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Postgraduate research project

Quantifying riparian vegetation dynamics and flow interactions for Nature Based Solutions using novel environmental sensing techniques

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

This project aims to deliver a step-change in our understanding of vegetation and flow interactions in river corridors, with an emphasis on creating a baseline for Nature Based Solution approaches to sustainable river management.

Vegetation, and Large Woody Debris (LWD) specifically, has a significant effect on river flows, channel morphology and carbon storage. These interactions are conceptually well understood: the flow resistance introduced by the presence of vegetation and LWD leads to changes in flow which modulate water and sediment transport resulting in changes in river form and flooding. Similarly, these water-vegetation interactions control carbon storage and sequestration in the riparian zone.

Yet, attempts to quantify the flow-vegetation dynamics, for example in numerical models, remain elusive due to difficulties in accurately estimating the complex interactions through time. This represents a major limitation as vegetation is ubiquitous in natural river corridors and is often used as part of Nature Based Solutions to flood management and in river restoration schemes.

This project will address these knowledge gaps using state-of-the-art environmental sensing techniques and a vegetation functional groups framework in conjunction with spatial ecological techniques to deliver a data-driven model of river corridor vegetation-flow functioning.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Dr Julian Leyland (University of Southampton)
  • Professor Stephen Darby (University of Southampton)