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Lenka Kuglerová

Lenka Kuglerova
I am a riparian and aquatic ecologist with specific interest in how landscape management affects our waterways. I study the interaction of terrestrial and aquatic processes and how they drive ecosystem services, forest production, species diversity, distribution of organisms, and biogeochemical cycling. I the applied aspect of my research I focus on how are these interactions threatened by land development, including forestry and urbanization, across multiple spatial scales. My long-term goal is to is to contribute to the best-management-practices around streams and rivers in order to sustain healty waters.


For the past 9 years, I have been working enthusiastically as a riparian and aquatic ecologist and hydrologist with a specific applied research focus on land management practices around our waterways. Overall, my ambition is to take a basic research approach to answer land management question especially within near-stream zones. More specifically, my research questions are centered on the ecology, hydrology and biogeochemistry of riverine systems, including those that evaluate the role of stream network postion, groundwater flow paths and land use management, for patterns of biodiversity, distribution of freshwater communities, riverine ecosystem services, forest conservation and water protection. I address my research questions across multiple spatial scales, and I specifically focus on cumulative impacts of resource development. 

In my research I address numerous topics:


Every stream and river has its riparian zone - the narrow fringe of forest directly adjacent to water. In my research I am looking at the factors which drive plant species diversity in riparian ecosystems along river networks. I am interested in how connectivity of rivers interact with species traits for dispersal and changes in downstream abiotic processes, to determine riparian plant metacommunity structure. I study riparian ecosystems in forested watersheds to understand the basic ecological links between physical habitat and its communities but I am also expanding my questions to watersheds modified by various land use such as forestry, agriculture and urbanization.


A large part of my research focuses on the effect which groundwater has on riparian processes and communities and on the physical and biogeochimical regimes of small streams. Riparian zones with groundwater discharge - i.e., where groundwater table reaches the soil surface and creates a seepage - are often associated with more fertile soils, and more diverse plant communities compared to non-discharge locations. These focal wet hotspots have also disproportional control over stream water quality and quantity because they deliver substantial amount of the surface flow despite that they cover onely a small fraction of the riparian zone. In my research I study the ecological and biogeochemical importance of groundwater discharge for riparian and aquatic processes, communities and ecosystem services across local and downstream cumulative scales. 


The standard mitigation measure to protect freshwater ecosystems during forest harvest is the retention of riparian buffers. Buffers are known to be somewhat effective in water protection and thus they are required in forestry plans. However, current guidelines for buffer designs are vague and based on simple classifications (e.g. streams size). Mine and others research has shown that riparian corridors are heterogeneous in both biotic and abiotic aspects across small spatial scales and thus, fixed-width uniform buffers can fail to protect riparian and freshwater ecosystem integrity.  Variable-width buffers should be thus accepted as standard practice and their design should be based on hydrology within the riparian zone, retaining wider buffers at discharge and narrower buffers at non-discharge areas. Together with this, buffer management can emulate natural disturbances such as wind throws and insect outbreaks, to resemble the most naturally looking and functioning riparian forests. Further, small streams are often compromised when it comes to allocation of riparian buffers and they experience various disturbances due to e.g., complete riparian canopy removal, blowdowns of remaining trees, or machine driving, which triggers number of negative impacts on water quality, quantity and ecological communities. It is starting to be increasingly evident that compromising buffers along the smallest streams also poses threats to downstream environments. Thus, allocation of protective measures downstream might be misplaced, if water from upstream headwaters arrives already impaired. In urban and agricultural watersheds streams and rivers are modified to a large degree and their ecological integrity is threatened by multiple stressors. One of the overlooked issues are the potential cumulative effects of small stream impairments for downstream environments. Small streams are very important because they are sources of water, nutrients, carbon and organisms but they are often the most modified and affected parts of the river networks, especially in urban systems. My current reserach projects are looking what the cumulative consequences of land use on freshwater ecosystems are, including both forestry and urbanization. Ultimately, I want to find out whether there are thresholds for headwater modification which, when crossed, are detrimental for downstream ecosystem integrity.​


Since riparian zones are situated at the edge of water, they have many important functions for the adjacent streams and rivers. One of the most important function is the provision of subsidies in form of litter inputs to streams. Due to this tight link between riparian  and aquatic systems, changes within the riparian communities are usually followed by changes in the freshwater habitat. In this projects, I am interested how invasive riparian plants alter the aquatic communities and how this in turn affects important ecosystem functions. By using experimental approach, I am looking at how are litter decomposition rates affected by changes in the composition of riparian plants and how does the consumer macroinvertebrate community adapt to these novel subsidies.


2015-2017 - Postdoctoral fellow at University of British Columbia, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Vancouver, Canada

2015-2016 - Postdoctoral associate at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Umeå, Sweden

2015 - Doctoral Degree in Ecology, Umeå University, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå, Sweden

2010 - Master of Science in BiologySwedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Umeå, Sweden

2008 - Bachelor of Landscape StudiesFaculty of Environmental science, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Prague, Czech Republic


Main supervisor for Anna Jonsson, a master’s degree candidate (September 2017 - present), SLU, Umeå

Co-supervisor for Stefan Ploum, a PhD candidate (September 2016 - present), SLU, Umeå

Selected publications

Kuglerová, L., Hasselquist, E., Richardson, J. S., Sponseller, R., Kreutzweiser, D., Laudon, H. Management perspectives on Aqua incognita: connectivity and cumulative effects of small natural and artificial streams in boreal forests. Hydrological Processes - Invited commentary, 31: 4238-4244 ,(Shared first authorship). 

Leach, J. A., Lidberg, W., Kuglerová, L., Peralta-Tapia, A., Ågren, A., and Laudon, Evaluating terrain-based predictions of shallow lateral groundwater discharge zones for a boreal lake-stream system. Water Resource Research. 35: 5420-5437.

Kuglerová, L., García, L., Pardo, I., Mottiar, Y., Richardson, J. S. 2017. Does leaf litter from invasive plants contribute the same support of a stream ecosystem function as native vegetation? Ecosphere 8(4):e01779. 10.1002/ecs2.1779

Tiwari, T., Lundström, J., Kuglerová L., Laudon, H., Öhman, K., Ågren, A. 2016. Cost of riparian buffer zones: A comparison of hydrologically adapted site-specific riparian buffers with traditional fixed widths. Water Resource Research, 52: 1-14.

Kuglerová, L., Jansson, R., Sponseller, R. A., Laudon, H., Malm-Renöfält, B. 2015. Local and regional processes determine plant species richness in a river-network metacommunity. Ecology 96: 381-391.

Kuglerová, L., Ågren, A., Jansson, R., Laudon, H. 2014. Towards optimizing riparian buffer zones: Ecological and biogeochemical implications for forest management. Forest Ecology and Management 334: 74-84.

Kuglerová, L., Jansson, R., Ågren, A., Laudon, H., Malm-Renöfält, B. 2014. Groundwater discharge creates hotspots of riparian plant species richness in a boreal forest stream network. Ecology 95: 715-725.

Schelker, J., Kuglerová, L., Eklöf, K., Bishop, K., Laudon, H. 2013. Hydrological effects of clear-cutting in a boreal forest – Snowpack, dynamics, snowmelt and streamflow responses. Journal of Hydrology 484: 105-114.



Associate Senior Lecturer at the Department of Forest Ecology and Management; Forest Landscape Biogeochemistry Unit
Postal address:
Skogens ekologi och skötsel
901 83 Umeå
Visiting address: Skogsmarksgränd 17, Umeå