Dr Megan Klaar

Dr Megan Klaar


I am an interdisciplinary scientist interested in the linkages between ecology, geomorphology and hydrology in order to understand how ecosystems can be managed to provide wider ecosystem benefits.  My research aims to help environmental managers and policy makers to make informed decisions regarding sustainable use of natural resources.

Prior to embarking on a career in academia, I worked in the water (water company), charity (fisheries trust) and regulatory (Environment Agency) sectors.


  • River Basin Process and Mangement cluster Co-leader

Research interests

My research focuses on the linkages between geomorphology, hydrology and ecology.  I am particularly interested in the following research areas;

  • The use of instream Natural Flood Management (NFM) interventions to reduce flood risk, including the use of environmental tracers to monitor the effectiveness of NFM techniques
  • The role of instream wood in the creation of hydraulic and geomorphic development and promotion of biogeochemical hotspots in improving river and ground water quality
  • The use of hydroecological evidence to improve water resource management policies
  • The influence of extreme hydrological events on geomorphology and ecology, including community and landform resilience and recovery


Research Supervision

Post Doctoral Researchers

Dr Maria Lathouri (Research Fellow, 2014- 2015) 'Understanding the ecological impacts of water abstraction and flow alteration' in collaboration with the University of Birmingham.  Funded by Environment Agency and Irish Ecological Protection Agency.

PhD candidates

Qiuyu Zhu (2021-2025), ‘Assessing the impacts of natural flood management on downstream flood risk’.  Self funded.

Elizabeth Townsend (2020-2024), ‘Sedimentation and invasive species in rivers: Investigation and trialling of mitigation options relevant to invasive non-native species related sediment inputs in the Derwent catchment’.  NERC PANORAMA DTP, with CASE funding by Yorkshire Water.

Andrew Johnson (2018-2022), 'Examining the role of habitat quality in determining river ecosystem resilience to extreme events'.  NERC CASE funded in collaboration with JBA Trust.

Cordula Wittekind (2018-2022), 'Future river flows: designing and modelling environmental flow regimes to account for changing climate and policy drivers'.  European H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant Euro-FLOW

Saman Hashemi (2018- 2022), 'Designing the ideal river flow regime: designer flows for delivering good ecological potential in regulated rivers'.  European H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant Euro-FLOW

Tapiwa Zimunya (2018-2022), 'River food web responses to reservoir outflow manipulation'  European H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant Euro-FLOW

Louise Brown (2017- 2022), 'Investigating marine benthic ecosystem response to global environmental change'.  NERC CASE funded in collaboration with CEFAS.

Ho Wen Lo (2017- 2021), 'Evaluating the secondary effects of natural flood management projects in upland environments'.  Self funded.

Zora van Leeuwen (2016- 2021), 'Woody debris effects on upland river hydromorphological processes'.  NERC CASE funded in collarboration with JBA

Lawrence Eagle (2015- 2019), University of Leeds in collaboration with University of Birmingham. 'Extreme summer flooding and ecosystem processes in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska'.  Funded by Leeds Anniversary Research Scholarship.

Masters by Research

Sophie Tankard (MbR student, 2020-2021), University of Leeds

Lorna Kingsbury-Smith (MbR student, 2018-2019), ‘Testing the effectiveness of land use management as a natural flood management technique’. University of Leeds.

Eleanor Pearson (MbR student, 2015- 2016), ‘The estimation of grain size from surface roughness using Structure-from-Motion wihtin a river restoration context’. University of Leeds



‘Integrating natural flood management into payment for outcomes schemes in the Yorkshire Dales’ , iCASP mini project, 2019-2020 https://icasp.org.uk/projects/payment-for-outcomes/ 

‘Prioritising Natural Flood Management interventions in Calderdale’, iCASP mini project, 2018-2021 https://icasp.org.uk/projects/calderdale-nfm/ 

‘Providing Evidence for Don Catchment Hidden Heritage Secret Streams’, iCASP mini project, 2018-2019 https://icasp.org.uk/projects/don-catchment/

'EuroFLOW: a European training and research network for environmentall FLOW management in river basins' A MARIE SKLODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded under H2020-MSCA-ITN-2017. Co-I, 2017-2020.  https://water.leeds.ac.uk/our-missions/mission-4/euroflow/

‘Supporting the Yorkshire NFM pilots to deliver evidence and guidance that will influence national implementation and financing of NFM’, NERC iCASP. Co-I, 2018-2021 https://icasp.org.uk/projects/natural-flood-management/

'HARVEST: High-mountail Asia- building Resilience to water Variability using Experiments, Surveys and accounts of Tradition', NERC, 2016-2017.

