Dr Catherine Leigh

IRSTEA, UR-MALY, 5 rue de la Doua, CS70077 69626 VILLEURBANNE Cedex, France

​Email: catherine.leigh@irstea.fr

Bio and research interests

  I am a freshwater ecologist passionate about riverine ecosystems and understanding biotic responses to natural or human-induced changes in   river flow. I apply ecosystem, community ecology and food web theories, concepts and analytical methods to my research on dryland, tropical and intermittent rivers, including river health assessment, and specialise in aquatic macroinvertebrate ecology. I am currently a post-doctoral researcher within the IRBAS project (www.irbas.fr), based in France. My research links flow intermittency to biodiversity patterns in space and time (www.irbas.fr). I completed my PhD in river ecology at Griffith University (2008) and was a post-doctoral research fellow in the RnR group 2008-2013.


  • PhD, Australian Rivers Institute and Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University, 2009
  • Thesis: Floodplain river function in Australia's wet/dry tropics, with specific reference to aquatic macroinvertebrates and the Gulf of Carpentaria (2008).
  • Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Australian Environmental Studies, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Griffith University, 2005
  • Concentration Area: Ecology and Conservation Biology
  • Thesis: Aspects of the hyporheic zone as indicators for ephemeral stream health (2004)

Awards, Scholarships & Fellowships

 Best Scientific Paper Award, Finalist, Australian Rivers Institute, 2012

 CAPRS Scholarship, Griffith School of Environment, 2008

 Honourable Mention Award, Student presentation, Australian Society for Limnology Congress, Mandurah, Western Australia, 2008

 Honourable Mention Award, Student presentation, New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society and Australian Society for Limnology Conference, Queenstown, New Zealand, 2007

 Science Program Scholarship, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, 2007

 Postgraduate Research Scholarship, Land & Water Australia, 2005

 Griffith University Medal 2004

 Research Scholarship, Cooperative Research Centre for Catchment Management and Freshwater Ecology, 2003

