• Investigating groundwater-surface water interactions in salmonid spawning habitat

  • Studying the processes controlling fine sediment infiltration into gravel beds

  • Investigating groundwater inputs (thermal refugia) in Atlantic salmon habitat

  • An avulsion drains an endorheic lake (former Lake Isiwi) in the Republic of Vanuatu

  • Installation of streambed sensors to monitor hyporheic flow through trout habitat

  • At the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory, Melville Island, Nunavut

Photo by Jan Franssen

Assistant Professor - Department of Geography - Université de Montréal


My fascination with the physical processes that shape the surface of our earth led me to complete a PhD in fluvial geomorphology at McGill University (2012) and prior to that an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies/Earth Science at the University of Waterloo (1997). I have worked as an industry consultant, government officer, and spent two amazing years exploring tropical rivers as a Hydrologist for the Department of Geology in the Republic of Vanuatu.

I am currently an assistant professor in the Département de Géographie at the Université de Montréal.


My research focuses on the biophysical processes at work in river ecosystems. This research is driven by a desire to understand how human activities alter fluvial environments. My doctoral research explored the relationship between fluvial processes (e.g., hyporheic flow; sediment infiltration) and the reproductive success of brook trout at sites potentially impacted by a multi-billion dollar highway construction project. My postdoctoral research explored the importance of groundwater, via its role in creating cool-water refugia, in sustaining populations of Atlantic salmon in current and future climates.

My current research topics relate to the specific fields of geomorphology, hydrology, and ecology; and the interdisciplinary fields of river science, watershed science, and earth system science.

Specific topics of interest include:

  • Groundwater and hyporheic flow
  • Sediment dynamics in gravel-bed rivers
  • Critical habitats for salmon and trout
  • River rehabilitation / restoration



Main stem movement of Atlantic salmon parr in response to high river temperature.
Ecology of Freshwater Fish | In Press
Stephen Dugdale, Jan Franssen, Emily Corey, Normand Bergeron, Michel Lapointe, Richard Cunjak

Multiscale determinants of groundwater sourced cool-water refugia in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) habitat.

In Preparation
Jan Franssen, Stephen Dugdale, Michel Lapointe, Normand Bergeron

Detecting anthropogenic sediment inputs to fluvial environments: insights from a major highway construction project in Quebec, Canada

In Preparation
Jan Franssen, Marc Pépino, Michel Lapointe, Pierre Magnan




Asphyxiation and entombment mechanisms in fines rich spawning substrates: Experimental evidence with brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) embryos.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences | March 2012
Jan Franssen, Catherine Blais, Michel Lapointe, Francis Bérubé, Normand Bergeron, Pierre Magnan
Impacts of highway construction on redd counts of stream-dwelling brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis).
North American Journal of Fisheries Management | November 2012
Marc Pépino, Jan Franssen, Marco Rodriguez, Pierre Magnan


Physical controls on fine-sediment infiltration into gravel beds

Joint Assembly of AGU, CGU, GAC, and MAC, Montreal, Quebec | May 3-7, 2015

Application of the BACI method to assess downstream sediment loading from a large highway construction project in Quebec.

Biennial Meeting of the Canadian Quaternary Association (CANQUA) and Canadian Geomorphological Research Group (CGRG), Edmonton, Alberta | August 18-22, 2013

Les leçons tirées du projet d’élargissement de l'axe routier 73/175 et les orientations futures pour évaluer les impacts écologiques des projets de voirie à grande échelle au Québec : Un regard dans le rétroviseur.

16ème colloque annuel du CIRSA, Université Laval, Québec | May 1-2, 2013

Critical thermal refugia for Atlantic salmon and Brook trout populations of eastern Canadian rivers.

Asphyxiation and entombment mechanisms in fines rich spawning substrates: Experimental evidence with brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) embryos. (Poster)

2012 Annual Meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science, Louisville, Kentucky | May 20-24, 2012

Alternative tactics in spawning site selection by brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) related to incubation microhabitats in a harsh winter environment.

2012 Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota | August 19-23, 2012

Importance des refuges thermiques pour les populations du saumon et de l’omble de fontaine dans les rivières de l’Est canadien.

Atelier sur la vulnérabilité des valeurs de conservation dans un contexte de changements climatiques, Forêt Montmorency, Quebec | March 16, 2012

Post-Conference Field Trip

7th International Gravel Bed Rivers Workshop, Tadoussac, Quebec | September 10-12, 2010

Salmonid Reproductive Success: Do hyporheic flows mitigate the negative effects of increased fine sediment concentrations in spawning microhabitats?

19e symposium annuel du GRIL, Saint-Ferdinand, Quebec | March 5-7, 2009