• The University of Western Australia (M701), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


My research interests are quite diverse as my focus is on the application of ecological knowledge to find solutions for historic and immerging issues in the broad field of conservation ecology. My primary research focus is aquatic ecology, particularly fish ecology, although I also have research interests in urban ecology and the cross over between socio-cultural and ecological knowledge systems. My aquatic ecological research focuses on tropical-temperate estuarine and freshwater fish ecology, and more particularly, habitat and hydrological requirements of native fishes (as well as other aquatic fauna including macroinvertebrates and hyriid mussels). My two key interests in urban ecology focus on 1) the response of fauna to threats associated with urbanisation and 2) conservation opportunities that urban landscapes offer for biodiversity.  My research interest in the cross-over, or combination of socio-cultural and ecological knowledge systems stems from the need for contemporary conservation to consider the human-dimension in ecological landscapes.  My interest is this field centres on identifying the value and opportunity socio-cultural knowledge systems offer conservation management strategies, and how we can best include knowledge and value systems into mainstream conservation.


I grew up in Canberra, Australia and graduated from a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours at the Australian National University in 1995. In my final year at ANU I undertook my Honours research on the larval ecology of a native freshwater fish. I then worked in Far North Queensland on tropical freshwater fish ecology as a research assistant with Griffith University before migrating south to Victoria, Australia to work for the Arthur Rylah Institute as a fish ecologist until 2002. At that point I moved to Western Australia to complete my PhD studies in estuarine fish ecology based at the universities Albany campus.  Since completing my PhD in 2007, I undertook several years of postdoctoral research and in 2016 began as a teaching and research academic based at the Albany campus.

Roles and responsibilities


Research Leader - Fish Ecology

Research Leader - Urban Ecology



ENVT5576 - Aquatic Ecology

Graduate Research Coordinator (Albany)

Honours Coordinator (Albany)


ENVT 2250 - Ecology

ANIM 3362 - Evolutionary Processes


ENVT 4422 - Research Methods

BIOL 3360 - Saving Endangered Species

Teaching philosophy


I welcome the opportunity to supervise student research projects at Honours, Masters and PhD level.  I typically supervise approximately 5 Honours and Masters research students each semester, as well as several PhD candidates.  I have supervised 12 Honours, 18 Masters and 5 PhD research students (up to 2020).

Most students undertake research projects related to one of my key research interests; aquatic (fish) ecology, urban ecology or socio-cultural and ecological knowledge.  These students join a collaborative research team, where research advice is easily accessed from both myself and other students/cosupervisors. I also cosupervise student research projects outside of these interest areas.  In these instances, my advisory role necessarily becomes wider, and I focus on providing advice and insights to various stages of the research method.

In all cases, my first step in a supervisary role is to understand the needs and expectations of each student, and vica versa.  I find this to be one of the most important steps in creating a dynamic, productive and enjoyable collaboration. I try to create a collaborative and dynamic research group and promote opportunities for students to extend their research beyond the office walls to the scientific community, endusers and the broader community.  I also promote opportunities for students to develop other skills, relevant to their future careers, through offering opportunities to contribute as cosupervisors of other student projects, to contribute lectures and seminars both inside and outside the university, and opportunities to work on a diversity of project activities being undertaken by others in the research group.

Current projects

Current and past research student projects are listed below under research topic

Aquatic Ecology

J. Benson (PHD Current): Role of freshwater mussels in the ecology and functionality of refugial river pools. 

T. Ryan (PHD Current): Impacts of changing thermal regimes on native freshwater fish biology. 

S. Sharir (PHD Submitted): A Study on Life History Strategy of Ichtyofauna at Sungai Tiang Royal Belum Rainforest, West Malaysia.

C. Williams (MSc Current): Trait-based analysis of climate impacts on chelonians. 

K. Fannei (MSc current): Short term behavioural variation of Southern Right Whale pods due to social interactions and the presence of whale watching vessels in Albany, Western Australia

B. Lumley (MSc 2020): Behaviour of Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) is minimally impacted by whale watching vessels in King George Sound, Western Australia 

M.Howard (Hons 2018): Migratory dynamics of a critically endangere3d population of trout minnow (Galaxias truttaceus) from south western Australia.

J. Hunt (Hons 2018): Riparian degradation modifies spider community structure and carbon flux across the aquatic-terrestrial interface.

Kate Swindells (MSc 2017):  environmental correlates of urbanized turtle populations. 

E.Major (MSc 2016): Biological and Physical Pathways of Plastic Accumulation on a High Energy, Remote Coastline. 

J. Watsham (Hons 2016): The influence of artificial oxygenation plants on the movement patterns and spatial distribution of Acanthopagrus butcheri in the Swan River Estuary

M. Moroz (Hons 2016): Movement dynamics of freshwater cobbler Tandanus bostocki in a regulated river.

N. Beerkens (Hons 2016): Is habitat use and physiology of black bream Acanthopargus butcheri related. 

M. Long (Hons 2015): Habitat requirements and movement dynamics of freshwater cobbler in the Canning River.

J. Middleton (Hons 2015): Urban waterway health: identifying key stressors in a flat sandy landscape.

D. Willans (Hons 2013): Tidal currents and stratigraphic evidence of altered currents through an artificial estuary channel.

K. McElligot (Hons 2013): Downstream fate of fish larvae drifting over a weir and through a fishway in southwestern Australia.

Melissa Weybury (Hons 2010). Hydromys chrysogaster in Two Peoples Bay, Albany: Preference for densely vegetated wetlands and shallow water bodies.

Urban Ecology

B. Van Helden (PhD passed 2021): Living in the city: are residential areas a valuable habitat for animal residency?

S. Zhou (MSc current): Is bigger really better: influence of city characteristics on urban diversity 

E. Gibbons (Current MSc): Wildlife friendly gardening and urban conservation.

B. Altus (MSc 2020): Surrounding Vegetation Predicts Presence of Insectivorous Bats Within Residential Gardens.  

M. Busschots (MSc 2019): Understanding the value of urban reserves versus residential gardens for the critically endangered Western Ringtail possum. 

E. Erikson (MSc 2019): A bright future: behaviour of quenda (isoodon obesulus fusciventer) unaffected by artificial light at night – an experimental study. 

C. Chandler (MSc 2019): Movement pathways and resource use by Western Ringtail Possum in residential garden habitats

T. Mathieson (MSc 2019): Resource use by a threatened arboreal mammal, Psuedocheirus occidentalis, between major vegetation types in Albany, Western Australia.  

J. Bader (Hons 2018): Sheoak woodlands are a critical habitat for the western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) in Albany, Western Australia.

C. Frost (MSc 2017):  Survival in care: factors affecting rehabilitation of Australian native wildlife.

A. Verelst (MSc 2016): The impact of Windfarms on Bird Abundance and Reproductive Output of Bird-pollinated Plants. 

Socio-cultural and ecological knowledge

Dr M. Walker (2017):  Exploring fresh water on the Dampier Peninsula: cultural values, perceptions of change and measuring health. 

C. McFarlane (MSc Current): Public perception of Shark-risk management. 

S.  Aizlewood (MSc 2020): Backyard conservation: how do perceptions and attitudes influence opportunities for conservation in residential gardens? 

B. Sapsford (MSc 2016): Middleton Beach Shark Barrier: Assessing attitudes towards shark control methods.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research expertise keywords

  • Estuarine and freshwater fish ecology
  • Ecological water requirements
  • Larval fish ecology
  • Threatening processes for aquatic systems


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