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Brendan Mckie

Brendan Mckie
My research focuses on the natural and anthropogenic factors that regulate biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in freshwater ecosystems, and influence connectivity between aquatic and terrestrial habitats.


I work at the interface between community and ecosystem ecology, with a strong focus on how biotic (e.g. biodiversity, keystone species) and abiotic (e.g. nutrients, temperature) affect ecosystem functioning.  Most of my research has focused on stream and river networks, though I increasingly work in lakes and riparian habitats also.  Streams, lakes and their associated riparian habitats underpin landscape integrity, transport nutrients, moderate high and low flows, and supporting life by supplying fresh water. However, these ecosystems are heavily impacted by multiple stressors, such as elevated organic and inorganic pollution, hydromorphological modification, sedimentation, and invasive species. I investigate how these stressors interact with natural sources of environmental variability to affect biodiversity of different organism groups (especially benthic macroinvertebrates, but also aquatic fungi, diatoms, and macrophytes), and key ecosystem processes, including the biomass accrual of algae, and decomposition of terrestrial detritus.  My research is conducted in both the field and laboratory, and also exploits existing data. Key areas of interest include:

• The importance of biodiversity for maintaining ecosystem functioning in both stream and terrestrial environments

• Cross-ecosystem subsidies, from the terrestrial environment into streams, and vice-versa

• Effects of multiple stressors on stream community composition and ecosystem functioning, and interactions of biodiversity change with different types of abiotic stressor

• Impacts of invasive species on ecosystem functioning

• River restoration

• General stream ecology, with a focus on food webs and especially detrital pathways

 I am the Director of Post-graduate studies at the Department of Aquatic Sciences & Assessment, and also the department's contact person for questions about aquatic invasive species in Sweden



CROSSLINK: Understanding cross-habitat linkages between blue and green infrastructure to optimize management of biodiversity, ecosystem services and multiple human uses

DESTRESS: Disentangling multiple stressors in stream ecosystems

EXTREAM: Exotic invaders in Swedish streams: evaluation of their ecological and economic effects

Within WATERS: Effects of forestry, agriculture and hydropower on ecosystem structure and function in freshwaters

VRL RESTORE: Restoration of channel complexity and coarse woody debris in Swedish streams: Assessment based on a novel set of biological indicators


DREAM: Developing Resilience indicators

REFORM REstoring rivers FOR effective catchment Management

EKOLIV Optimising remediation measures for the impacts of hydropower

The Västmanland forest fire





BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (HONOURS), Australian National University (1991-96). Honours Thesis: The Community Ecology of Wood-Associated Insects in Streams (Supervisor: Prof. Peter Cranston).

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (ECOLOGY), James Cook University (JCU), Townsville, Australia (1997-2002).  Thesis title: Multiscale abiotic, biotic and biogeographic influences on the ecology and distribution of lotic Chironomidae (Diptera) in the Australian Wet Tropics (Supervisors: Prof. Richard Pearson (JCU) and Prof. Peter Cranston, UC Davis, USA).


1) Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, Sweden: 2002-2008. 

a) 2006 – 08: Project BioCycle (European Science Foundation), on the importance of plant and animal diversity for nutrient cycles in stream and soil ecosystems.

b) 2002-05: project RIVFUNCTION (EU FP5), investigating human impacts on stream ecosystem functioning, and the role of species diversity for function and stability. 

2) Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Entomology, University of California Davis, USA, 2002. Taxonomic and ecological significance of allometric variation in insect morphology

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR (Docent) Qualification: December 2010


Supervision: students and post-docs

(A) Graduate students completed

·    Dr. André Frainer, Umeå University: Ecosystem functioning in streams: Disentangling the roles of biodiversity, stoichiometry, and anthropogenic drivers (PhD, December 2013)

·    Dr. Oded Levanoni, SLU Uppsala (Assistant supervisor, with Dr. Frauke Ecke): Ecological and Biogeochemical Implications of the Recovery of Eurasian Beavers (PhD October 2016)

