Ken Irvine 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. While in Dublin he 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 is Chair of Aquatic Ecosystems, whose research is mainly on the biogeochemical processes, ecological assessment and capacity development within African wetlands and waterbodies. This necessarily requires a social-ecological and multidisciplinary perspective. As part of a special anniversary issue (2016) produced by the editorial board of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, he was lead author in an open access article on tropical conservation, and was part of the editorial team in producing The Wetland Book (2020) published by Springer, a major source of information on global wetlands. More recently (2022) he was lead author on a chapter in Vegetated wetlands: from ecology to conservation management in the textbook  Fundamentals of Tropical Freshwater Wetlands: From Ecology to Conservation Management (Elsevier) and a section editor on Environmental Managment for the Encyclopedia of Inland Waters, 2nd edition (Elsevier). Recent publications span ecology to policy,and includes working with colleagues from other disciplines, institutes and Chair Groups. A list of key publications are provided below.

Other recent outreach work includes working on capacity development within the Danube basin,  Integrated Water Resource Management in India and S.E. Asia,  development of an Integrated Managment Plan for the Lower Mara, Tanzania , and an "Action Research" project, Women and Water for Change in Communities that has identified key elements needed for the effective engagement and agency for local communities development and support in water management. A development from this work has been a large scale capacity develoment project supporting and attempting to better understand the managment of community and livestock water pans in Kenya and Tanzania, and a partner on a WWF Darwin Initiative project on Community-led fisheries management in the Mara Wetlands.  Ken is an active Board member of the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education (ACARE) and sits on the Strategic Advisory Group of the UN Water intitiative  World Water Quality Alliance, and is currently working with colleagues on producing a White Paper on the Restoration of Shallow Lakes.

Research Summary

Recent Research Projects:

  • Sustainable Use of Critical Wetlands in the Lake Victoria Basin: Actions for Nature and People. €54 500. MacArthur Foundation   2015-2017
  • Promoting sustainable management of the Mara wetlands, Subcontract to BirdLife International as part of USAID PREPARED funding €25 000.  2016-17.
  • Coordinator. Women and Development. Communities for Change (Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia) CocaCola Foundation (€550 000) 2017-21 – [no cost extension owing to Covid_19]. Report pending
  • Physical modifications of Ireland’s water resources & implications for meeting Water Framework Directive objectives. 2021-2022. €35,500. Report pending
  • Community-led fisheries management in the Mara Wetlands. WWF (Tanzania) Darwin Initatve €105000 2022-2024



  • Rahman, Md., Jiang, Y., and Irvine, K. (2018) Assessing wetland services for improved development decision-making: a case study of mangroves in coastal Bangladesh. Wetlands Ecology and Management. 26(4), 563-580  doi: 10.1007/s11273-018-9592-0
  • Irvine, K., Etigeni C., Weyl, O. (2018) Prognosis for long-term sustainable fisheries in the African Great Lakes. Fisheries and Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/fme.12282

  • Penk, M.R., Donohue, I, Irvine, K. (2018).Temporally variable niche overlap and competitive potential of an introduced and a native mysid shrimp. Hydrobiologia. DOI: 10.1007/s10750-018-3700-2

  • Zinabu, E., Kelderman, P., van der Kwast, J., & Irvine, K (2018). Evaluating effect of diffuse and point source nutrient transfers on water quality in the Kombolcha River Basin, an industrializing Ethiopian catchment. Land Degradation & Development

  • Irvine, K., Coxon, C., Gill, L., Kimberely, S., Waldren,S (2018).  Turloughs. In: C. M. Finlayson et al. (eds.), The Wetland Book, Springer

  • Gevers, I., Koopmanschap, E.M.J., Irvine, K., Finlayson, C.M. &van Dam, A.A. (2018). Capacity Development for Wetland Management. In: C. M. Finlayson et al. (eds.), The Wetland Book,

  • Darwall W, Bremerich V, De Wever’A, et al. The Alliance for Freshwater Life: A global call to unite efforts for freshwater biodiversity science and conservation. Aquatic Conserv: Mar Freshw Ecosyst. 2018;1–8.

  • Uwimana A., van Dam, A.A. andIrvine, K (2018). Effects of conversion of wetlands to rice and fish farming on water quality in valley bottoms of the Migina catchment, southern Rwanda. Ecological Engineering 125: 76–86.

  • Masese, F. O., Abrantes, K. G., Gettel, G. M., Irvine, K., Bouillon, S., & McClain, M. E. (2018). Trophic structure of an African savanna river and organic matter inputs by large terrestrial herbivores: A stable isotope approach. Freshwater Biology.

