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 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 is an invited observer to the Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel, and were on the editorial team in producing The Wetland Book (Springer), a 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,  Integrated Water Resource Management in India and S.E. Asia, and development of an Integrated Managment Plan for the Lower Mara, Tanzania . Through his work at IHE, he continues to learn about the complexities and wicked problems of sustainable use of water and ecosystems. This has led to a collaboration with colleagues involved in citizen science and an "Action Research" project, Women and Water for Change in Communities. This project has identified key elements that are needed for the effective engagement and capacity support for local communities devlopment and support in water management, that will be the topic of a White Paper.

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



  • 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.
  • Verheyen, E. and others. (2017) Oil extraction imperils Africa's Great Lakes. Science 354, Issue 6312, 561-562 DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1722
  • Uwimana, A., van Dam, A., Gettel, G., Bigirimana, B., Irvine, K. (2017).  Effects of River Discharge and Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) on Water Quality Dynamics in Migina Catchment, Rwanda Environmental Management. DOI 10.1007/s00267-017-0891-7
  • Zinabu, E., van der Kwast, J, Kelderman, P. Irvine, K. (2017).  Estimating total nitrogen and phosphorus losses in a data-poor Ethiopian catchment. Journal of Environmental Quality doi:10.2134/jeq2017.05.0202
  • Zinabu, E., Kelderman, P., van der Kwast, J., & Irvine, K. (2017). Impacts and Policy Implications of Metals Effluent Discharges into the Industrial Zone of Rivers: A Sub-Saharan Countries View, Ethiopia. Environmental Management.

  • Radhakrishnan, M., Pathak, T., Irvine, K., & Pathirana, A. (2017). Scoping for the Operation of Agile Urban Adaptation for Secondary Cities of the Global South: Possibilities in Pune, India. Water, 9(12), 939.

  • 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.


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