·    Dr. Peter Carlson, SLU Uppsala (Assistant Supervisor, main supervisor Richard Johnson): Subsidies from running water to terrestrial ecosystems (PhD, March 2014)

·    Jenny Rydh, SLU Uppsala (Assistant Supervisor, main supervisor Willem Goedkoop): Mixture toxicity of pesticides and biological effects in agricultural streams (Phil. Lic, October 2013)

(B) PhD students ongoing

·    Amélie Truchy (main supervisor 2012): Ecosystem functioning and metacommunity dynamics in streams under pressure

·    Kristina Tattersdill (main supervisor 2013): Exotic invaders and ecosystem services in Swedish streams

·    Maidul Choudhury, (assistant supervisor 2014, main supervisor Frauke Ecke): Biodiversity and denitrifying processes in macrophyte-microbe systems

·    Hanna Fried-Petersen (assistant supervisor 2015, main supervisor David Angeler): Resilience indicators in freshwater ecosystems

·    Bonnie Bailet (assistant supervisor 2016, main supervisor Maria Kahlert): Developing DNA metabarcoding techniques for investigating the structure and function of algal biofilms

(C) Post-docs

·   Dr. Francis Burdon (2017-2019): Cross-ecosystem subsidies

·    Dr Emma Göthe (2015-18): Disentangling multiple stressors in stream ecosystems

·    Dr. André Frainer (2014-15): Species traits and ecosystem functioning

·    Dr. Ryan Burrows, SLU Umeå (2013-15): Biofilm respiration in Swedish streams and the impacts of forest management (Main supervisor: Ryan Sponseller)

(D) Swedish Masters students (equivalent to Australian Honours): Seven total as main or co-supervisor.  Theses listed here are as main supervisor:

·      Asa White: Beaver activity in boreal streams: does colonisation history affect downstream resources and ecosystem functioning? (2014-15)

·      Maisam Ali: Assessment of changes in algal biomass accrual and leaf decomposition along a gradient of increasing agricultural disturbance (2013-14)

Mohab Dawoud: Multiple pesticide stressors and ecosystem functioning in stream detrital food webs (2011)

Selected publications

1) Refereed Journal Articles

*Denotes corresponding author

1.          Burrows RH, Laudon H, McKie BG, Sponseller RA (2016) Seasonal resource limitation of heterotrophic biofilms in boreal streams. Limnology & Oceanography. DOI: 10.1002/lno.10383

2.          Chauvet E, Ferreira V, Giller P.S, McKie B.G., Tiegs S.D, Woodward G. et al. Litter Decomposition as an Indicator of Stream Ecosystem Functioning at Local-to-Continental Scales: Insights from the European RivFunction Project. Advances in Ecological Research 55: 99-182

3.          *Gardeström J, Ermold ME, Goedkoop W and McKie BG (2016) Disturbance history influences stressor impacts: effects of a fungicide and nutrients on microbial diversity and litter decomposition. Freshwater Biology 61: 2171-2184

4.          Bundschuh M. & McKie BG (2016) An ecological and ecotoxicological perspective on fine particulate organic matter in streams. Freshwater Biology 16: 2063-74

5.          Bjelke U, Boberg J, Oliva J, Tattersdill K. & McKie BG (2016) Dieback of riparian alder caused by the Phytophthora alni complex: projected consequences for stream ecosystems. Freshwater Biology 61: 565-79

6.          *Peter E. Carlson, Brendan G. McKie, Leonard Sandin, Richard K. Johnson (2016) Strong land-use effects on the dispersal patterns of adult stream insects: implications for transfers of aquatic subsidies to terrestrial consumers. Freshwater Biology 61: 848-61

7.          Pablo García‐Palacios, Brendan G McKie, Ira Tanya Handa, André Frainer, Stephan Hättenschwiler (2016) The importance of litter traits and decomposers for litter decomposition: a comparison of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems within and across biomes. Functional Ecology 30: 819-29

