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Rachel Stubbington

Rachel Stubbington

Associate Professor

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Dr Rachel Stubbington is:

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 benthic macroinvertebrates
  • Invertebrate community responses to variation in surface flow, including drying
  • Interactions between the benthic and hyporheic constituents of connected 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 is a member of the EU-funded COST Action CA15113 Science and Management of Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams, including membership of the Management Committee and Steering Group, and leadership of Working Group 4: Biomonitoring of Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams.

She is a Section Editor for the journal Fundamental and Applied Limnology (FAL), and has recently reviewed articles for journals including Aquatic Sciences, FAL, Freshwater Biology, Freshwater Science, Hydrobiologia, Inland Waters, Marine and Freshwater Research, and PLoS One.

Dr Stubbington regularly 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 July 2018.

She is a member of the following organisations:

Dr Stubbington currently supervises post-doctoral researcher Romain Sarremejane, research assistant George Bunting, and is Director of Studies for PhD students Chloe Hayes and Kieran Gething at NTU. She previously co-supervised PhD student Atish Vadher, based at Loughborough University, and post-doctoral researcher Matthew Hill, based at the University or Worcester.

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 is External Examiner covering Ecology and Environmental Biology provision at the University of Hull. She also acted as the external panel member at a University of Bedfordshire School Review.

She is an active participant in UK bioscience learning and teaching events and has recently 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:


Dr Thibault Datry and Dr Núria Cid (Irstea National Research Institute, France)

Professor Andrew Boulton (University of New England, Australia)

Dr Cath Leigh (Griffith University, Australia)

Dr Albert Ruhi and Dr Ross Vander Vorste (UC Berkeley)

Dr Russell Death (Massey University, New Zealand)

Dr Marie-Jo Dole-Olivier (Université de Lyon, France)

Prof Diana Galassi (Università degli Studi dell'Aquila, Italy)


Professor Paul J Wood and Dr Atish Vadher (Loughborough University)

Dr Romain Sarremejane (Nottingham Trent University)

Dr Judy England and Tim Sykes (Environment Agency)

Dr Tory Milner and Dr Matt Hill (University of Worcester)

Recent external research funding has included:

  • Stubbington R, Sykes T (collaborators). Recognizing and protecting the aquatic-terrestrial biodiversity of dynamic river ecosystems. Matched-funding PhD studentship. 2019. £35,000.
  • 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.


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. Ecological Indicators, 2019. 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. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 2019. 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. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 2019. 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. Ecological Indicators, 2019, 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. Freshwater Biology, 2019. 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. Ecohydrology, 2019, 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. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 2019, 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.  Global Change Biology, 2019, 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 

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