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Vale Professor Arthur McComb

Vale Professor Arthur McComb

(BSc, MSc (Melb.), PhD (Cantab), F. Inst. Biol., FAA)

The Australian Freshwater Science Society lost a champion on Sunday 8th October 2017 at the passing of Professor Arthur McComb.

An ASL Medal winner in 1991, Arthur McComb was born in Melbourne, on 9th December 1936, and graduated with both a BSc and MSc from the University of Melbourne in 1959. He then undertook his PhD at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1962. Arthur was an associate professor at The University of Western Australia from 1963 until 1988, and full professor at Murdoch University until his retirement in 1996 after which he continued to contribute as Senior Scholar in Residence in Environmental Science.

Arthur combined the manners and charm of a gentleman scholar with a keen mind attuned to the environmental issues of today. He led seminal research on aquatic plants and nutrient dynamics that improved our understanding and management of the Blackwood River Estuary, seagrasses in Shark Bay and the Swan River, loss of seagrass in Cockburn Sound, and eutrophication of the Peel-Harvey.

Arthur generously shared his expertise and time, not only across academia, but in advising government agencies and science management. He inspired countless students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, including over 30 PhD students. He authored or co-authored 9 books including the wonderful Australian Wetlands with Sam Lake, and over 150 refereed papers and book chapters. His outstanding contribution was recognised through medals and awards from the Australian Society for Limnology, the Royal Society of Western Australia, the Australian Marine Sciences Association, and the Prime Minister’s Centennial Medal for contributions to Environmental Science. He was both a Fellow of the Institute of Biology and the Australian Academy of Science and awarded a DSc from Murdoch University in 2007. 

So many people across the world, in the fields of freshwater, estuarine or marine research and beyond, will now be thinking of the difference he made to their lives, and will miss his quiet wisdom. 

PhD proposal – Centre for Sustainable Ecosystems S

Title: Insight into Invasion: Exploring the biological interactions between invasive and native crayfish

Project summary: Freshwater systems in Australia are under increasing pressure from a variety of
human and environmental stressors, with invasive species featuring prominently among these
stressors. More than 70% of freshwater crayfish species in the endemic genus Euastacus are
considered endangered or critically endangered. In southern NSW, humans are introducing the
yabby (Cherax destructor) from the Murray-Darling Basin into local waterways. This fast growing and
highly fecund species has been listed as a Key Threatening Process. But, the action by which it
threatens Euastacus spp. has not be formally investigated.
We are seeking a motivated PhD student to (i) establish the population status of species of
Euastacus and the invasive yabby in catchments in the Illawarra region (NSW) using a range of
sampling methods. Then, to (ii) formally assess the outcomes of interactions between the invader
and the native crayfish in a series of behavioural trials both in and ex situ. The project will be funded
by a generous research grant awarded to Prof. Andy Davis and Dr. Marian Wong who will act as joint
supervisors. The PhD student should have a background in behavioural/population/conservation
biology, have been awarded a class I honours, and possess a genuine enthusiasm to conduct
research at the nexus between these fields.

Interested applicants are encouraged to send their CV along with contact details of 2 referees to

Closing date for expressions of interest is COB, 5 October 2017.

PhD top-up at TropWATER, JCU working on eDNA

We are offering a PhD scholarship top-up for an eDNA project. 

Information on this can ber found at


Professor Damien Burrows
James Cook University
Townsville Qld. 4811
Phone 07-47814262

3 post-doc positions going at TropWATER, JCU

Dear Colleagues,

We have 3 post-doctoral level positions going here at TropWATER.  I was hoping you could bring this to the attention of people in your networks.

These vacancies are now open and candidates can apply online via Jobs@JCU.  Applications will close at Midnight on Sunday 22 October 2017.  These positions will also be advertised in various online sources (Water Jobs, Uni Jobs, seek etc.) any day now.

They are all the same level (Academic A or B, depending on experience)

Position 16716 will mainly work on wetland systems repair in the GBR catchments and Torres Strait, plus coastal ecology, habitat enhancement/restoration, coastal water quality in ports and aquatic ecology projects in Gulf of Carpentaria/Cape York.  Good all round ecology skills required.  Lots of variety in this position.

Position 16718 will work on eDNA.  The position will focus on answering ecological questions about the abundance and distribution of various rare and exotic aquatic animal and plant species in northern Australia, using eDNA as the tool for these investigations.  The person should have at least some genetics background but if not strong, they will be working as part of a team of post-docs that possess considerable lab genetic skills.

Position 16719 will work on freshwater ecology.  Like 16146, this position will cover water and sediment quality, fish, invertebrate and riparian vegetation study so a wide variety of ecology skills is required.  This position will mostly work on projects related to mining and industrial impacts on freshwater environments.

All three positions are funded from a variety of external grants (not just one), thus the incumbents will be working across  a range of projects.  It is expected that they will work toward developing their own portfolio of projects within the first contract.  If achieved, prospects for contract extension are high.  Despite relying on external funding, TropWATER has a strong long-term staff retention record.  Needless to say, besides technical skills, we are after applicants with people skills (extensive collaboration with community, govt and industry is required), heaps of initiative and personal drive, good project mgt, and innate entrepreneurialism.

Enquiries to Damien Burrows

07-47814262 or

Also see our website at for some ideas on the range of projects we work on.

Professor Damien Burrows
James Cook University
Townsville Qld. 4811
Phone 07-47814262

Job - University of Melbourne

Reseach Fellow in Ecology

PhD Opportunity @ UNE

PhD Opportunity: Saving Our Species - Endangered Freshwater Turtle Conservation Ecology

Location:  University of New England, Armidale, NSW

  • Are you passionate about turtle ecology and conservation?
  • Do you want to make a real difference to the survival of an endangered species?

