Steve J. Ormerod

Steve J. Ormerod
Cardiff University | CU · School of Biosciences

MSc PhD CF FCIEEM FLSW FRSB

About

371
Publications
145,694
Reads
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20,382
Citations
Citations since 2017
52 Research Items
8384 Citations
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Introduction
Interested in global change effects on ecosystem structure, function and services in rivers. I sit on the editorial boards of Global Change Biology and Aquatic Conservation. Involved in the application of ecology as Deputy Chair of Natural Resources Wales (Wales' environmental regulator and largest sponsored public body), UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Chairman of Buglife (Europe's Invertebrate Charity) and Vice President of the RSPB (Europe's largest wildlife charity).
Additional affiliations
November 2018 - present
Natural Resources Wales
Position
  • CEO
June 2013 - November 2018
UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Position
  • Chair
July 2012 - November 2018
Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water
Position
  • CEO

Publications

Publications (371)
Article
Despite growing concern about the occurrence of microplastics in aquatic ecosystems there is only rudimentary understanding of the pathways through which any adverse effects might occur. Here, we assess the effects of polystyrene microplastics (PS-MPs; <70 μm) on a common and widespread algal species, Chlorella sorokiniana. We used laboratory expos...
Article
Full-text available
The ingestion of plastics appears to be widespread throughout the animal kingdom with risks to individuals, ecosystems and human health. Despite growing information on the location, abundance and size distribution of plastics in the environment, it cannot be assumed that any given animal will ingest all sizes of plastic encountered. Here, we use pu...
Article
Full-text available
As a rapidly accelerating expression of global change, plastics now occur extensively in freshwater ecosystems, yet there is barely any evidence of their transfer through food webs. Following previous observations that plastics occur widely in their prey, we used a field study of free-living Eurasian dippers (Cinclus cinclus), to test the hypothese...
Article
Full-text available
We explore the oft-repeated claim that river water quality in Great Britain is “better now than at any time since the Industrial Revolution”. We review available data and ancillary evidence for seven different categories of water pollutants: (i) biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and ammonia; (ii) heavy metals; (iii) sewage-associated organic pollutan...
Article
Full-text available
Despite their limited spatial extent, freshwater ecosystems host remarkable biodiversity, including one third of all vertebrate species. This biodiversity is declining dramatically: globally, wetlands are vanishing three times faster than forests, and freshwater vertebrate populations have fallen more than twice as steeply as terrestrial or marine...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change could alter fluxes of organic matter and macronutrients through freshwater ecosystems potentially affecting stream organisms. However, riparian controls on litter dynamics offer an opportunity to adapt headwaters to climate change by protecting or restoring riparian vegetation. We assessed how riparian land cover and climatic variabi...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Heterogeneity in riverine habitats acts as a template for species evolution that influences river communities at different spatio‐temporal scales. Although birds are conspicuous elements of these communities, the roles of phylogeny, functional traits, and habitat character in their niche use or species' assembly have seldom been investigat...
Preprint
Heterogeneity in riverine habitats acts as a template for species evolution that influences river communities at different spatio-temporal scales. Although birds are conspicuous elements of these communities, the roles of phylogeny, functional traits and habitat character in their niche-use or species’ assembly have seldom been investigated. We exp...
Technical Report
Full-text available
In response to the crisis of biodiversity loss, many Heads of State around the world have recently made hugely significant commitments for nature, notably through the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature launched at the United Nations General Assembly in 2020, and the 30by30 commitment to protect 30% of our land and seas for nature by 2030. These commitments...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) has identified “clean and healthy freshwaters” as a key impact goal that they will work towards, with others, over the next five to ten years. EFF, therefore, commissioned Cardiff University Water Research Institute to investigate how the capacity and capability of the freshwater sector might be best supported a...
Article
Full-text available
• Freshwater biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate. Freshwater conservationists and environmental managers have enough evidence to demonstrate that action must not be delayed but have insufficient evidence to identify those actions that will be most effective in reversing the current trend. • Here, the focus is on identifying essential...