 Griffith University Environmental Studies Medal 2003

 Griffith University Awards for Academic Excellence: 2002, 2003, 2004


  • Leigh C, Bush A, Harrison E, Ho SS, Ledger ME, Luke L, Rolls RJ (2014) Ecological effects of extreme climatic events on riverine ecosystems: insights from Australia. Freshwater Biology. doi:10.1111/fwb.12515
  • Rolls RJ, Leigh C, Langhans, SD (2014) Improving science through improved acknowledgment of reviewers. Conservation Biology. doi:10.1111/cobi.12418
  • Leigh C, Reis TM, Sheldon F (2013) High potential subsidy of dry-season aquatic fauna to consumers in riparian zones of wet–dry tropical rivers. Inland Waters 3, 411-420.
  • Leigh C (2013) Dry season changes in macroinvertebrate assemblages of highly seasonal rivers: responses to low flow, no flow and antecedent hydrology. Hydrobiologia 703, 95-112.
  • Leigh C, Stubbington R, Sheldon F, Boulton AJ (2013) Hyporheic zone invertebrates as biomonitors of temporary rivers: a global analysis. Ecological Indicators 32, 62-73.
  • Leigh C, Burford MA, Connolly RM, Olley JM, Saeck E, Sheldon F, Smart JCR, Bunn SE (2013) Science to support management of receiving waters in an event-driven ecosystem: from land to river to sea. Water 5, 780-97.
  • Bunn SE, Leigh C, Jardine T (2013) Diet-tissue fractionation of δ15N by consumers from streams and rivers. Limnology and Oceanography 58, 765-773.
  • Kitsios A, Galvin L, Leigh C, Storer T (2012) Fish and invertebrate responses to dry season and antecedent flow in south-west Western Australian streams. National Water Commission, Canberra. Available online: http://archive.nwc.gov.au/library/waterlines/76#
  • Leigh C (2012) Macroinvertebrate responses to dry season and antecedent flow in highly seasonal streams and rivers of the wet-dry tropics, Northern Territory. National Water Commission, Canberra. Available online: http://archive.nwc.gov.au/library/waterlines/76#
  • Leigh C, Gippel CJ (2012) Ecological Health Assessment of Large Freshwater Rivers, Lakes and Reservoirs: Study Design Options, Sampling Methods and Key Issues. Australia-China Environment Development Partnership, River Health and Environmental Flow in China, Project Code: P0018. International WaterCentre, Brisbane, Queensland. Available online: http://www.watercentre.org/research/rhef/project-resources/technical-reports
  • Leigh C, Stewart-Koster B, Sheldon F, Burford MA (2012) Understanding multiple ecological responses to anthropogenic disturbance: rivers and potential flow regime change. Ecological Applications 22, 250-263.
  • Leigh C, Qu X, Zhang Y, Kong W, Meng W, Hanington P, Speed R, Gippel C, Bond N, Catford J, Bunn S, Close P (2012) ACEDP Project Report: Assessment of River Health in the Liao River Basin (Taizi Sub-Catchment). Australia-China Environment Development Partnership. River Health and Environmental Flow in China, Project Code: P0018. International WaterCentre, Brisbane, Queensland. Available online: http://www.watercentre.org/research/rhef/project-resources/technical-reports
  • Rolls RJ, Leigh C, Sheldon F (2012) Mechanistic effects of low flow hydrology on riverine ecosystems: ecological principles and consequences of alteration. Freshwater Science 31, 1163-1186.
  • Sheldon F, Pelzer L, Leigh C, Neilan W, Polson C (2012) Can bugs live anywhere? Habitat, hydrology and the health of urban creek ecosystems in SEQ. Brisbane, Queensland. In: Science Forum and Stakeholder Engagement: Building Linkages, Collaboration and Science Quality (Eds. DK Begbie, SJ Kenway, SM Biermann, SL Wakem) pp. 47-52. Urban Water Security Research Alliance, Brisbane, Queensland.
  • Kennard M, Pusey B, Boyden J, Burrows D, Leigh C, Perna C, Bayliss P, Georges A (2010) Compilation of species distribution datasets for use as biodiversity surrogates. In: Identifying high conservation value aquatic ecosystems in northern Australia. Final Report for the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and the National Water Commission (Ed. MJ Kennard) pp. 48-56. Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory.
  • Leigh C, Burford MA, Roberts DT, Udy JW (2010) Predicting the vulnerability of reservoirs to poor water quality and cyanobacterial blooms. Water Research 44, 4487-4496.
  • Leigh C, Burford MA, Roberts DT, Udy JW (2010) Cyanobacterial blooms: assessing reservoir vulnerability. Water 37: 71-75.
  • Leigh C, Burford MA, Sheldon F, Bunn SE (2010) Dynamic stability in dry season food webs within tropical floodplain rivers. Marine & Freshwater Research 61, 357-368.
  • Leigh C, Sheldon F, Kingsford RT, Arthington AH (2010) Sequential floods drive 'booms' and wetland persistence in dryland rivers: a synthesis. Marine & Freshwater Research 61, 896-908.
  • Csurhes S, Leigh C, Walton C (2009) Weed risk assessment. African lovegrass Eragrostis curvula. Biosecurity Queensland, Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
  • Leigh C, Sheldon F (2009) Hydrological connectivity drives patterns of macroinvertebrate biodiversity in floodplain rivers of the Australian wet/dry tropics. Freshwater Biology 54, 549-571.
  • Leigh C, Sheldon F (2008) Hydrological changes and ecological impacts associated with water resource development in large floodplain rivers in the Australian tropics. River Research and Applications 24, 1251-1270.
  • Sheldon F, Leigh C (2005) Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment Methodology Development Project Background Document 4: Review of Ecological Indicators and Assessment Programs. Centre for Riverine Landscapes, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland.
  • Leigh C, Walton CS (2004) Lippia in Queensland. Pest Status Review Series. Land protection, Department of Natural resources and Mines, Queensland.