8.          Frainer A, Jabiol J, Gessner MO, Bruder A, Chauvet E and McKie BG (2016) Stoichiometric imbalances between detritus and detritivores are related to shifts in ecosystem functioning. Oikos 125: 861-71

9.          Kail J., McKie B, Verdonschot PFM, Hering, D (2016) Preface: Effects of hydromorphological river restoration—a comprehensive field investigation of 20 European projects. Hydrobiologia 769: 1-2

10.       Ralf C.M. Verdonschot, Jochem Kail, Brendan G. McKie, Piet F.M. Verdonschot (2016) The role of microhabitat in determining the effects of hydromorphological river restoration on macroinvertebrates. Hydrobiologia 769: 55-66

11.       Benjamin Kupilas, Nikolai Friberg, Brendan G. McKie, Maik A. Jochmann, Armin W. Lorenz, Daniel Hering (2016) River restoration and the trophic structure of benthic invertebrate communities across 16 European restoration projects. Hydrobiologia. 769: 105-120

12.       *Amélie Truchy, David G. Angeler, Ryan A. Sponseller, Richard K. Johnson, Brendan G. McKie (2015) Linking biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and services, and ecological resilience: Towards an integrative framework for improved management. Advances in Ecological Research, 53: 55-96

13.       O Levanoni, K Bishop, B.G. Mckie, G Hartman, K Eklöf, F Ecke (2015) Impact of beaver pond colonization history on methylmercury concentrations in surface water. Environmental Science & Technology 49: 12679-12687

14.       *Frainer A & McKie BG (2015) Shifts in the diversity and composition of consumer traits constrain the effects of land use on stream ecosystem functioning. Advances In Ecological Research 52: 169-200

15.       Burrows RM, Hotchkiss, ER, Jonsson M, Laudon H, McKie BG, Sponseller, RA (2015) Nitrogen limitation of heterotrophic biofilms in boreal streams. Freshwater Biology  60: 1237-1251

16.       Boyero L, Pearson RG, Swan, CM, … (16 additional authors) … McKie, BG. Moretti, MS and Yule CM (2015) Evidence that biodiversity drivers change with latitude for stream detritivores. Ecography 38: 949-55

17.       Angeler DG, Allen CR, Birgé HE, Drakare S, McKie BG, Johnson RK (2014) Assessing and managing freshwater ecosystems vulnerable to environmental change. Ambio 43, 113-125

18.       Marbuah G, Gren IM, McKie BG (2014) Economics of Harmful Invasive Species: A Review. Diversity 6: 500-523

19.       Kahlert M & McKie BG (2014) Comparing new and conventional methods to estimate benthic algal biomass and composition in freshwaters. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 16: 2627-2634

20.       Handa IT, Aerts R, Berendse F, Berg M, Bruder A, Butenschoen O, Chauvet E, Gessner MO, Jabiol J, Makkonen M, McKie BG, Malmqvist B, Peeters ET, Scheu S, Schmid B, van Ruijven J, Vos VC, Hättenschwiler S (2014) Consequences of biodiversity loss for litter decomposition across biomes. Nature 509: 218-21

21.       Frainer, A, McKie BG.and Malmqvist, B (2014) When does diversity matter? Species functional diversity and ecosystem functioning across habitats and seasons in a field experiment. Journal of Animal Ecology 83: 460-69

22.       Jabiol J, McKie BG, Bruder, A, Bernadet C, Gessner, MO, Chauvet E (2013) Trophic complexity enhances ecosystem functioning in a detritus-based stream foodweb Journal of Animal Ecology 82: 1042-51

23.       Jabiol J, Bruder A, Gessner MO, Makkonen M, McKie BG, Peeters ETHM, Vos VCA, Chauvet E (2013) Broad-scale diversity patterns of leaf-associated aquatic hyphomycetes. Fungal Ecology 6: 439-48.

