, Stubbington R (co-applicant) et al. COST Action CA15113 Science and Management of Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams (SMIRES),  European Cooperation in Science & Technology 2016-2020. Value unavailable.
  • England J, Stubbington R (co-applicant). Grant for workshop hosting, British Ecological Society Aquatic Ecology Group. 2016. <£1000.



Miliša, M., Stubbington, R., Datry, T., Cid, N., Bonada, N., Šumanović, M. and Milošević, D. 2021. Macroinvertebrate flow-intermittence sensitivities: a key to resolving the intermittent watershed ecological state assessment. 2022. Science of the Total Environment,  804, 150022


Disentangling community responses to natural stressor and human impact gradients in river ecosystems across Europe. Stubbington, R., Sarremejane, R., Laini, A., Cid, N., Csabai, Z., England, J., Munné, A., Aspin, T., Bonada, N., Bruno, D., Cauvy-Fraunié, S., Chadd, R., Dienstl, C., Fortuño Estrada, P., Graf, W., Gutiérrez-Cánovas, C., House, A., Karaouzas, I., Kazila, E., Millán, A., Morais, M., Pařil, P., Pickwell, A., Polášek, M., Sánchez-Fernández, D., Tziortzis, I., Várbíró, G., Voreadou, C., Walker-Holden, E., White, J. and Datry, T. Early View. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Unlocking our understanding of intermittent and ephemeral rivers with genomic tools. Blackman, R. C., Altermatt, F., Foulquier, A., Lefébure, T., Gauthier, M., Leese, F., Stubbington, R. & Thibault Datry. Early View. Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment.

Biotic indices of hydrological variability as tools to inform dynamic ecological status assessments in river ecosystems. Theodoropoulos, C., Karaouzas, I. & Stubbington, R. 2021. Journal of Environmental Management, 295, 113124.

Drought increases aquatic invertebrate metapopulation extinction risk by synchronizing local responses in river networks. Sarremejane, R., Stubbington, R., England, J. Sefton, C., Parry, S., Eastman, M. & Ruhi, A. 2021. Global Change Biology, 27, 4024–4039. 10.1111/gcb.15720

Climatic aridity increases temporal community nestedness of invertebrates in naturally drying rivers. Vander Vorste, R., Stubbington, R., Acuña, V., Bogan, M. T., Bonada, N., Cid, N., Datry, T., Storey, R., Wood, P. J. and Ruhi, A. 2021. Ecography, 44, 860–869

The riverine bioreactor: an integrative perspective on biological decomposition of organic matter across riverine habitats. Peralta-Maraver, I., Stubbington, R., Arnon, S., Kratina, P., Krause, S., de Mello Cionek, V., Leite, N. K., da Silva, A. L. L., Thomaz, S. M., Posselt, M. and Milner, V. S. 2021. Science of The Total Environment, 772, 145494.

Research advances from SEFS11: The 11th Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences (Editorial to the Special Issue in Fundamental and Applied Limnology). Pardo, I., Stubbington, R., Tiegs, S. and Robertson, A. 2021. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 194: 151–154.

Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate community responses to drying in chalk streams. Bunting, G., England, J., Gething, K., Sykes, T., Webb, J. and Stubbington, R. 2021. Water and Environment Journal, 35, 299–241.

The Plant Flow Index: a new method to assess the hydroecological status of intermittent rivers. Westwood, C.G., England, J., Hayes, C., Johns, T. and Stubbington, R. 2021. Ecological Indicators, 120, 106964.


DISPERSE, A trait database to assess the dispersal potential of European aquatic macroinvertebrates. Sarremejane, R., Cid, N., Stubbington, R. et al. Scientific Data, 7, 386.

Long-term invertebrate community responses to drying differ among streams with contrasting flow permanence. Sarremejane, R., England, J., Sefton, C. E. M., Parry, S., Eastman, M. and Stubbington, R. Oikos, 129: 1877–1890.

Communities in high definition: spatial and environmental factors shape the small-scale distribution of aquatic invertebrates. Burgazzi, G., Laini, A., Ovaskainen, O., Saccò, M., Stubbington, R. and Viaroli, P. 2020. Freshwater Biology, 65, 2053–2065.

Ecosystem services of dry temporary streams differ among regions with contrasting climates and economies. Stubbington, R., Acreman M., Acuña, V., Boon, P. J., Boulton, A. J., England, J., Gilvear, D., Sykes, T. and Wood, P. J. 2020. People and Nature, 2, 660–667. DOI 10.1002/pan3.10113

A meeting framework for inclusive and sustainable science. Blackman, R. C., Bruder, A., Burdon, F. J., Convey, P., Funk, W. C., Jähnig, S. C., Kishe, M. A., Moretti, M. S., Natugonza, V., Pawlowski, J. and Stubbington, R. 2020. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4, 668–671. DOI 10.1038/s41559-020-1190-x

A metacommunity approach to improve biological assessments in highly dynamic freshwater ecosystems. Cid, N., Bonada, N., Heino, J., Cañedo-Argüelles, M., Crabot, J., Sarremejane, R., Soininen, J., Stubbington, R. and Datry, T. 2020. Bioscience 70, 427–438. DOI 10.1093/biosci/biaa033 Editor’s Choice.