Article
• In 1949, Aldo Leopold formalized the concept of the ‘land ethic’, in what emerged as a foundational and transformational way of thinking about natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and stewardship in terrestrial systems. Yet, the land ethic has inherent linkages to aquatic ecosystems; Leopold himself conducted research on rivers...
Article
Full-text available
The extent to which prey traits combine to influence the abundance of predators is still poorly understood, particularly for mixed predators in sympatry and in aquatic ecosystems. In this study, we characterise prey use and distribution in iconic bird (grey wagtails and Eurasian dippers) and fish species (brown trout and Atlantic salmon) to assess...
Technical Report
Full-text available
See the ERBAP launch here: https://youtu.be/p0QNjaNUO2Q We currently find ourselves in the midst of both a climate and biodiversity emergency, requiring changes to the way the University operates in order to deliver healthy functioning ecosystems capable of supporting climate and well-being goals for future generations. In compliance with Cardiff...
Article
Simulations of 21st century climate change for Great Britain predict increased seasonal precipitation that may lead to widespread soil loss by increasing surface runoff. Land use and different vegetation cover can respond differently to this scenario, mitigating or enhancing soil erosion. Here, by means of a sensitivity analysis of the PESERA soil...
Article
Full-text available
Climate and land-use change drive a suite of stressors that shape ecosystems and interact to yield complex ecological responses, i.e. additive, antagonistic and synergistic effects. Currently we know little about the spatial scale relevant for the outcome of such interactions and about effect sizes. This knowledge gap needs to be filled to underpin...
Article
Full-text available
Aligning nature protection with human well-being for the UN Sustainable Development Goals implies that conservation monitoring should indicate the sustainability of ecosystem services (ES). Here we test the value of the ES cascade framework using national, multi-decadal data for an iconic freshwater fish, the Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. For the fi...
Article
Legacy organic pollutants persist in freshwater environments, but there is limited understanding of how their trophic transfer and effects vary across riverine ecosystems with different land use, biological communities and food webs. Here, we investigated the trophic magnification of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls...
Article
Freshwater organisms remain at risk from bioaccumulation and biomagnification of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), but factors affecting their transfer through food webs are poorly understood. Here we investigate transfer pathways of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and organochlorine (OCs) through a rive...
Article
Full-text available
Freshwater organisms are still at risk from the legacy, bioaccumulation and biomagnification of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), but factors affecting their transfer through food webs are poorly understood. Here we investigate the transfer pathways of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and organochlorine (...
Article
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) continue to threaten aquatic organisms, but risk assessments are restricted by poor knowledge of the distribution and quantity of these substances in different biota. Assessments on aquatic invertebrates are particularly scarce. Here, we investigate variation in polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlori...
Article
Full-text available
Urban areas contribute substantially to xenobiotic contaminant loads in rivers, but their effects have been investigated more for individual organisms and sensitive taxa, rather than through the emergent properties of communities. Here, we use replicated, catchment-scale sampling of benthic invertebrates and novel multivariate techniques to assess...
Preprint
Full-text available
The need to monitor and protect biodiversity has never been greater, yet resources are often constrained economically. The ecosystem service paradigm could promote nature conservation while sustaining economic activity and other societal benefits, but most efforts to assess biodiversity-ecosystem service (B-ES) links have focused on diversity measu...
Article
Full-text available
( This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article to be published by Taylor & Francis in Ecosystems and People and will be available online at: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tbsm22/current ) Rivers are affected by changes in catchment land-use and other modifications to their channel, floodplains and riparian zones, often for the exploitation of ec...
Article
Full-text available
Resilience in river ecosystems requires that organisms must persist in the face of highly dynamic hydrological and geomorphological variations. Disturbance events such as floods and droughts are postulated to shape life history traits that support resilience, but river management and conservation would benefit from greater understanding of the emer...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic pollution is distributed across the globe, but compared with marine environments, there is only rudimentary understanding of the distribution and effects of plastics in other ecosystems. Here, we review the transport and effects of plastics across terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. We focus on hydrological catchments as well-d...
