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Dr Alan Puttock

Dr Alan Puttock

Lecturer in Applied Nature Based Solutions (Water)

 CREWW Building 


Environmental scientist and ecohydrologist taking an interdisciplinary approach to research into nature-based solutions and landscape restoration. Skillset combines: hydrological and ecological empirical data collection, laboratory analysis, remote sensing, modelling, geographical information systems and social science. Seeking to undertake applied research in collaboration with a wide range of project partners to ensure research has international academic and non-academic impact.

Currently working across a suite of research projects with the key overarching aims of developing policy and management relevant understanding to: (1) Optimise the implementation of nature-based/natural flood management solutions to hydrological extremes, creating more resilient landscapes (2) maximise the benefits and minimise the conflicts associated with landscape restoration, catchment management and species reintroductions.

Alan is also a member of The Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW). CREWW conducts research into some of the most pressing environmental challenges in our time - namely how we can manage our precious natural resources in ways which are sustainable, innovative and resilient.

Broad research interests:

Ecohydrology; nature-based solutions; natural flood management; landscape restoration; species reintroductions; soil erosion; water quality; biogeochemical cycling; land use and environmental change; environmental ecosystem services


BSc Physical Geography (University of Exeter)
MSc Sustainable Development and Environmental Change (University of Exeter)
PhD (University of Exeter and Rothamsted Research, North Wyke)

Research group links

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Research interests

Environmental scientist and ecohydrologist taking an interdisciplinary approach to research into nature-based solutions and landscape restoration. Skillset combines: hydrological and ecological empirical data collection, laboratory analysis, remote sensing, modelling, geographical information systems and social science. Seeking to undertake applied research in collaboration with a wide range of project partners to ensure research has international academic and non-academic impact.

Research projects

Beaver Projects

Beavers act as ecohydrological engineers and it is believed they could play an important role in the management of water resources. To inform the debate surrounding the reintroduction of beavers in the United Kingdom, it is essential to understand the impacts beavers have upon hydrology and associated ecosystem services including: flood risk management, water quality and drinking water provision.

Working with a broad range of project partners, we are undertaking interdisciplinary research to quantify the environmental impacts of beaver reintroduction at trial reintroduction sites including projects in: Devon, Cornwall, Yorkshire, Knepp Estate, Holnicote Estate and the Forest of Dean. 

We are also undertaking a broad range of research to inform policy with regard to beaver reintroduction nationally.

Devon Resilience Innovation Project

Collaborating with Environment Agency and Devon County Council on one of 25 national government Flood and Coastal Innovation Programmes seeking to demonstrate how innovative actions can improve resilience to flooding. This project involves the supervision of two PhD students seeking to optimise and upscale the implementation of natural flood management/nature-based solution approaches in flashy rapid response catchments.

River Otter Beaver Trial

In 2015 Natural England granted a five year licence to monitor beavers living wild upon the River Otter, Devon. The impacts of Eurasian Beaver upon English river systems are currently poorly understood, with the outcome of this pilot study having significant implications for river restoration and management. This project, the first of its kind in England, is monitoring the impacts of beavers upon the River Otter catchment. 

The River Otter Beaver Trial is led by Devon Wildlife Trust working in partnership with The University of Exeter, the Derek Gow Consultancy, and Clinton Devon Estates. Funding for the ROBT comes from Devon Wildlife Trust, the Royal Society for Wildlife Trusts, Peter de Haan Charitable Trust, University of Exeter and from the generous donations from the public made to the Devon Beaver Appeal. 

Ottery St Mary Natural Flood Management Project 

As part of the government’s 25 year plan and the Environment Agency’s working with natural processes strategies, DEFRA is supporting partnership organisations to undertake natural flood management schemes locally, combined with evidence gathering and monitoring to increase national understanding. Hydrological monitoring is being undertaken to determine the role played by interventions (woody debris dams, forest planting, in field attenuation structures) allowing comparison with other catchment management strategies. This project is also now part of the Devon Resilience innovation Project supported by Devon County Council. 

Key Previous Research Projects

Culm Grasslands Project
Culm grasslands (or Rhôs pastures), are an internationally important example of semi-natural wet pasture, which can provide multiple ecosystem services. However, these landscapes have been heavily impacted by land use change, resulting in a significant reduction in their spatial extent. It is believed that the restoration of Culm grassland could deliver multiple benefits for water and soil resources in South West England. Ecosystem services provided by Culm grassland might include: improved water storage, flood risk management, cleaner water, enhanced carbon storage and improved biodiversity.

This study seeks to increase understanding of the hydrological functioning, soil and water quality of Culm grasslands. In so doing, it will establish a solid knowledge base, from which management of these critical landscapes can progress. The work is funded as a partnership project between Devon Wildlife Trust (Working Wetlands), the Environment Agency and the UK Higher Education Innovation fund.

Mires Project

This project is based in Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks in the south west of the UK and is primarily funded by South West Water. The research will establish an evidence base for the effectiveness of moorland restoration across Exmoor and  Dartmoor between 2010 and 2020.  The project involves a number of monitoring sites, where high-resolution sensor networks and samplers are deployed to quantify changes in water table depths, discharge and water quality as a function of restoration (primarily ditch blocking).