24.       Carlson PE, Johnson RK, McKie BG (2013) Optimizing stream bioassessment: Habitat, season and the impacts of landuse on benthic macroinvertebrates Hydrobiologia 704: 363-73

25.       Woodward G, Gessner MO, Giller PS, Gulis V, Hladyz S, Lecerf A, Malmqvist B, McKie BG, Tiegs SD, Cariss H, Dobson M, Elosegi A, Ferreira V, Graça MAS, Fleituch T, Lacoursière JO, Nistorescu M, Pozo J, Risnoveanu G, Schindler M, Vadineanu A, Vought L B-M, Chauvet E (2012) Continental-scale effects of nutrient pollution on stream ecosystem functioning. Science 336: 1438-40

26.       Hladyz S, Åbjörnsson K, Chauvet E, Dobson M, Elosegi A, Ferreira V, Fleituch T, Gessner MO, Giller PS, Gulis V, Hutton SA, Lacoursière JO, Lamothe S, Lecerf A, Malmqvist B, McKie BG, Nistorescu M, Preda E, Riipinen MP, Rîsnoveanu G, Schindler M, Tiegs SD, Vought LBM, and Woodward G (2011) Stream ecosystem functioning in an agricultural landscape: the importance of terrestrial-aquatic linkages. Advances in Ecological Research 44: 211–76.

27.       Perkins DM, McKie BG, Malmqvist B, Gilmour SG, Reiss J & Woodward G (2010) Environmental warming & the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning in freshwater microcosms: partitioning the effects of species identity, richness & metabolism. Advances in Ecological Research 43: 177-209

28.       Gessner MO, Swan CM, Dang CK, McKie BG, Bardget RD, Wall DH, Hättenschwiler S (2010) Diversity Meets Decomposition. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 25: 372-80

29.       *McKie BG, Schindler M, Gessner MO & Malmqvist B (2009). Placing ecosystem functioning in context: effects of biodiversity change & abiotic perturbations in a stream field experiment. Oecologia 160: 757-770

30.       *McKie BG & Malmqvist B (2009). Assessing ecosystem functioning in streams affected by forest management: increased leaf decomposition occurs without changes to the composition of benthic assemblages. Freshwater Biology 54: 2086-2100

31.       Krosch MN, Baker A.M., McKie BG, Mather PB & PS Cranston (2009) Deeply divergent mitochondrial lineages reveal patterns of local endemism in chironomids of the Australian Wet Tropics. Austral Ecology 34: 317-328

32.       *McKie BG, Woodward G, Hladyz S, Nistorescu M, Preda E, Popescu C, Giller P & B Malmqvist (2008) Ecosystem functioning in stream assemblages from different regions: contrasting responses to variation in detritivore richness, evenness & density. Journal of Animal Ecology. Journal of Animal Ecology 77: 495-504

33.       Petrin Z, McKie BG, Buffam I, Laudon H, Malmqvist B (2007). Landscape-controlled chemistry variation affects communities & ecosystem function in headwater streams. Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 64: 1563-1574

34.       *McKie BG & Pearson RG (2006) Environmental variation & the predator-specific responses of tropical stream insects: effects of temperature & predation on survival & development of Australian Chironomidae (Diptera). Oecologia 149: 328-339

35.       *McKie BG., Petrin Z & Malmqvist B (2006). Mitigation or disturbance? Effects of liming on macroinvertebrate assemblage structure & leaf-litter decomposition processes in the humic streams of northern Sweden. Journal of Applied Ecology 43: 780-791.

36.       Presa Abós C, Lepori F, McKie BG & Malmqvist, B (2006) Aggregation among resource patches can promote coexistence among stream-living shredders. Freshwater Biology 51: 545-553

37.       *McKie BG & Cranston PS (2005) Size matters: systematic & ecological implications of allometry in the responses of midge (Diptera: Chironomidae) morphological ratios to experimental temperature manipulations. Canadian Journal of Zoology 83:553-568

38.       *McKie BG, Pearson RG & Cranston PS (2005) Does biogeographical history matter? Diversity & distribution of lotic midges (Diptera: Chironomidae) in the Australian Wet Tropics. Austral Ecology 30: 1-13

