My main research activities and interests are in the field of freshwater ecology in both tropical and temperate river systems and in the use of aquatic fauna (macroinvertebrates and fish) to assess aquatic health and as drivers of ecological change. I have extensive background and experience in planning, coordinating and undertaking research projects on riverine landscapes within Western Australia. The focus of my research with The University of Western Australia has been on the uptake and application of science through education and knowledge exchange to students, community (particularly Indigenous) and government agencies as end “users” of research. With an increase in UWA research in the tropics, more recently I have been committed to Indigenous engagement and training to help build the capacity of the community and improve their opportunity to input into, and engage with, local regional and national waterway management and research initiatives.
Through my research experience in the North of Western Australia, I have developed and currently coordinate (since 2009) a Waterways Education Program in the Kimberley region. As I am based in Kununurra, this project has involved a partnership between UWA and the Department of Water (Kununurra regional office), that focuses on developing community (particularly Indigenous) skills and knowledge related to science, research and management. Providing a pathway for both locally driven research and community input into broader scale management and research.
The waterways education program and my research role, based in the remote town of Kununurra, allows UWA to maintain and foster relationships within the region with government and non-government agencies and indigenous organisations, providing not only science education and training but also a platform to provide opportunities for and enable successful research and management in this remote region.
• Coordinate, initiate and manage regional research projects on riverine landscapes and provide expertise and input into key strategic state and national water programs and initiatives
• Coordinate Waterways Education Program in the Kimberley
• Undertake collaborative research with Indigenous Rangers and community groups
Cossart, R. and Dobbs, R.J. $255,513 Western Australian, State NRM funding round 2010/2011 – Kimberley waterways recovery and education (Indigenous) (Current)
Dobbs, R.J. and Cossart, R. $145,000 Caring for our Country Interim funding 2008/2009 – Development and Trial of a Kimberley Waterways Education Program (Finalised 2009)
Collaborative Project $100,000 Paruku: An environmental art and text project about a significant cultural place Donor Funding (Current)
Dobbs, R.J. $20,000 Various TRaCK Knowledge Adoption and Synthesis Projects TRaCK . Charles Darwin University (Current)
Dobbs, R.J., Cossart, R. and Close, P.G. $11,430 Development of a community monitoring program for Paruku, Lake Gregory, Kimberley. Kimberley Land Council. Paruku Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) (Current)
Close, P.G. and Dobbs, R.J. $12,000 Development of a training package for the National Water Commission project: Framework for the Assessment of River and Wetland health. Canberra University. (Finalised 2010)
Close, P.G., Pettit, N. and Dobbs, R.J. $60,000 Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment – High Conservation Value Aquatic Ecosystems: Fine scale assessment of ecological assets in the Fitzroy River (Northern Western Australia) and Daly River catchments. TRaCK – Griffith University. (Finalised 2010)
Dobbs, R.J. & Stelfox, L. $ 5000 Indigenous Engagement for; CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship 2010 - Aerial Electro-magnetic survey of the lower Fitzroy River for the National Water Commission Fitzroy River Integrated ground and surface water hydrology assessment project (Finalised 2010)
Project Coordinator: Kimberley Waterways Recovery and Education (Indigenous). State NRM. Current.
Research Team Member: Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment: Assessing the ecological impacts of climate change and development across northern Australia. National Water Commission. Current.
Research team Member: TRaCK Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities (CERF) transition funding project; Monitoring River and health program for DEWHA national Working on Country (WOC) Ranger groups. Current
Research Coordinator & Indigenous Engagement: Framework for Assessing River and Wetland Health in the Wet/dry Topics of Australia. National Water Commission. Completed 2011
Research Coordinator : Long Term Ecological Research on a Pilbara River System – Implications for environmental water requirements and management. WA Department of Water Completed 2010
Research Partner: Feral Pig Monitoring and Eradication Program in the Fitzroy Region. State NRM Funding Current
Expert Panel Member: Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment – High Conservation Value Aquatic Ecosystems: Final scale assessment of ecological assets in the Fitzroy River (Northern Western Australia) and Daly River catchments. National Water Commission. Current.
Indigenous Engagement: CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship 2010 - Aerial Electro-magnetic survey of the lower Fitzroy River for the National Water Commission Fitzroy River Integrated ground and surface water hydrology assessment project CSIRO and Department of Water (Completed 2010)
Coordinator and Guest Lecturer for Various Units;
2008- 2016 Waterways Education Program for the Kimberley
2008 – 2009 Waterway Restoration and Conservation Course
2006 – 2007 Freshwater Ecology
2004 – 2006 Aquatic Biology (570.311)
My position with the University of Western Australia, based in the remote town of Kununurra is multidisciplinary and addresses a combination of ecological research, engagement (both indigenous, government and non government) and science extension components.
• Collaborative projects incorporating both Indigenous and Western Science Knowledge to inform monitoring and management of freshwater ecosystems in the Kimberley
• Ranger training and river health monitoring
• Macroinvertebrate Ecology
• Environmental water requirements
• River health and environmental flows
• Environmental monitoring and assessment (aquatic)
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):