A revised classification of southern English groundwater-fed headwaters based on their flora. 2020. Westwood, C.G., England, J., Johns, T. and Stubbington, R. Water and Environment Journal, 34, 573–585. DOI 10.1111/wej.12561

DISPERSE: A trait database to assess the dispersal potential of aquatic macroinvertebrates. Sarremejane, R., Puey, N. C., Datry, T., Stubbington, R., Alp, M., Canedo-Arguelles, M., Cordero-Rivera, A., Csabai, Z., Gutiérrez-Canovas, C., Heino, J. and Forcellini, M. 2020. bioRxiv. DOI 10.1101/2020.02.21.953737 [preprint]

Accounting for flow intermittency in environmental flows design. Acuña, V., Jorda-Capdevila, D., Vezza, P., De Girolamo, A. M., McClain, M. E., Stubbington, R., Pastor, A., Lamouroux, N., von Schiller, D., Munné, A. and Datry T. 2020. Journal of Applied Ecology, 57, 742–753. DOI 10.1111/1365-2664.13590


Sediment respiration pulses in intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams. Von Schiller, D. et al. including Stubbington, R. 2019. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 33, 1251–1263 DOI 10.1029/2019GB006276

Alpha and beta diversity of connected benthic–subsurface invertebrate communities respond to drying in dynamic river ecosystems. Stubbington, R., Sarremejane, R. and Datry, T. 2019. Ecography, 42, 2060–2073. DOI 10.1111/ecog.04592

Biological indices to characterize community responses to drying in streams with contrasting flow permanence regimes. Sarremejane, R., Stubbington, R., Dunbar, M. J., Westwood, C. G.and England, J. 2019. Ecological Indicators, 107, 105620. DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.105620

Flow intermittence in dendritic networks: progress towards a global understanding of ecological diversity in aquatic-terrestrial ecosystems. Stubbington, R., Milner, V. S. and Wood, P. J. 2019. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 193, 1-19. DOI 10.1127/fal/2019/1265

An invertebrate-based index to characterize ecological responses to flow intermittence in rivers. England, J., Chadd, R., Dunbar, M.J., Sarremejane, R., Stubbington, R., Westwood, C.G. and Leeming, D. 2019. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 193, 93-117. DOI 10.1127/fal/2019/1206

Recognition of stream drying based on benthic macroinvertebrates: a new tool in Central Europe. Straka, M., Polášek, M., Syrovátkab, V., Stubbington, R., Zahrádkova, S., Němejcováa, D., Šikulová, L., Řezníčková, P., Opatřilová, L., Datry, T. and Pařil, P. 2019. Ecological Indicators, 106, 105486. DOI /10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.105486

Parallels and contrasts between intermittently freezing and drying streams: From individual adaptations to biodiversity variation. Tolonen, K., Picazo, F., Vilmi, A., Datry, T., Stubbington, R., Pařil, P. Perez Rocha, M. and Heino, J. 2019. Freshwater Biology, 64,1679-1691. DOI 10.1111/fwb.13373

Structural and functional responses of macroinvertebrate assemblages to long-term flow variability and drying at perennial and non-perennial sites. Mathers, K., Stubbington, R., Leeming, D., Westwood, C.G and England J. 2019. Ecohydrology, 12, e2112. DOI 10.1002/eco.2112

Are all rivers equal? Perceptions of temporary and perennial rivers. Leigh, C., Boersma, K.S., Galatowitsch, M.L., Milner, V. S. and Stubbington, R. People and Nature, 2019, 1, 181-190. DOI 10.1002/pan3.22

Short-term streambed drying events alter amphipod population structure in a central European stream. Pařil P, Řezníčková P, Zahrádková S, Leigh C, Stubbington R. 2019. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, DOI 10.1127/fal/2019/1164

Simulating rewetting events in intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams: a global analysis of leached nutrients and organic matter. Shumilova O et al. including Stubbington R. 2019. Global Change Biology, 193, 51-64. DOI 10.1111/gcb.14537

Biotic groups as indicators of dry-phase ecological quality assessments in intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams. Stubbington R, Barthès A, Bouchez A, England J, Paillex A, Sánchez-Montoya M, Verdonschot R C M, Westwood C G, Datry T. Ecological Indicators, 2019, 97, 165-174 DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.09.061 

2018 and earlier

Protecting US temporary waterways. Marshall J C, Acuña V, Allen D C, Bonada N, Boulton A J, Carlson S M, Dahm C N, Datry T, Leigh C, Negus P, Richardson J S, Sabater S, Stevenson R J, Steward A L, Stubbington R, Tockner K, Vander Vorste R. Science, 2018, 36, 856-857. DOI  10.1126/science.aav0839