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Journal articles

Puttock A (In Press). Exploring the dynamics of flow attenuation at a beaver dam sequence. Hydrological Processes
Puttock A, Barclay H, Holden M, Burgess P, Brazier R (2024). Making Space for Water: Investing in Nature-based Solutions with Beavers.
Jackson B, Puttock A, Panici D, Brazier R (2024). Modelling the impact of beaver dams on hydrological extremes following the re-introduction of beavers in England.
Auster RE, Puttock AK, Barr SW, Brazier RE (2023). Learning to live with reintroduced species: beaver management groups are an adaptive <i>process</i>. Restoration Ecology, 31(5). Abstract.
Gatis N, Benaud P, Anderson K, Ashe J, Grand-Clement E, Luscombe DJ, Puttock A, Brazier RE (2023). Peatland restoration increases water storage and attenuates downstream stormflow but does not guarantee an immediate reversal of long-term ecohydrological degradation. Sci Rep, 13(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Puttock A, Newman M, Graham H, Elliott M, Chant J, Auster R, Brazier R (2023). Positive coexistence of water voles and beaver: water vole expansion in a beaver engineered wetland. Mammal Communications
Auster RE, Puttock A, Bradbury G, Brazier R (2023). Should individual animals be given names in wildlife reintroductions?. People and Nature, 5(4), 1110-1118. Abstract.
Bradbury G, Puttock A, Coxon G, Clarke S, Brazier RE (2023). Testing a novel sonar-based approach for measuring water depth and monitoring sediment storage in beaver ponds. RIVER RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS, 39(2), 266-273.  Author URL.
Graham HA, Puttock AK, Elliott M, Anderson K, Brazier RE (2022). Exploring the dynamics of flow attenuation at a beaver dam sequence. Hydrological Processes, 36(11).
Graham HA, Puttock A, Chant J, Elliott M, Campbell‐Palmer R, Anderson K, Brazier RE (2022). Monitoring, modelling and managing beaver (Castor fiber) populations in the River Otter catchment, Great Britain. Ecological Solutions and Evidence, 3(3).
Puttock A, Graham HA, Ashe J, Luscombe DJ, Brazier RE (2021). Beaver dams attenuate flow: a multi-site study. Hydrological Processes, 35(2). Abstract.
Campbell-Palmer R, Puttock A, Wilson KA, Leow-Dyke A, Graham HA, Gaywood MJ, Brazier RE (2021). Using field sign surveys to estimate spatial distribution and territory dynamics following reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver to British river catchments. RIVER RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS, 37(3), 343-357.  Author URL.
Brazier RE, Puttock A, Graham HA, Auster RE, Davies KH, Brown CML (2020). Beaver: Nature's ecosystem engineers. WIREs Water, 8(1). Abstract.
Puttock A, Graham H, Brazier R (2020). Does changing connectivity due to beaver engineering result in changing hydrological function? Understanding the impacts of the return of the Eurasian beaver to Great Britain.
Graham HA, Puttock A, Macfarlane WW, Wheaton JM, Gilbert JT, Campbell-Palmer R, Elliott M, Gaywood MJ, Anderson K, Brazier RE, et al (2020). Modelling Eurasian beaver foraging habitat and dam suitability, for predicting the location and number of dams throughout catchments in Great Britain. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 66(3). Abstract.
Auster R, Puttock A, Brazier R (2019). Unravelling perceptions of Eurasian beaver reintroduction in Great Britain. AREA
Puttock A, Brazier R, Graham H, Carless D (2018). Sediment and nutrient storage in a beaver engineered wetland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Puttock A, Graham HA, Cunliffe AM, Elliott M, Brazier RE (2017). Eurasian beaver activity increases water storage, attenuates flow and mitigates diffuse pollution from intensively-managed grasslands. Science of the Total Environment, 576, 430-443.
Cunliffe AM, Puttock AK, Turnbull L, Wainwright J, Brazier RE (2016). Dryland, calcareous soils store (and lose) significant quantities of near‐surface organic carbon. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 121(4), 684-702. Abstract.
Puttock A, Cunliffe AM, Anderson K, Brazier RE (2015). Aerial photography collected with a multirotor drone reveals impact of Eurasian beaver reintroduction on ecosystem structure. Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems  Author URL.
Puttock A, Dungait JAJ, Macleod CJA, Bol R, Brazier RE (2014). Woody plant encroachment into grasslands leads to accelerated erosion of previously stable organic carbon from dryland soils. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 119(12), 2345-2357. Abstract.
Puttock A, Macleod CJA, Bol R, Sessford P, Dungait J, Brazier RE (2013). Changes in ecosystem structure, function and hydrological connectivity control water, soil and carbon losses in semi-arid grass to woody vegetation transitions. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 38(13), 1602-1611. Abstract.
Puttock A, Dungait JAJ, Bol R, Dixon ER, Macleod CJA, Brazier RE (2012). Stable carbon isotope analysis of fluvial sediment fluxes over two contrasting C<inf>4</inf>-C<inf>3</inf> semi-arid vegetation transitions. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 26(20), 2386-2392. Abstract.


Hochstrasser T, Millington JA, Papanastasis V, Parsons A, Roggero P, Brazier R, Estrany J, Farina A, Puttock A (2014). The Study of Land Degradation in Drylands: State of the Art. In Mueller EN, Wainwright J, Parsons AJ, Turnbull L (Eds.) Patterns of Land Degradation in Drylands, Springer Netherlands, 13-54.  Author URL.


Brazier RE, Elliott M, Andison E, Auster RE, Bridgewater S, Burgess P, Chant J, Graham H, Knott E, Puttock AK, et al (2020). River Otter Beaver Trial: Science & Evidence Report. Devon, River Otter Beaver Trial.  Author URL.

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Supervision / Group

Postgraduate researchers

  • Mehdi Bagheri Gavkosh
  • G Bradbury
  • Chryssa Brown
  • Hugh Graham

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