Lee E Brown

Lee E Brown
University of Leeds · School of Geography

BSc PhD

About

160
Publications
66,054
Reads
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9,200
Citations
Introduction
Lee E Brown is Prof. of Aquatic Science in the River Basin Processes and Management cluster, School of Geography, University of Leeds. Lee does research on aquatic ecosystems spanning ecology, hydrology and water quality. His work focuses on how environmental change affects freshwater ecosystems, particularly those in alpine and Arctic environments.
Additional affiliations
December 2017 - present
University of Leeds
Position
  • Professor
September 2005 - present
University of Leeds
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
October 2001 - July 2005
University of Birmingham
Position
  • PhD student + post doc

Publications

Publications (160)
Article
Full-text available
Glacial retreat creates new habitat which is colonized and developed by plants and animals during the process of primary succession. While there has been much debate about the relative role of deterministic and stochastic processes during terrestrial succession, evidence from freshwater ecosystems remains minimal and a general consensus is lacking....
Article
Climate change poses a considerable threat to the biodiversity of high latitude and altitude ecosystems, with alpine regions across the world already showing responses to warming. However, despite probable hydrological change as alpine glaciers and snowpacks shrink, links between alpine stream biota and reduced meltwater input are virtually unknown...
Article
Full-text available
Glaciers cover ∼10% of the Earth's land surface, but they are shrinking rapidly across most parts of the world, leading to cascading impacts on downstream systems. Glaciers impart unique footprints on river flow at times when other water sources are low. Changes in river hydrology and morphology caused by climate-induced glacier loss are projected...
Article
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Climate change is expected to make many regions of the world much drier over coming decades1, 2. More intense drought would transform rivers 3 with potentially severe but largely unknown consequences at higher (multispecies) levels of organization4. Here we show experimentally how the intensification of drought may alter the underlying structure an...
Article
Full-text available
Floods, major formative drivers of channel and floodplain structure and associated riparian and in-stream communities, are increasing in intensity and magnitude with climate change in many regions of the world. However, predicting how floods will affect stream channels and their communities as climate changes is limited by a lack of long-term pre-f...
Article
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High‐resolution monitoring of water quality and ecosystem functioning over large spatial scales in expansive lowland river catchments is challenging. Therefore, we need modeling tools to predict these processes at locations where observations are absent. Here, we present a new approach to estimate ecosystem metabolism underpinned by a high‐resoluti...
Article
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Editorial on the Research Topic Riverine Biogeochemistry Under Increasing Damming: Processes and Impacts Rivers around the world are increasingly impounded by dams to secure water supplies to local communities, irrigated agriculture and industries, and to provide public services including hydropower production, flood control, inland navigation and...
Article
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The sixth UN Sustainable Development Goal, Clean Water and Sanitation, directly underpins other goals of Health, Life in Water and Sustainable Cities. We highlight that poor sanitation, exemplified through some of the highest concentrations of pharmaceuticals ever detected in rivers, will amplify societal and environmental stress where climate-indu...
Article
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Global freshwater biodiversity is declining dramatically, and meeting the challenges of this crisis requires bold goals and the mobilisation of substantial resources. While the reasons are varied, investments in both research and conservation of freshwater biodiversity lag far behind those in the terrestrial and marine realms. Inspired by a global...
Article
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The cover image is based on the Viewpoint A global agenda for advancing freshwater biodiversity research by Alain Maasri et al., https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13931. Image Credit: Solvin Zankl. image
Chapter
Succession is defined as change in community composition following a disturbance and is one of the oldest key concepts in ecology. Succession is a change in community structure or evenness at a site following a disturbance and may involve colonization/extinction but not always. The study of succession has generated insight into the various mechanis...
Article
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Himalayan glaciers are undergoing rapid mass loss but rates of contemporary change lack long-term (centennial-scale) context. Here, we reconstruct the extent and surfaces of 14,798 Himalayan glaciers during the Little Ice Age (LIA), 400 to 700 years ago. We show that they have lost at least 40 % of their LIA area and between 390 and 586 km3 of ice;...
Data
explanation of datasets and methods used in the paper 'Accelerated mass loss of Himalayan glaciers since the Little Ice Age' https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-03805-8
Article
Full-text available
Multidimensional analysis of community stability has recently emerged as an overarching approach to evaluating ecosystem response to disturbance. However, the approach has previously been applied only in experimental and modelling studies. We applied this concept to an 18‐year time series (2000 to 2017) of macroinvertebrate community dynamics from...
Article
Ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss have been caused by economic booms in developing countries over recent decades. In response, ecosystem restoration projects have been advanced in some countries but the effectiveness of different approaches and indicators at large spatio-temporal scales (i.e. whole catchments) remains poorly understood. T...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is decreasing glacier cover and increasing the frequency and magnitude of precipitation‐driven high flows and floods in many regions of the world. Precipitation may become the dominant water source for river systems in recently deglaciated catchments, with major rainfall events driving significant changes in river channel morphology....
