Dr Taylor Maavara

Dr Taylor Maavara


I am a freshwater biogeochemist with an expertise in quantifying the large-scale impacts that humans have on nutrient and carbon cycles in river networks worldwide. My work focuses on understanding the global impacts that climate change, river damming, and land cover changes have on phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon and silicon cycles in watersheds globally, including associated greenhouse gas cycles, as well as the ecological implications of these changes.

I use a combination of large-scale (watershed to global) modelling techniques and field methods to develop novel scaling approaches to address whole-hydrological-system questions across space and time.

I joined the School of Geography in September 2022 as a NERC Independent Research Fellow.

Prior to arriving at Leeds, I was a G. Evelyn Hutchinson Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University (2019-2022) in the School of the Environment, where I worked predominantly on modelling the controls on dissolved organic carbon fluxes and nitrous oxide emissions from inland waters. 

Before Yale, I was the NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2017-2019) in California, where I studied the impacts of climate change on high altitude riverine nitrogen cycling, through the lens of a watershed in the Colorado Rockies.

I received both my PhD and BSc at the University of Waterloo in Canada.


  • NERC Independent Research Fellow

Research interests

I am interested in understanding whole-system changes to biogeochemical cycles caused by humans. My work can generally be broken into work at the global scale and watershed scale, and the development of novel techniques to move between these scales:

Global scale:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from inland waters: How important are inland waters, including rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries, as global carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide sources and sinks? How can we better constrain our estimates of these fluxes to reduce uncertainty?
  • River damming: How does river damming change nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, and silicon cycles globally, and what are the implications of these changes to freshwater and coastal ecosystems? Can dams be regulated so that changes to ecosystems can be minimized or reversed, i.e. using environmental flows?

Watershed scale:

  • Mountains and climate change: How is climate change impacting nitrogen and carbon cycling due to changes such as early snowmelt, warming air temperatures, and increased precipitation as rain? What are the ecological implications of these changes to montane environments?
  • Photomineralization: Is photomineralization an important source of carbon dioxide from freshwater systems? Is it an important dissolved organic carbon sink? Under what kinds of watershed conditions (flow, season, stream order) might photomineralization become important?
  • Watershed carbon pulse-shunt: Under what flows and seasonal conditions do rivers experience the highest fluxes of carbon downstream, and how does this vary according to stream order? How does the presence of lakes and reservoirs alter these pulses?

Moving between scales:

  • How can we use modern, high spatiotemporal resolution data products such a global river hydrography and discharge datasets to effectively scale from local stream measurements to reliably calibrate large-scale models?


<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, Earth Sciences (Water), University of Waterloo
  • BSc (Hon), Earth & Environmental Science, University of Waterloo

Professional memberships

  • American Geophysical Union
<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>