Chapter
Natural freshwater ecosystems represent the terrestrial phases of the global hydrological cycle and include rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands as well as groundwaters. While fresh waters comprise only 0.01% of the water on Earth and constitute less than one-tenth of the global land surface area, they support > 10% of all recorded species inclu...
Article
Full-text available
Small, 1st and 2nd-order, headwater streams and ponds play essential roles in providing natural flood control, trapping sediments and contaminants, retaining nutrients, and maintaining biological diversity, which extend into downstream reaches, lakes and estuaries. However, the large geographic extent and high connectivity of these small water bodi...
Data
Example on-farm mitigation measures targeting different components of the water pollution cascade.
Article
Full-text available
In the 12 years since Dudgeon et al. (2006) reviewed major pressures on freshwater ecosystems, the biodiversity crisis in the world's lakes, reservoirs, rivers, streams and wetlands has deepened. While lakes, reservoirs and rivers cover only 2.3% of the Earth's surface, these ecosystems host at least 9.5% of the Earth's described animal species. Fu...
Data
This two-page policy overview of problems for small water bodies and management options to address them accompanies the paper by Riley et al. (2018)
Article
Full-text available
Although microplastics are a recognised pollutant in marine environments, less attention has been directed towards freshwater ecosystems despite their greater proximity to possible plastic sources. Here, we quantify the presence of microplastic particles (MPs) in river organisms upstream and downstream of five UK Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTWs)....
Article
Full-text available
This item contributes to the 100th issue of the regular bulletin of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management 'In Practice'. It draws attention to the plight of global freshwater ecosystems and their biodiversity.
Article
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While there is widespread recognition of human involvement in biodiversity loss globally , at smaller spatial extents, the effects are less clear. One reason is that local effects are obscured by the use of summary biodiversity variables, such as species richness, that provide only limited insight into complex biodiversity change. Here, we use 30 y...
Article
Rivers are among the most sensitive of all ecosystems to the effects of global change, but options to prevent, mitigate or restore ecosystem damage are still inadequately understood. Riparian buffers are widely advocated as a cost-effective option to manage impacts, but empirical evidence is yet to identify ideal riparian features (e.g. width, leng...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Water resources globally are affected by a complex mixture of stressors resulting from a range of drivers, including urban and agricultural land use, hydropower generation and climate change. Understanding how stressors interfere and impact upon ecological status and ecosystem services is essential for developing effective River Basin Management Pl...
Article
Full-text available
Accurate quantification of biodiversity is fundamental to understanding ecosystem function and for environmental assessment. Molecular methods using environmental DNA (eDNA) offer a non-invasive, rapid, and cost-effective alternative to traditional biodiversity assessments, which require high levels of expertise. While eDNA analyses are increasingl...
Article
Full-text available
Land use change can alter trophic interactions with wide-ranging functional consequences, yet the consequences for aquatic food webs have been little-studied. In part, this may reflect the challenges of resolving the diets of aquatic organisms using classical gut contents analysis, especially for soft-bodied prey. We used next generation sequencing...
Article
Full-text available
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can alter biological function in organisms at environmentally relevant concentrations and are a significant threat to aquatic biodiversity, but there is little understanding of exposure consequences for populations, communities and ecosystems. The pervasive nature of EDCs within aquatic environments and their m...
Technical Report
Full-text available
In the previous report (D4.1, September 2016) we have developed predictive linkages between indicators of environmental quality and ecosystem services, and different types of pressures, single or multiple, across river basins from all over Europe, in a latitudinal and a west-east gradient, and having very different conditions of climate and land us...
