Thomas Aspin

University of Birmingham


Extreme climatic events: impacts of floods and droughts on freshwater ecosystems

PhD Summary

My PhD is in the field of fluvial ecology, investigating how stream drought can affect algae, macrophytes and macroinvertebrates. It forms part of the University of Birmingham-led DRI-STREAM project (, which uses the country’s largest stream mesocosm facility to study the effect of varying levels of lowflow stress on ecosystem structure and functioning. The project aims to improve understanding of drought impacts amid predictions that climate change and abstraction activities will bring about an increase in streamflow extremes.

What inspires you

My motivation to help improve our understanding of the impacts of flow depletion on stream ecosystems relates to my previous job in the hydropower industry; during which I discovered the tick-box mentality and arbitrarily cosmetic criteria often used by environmental advisors when granting abstraction licences.