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is altering the structure and functioning of river ecosystems worldwide. In mountain rivers, glacier retreat has been shown to result in systematic changes in aquatic invertebrate biodiversity, but the effects of ice loss on other biological taxa and on whole-ecosystem functions are less well understood. Using data from mountain rive...
Preprint
Full-text available
Freshwater biodiversity is declining dramatically, and the current biodiversity crisis requires defining bold goals and mobilizing substantial resources to meet the challenges. While the reasons are varied, both research and conservation of freshwater biodiversity lag far behind efforts in the terrestrial and marine realms. We identify fifteen pres...
Preprint
Full-text available
Freshwater biodiversity is declining dramatically, and the current biodiversity crisis requires defining bold goals and mobilizing substantial resources to meet the challenges. While the reasons are varied, both research and conservation of freshwater biodiversity lag far behind efforts in the terrestrial and marine realms. We identify fifteen pres...
Article
Full-text available
Pharmaceutical contamination of the environment is recognized as a global problem although most work has focused on Europe and North America to date and there remains a dearth of information for developing countries, including those in Africa. To address this data gap the occurrence of thirty-seven pharmaceuticals belonging to nineteen therapeutic...
Article
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The growing use of functional traits in ecological research has brought new insights into biodiversity responses to global environmental change. However, further progress depends on overcoming three major challenges involving (1) statistical correlations between traits, (2) phylogenetic constraints on the combination of traits possessed by any sing...
Article
It has been claimed that geographical variability could alter conclusions from some studies examining the impacts of prescribed moorland burning, including the Effects of Moorland Burning on the Ecohydrology of River basins (EMBER) project. We provide multiple lines of evidence, including additional analyses, to refute these claims. In addition, ne...
Article
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The increased use of hydropower is currently driving the greatest surge in global dam construction since the mid-20th century, meaning that most major rivers on Earth are now dammed. Dams impede the flow of essential nutrients, including carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen and silicon, along river networks, leading to enhanced nutrient transformation and...
Article
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Invasive alien species (IAS) can drive community change through ecological interactions. Parasites and pathogens can play an important role in community function including mitigating or enhancing IAS impacts. Despite this, the degree to which pathogen pressure influences IAS impacts remains poorly understood. We quantified the predatory behaviour o...
Article
River regulation following the construction of dams has affected the hydrology, water quality and biology of watercourses across the globe. The term ‘environmental flows’ has been used to describe measures which can be employed to return some lost elements of the natural flow regime. Their introduction has been suggested as a way to mitigate the im...
Chapter
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The cryosphere (including, snow, glaciers, permafrost, lake and river ice) is an integral element of high mountain regions, which are home to roughly 10% of the global population. Widespread cryosphere changes affect physical, biological and human systems in the mountains and surrounding lowlands, with impacts evident even in the ocean. Building on...
Article
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River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to...
Article
Full-text available
River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to...
Article
Full-text available
River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to...
Article
Full-text available
River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to...
Article
• Changes to species composition, such as biological invasions and extinctions, have the potential to alter ecosystems. Invaders often replace taxonomically similar species, resulting in potentially redundant impacts. For example, freshwater decapod crustaceans are pervasive invasive alien species but they often extirpate native decapods. This stud...
Article
Full-text available
Land use and climate change are driving widespread modifications to the biodiverse and functionally unique headwaters of rivers. In temperate and boreal regions, many headwaters drain peatlands where land management and climate change can cause significant soil erosion and peat deposition in rivers. However, effects of peat deposition in river ecos...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change poses a considerable threat to the biodiversity of high altitude ecosystems worldwide, including cold‐water river systems that are responding rapidly to a shrinking cryosphere. Most recent research has demonstrated the severe vulnerability of river invertebrates to glacier retreat but effects upon other aquatic groups remain poorly q...
Article
Full-text available
Invasive alien species have the potential to alter biodiversity and ecosystem processes. In freshwaters, detritus decomposition is a major ecosystem service but it remains uncertain whether invasive alien decapods process detritus differently to natives. This study examined leaf litter processing, and cascading effects on biofilms, by the European...
Article
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Biological invasions have the potential to alter ecosystem processes profoundly, but invaders are rarely found alone. Interactions between different invasive alien species, and their cumulative impact on ecosystem functioning, have led to hypotheses of invasion meltdown whereby effects become additive leading to further ecosystem stress. Invasive r...
Article
Full-text available