39.       *McKie BG, Cranston PS & Pearson RG (2004) Gondwanan mesotherms & cosmopolitan eurytherms: effects of temperature on the development & survival of Australian Chironomidae (Diptera) from tropical & temperate populations. Marine & Freshwater Research 55: 759-768 

40.       *McKie BG (2004) Disturbance & investment: developmental responses of tropical lotic midges to repeated tube destruction in the juvenile stages. Ecological Entomology 29: 457-466

41.       *McKie BGL. & Cranston, PS (2001) Colonisation of experimentally immersed wood in south-eastern Australia: responses of feeding groups to changes in riparian vegetation. Hydrobiologia 452: 1-14

42.       *McKie BGL. & Cranston, PS (1998) Keystone coleopterans? Community response to wood-feeding elmids on experimentally-immersed woods in south-east Australia. Marine & Freshwater Research 49: 79-88

2) Book Chapters

McKie, B.G. and Johnson, R.K. (2016) Integrated assessment and responses in inland waters. In: Ecological Assessment of Swedish Water Bodies: development, harmonization and integration of biological indicators (Lindegarth M. et al. eds), pp80-91. Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, Gothenburg.

Connolly NM, Pearson RG, Christidis F, McKie B, Boyero L (2008) Diversity of invertebrates in Wet Tropics streams: Patterns & Processes. In: Living in a Dynamic Tropical Forest Landscape (N. Stork & S. Turton eds), pp 161-177. Blackwell, Melbourne

3) Popular Publications & Government Reports:


·      McKie B, Taylor A, Nilsson T, Goedkoop W (2015) Quantification of the ecosystem-level impacts of mosquito biocontrol. Report prepared for the Swedish EPA. NV-05266-13.     

·      Baattrup-Pedersen, A et al. (2015) Guidance on how to identify impacts of hydromorphological degradation on riparian ecosystems. Deliverable 3.4 of REFORM (REstoring rivers FOR effective catchment Management), European Commission within the 7th Framework Grant Agreement 282656

·      Mckie BG & Goedkoop W. (2011) Development of alternative approaches for monitoring the effects of the mosquito control agent Bti on ecosystems of the Dalälven catchment. Report for the Swedish EPA, diary number 802-0095-10.

·      McKie BG, Hoffsten P-O, Malmqvist B (2005) Compilation & analysis of benthic macroinvertebrate data from limed & reference sites, collected as part of the Integrerad Kalknings Effekt Uppföljning (IKEU) program. Report prepared for the Swedish EPA. Institutionen för tillämpad miljövetenskap, Stockholms Univ., Report 150

·      McKie BG (2002) Keeping cool when the heats on: aquatic insects in rainforest streams. Using Rainforest Research publication series, the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology & Management, Cairns, Australia

·      Connolly NM & McKie BG (2001) An investigation of nuisance midges at The Lakes Stage 1. ACTFR Report No. 01/06, Townsville City Council, Queensland, Australia

·      Gullan PJ, Cranston PS, McKie BG & Colloff M.J. (1996) The distribution, species richness & abundance of gall-forming insects of Apiomorpha & other scale insects (Coccoidea) at Danggali Conservation Park, SA. Australian Nature Conservation Agency

4) Invited conference presentations: 19 total, including:

·      “Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships and litter decomposition in streams: What we (think) we know and what we really should know more about” (Detrital dynamics in aquatic ecosystems: From Genes to Ecosystems, special conference of the British Ecological Society, Charles Darwin House London, 2014)

·      “Assessing the effects of forest management on stream ecosystem integrity” (European Federation for Freshwater Sciences 5th Symposium (SEFS 5), Sicily, 2007)

·      “Detritivore diversity & leaf decomposition in streams: placing richness-function relationships in context” (DIVERSITAS conference, Mexico, 2005)


Google scholar page

Research Gate profile

Researcher at the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment; Section for Ecology and Biodiversity
Telephone: 018-673155
Postal address:
Institutionen för vatten och miljö, Box 7050
Visiting address: Lennart Hjelms väg 9, Uppsala