I'm a hydrologist with six years of experience working as an irrigation system designer, so to me, ecohydrology means considering ecological assets in our water resource allocations. I specifically study inundation-vegetation interaction in the hope of a better understanding of flood characteristics effects on floodplain vegetation distribution and productivity, which is foundational information for interpreting the implications of water sharing plans, dam operational rules, and environmental flow strategies on floodplain biota at the flow event or flow regime scale.
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
My undergraduate degree is in Water Engineering from Shahid Chamran University in Iran. I have a Master of Science degree in Hydraulic Structures with a specialization in Environmental Flows from Urmia University, Iran. I'm currently finishing my PhD in Environmental Sciences at Macquarie University, Australia with a focus on Inundation-Vegetation association.
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
It stemmed from my grad studies whilst I specifically started working on environmental flows in rivers for my master thesis. Although Iran has many rivers and wetlands, the concept of environmental flows was a relatively new notion at that time, as such, my master's degree was innovative in an area with little ecological data. Consequently, I focused on hydrological methods for assessing eflow requirements conscious of a huge lack of ecological knowledge for a realistic eflow estimation. This experience served as a solid foundation for my ecohydrology research leading me to pursue a PhD in a robust ecology focused team. Later on, I joined the lab of Neil Saintilan, a leading figure internationally in water and wetland management, where I am completing my PhD and learning more about the ecological assets of dryland floodplains and the effect of water development strategies on flood-dependant vegetation communities.
My research background in environmental flows enables me to comprehend the necessity of ecological aspects for effective water allocation, and my work experience has made me a conscious engineer especially concerning the lack of study of the environmental effects of water projects on our ecosystems.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
Having studied and obtained work experience in the field of water engineering, I am aware that an integrated multidisciplinary approach to the sustainable rehabilitation and maintenance of aquatic ecosystems together with population dynamics, will dictate this century.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
There are lots of papers I like, but one of the first ecohydrology papers which framed my understanding of the interaction between hydrology and aquatic biodiversity is Altered Flow Regimes for Aquatic Biodiversity by Stuart Bunn and Angela Arthington (2002). They beautifully highlighted the effect of altering flow regimes on aquatic biodiversity in streams and rivers by developing useful guiding principles.
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
I like swimming, and I'm fortunate to be able to enjoy the beautiful transparent Caribbean sea in Barbados where I am located since the pandemic. I also enjoy globe-trotting with my husband when possible.