Floods have a major influence in structuring river ecosystems. Considering projected increases in high‐magnitude rainfall events with climate change, major flooding events are expected to increase in many regions of the world. However, there is uncertainty about the effect of different flooding regimes and the importance of flood timing in structur...
Article
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Global change threatens invertebrate biodiversity and its central role in numerous ecosystem functions and services. Functional trait analyses have been advocated to uncover global mechanisms behind biodiversity responses to environmental change, but the application of this approach for invertebrates is underdeveloped relative to other organism gro...
Article
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Water sourced from Asian mountains is vital to the survival of an estimated 1.4 billion people, but current and anticipated changes in snow, ice cover, and precipitation patterns may threaten these supplies and, in turn, the food security of tens of millions of people. Despite the severity of this developing environmental hazard, the relative impor...
Article
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1. Peatlands are valued for ecosystem services including carbon storage, water provision and biodiversity. However, there are concerns about the impacts of land management and pollution on peatland vegetation and function. 2. We investigated how prescribed vegetation burning, atmospheric pollution and grazing are related to vegetation communities a...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is driving the thinning and retreat of many glaciers globally. Reductions of ice-melt inputs to mountain rivers are changing their physicochemical characteristics and, in turn, aquatic communities. Glacier-fed rivers can serve as model systems for investigations of climate-change effects on ecosystems because of their strong atmosphe...
Article
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High resolution topographic surveys such as those provided by Structure-from-Motion (SfM) contain a wealth of information that is not always exploited in the generation of Digital Elevation Models (DEMs). In particular, several authors have related sub-metre scale topographic variability (or ‘surface roughness’) to sediment grain size by deriving e...
Conference Paper
We have previously shown that marine influence is an important factor controlling regional variability of pool water chemistry in blanket peatlands. Here we examine within-site controls on pool water chemistry. We surveyed natural and artificial (restoration sites) bog pools at blanket peatland sites in northern Scotland and Sweden. DOC, pH, conduc...
Article
Full-text available
Global biodiversity is threatened by multiple anthropogenic stressors but little is known about the combined effects of environmental warming and invasive species on ecosystem functioning. We quantified thermal preferences and then compared leaf-litter processing rates at eight different temperatures (5.0–22.5 °C) by the invasive freshwater crustac...
Article
Full-text available
Sedimentation is a pervasive environmental pressure affecting rivers globally. Headwaters draining catchments rich in organic soils (i.e. peat) are particularly vulnerable to enhanced sedimentation caused by land management and environmental change, yet many of the ecological consequences of peat deposition are poorly understood. We conducted a BAC...
Article
Full-text available
Research addressing the occurrence, fate and effects of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment has expanded rapidly over the past two decades, primarily due to the development of improved chemical analysis methods. Significant research gaps still remain, however, including a lack of longer term, repeated monitoring of rivers, determination of t...
Article
Full-text available
Peatlands represent globally-important ecosystems and carbon stores. However, large areas of peatland have been drained for agriculture, or peat has been harvested for use as fuel or in horticulture. Increasingly, these landscapes are being restored through ditch blocking and rewetting primarily to improve biodiversity and promote peat accumulation...
Article
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Davies et al. [1] called for informed and unbiased debate into the role of fire in UK peatland and moorland management. This general message is something we wholeheartedly agree with, having seen our research presented in various outlets in both a sensationalist and/or a partisan manner (see [1, table 1]). Regrettably though, Davies et al. have mad...
Article
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Many degraded ecosystems are subject to restoration attempts, providing new opportunities to unravel the processes of ecological community assembly. Restoration of previously drained northern peatlands, primarily to promote peat and carbon accumulation, has created hundreds of thousands of new open water pools. We assessed the potential benefits of...
Article
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Most research on the effects of environmental change in freshwaters has focused on incremental changes in average conditions, rather than fluctuations or extreme events such as heatwaves, cold snaps, droughts, floods or wildfires, which may have even more profound consequences. Such events are commonly predicted to increase in frequency, intensity...
Article
Full-text available
Droughts are intensifying across the globe, with potentially devastating implications for freshwater ecosystems. We used new network science approaches to investigate drought impacts on stream food webs and explored potential consequences for web robustness to future perturbations. The substructure of the webs was characterized by a core of richly...
Article
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Sedimented hydrothermal vents, where hot, mineral-rich water flows through sediment, are poorly understood globally, both in their distribution and the ecology of individual vent fields. We explored macrofaunal community ecology at a sediment-hosted hydrothermal vent in the Southern Ocean. This is the first such study of these ecosystems outside of...
Article
Full-text available
Pharmaceuticals are now recognised as important pollutants in freshwater systems, but a shortcoming of effects studies is that they have focused on structural endpoints and impacts on ecosystem functioning are poorly understood. The decomposition of organic matter is an important functional process in aquatic systems, and it is known that this can...