UNE has a really exciting PhD scholarship plus top-up opportunity to research the ecology, behaviour and conservation management of the Bell's Turtle. This project is part of “Turtles Forever”, a $1M Saving Our Species initiative supported by the NSW Environmental Trust.

A major focus of the project is to monitor and enhance recruitment of hatchling turtles into the wild. Opportunities for research include the deployment of conservation detection dogs to locate turtle nests for predator exclusion, camera trap monitoring of feral predators, ex-situ egg incubation for head starting of juvenile turtles, mark and recapture monitoring of wild turtle populations, and/or radio-tracking and acoustic tagging of turtles to better understand their movement and dispersal.

Enquiries: Assoc. Prof. Paul McDonald   or call 02 6773 3317
Closing date:   29 Sep 2017


Dr Adrienne Burns
PhD (Adel) MEd (UNE)
Ass.Lecturer in Biology
Schools of Science and Technology & Environment & Rural Science,
University of New England,
Rm 349 – McClymont Bld
Phone: (02) 6773 3957

PhD Opportunity at Deakin

Using citizen science to quantify the ecological benefits of environmental flows

Environmental flows aim to provide water to achieve specific outcomes such as enhanced biodiversity or to provide insurance against drying due to climate change. How those flows are delivered, how the benefits that arise from those flows are measured and the potential role for citizen science in that assessment are current areas of research worldwide. This project will quantify the ecological benefits of environmental flows from a recently decommissioned reservoir in the Painkalac River, Victoria, Australia. This will be through developing and testing a scientifically-robust regime for quantifying environmental flow benefits that includes citizen science in partnership with ecological specialists. The project is a partnership between the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures at Deakin University and Barwon Water who own and manage the reservoir. Outcomes from the project will be implemented by Barwon Water and a local community reference group, as well as inform environmental flows on other rivers where similar reservoirs are decommissioned, providing a blueprint for community involvement in river management.

The student will be supported by a Postgraduate Industry Research Scholarship, jointly provided by Deakin University and Barwon Water, as well as operational funding for the three years of the project. The student will be based at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds, in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and will be a member of the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures, a supportive research environment with a strong focus on innovative solutions to support regional industry and environments. We are looking for a student with an aquatic ecology and/or hydrology background and an interest in community engagement or similar. Please send a CV and cover letter to Rebecca Lester (

Living, growing, landscape-scale, long-term river

Interested in regularly-updated landscape-scale, long-term river data on Australian freshwater fish and estuarine vegetation assemblages? Curious about the seasonal arrival of tropical marine fauna, or the dynamics of forest animal assemblages in relation to dingo abundance? Within this mixed bag you may care to take a punt on the nature of unfolding patterns as climatic phases develop. The website source of this information - - is likely to intrigue you with its unique depictions and trigger new paradigms when conceptualising the dynamics of biota in aquatic systems.

Keith Bishop’s interest in long-term, landscape-scale research commenced in the late 1970s with fish ecology studies within Kakadu National Park. In the late 1980s attention shifted to environmental flow investigations within the much less predictable NSW east coast rivers. For these systems it became clear that: i) the scientific community had a very poor understanding of how aquatic life responds to changing flows, and ii) this understanding could only be improved once changing river flows are related to changing patterns in key aquatic biota gathered across the landscape over long periods of time. Two long-term projects, focusing on the Hastings and Manning Rivers on the NSW Mid North Coast, provided an opportunity to gather such important data.

The website primarily aims to provide glimpses into the above datasets as they grow and develop - in this sense they can be viewed as 'living'.  Apart from increasing awareness of this information amongst colleagues, there is also hope that collaboration and other synergies may result. A more subtle motive for the development of the website, now clearer in hindsight, is the maintenance of enthusiasm to keep long-term datasets growing. The literature describes the considerable difficulties of maintaining long-term investigations. These challenges are accentuated during politically antagonistic periods – environmental dark ages - that we are currently experiencing.


PHD OPPORTUNITIES: Two PhD projects with $10,000 per year top-up scholarships and additional operating funds are available through University of Western Australia. The projects are on:

(1) Fish diets and river flows in northern Australia

(2) The ecology of freshwater prawns in the Kimberley

Applications close 31st October

Contact: Prof.  Michael Douglas
Ph: 0408 467 000

Fish diets and river flows in northern Australia
This PhD project is part of an ARC–Linkage project involving the University of Western Australia, Charles Darwin University, Griffith University, the University of Washington and the Northern Territory Government. The student will apply for scholarship through UWA and will receive an additional $10,000 per year top-up stipend plus generous project operating budget. The link below includes more information about the project and the application process:


The ecology of the freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium spinipes, in the Fitzroy River, WA
This PhD project will work closely with researchers from the NESP Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub who are running a project on the environmental water requirements of the Fitzroy River. The PhD project will focus on how the ecology of freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium spinipes) varies in relation to river flows in the Fitzroy River. The student will apply for scholarship through UWA and will receive an additional $10,000 per year top-up stipend plus generous project operating budget. The link below includes more information about the project and the application process

International Society for River Science

I am pleased to invite you to the 5th biennial symposium of the International Society for River Science on the banks of the Waikato River, Hamilton, New Zealand, over 19-24 November 2017.

The conference theme is "Integrating multiple values" and we are now inviting proposals for Special sessions aligned to this theme. Further details regarding Special session nominations can be found on the ISRS conference website 

KEY DATES: • Special Session Proposal Nominations Close 30 NOV 2016 • Abstracts Open 1 DEC 2016
• Abstracts Close 30 APRIL 2017 • Registration Opens 1 MARCH 2017
• Early-bird Registration Closes 15 SEPTEMBER 2017

We look forward to see you in Hamilton in November 2017 Kevin Collier Conference Chair

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