Nicky Kerr


I am a PGR based in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds working with Professors Lee Brown and Duncan Quincey, investigating river ecosystem responses to glacier loss. I’m an international student from New Zealand, and I previously completed my Masters in Ecology and Undergraduate in Zoology at the University of Otago. I worked as a consultant ecologist in NZ before beginning my PhD, and enjoy hiking, ocean swimming and anything to do with being outdoors.


2015 – 2017: MSc in Ecology from University of Otago, New Zealand

2012 – 2014: BSc in Zoology from University of Otago, New Zealand

Research Interests

My research interests span all aspects of freshwater ecology and conservation biology. In particular, I am interested in population responses to environmental change, whole ecosystem functioning and food web dynamics. I also have a keen interest in freshwater fish research and conservation.

Teaching interests

I have previous teaching experience demonstrating and tutoring in undergraduate classes focussed on animal biology, statistics and field ecology. I enjoy teaching in practical settings, such as on field trips and in laboratories, and leading discussion groups with students.

Project Title

River ecosystem responses to glacier loss.


Lee Brown

Duncan Quincey


Panorama NERC DTP, 2021

Project outline

Climate change is forcing accelerated glacier melt worldwide, with glacier mass loss of up to 80% in the European Alps projected by the end of the 21st century (Huss et al., 2017). This is driving major changes to the aquatic habitats that receive glacial meltwater, with impacts to hydrology, water chemistry and geomorphology (Milner et al., 2017). Understanding how these environmental alterations impact river ecosystems is critical in informing biodiversity conservation and management of ecosystem services (Brown et al., 2018; Fell, 2019). However, research on the biotic communities that inhabit these rivers is predominantly limited to macroinvertebrates, with the responses of other organisms such as diatoms poorly understood. Furthermore, the impacts of glacier loss on food webs and ecosystem processes (e.g. primary production and decomposition) remain largely unknown. The aim of this project is to investigate the impacts of glacier retreat on freshwater communities and the interactions between these, and to understand the implications of glacier retreat on ecosystem functioning.