Applied Aquatic Ecology Research Group

Theme Head

Assoc Prof Alison King
View profile, publications and contact details


Our group conducts applied and fundamental research on the ecology of freshwater, estuarine and near-shore marine ecosystems, and applies this knowledge to aquatic environmental problems.

Located in the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems, we research species biology and community interactions, traits and life history, food webs, ecosystem processes, impacts of human induced threats (particularly flow regime change, land use changes, invasive species), and technological advances in monitoring of aquatic ecosystems.

We maintain active collaborations with a diverse range of stakeholders, industry and research partners to ensure that our research contributes to the development of policy and management to support conservation and sustainable aquatic resources.

Water Management and Environmental Flows

The natural flow regime of rivers, wetlands and estuaries in many regions of the world has been substantially altered to meet human water needs.

This extraction and regulation of flows has had major impacts on aquatic ecosystems by decreasing the amount of water available, altering flow patterns and connectivity of aquatic habitats. The science of environmental flows - the water required to sustain aquatic ecosystems - has emerged as an important tool for water resource planners and managers to better manage the trade-offs between water for the environment, people and the economy.

Our researchers work on environmental flow and water management issues in Australia, especially the Murray-Darling Basin, and similar issues in Asia, Europe, South America and the USA. Our research spans fundamental science on flow-ecology relationships, impacts of detrimental water management outcomes (e.g. managed low or high flows, hypoxic waters) through to supporting river operations and water resource policy.

Our multidisciplinary teams incorporate Indigenous values and perspectives.

Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Monitoring

Monitoring and assessment are critical components of adaptive and responsive management for aquatic ecosystems.

Our studies determine the status of aquatic fauna, flora and ecosystem processes in response to environmental events (e.g. environmental watering, infrastructure changes, water quality) and evaluate the achievement of management objectives and expected outcomes.

We also study the development and implementation of monitoring techniques, (eDNA, underwater video and high-resolution sonar).

Improving aquatic restoration and management outcomes

Natural aquatic environments have had significant loss, degradation and habitat fragmentation due to human activities.

Restoration activities are being undertaken to protect aquatic biodiversity (wetland watering, riparian planting, woody debris reintroduction, habitat and connectivity improvements).

We study ecological processes influences on aquatic habitat restoration outcomes to minimise threat impacts, and understand how managed flow regimes and infrastructure affect the movement of aquatic species.

Aquatic invasive species

Aquatic invasive species invade ecosystems beyond their natural ranges and are common in Australian freshwater systems. Their presence may harm native species and affect ecosystem processes.

We study their potential impact and spread and the impact and usefulness of mitigation strategies and management actions.

Theme Members

Prof Nick Bond
Dr Michael Shackleton
Dr Luke McPhan
Dr Andre Siebers