Nicky Kerr

Nicky Kerr


I am a PhD student interested in understanding how climate change impacts freshwater ecosystems. My PhD research, funded by the NERC Panorama DTP, focusses on investigating the multi-trophic responses of river ecosystems to glacier retreat in arctic and alpine regions around the world. This research aims to understand how macroinvertebrate communities in Europe have changed with 25 years of glacier retreat, and the relationship between declining glacier cover and biofilm community structure (algae, bacteria and fungi) across five continents, by utilising a space-for-time framework for different glacier retreat scenarios. This research will further our understanding of the resilience of freshwater ecosystems to climate change, the environmental drivers of ecosystem change and higlight particular species or regions that may be under threat as glacier retreat continues in the future. 

Prior to my PhD, I obtained an MSc in ecology from the University of Otago in New Zealand, researching the links between an endemic New Zealand freshwater fish species’ diet, habitat use and behaviour. I also obtained a BSc majoring in Zoology and minoring in Ecology from the University of Otago. Between my MSc and PhD I worked in industry as an ecological consultant, analysing the impacts of land development on freshwater ecosystems, and as a freshwater technician in local government, carrying out environmental monitoring of rivers and lakes to understand the ecological health of the region. 

Research interests

  • Freshwater ecology 
  • Polar and alpine ecology
  • Climate change
  • Molecular biology and DNA sequencing
  • Diatom and macroinvertebrate taxonomy
  • Freshwater fish ecology and behaviour
  • Glaciology
  • GIS


  • MSc. Ecology, University of Otago
  • BSc. (Hons) Zoology and Ecology, University of Otago