'Large woody debris- a river restoration panacea for streambed nitrate attenuation?'  2014- 2016.

A NERC- funded project to determine the efficiency of alternative (permanent and transient) instream wood restoration designs for the management of biogeochemical cycling and nutrient uptake in the hyporheic zone of lowland rivers. The outcomes of this project will directly impact river restoration management and policy and decide whether, and to what degree, instream wood restoration can be deployed in lowland steams to reduce critically high nitrogen loads.  Collaborators: University of Birmingham and Queen Mary University, London

‘Rapid Assessment of Physical Habitat Sensitivity to Abstraction’ 2013-2014
An Environment Agency/ University of Worcester funded position which sought to develop and improve the operational capacity of the Environment Agency (EA) to measure and monitor the sensitivity or rivers to river and groundwater abstractions.  A major outcome of the project was the further development and refinement of the RAPHSA (Rapid Assessment of Physical Habitat Sensitivity to Abstractions) tool which allows the EA to determine which rivers are more or less sensitive to water abstractions, and thus provide a secure foundation for the future licensing of river and groundwater abstractions within England.
Collaborators: Environment Agency, University of Worcester, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

NERC Policy Placement Fellow ‘Understanding the impacts of water abstraction and river flows on aquatic ecology’ 2011-2013
In conjunction with the Environment Agency.  This research aimed to enhance the hydroecological evidence base used by the EA to assess and regulate abstraction pressures throughout England and Wales.  Key activities included development and verification of the current method used by the EA to assess ecological consequences of abstraction pressure and the analysis of novel techniques and tools which may be used to support operational decisions.
Collaborators: Natural Environment Research Council, Environment Agency, University of Birmingham

‘Evolution of NITrogen BUFFERing capacity of land water interfaces along hydrosystems of different age (NITBUFFER)  2010-2011
This NERC funded project sought to analyse the relationship between landscape formation and nitrogen cycling processes in order to provide quantitative data on the consequences of climate change and associated deglaciation on nitrogen fluxes.  By using data obtained from remote sensing using LiDAR and satellite (Landsat) data, twinned with the measurement of rate processes involved in nitrogen cycling within different land- water interfaces, this research provided the first insights into the natural timeframe of land- water interface formation and development, and their consequences on nitrogen regulation in stream channels.
Collaborators: Prof. A. Milner & Dr R. Bartlett (Birmingham), Prof. G. Pinay (University of Rennes) and Dr C. Kidd (NASA/ University of Maryland)

The development of geomorphic and hydraulic complexity and its influence on fish communities following glacial recession in Glacier Bay, Alaska  2006-2009
Rapid glacial recession within Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, has resulted in the unique opportunity to study the formation and development of stream communities within watershed of different ages in a relatively small spatial scale. Utilising this opportunity, it is possible to monitor geomorphological development and associated ecological responses over time. The project aim was to assess the characteristics of bed morphology and hydraulics, and the influence of instream wood in determining the availability of instream habitat for Pacific salmon as they continue to colonise the developing habitats.
Collaborators: Prof. A. Milner, Dr I. Maddock (University of Worcester)

‘Sustainable bank protection strategies: A best practice guide’
ESPRC KTA program focusing the production of best practice guidelines for the sustainable management of bank erosion in large tropical river systems. Outputs of this work, including a critical review of bank protection methods, have the potential to be employed to stabilise eroding sites along the banks of large monsoonal rivers in developing nations such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Bangladesh.
Collaborators: Prof. S. Darby and Prof. P. Carling (Southampton University)

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD (Geography)
  • MSc Biology of Water Resource Mangagement
  • BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation

Professional memberships

  • Member, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
  • Chartered Environmentalist, Society for the Environment
  • British Hydrological Society

Student education

I teach on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, covering topics including water science and management, dynamic landscapes, ecosystems and dissertation support.

Research groups and institutes

  • River Basin Processes and Management
  • water@leeds

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>