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Rachel Stubbington

Rachel Stubbington


School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Dr Rachel Stubbington:

  • is a Professor in River Ecology, and an international research leader in freshwater ecology, with expertise in ecological community responses to drought and drying in perennial and temporary river ecosystems.
  • leads the Dynamic Streams Research Group, whose members include doctoral researcher Kieran Gething, with recent members including PhD researcher Chloe Hayes, Research Assistants George Bunting, Giulio Biondi and Jamal Kabir, and post-doctoral Research Fellow Romain Sarremejane
  • is a Fellow of the Freshwater Biological Association.
  • was a leading member of the EU COST Action CA15113 Science and Management of Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams (SMIRES) 2016-20 including membership of the Management Committee and Steering Committee, and leadership of Working Group 4: Community Ecology and Biomonitoring of IRES (2016-20)
  • is an interactive teacher, contributing primarily to the CIEEM-accredited Environmental Biology pathway of BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences.
  • is Course Leader for BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences; Pathway Leader for BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Environmental Biology); and Module Leader for undergraduate modules including Freshwater Ecosystems.

Career overview

Dr Stubbington obtained a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Biology from Nottingham Trent University in 2006 and a PhD in freshwater ecology from Loughborough University (Department of Geography) in 2011.

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:

  • Effective biomonitoring of ecosystem health in wet and dry temporary streams
  • The aquatic–terrestrial biodiversity of wet–dry temporary streams
  • The effects of climate change and drought on winterbourne and perennial chalk rivers in a multiple-stressor context
  • Invertebrate community responses to variation in surface flow, including stream drying
  • Interactions between connected benthic and hyporheic communities
  • The hyporheic zone and 'seedbank' as refuges for aquatic invertebrates
  • 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.

Dr Stubbington is an Editor-in-Chief for the journal Fundamental and Applied Limnology (FAL), is Editor of FBA News: the Freshwater Biological Association Newsletter, and is on the Editorial Board for the journal Freshwater Biology. She is a member of the British Ecological Society Review College, and contributed to the UK NERC Capital Call and the Poland National Science Centre OPUS scheme as an expert panel member in 2022.

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 researcher Kieran Gething at NTU. She previously co-supervised PhD researchers Carlos Abrahams and Chloe Hayes (who successfully defended their theses NTU in 2022) and Atish Vadher, based at Loughborough University. She also previously supervised NTU-based post-doctoral and post-graduate research projects completed by Giulio Biondi, George Bunting, Jake Dimon, Jamal Kabir, Kate Mathers and Romain Sarremejane.

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, Catalonia)

Drs Manuela Morais and Maria Helena Novais (Universidade de Évora, Portugal)

Dr María Mar Sánchez-Montoya (University of Madrid)

Prof. Dr Peter Haase (Senckenberg Research Institute)

Dr Dan Allen  (Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences)

Dr Albert Ruhi (UC Berkeley)


Professor Paul J Wood (Loughborough University)

Dr Judy England, Tim Sykes, Sian Davies, Lesley Rippon and Stuart Allen (Environment Agency)

Craig Macadam (Buglife)

Dr Tom Aspin and Dr Andy House (Wessex Water)

Chris Mainstone and Jon Webb (Natural England)

Chris Westwood (independent)

Recent external research funding has included:

  • Stubbington R, England J (collaborators). Ecological responses of chalk streams to future climate change in a context of multiple pressures. Senior Research Fellow. Environment Agency 2022. £80,000.
  • Stubbington R (contract). Ecological responses to drought: thematic essay. Environment Agency 2022. £4,884.
  • Stubbington R, Sykes T (collaborators). Characterising the aquatic–terrestrial biodiversity of dynamic freshwater ecosystems. Match fund PhD.  Environment Agency 2022. £48,080.
  • 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.



Datry, T., Truchy, A., Olden, J., Busch, M., Stubbington, R. Dodds, W.K., Zipper, S. ... Allen, D. 2022. Causes, responses, and implications of anthropogenic versus natural flow intermittence in river networks. BioScience. In press.

Gething, K.J., Hayes, C., Webb, J.R., Sykes, T., England, J. and Stubbington, R. 2022. Living on the edge: predicting invertebrate richness and rarity in disturbance-prone aquatic–terrestrial ecosystems. Ecological Solutions and Evidence. In press.