  • Etigeni C.,, A., Kooy, M. & Irvine, K. (2018). Promoting Social Accountability for Equitable Fisheries Within Beach Management Units in Lake Victoria (Kenya). Conservation and Society AOP: 1-10, 2018

  • Porst, G., Brauns, M., Irvine, K., Soliminie, A., Sandin, L., Pusch, M., & Miler, O. (2018). Effects of shoreline alteration and habitat heterogeneity on macroinvertebrate community composition across European lakes. Ecological Indicators, 98: 285096.
  • Irvine (2018) Editorial: Aquatic conservation in the age of the Sustainable Development Goals. Aquatic Conserv: Mar Freshw Ecosyst.
  • Nabuyanda M.M., van Bruggen J., Kelderman P., Irvine K. (2019). Investigating Co, Cu, and Pb retention and remobilization after drying and rewetting treatments in greenhouse laboratory-scale constructed treatments with and without Typha angustifolia, and connected phytoremediation potential. Journal of Environmental Management. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.02.016
  • Zinabu, E., Kelderman P., van der Kwast, J., Irvine, K. (2019). Monitoring river water and sediments within a changing Ethiopian catchment to support sustainable development. Environ Monit Assess (2019) 191:455
  • Rodriguez Alcala, R.O., Blanco, S., Giron, G.,  Jorge, Jeppesen, E., Irvine, K., Noges, T.,  Noges, P., Gross, E., and Becares, E.. (2020). Large-scale geographical and environmental drivers of shallow lake diatom metacommunities across Europe. Science of The Total Environment. 707. 135887. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135887.
  • Kirschke, S., Avellan, T., Barlund, I., Bogardi, J., Carvalho, L., Chapman, D., Dickens, C.W.S., Irvine, K., Lee, S.B., Mehner, T. and Warner, S. (2020). Capacity challenges in water quality monitoring: understanding the role of human development. Environ Monit Assess 192, 298 (2020).
  • Etiegni, C.A., Irvine, K., and Kooy, M. (2020). Participatory governance in Lake Victoria (Kenya) fisheries: whose voices are heard? Marine Studies
  • Namaalwa, S., Van Dam, A.A., Gettel, G.M., Kaggwa, R., Zsuffa, I. and Irvine, K. (2020). The impact of wastewater discharge and agriculture on water quality and nutrient retention of Namatala Wetland, Eastern Uganda. Frontiers in Environmental Science. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2020.00148
  • Keith, D.A. and others. (2020). Indicative distribution maps for Ecological Functional Groups-Level 3 of IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology. Report. IUCN
  • Jurca, T., Donohue, L., McGoff, E., Tunali, S.Y. and Irvine, K. (2021). Unravelling the effect of multiple stressors on ecological structure of littoral lake macroinvertebrates. International Review of Hydrobiology.
  • Hes EMA, Yatoi R, Laisser SL, Feyissa AK, Irvine K, Kipkemboi J, van Dam AA (2021) The effect of seasonal flooding and livelihood activities on retention of nitrogen and phosphorus in Cyperus papyrus wetlands, the role of aboveground biomass. Hydrobiologia 848: 4134-4152
  • Irvine, K., Dickens, C., Castello, L., Bredin, I., Finlayson, C.M. (2022) Vegetated wetlands: from ecology to conservation management. In: Dalu, T., Wasserman, R.J., (eds). Fundamentals of Tropical Freshwater Wetlands: From Ecology to Conservation Management. Elsevier, Cambridge. Pp. 589-640.
  • Irvine, K. (2022). Measuring Impact, Overview and Reference Conditions. In Tockner, K. and Mehner, T. (Eds) Encyclopedia of Inland Waters, 2nd edition. Elsevier.
  • Mulele, M., Kelderman, P., Bruggen, J. Van, Irvine, K. (2022). Distribution of the heavy metals Co , Cu , and Pb in sediments and Typha spp . and Phragmites mauritianus in three Zambian wetlands. J. Environ. Manage. 304, 114133. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.114133
  • Uwimana, A., van Dam, A.A., Wali, U.G., Irvine, K., (2022). Fluxes and retention of sediment and nutrients in valley bottom fish and rice farms and wetlands: impacts on surface water. Wetl. Ecol. Manag. 0.
  • Gani, A., Kwast, J. Van Der, Mcclain, M.E., Gettel, G., Irvine, K. (2022). Classification of Geomorphic Units and Their Relevance for Nutrient Retention or Export of a Large Lowland Padma River , Bangladesh : A NDVI Based Approach 1–17.

Other information

Recent PhDs promoted (University Wageningen)

  • Eskinder Zinabu Belachew (2019). Estimating Combined Loads of Diffuse and Point Source pollutants into the Borkena River, Ethiopia.
  • Maria Gabriela Alvarez Mieles (2019). Ecological Modelling of River-Wetland Systems. A case study for the Abras de Montequilla wetland in Ecuador. (co-promotor, TU Delft)
  • Abias Uwimana (2019). Effects of wetland conversion to farming on water quality and sediment and nutrient retention in a tropical catchment. Wageningen University
  • Edwin Hes (2021). The effect of harvesting and flooding on nutrient cycling and retention in Cyperus papyrus wetlands. Wageningen University
  • Christine A. Etiegni, (2022). Fisher folk participation for sustainable fisheries: an illusion or reality for Lake Victoria (Kenya) co-management. Wageningen University


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