A global analysis of terrestrial plant litter dynamics in non-perennial waterways. Datry T et al. including Stubbington R. Nature Geoscience, 2018, 11, 497-503. DOI 10.1038/s41561-018-0134-4

The Natural Capital of Temporary Rivers: Characterising the value of dynamic aquatic-terrestrial habitats. Stubbington R, England J, Acreman M, Wood P J, Westwood C, Boon P, Mainstone C, Macadam C, Bates A., House A, Jorda-Capdevila D. 2018. Valuing Nature. Natural Capital Synthesis Report VNP12. Available at:

The duration of channel drying affects survival of Gammarus pulex (Amphipoda: Gammaridae) within subsurface sediments: an experimental flume study. Vadher A N, Millett J, Stubbington R, Wood P J. Hydrobiologia, 2018, 820 165-73. DOI 10.1007/s10750-018-3652-6

Drying duration and stream characteristics influence macroinvertebrate survivorship within the sediments of a temporary channel and exposed gravel bars of a connected perennial stream. Vadher AN, Millett J, Stubbington R, Wood P J. Hydrobiologia, 2018, 814, 121-32. DOI 10.1007%2Fs10750-018-3544-9

Biomonitoring of intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams in Europe: current practice and priorities to enhance ecological status assessments. Stubbington R, Chadd R, Cid N, Csabai Z, Miliša M, Morais M, Munné A, Pařil P, Pešić V, Tziortzis I, Verdonschot R C M, Datry T. Science of the Total Environment, 2018, 618, 1096-1113. DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.09.137

Science and Management of Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams (SMIRES). Datry T et al. including Stubbington R. Research Ideas and Outcomes, 2017, 3, e21774. DOI: 10.3897/rio.3.e21774

Vertical movements through subsurface stream sediments by benthic macroinvertebrates during experimental drying are influenced by sediment characteristics and species traits. Vadher A N, Leigh C, Millett J, Stubbington R, Wood P J. Freshwater Biology, 2017, 62, 1730-1740. DOI 10.1111/fwb.12983

Temporary streams in temperate zones: recognizing, monitoring and restoring transitional aquatic-terrestrial ecosystems. Stubbington R, England J, Sefton C, Wood P J. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs): Water, 2017, 4, e1223. DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1223

Characterization of the density and body size of a Gammarus pulex (Crustacea: Amphipoda) population in subsurface sediments reflects the sampling technique used. Stubbington R, Hogan J P, Wood P J. Hydrobiologia, 2017, 788, 293-303. DOI 10.1007/s10750-016-3008-z

Characterization of macroinvertebrate communities in the hyporheic zone of river ecosystems reflects the pump-sampling technique used. Stubbington R., Dole-Olivier M J, Galassi D, Hogan J P, Wood P J. PLoS One, 2016, 11, e0164372. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0164372

Macroinvertebrate seedbank composition in relation to antecedent duration of drying and multiple wet-dry cycles in a temporary stream. Stubbington R, Wood PJ, Gunn J, Little S, Worrall TP. Freshwater Biology, 2016, 61, 1293–1307. DOI 10.1111/fwb.12770

How good are Bayesian belief networks for environmental management? A test with multiple stressors in a New Zealand river. Death R G, Death F, Stubbington R, Joy M, van den Belt M. Freshwater Biology, 2015, 60, 2297-2309. DOI 10.1111/fwb.12655

Fine sediment reduces vertical migrations of Gammarus pulex (Crustacea: Amphipoda) in response to surface water loss. Vadher AN, Stubbington R, Wood P J. Hydrobiologia, 2015, 753, 61-71. DOI 10.1007/s10750-015-2193-5

Changes in invertebrate assemblage composition in benthic and hyporheic zones during a severe supraseasonal drought. Stubbington R, Boulton A J, Little S, Wood P J. Freshwater Science, 2015, 34, 344-354. DOI 10.1086/679467

The macroinvertebrate seedbank promotes community persistence in temporary rivers across climate zones. Stubbington R, Datry T. Freshwater Biology, 2013, 58, 1202-1220. DOI 10.1111/fwb.12121

Benthic and hyporheic invertebrate community responses to seasonal flow recession in a karst stream. Stubbington R, Wood P J, Reid I, Gunn J. Ecohydrology, 2011, 4, 500-511. DOI 10.1002/eco.168

The response of perennial and temporary headwater stream invertebrate communities to hydrological extremes. Stubbington R, Greenwood A M, Wood P J, Armitage P D, Gunn J, Robertson A L. Hydrobiologia, 2009, 630, 299-312. DOI 10.1007/s10750-009-9823-8

Low flow controls on benthic and hyporheic macroinvertebrate assemblages during supra-seasonal drought. Stubbington R, Wood P J, Boulton A J. Hydrological Processes, 2009, 23, 2252-2263. DOI 10.1002/hyp.7290

See all of Rachel Stubbington's publications...

Press expertise

  • Freshwater ecology and river ecosystems
  • How freshwater invertebrate communities respond to environmental change
  • Climate change and drought-related water loss from perennial and temporary streams