Soto, I., Cuthbert, R.N., Ahmed, D.A., Kouba, A., Domisch, S., Marquez, J.R., Beidas, ... Stubbington, R. ...  Haubrock, P.J. 2022. Tracking a killer shrimp: Dikerogammarus villosus invasion dynamics across Europe. Diversity and Distributions.

Haubrock, P.J., Ahmed, D.A., Cuthbert, R.N., Stubbington, R., Domisch, S., Marquez, J.R., Beidas, A., ... Soto, I. 2022. Invasion impacts and dynamics of a European‐wide introduced species. Global Change Biology 28: 4620–4632.

DelVecchia, A.G., Shanafield, M., Zimmer, M.A., Busch, M.H., Krabbenhoft, C.A., Stubbington, R., Kaiser, K.E., ... Kampf, S.K. 2022. Reconceptualizing the hyporheic zone for nonperennial rivers and streams. Freshwater Science 41: 2.

Webb, J.R., Gething, K.J., Kratz, C.C., England, J., Drewitt, A.L. and Stubbington, R. 2022. A standardized multi‐method survey to enhance characterization of riparian invertebrate communities. Water and Environment Journal 36: 425–432.

Stubbington, R., Gething, K.J. and Sykes, T. 2022. Chalk streams: why ‘England’s rainforests’ are so rare and precious. The Conversation.

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

Stubbington, R., Sarremejane, R., Laini, A., Cid, N., Csabai, Z., England, J., ... Datry, T. 2022. Disentangling community responses to natural stressor and human impact gradients in river ecosystems across Europe. Journal of Applied Ecology 59: 537–548.


Blackman, R.C., Altermatt, F., Foulquier, A., Lefébure, T., Gauthier, M., Leese, F., Stubbington, R. and Datry, T. 2021. Unlocking our understanding of intermittent and ephemeral rivers with genomic tools. Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment 19: 574–583.

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

Sarremejane, R., Stubbington, R., England, J. Sefton, C., Parry, S., Eastman, M. and Ruhi, A. 2021. Drought effects on invertebrate metapopulation dynamics and quasi-extinction risk in an intermittent river network. Global Change Biology 27: 4024–4039. 10.1111/gcb.15720

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

Peralta-Maraver, I., Stubbington, R., Arnon, S., Kratina, P., Krause, S., de Mello Cionek, V., ... Milner, V. S. 2021. The riverine bioreactor: an integrative perspective on biological decomposition of organic matter across riverine habitats. Science of The Total Environment 772: 145494.

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

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

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


Sarremejane, R., Cid, N., Stubbington, R., Datry, T., Alp, M., Cañedo-Argüelles, M., ... Bonada, N. 2020. DISPERSE, A trait database to assess the dispersal potential of European aquatic macroinvertebrates. Scientific Data 7: 386.

Sarremejane, R., England, J., Sefton, C.E.M., Parry, S., Eastman, M. and Stubbington, R. 2020. Local and regional drivers influence how aquatic community diversity, resistance and resilience vary in response to drying. Oikos 129: 1877–1890.

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

Stubbington, R., Acreman M., Acuña, V., Boon, P.J., Boulton, A. J., England, J., ... Wood, P. J. 2020. Ecosystem services of dry temporary streams differ among regions with contrasting climates and economies. People and Nature, 2: 660–667.

Blackman, R.C., Bruder, A., Burdon, F.J., Convey, P., Funk, W.C., Jähnig, S.C., ... Stubbington, R. 2020. A meeting framework for inclusive and sustainable science. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4: 668–671.

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

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

Acuña, V., Jorda-Capdevila, D., Vezza, P., De Girolamo, A.M., McClain, M.E., Stubbington, R., ... Datry, T. 2020. Accounting for flow intermittency in environmental flows design. Journal of Applied Ecology 57: 742–753.


Von Schiller, D., Datry, T., Corti, R., Foulquier, A., Tockner, K., Marcé, R., ... Zoppini, A. 2019. Sediment respiration pulses in intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 33: 1251–1263.

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

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

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

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

Straka, M., Polášek, M., Syrovátkab, V., Stubbington, R., Zahrádkova, S., Němejcováa, D., ... Pařil, P. 2019. Recognition of stream drying based on benthic macroinvertebrates: a new tool in Central Europe. Ecological Indicators 106: 105486.

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

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

Leigh, C., Boersma, K.S., Galatowitsch, M.L., Milner, V.S. and Stubbington, R. 2019. Are all rivers equal? Perceptions of temporary and perennial rivers. People and Nature 1: 181–190.