Article
Full-text available
URL FOR READ ONLY VERSION AVAILABLE HERE: http://rdcu.be/k0XW While anthropogenic biodiversity loss in fresh waters is among the most rapid of all ecosystems, impacts on the conservation of associated riparian zones are less well documented. Riverine ecotones are particularly vulnerable to the combined ‘squeeze’ between land-use encroachment, disc...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Deliverable D4.1 is a synthesis report of the 16 regional case studies being undertaken in WP4 (Multi-stressors at the river basin scale. The report is composed of 3 parts. Part 1: Task 4.2 - Southern Basins region Part 1 reports the background to, and results and conclusions from Task 4.2 on four case studies from the Southern Basins region. The...
Article
1. The interface between science and policy is often contentious and characterized by mutual suspicion, yet is critical to both halves of the divide. The application of science to real world problems is ultimately one of the greatest markers of scientific achievement, while policy makers can reduce the risks of failure by drawing on good evidence....
Technical Report
Full-text available
The modelling undertaken across the study basins allow us to have an understanding of the trends displayed by the data gathered at the various case-studies, encompassing a global view of European riverscapes. Overall, the studies highlight a general difficulty to identify significant pair-wise multi-stressor interactions, even if considering that s...
Poster
Full-text available
Interactions between algae with contrasting lipid composition and primary consumers are poorly understood, particularly where invasive non-native organisms are concerned. This is despite the important role of algae in providing essential fatty acids to organisms at higher trophic levels. Here, we report on laboratory feeding experiments in which se...
Article
Full-text available
The biotic resistance hypothesis provides one of several explanations for the limited biological recovery of streams recovering chemically from acidification. The hypothesis proposes that acidification has changed the presence, abundance and interactions among species in acidified streams to the extent that acid-sensitive colonists cannot re-invade...
Article
Full-text available
Invasive non-native species are widespread in freshwaters but their capacity to establish in new lakes has seldom been assessed. In this four-year study (2006-2009), we used Side-scan Sonar and underwater video to illustrate how a 200 ha urban, amenity lake at Cardiff Bay (Wales, UK) was invaded extensively by zebra mussels Dreissena polymorpha (Pa...
Article
Species diversity is declining more rapidly in freshwater ecosystems than in any other, but the consequences for genetic diversity, and hence evolutionary potential, are poorly understood. In part this reflects limited use and development of modern molecular tools and genetic approaches to address conservation questions in rivers, lakes and wetland...
Article
Full-text available
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...
Data
Data S1. Supporting analysis: investigating the link between dissolved oxygen and BOD. Figure S1. Relationship between dissolved oxygen (DO) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Figure S2. Location of the 2632 sample sites divided over the eight EA regions distinguished. Figure S3. Projected model responses of Ephemera danica (left) and Serratel...
Data
Fig. S1. Locations of River Habitat Survey and water chemistry/invertebrate monitoring sites. Fig. S2. Distribution of sites, split into five groups based on modelled likelihood of having arable land cover. Fig. S3. Distribution of sites, split into five groups based on modelled likelihood of having improved pasture land cover.
Data
Table S3. Data used in models of relationships between water quality and invertebrate response variables and agricultural land cover.
Data
Table S4. Correlations between environmental covariates and treatment land covers across the whole data set and within propensity groups. Table S5. Number of sites per propensity group. Table S6. Estimated responses of river habitat characteristics to agricultural land cover with data set split into differing number of propensity groups. Table S...
Data
Table S2. Data used in models of relationships between physical habitat and agricultural land cover.
Article
There is a growing consensus that inappropriate valuation of the world's ecosystem services has historically led to widespread errors in environmental management, with associated negative social consequences. Freshwater ecosystems are prime examples: when managed appropriately, they provide major services, such as fish production, water supply, nut...
Article
Full-text available
Aquatic ecological responses to climatic warming are complicated by interactions between thermal effects and other environmental stressors such as organic pollution and hypoxia. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated how oxygen limitation can set heat tolerance for some aquatic ectotherms, but only at unrealistic lethal temperatures and without f...
Article
Full-text available
Managed adaptation could reduce the risks of climate change to the world’s ecosystems, but there have been surprisingly few practical evaluations of the options available. For example, riparian woodland is advocated widely as shade to reduce warming in temperate streams, but few studies have considered collateral effects on species composition or e...