Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Professor Robyn Watts

Professor Robyn Watts

BSc Hons PhD

Robyn's research interests include in the ecology, biodiversity, management and restoration of aquatic ecosystems. Specific areas of expertise include; flow-ecology relationships, river rehabilitation through altering the operation of weirs and dams, and ecosystem responses to environmental watering. A/Professor Watts has considerable experience working in multidisciplinary research teams in partnership with ecologists, hydrologists, geomorphologists, social scientists and natural resource management agencies.  Robyn has led a number of research projects relating to environmental flows including an ARC project 'Developing indicators for the assessment of environmental flows', the assessment of variable flow releases from Dartmouth Dam, and several projects examining ecosystem responses to environmental flows. Robyn currently leads a multidisciplinary project 'Monitoring ecosystem responses to Commonwealth environmental water in the Edward‐Wakool system'. Robyn is a member of the Environmental Water Scientific Advisory Panel for the Australian Government Department of Environment.

  • biodiversity and connectivity in aquatic ecosystems
  • ecological responses to flow regimes in regulated rivers
  • restoration of river and floodplain environments
  • improving the operation of dams and weirs to improve river and wetland health
  • Ecohydrology

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Current Subjects Taught
  • BIO323 River and Floodplain Ecology
  • BIO401 River and Floodplain Ecology
  • BIO402 River Restoration and Protection

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Robyn undertakes research on two main complementary research themes:

1. Biodiversity and connectivity in aquatic ecosystems.

Robyn is interested in how environmental and biological factors affect biodiversity, dispersal and connectivity in aquatic environments. Her research has examined the circumstances under which genetic differences can develop between populations in aquatic ecosystems.

2. Ecological responses to flow regimes and environmental flows in regulated rivers.

Robyn has undertaken multidisciplinary research projects on regulated rivers in collaboration with ecologists, geomorphologists, hydrologists and social scientists. This research addresses the issue that regulated flows can be detrimental to the health of rivers. Robyn and colleagues have collaborated with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to develop new operational guidelines for Dartmouth Dam.  Research on environmental flows has underpinned the delivery of environmental water in the Edward-Wakool system, for example contributing to improving water quality to prevent hypoxic blackwater and associated fish deaths in this system.

Current Research Students

James Dyer - Movement and dispersal of freshwater shrimp

Jamin Forbes - Population dynamics and implications for management of Murray cod and golden perch

Alexandra Knight - Sloane's Froglet: informing conservation through ecology and examination of policy

Stacey Kopf - Australian larval freshwater fish in the river landscape: swimming capabilities and dispersal ability

Luke Pearce - Southern Pygmy Perch population monitoring, breeding and re-introduction

Kylie Singh - Freshwater turtle communities in regulated river systems of the lower Murray-Darling Basin: Habitat use, demography and spatial ecology

Daniel Svozil - title to be confirmed

Graduated research students

Dr Patricia Murray Thesis title:  The ecology of the Hydropsychidae in the eastern Murrumbidgee River catchment (Graduated 2001)

Dr Bronwyn Lowe (University of Otago)  Thesis title: Impacts of altered flow regime on riverbank vegetation in a lowland river (Graduated 2002)

Associate Professor David Crook (Charles Darwin University) Thesis title: Habitat use and movements of golden perch and common carp in an Australian lowland river (Graduated 2002)

Dr Andrea Wilson (National Water Commission) Thesis title: Effects of different management regimes on aquatic fauna in Australian rice fields (Graduated 2003)

Dr Skye Wassens (Senior Lecturer, Charles Sturt University) Thesis title: Conservation Biology of the Southern Bell Frog (Graduated 2006)

Dr Ayesha Burdett (Curator, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)  Thesis title: Impacts of landuse on the biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates in temporary wetlands (Graduated 2006)

Dr Nick Whiterod (Nature Glenelg Trust) Thesis title: Bio-energetics model for Murray cod (Graduated 2010)

Dr R. Keller Kopf (Research Fellow, Charles Sturt University)  Thesis title: Age, growth and reproductive dynamics od striped marlin, Tetrapturus audax (Graduated 2010)

Dr Sylvia Zukowski Thesis title: Impacts of fishing regulations on the sustainability of Murray crayfish: Social and biological perspectives (Graduated 2012)

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