Pařil, P., Řezníčková, P., Zahrádková, S., Leigh, C. and Stubbington, R. 2019. Short-term streambed drying events alter amphipod population structure in a central European stream. Fundamental and Applied Limnology 193: 51–64.

Shumilova, O., Zak, D., Datry, T., von Schiller, D., Corti, R., Foulquier, A., ... Zarfl, C. 2019. Simulating rewetting events in intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams: a global analysis of leached nutrients and organic matter. Global Change Biology 25: 1591–1611.

Stubbington, R., Barthès, A., Bouchez, A., England, J., Paillex, A., Sánchez-Montoya, M., ... Datry, T. 2019. Biotic groups as indicators of dry-phase ecological quality assessments in intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams. Ecological Indicators 97: 165–174.

2018 and earlier

Marshall, J.C., Acuña, V., Allen, D.C., Bonada, N., Boulton, A.J., Carlson, S.M., ... Vander Vorste, R. 2018. Protecting US temporary waterways. Science 36: 856–857.

Datry, T., Foulquier, A., Corti, R., von Schiller, D., Tockner, K., Mendoza-Lera, C., ... Zoppini, A. 2018. A global analysis of terrestrial plant litter dynamics in non-perennial waterways. Nature Geoscience 11: 497–503.

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

Vadher, A.N., Millett, J., Stubbington, R. and Wood, P.J. 2018. The duration of channel drying affects survival of Gammarus pulex (Amphipoda: Gammaridae) within subsurface sediments: an experimental flume study. Hydrobiologia 820: 165–173.

Vadher, A.N., Millett, J., Stubbington, R. and Wood, P.J. 2018 Drying duration and stream characteristics influence macroinvertebrate survivorship within the sediments of a temporary channel and exposed gravel bars of a connected perennial stream. Hydrobiologia 2018: 121–132.

Stubbington, R., Chadd, R., Cid, N., Csabai, Z., Miliša, M., Morais, M., ... Datry, T. 2018. Biomonitoring of intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams in Europe: current practice and priorities to enhance ecological status assessments. Science of the Total Environment 618: 1096–1113.

Datry, T., Singer, G., Sauquet, E., Jorda-Capdevila, D., von Schiller, D., Stubbington, R., ... Zoppini, A. 2017. Science and Management of Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams (SMIRES). Research Ideas and Outcomes 3: e21774.

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

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

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

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

Stubbington, R., Wood, P.J., Gunn, J., Little, S. and Worrall, T.P. 2016. Macroinvertebrate seedbank composition in relation to antecedent duration of drying and multiple wet-dry cycles in a temporary stream. Freshwater Biology 61: 1293–1307.

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

Vadher, A.N., Stubbington, R. and Wood, P.J. 2015. Fine sediment reduces vertical migrations of Gammarus pulex (Crustacea: Amphipoda) in response to surface water loss. Hydrobiologia 753: 61–71.

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

Stubbington, R. and Datry, T. 2013. The macroinvertebrate seedbank promotes community persistence in temporary rivers across climate zones. Freshwater Biology 58: 1202–1220.

Stubbington, R., Wood, P.J., Reid, I. and Gunn, J. 2011. Benthic and hyporheic invertebrate community responses to seasonal flow recession in a karst stream. Ecohydrology 4: 500–511.

Stubbington, R., Greenwood, A.M., Wood, P.J., Armitage, P.D., Gunn, J. and Robertson, A.L. 2009. The response of perennial and temporary headwater stream invertebrate communities to hydrological extremes. Hydrobiologia 630: 299–312.

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

Stubbington, R., Terrell-Nield, C. and Harding, P. 2008. The first occurrence of the Ponto-Caspian invader, Hemimysis anomala GO Sars, 1907 (Mysidacea) in the UK. Crustaceana 81: 43–55.

Stubbington, R., Dunscombe, M.P. and Gledhill, T. 2008. Occurrence of Antrobathynella stammeri (Jakobi, 1954) (Crustacea: Syncarida: Bathynellidae) in the hyporheic zones of two English karst rivers. Cave and Karst Science 35: 59–62.

Holdich, D., Gallagher, S., Rippon, L., Harding, P. and Stubbington, R. 2006. The invasive Ponto-Caspian mysid, Hemimysis anomala, reaches the UK. Aquatic Invasions 1: 4–6.

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