Ken Irvine Prof., PhD, BSc

Professor of Aquatic Ecosystems


Ken Irvine, born in Dublin, has worked on a range of lakes and catchments in Europe and Africa, gaining broad experience of the global challenges facing water and habitat quality.  After gaining a PhD in 1987 at the University of East Anglia (U.K) for a study on shallow lake food webs, he worked as a Nature Conservation Officer for the U.K. Nature Conservancy Council, before moving to study ecosystem structure and estimating the secondary production of Lake Malawi in Africa. From there, in 1994 he moved to Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and spent a decade and a half grabbling with the intricacies of policy and ecology to support the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. His alter ego continued to work on the African Great Lakes of Malawi and Tanganyika, and the ecology of the Makgadikgadi salt pans of Botswana.  In 2011 he moved to IHE Delft Institute of Water Education in the Netherlands to engage more fully in research and teaching to support capacity development. He heads up the Aquatic Ecosystems Group whose research is mainly on the biogeochemical processes, ecological assessment and capacity development within African wetlands. This necessarily requires a social-ecological perspective for the understanding and management of wetlands. The Aquatic Ecosystems Chair Group are an invited observer to the Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel, and were on the editorial team in producing The Wetland Book (Springer), which will be major source of information on global wetlands. As part of a special anniversary issue produced by the editorial board of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, Ken was lead author in an open access article on tropical conservation.  Other recent outreach work includes working on capacity development within the Danube basin, and Integrated Water Resource Management in India and S.E. Asia. Through his work at IHE, he continues to learn about the complexities and wicked problems of sustainable use of water and ecosystems.

Recent publications span ecology to policy,and includes working with colleagues from other disciplines and Chair Groups.



  • Irvine, K. (2012). The tragedy of the threshold: Revising perceptions for aquatic conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 22: 705-711. 
  • Snell. M., and Irvine, K. (2012). Importance of scalar and riparian habitat effects for assessment of ecological status using littoral diatoms. Ecological Indicators 25: 149-155
  • Miler, O., Porst, G., McGoff, E., Pilotto, F., Donohue, L., Jurca, T., Solimini, A., Sandin, L., Irvine, K., Aroviita, J., Clarke, R., Pusch, M.T. (2013). Morphological alterations of lake shores in Europe – a multimetric ecological assessment approach using benthic macroinvertebrates.  Ecological Indicators, 34, 398 - 410
  • Van Dam, A.A., Kipkomboi, J., Mazvimavi, D. and Irvine, K. (2014). A synthesis of past, current and future research of papyrus (Cyperus papyrus L.). Wetlands Ecology and Management, 22:99-114.
  • Masese F.O., Kitaka N., Kipkemboi J., Gettel G.M., Irvine K & McClain M.E. (2014).  Litter processing and shredder distribution as indicators of riparian and catchment influences on ecological health of tropical streams. Ecological Indicators, 46: 23–37. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.05.032
  • Gope, E.T., Sass-Klaassen, E.G.W., Irvine, K., Beevers, L. and Hes, E. (2015). Effects of flow alteration on Apple-ring Acacia (Faidherbia albida) stands, Middle Zambezi floodplains, Zimbabwe. Ecohydrology, 8: 922-934.  DOI: 10.1002/eco.1541
  • Penk, M., Donohue, I., Recoules, V, and Irvine, K. (2015). Elevated temperatures interact with habitat quality to undermine survival in climatic refugia, Diversity and Distribution, 21 (2), 200-210. . DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12259
  • Irvine, K. (2015). Beyond Site Protection. Embedding natural heritage into sustainable landscapes. In: Willems, W.J.H and van Schaik, H.P.J. Water & Heritage. Material, conceptual and spiritual connections. Sidestone Press , Leiden. pp351-369.
  • Masese FO, Abrantes KG, Gettel GM, Bouillon S, Irvine K, McClain ME.(2015). Large herbivores as vectors of terrestrial subsidies for riverine food webs. Ecosystems 18: 686-706
  • Penk, M. Irvine, K., and Donohue, I. (2015). Ecosystem-level effects of a globally spreading invertebrate invader are not moderated by a functionally similar native. Journal of Animal Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12402
  • Irvine, K., Weigelhoferb, G., Popescua, I., Pfeiffer, E., Paune, A., Drobot, R., Gettel, G., Staska, B., Stanica, A., Hein, H., and Habersack, H. (2016) Educating for Action: Aligning Skills with Policies for Sustainable Development in the Danube River Basin. Science of the Total Environment, 543: 765-777 (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.09.072
  • Wehn, U., Irvine, K., Jaspers, F., Douven, W., Pathirana A.,de Ruytera E. (2016) Strengthening Water Governance in the Global South: Approaches and International Experiences of a Capacity Development Institute. Water Governance, 5: 26-34.
  • Carneiro, C., Kelderman, P, and Irvine, K. (2016).  Assessment of phosphorus sediment–water exchange through water and mass budget in Passau´na Reservoir (Parana´ State, Brazil). Environmental Earth Sciences, 75(7), 1-12. DOI 10.1007/s12665-016-5349-3.
  • Etiegni, C.A., Irvine, K, and Kooy, M. (2016). Playing by whose rules? Community norms and fisheries rules in selected beaches within Lake Victoria (Kenya) co-management (2016). Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10.1007/s10668-016-9799-2.
  • Gandarillas, V.R, Yong Jiang, Y. and Irvine, K. (2016). Assessing the Services of High Mountain Wetlands in Tropical Andes: A Case Study of Caripe Wetlands at Bolivian Altiplano. Ecosystem Services 19: 51–64.
  • Akele, M. L., Kelderman, P.;  Koning, C. W.;  Irvine, K.  (2016). Trace metal distributions in the sediments of the Little Akaki River, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 188 (7) 389
  • Irvine, K., Castello, L., Junqueira, A. and Moulton, T. (2016). Linking ecology with social development for tropical aquatic conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 26: 917-941.