ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Professor Robyn Watts

Professor Robyn Watts

Professor Robyn Watts conducts research on the ecology, management and restoration of aquatic ecosystems. Her major interests include biodiversity, connectivity, flow-ecology relationships and river rehabilitation through altered flow management practices, especially through changing the operation of weirs and dams and delivery of environmental water. She has led multidisciplinary research teams and with colleagues has obtained over $4M funding of competitive research grants and consultancies from a range of different funding organizations including the Australian Research Council, National Water Commission, Land and Water Australia, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and state government and catchment management agencies. Her research has helped improve the management and restoration of regulated river systems. Robyn is a member of the Environmental Water Scientific Advisory Panel for the Australian Government Department of Environment.


Bachelor of Science (Hons), University of Western Australia, 1986 

PhD, University of Western Australia, 1992


Strategic Research Areas

  • Sustainable Water

Membership of Advisory Boards

Prof Robyn Watts is on the Environmental Water Scientific Advisory Panel for the Department of the Environment. A member of the Edward-Wakool Stakeholder Committee (2014-2016). A member of the Murray and District Dissolved Oxygen Group and a member of the Edward-Wakool Operations Advisory Group.  A member of the Australian Society of Limnology, a member of Australian Ecological Society and a member of the International Society of River Science.


Selected Publications

Peer Reviewed Papers

Forbes, J., Watts, R.J.,  Robinson, W.A., Baumgartner, L.J.,  Allen, M.S.,  McGuffie, P., Cameron, L.M. & Crook, D.A. (2015) System-Specific Variability in Murray Cod and Golden Perch Maturation and Growth Influences Fisheries Management Options, North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 35:6, 1226-1238, DOI: 10.1080/02755947.2015.1094153

Forbes, J. P.,  Watts, R. J.,  Robinson, W. A., Baumgartner, L. J., Steffe, A. S.&  Murphy. J. J.(2015). Recreational fishing effort, catch, and harvest for Murray Cod and Golden Perch in the Murrumbidgee River, Australia. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 35:649-658.  dx.doi.org/10.1080/02755947.2015.1032452

Davis, J., O'Grady, A., Dale, A., Arthington, A.H., Gell, P.A., Driver, P.D., Bond, N., Casanova, M., Finlayson, M., Watts, R., et al.,(2015) When trends intersect: The challenge of protecting freshwater eco- systems under multiple land use and hydrological intensification scenarios. Science of the Total Environment http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scito- tenv.2015.03.127

Kopf, S. M., Humphries P., Watts, R.J. (2014) Ontogeny of critical and prolonged swimming performance for the larvae of six Australian freshwater fish species Journal of Fish Biology doi:10.1111/jfb.12399

Small, K., Kopf, R.K., Watts, R.J., Howitt, J. (2014) Hypoxia, blackwater and fish kills: experimental lethal oxygen thresholds in juvenile predatory lowland river fishes. PLOS ONE 9(4), e94524

Zukowski, S., Whiterod, N., Watts, R.J. (2013) Comparing Murray crayfish (Euastacus armatus) population parameters between recreationally fished and non-fished areas. Fisheries Research 19(2) 153-160.

Nielsen, D. L., Podnar, K., Watts, R.J., and Wilson, A.L. (2013) Experimental evidence linking increased hydrologic stability with decreased biotic diversity within wetlands. Hydrobiologia 708(1), 81-96.  DOI 10.1007/s10750-011-0989-5

Zukowski, S., Watts, R.J., Curtis, A. (2012) Linking biology to fishing regulations: Australia's Murray crayfish (Euastacus armatus). Ecological Management & Restoration 13 (2), 183-190

Watts, R.J., Richter, B.D, Opperman, J.J., and Bowmer, K.H. (2011) Dam reoperation in an era of climate change. Marine and Freshwater Research 62, 321-327.

Technical Reports

Watts, R.J., Healy, S., Howitt, J., Kopf, R.K., McCasker, N., Thiem, J. (2017)  Long Term Intervention Monitoring project, Edward-Wakool River System Selected Area, Progress Report number 11, March 2017.  Prepared for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.

Watts, R. & Howitt, J. (2016) Updates #1,#2, on water quality monitoring in the Edward-Wakool system.

Watts, R., Howitt, J. & Abell, J. (2016) Monitoring of the algal bloom in the Edward-Wakool system, update #3.

Watts, R.,Howitt, J., McCasker, N., Abell, J. & Liu, X. (2016) Monitoring of the algal bloom in the Edward-Wakool system 2016, Update #4. All reports prepared for Commonwealth Environmental Water

Watts, R.J., Thiem, J., Howitt, J., McCasker, N., Kopf, R., Healy S and Abell, J. (2016). Long term intervention monitoring project, Edward-Wakool River System Selected Area, Progress Report number 7, March 2016. Prepared for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.

Watts, R.J., McCasker, N., Thiem, J., Howitt, J.A., Grace, M., Kopf, R.K., Healy, S., Bond, N. (2015). Commonwealth Environmental Water Office Long Term Intervention Monitoring Project: Edward-Wakool Selected Area Synthesis Report, 2014-15.  Prepared for Commonwealth Environmental Water. 

Watts, R.J., McCasker, N., Healy S., Howitt, J., and Abell, J. (2015). Long term intervention monitoring project, Edward-Wakool River System Selected Area, Progress Report number 6, December 2015. CSU, ILWS. Prepared for CEW 

Watts, R.J. and Healy S. (2015). Long term intervention monitoring project, Edward-Wakool River System Selected Area, Progress Report number 5, September 2015. CSU, ILWS. Prepared for CEW 

Watts, R.J., Kopf, R.K., McCasker N. & Thiem, J. (2015) Long term intervention monitoring project, Edward-Wakool River System Selected Area, Progress Report number 4, June 2015. CSU, ILWS. Prepared for CEW 

Watts, R.J., Kopf, R.K., McCasker N. & Thiem, J. (2015) Long term intervention monitoring project, Edward-Wakool River System Selected Area, Progress Report number 3, March 2015. CSU, ILWS. Prepared for CEW 

Monitoring the ecosystem responses to Commonwealth environmental water delivered to the Edward-Wakool river system, 2013-14 - Final report

Monitoring of ecosystem responses to the delivery of Commonwealth environmental water in the Edward-Wakool river system 2012-13 - Report No. 2

Conference Papers

Humphries, P., Kopf, S., Kaminskas,T., Keckeis, H., McCasker, N., Stoffels, R., Bond, N. & Watts, R. (2015) Integrating life history theory and dispersal in riverine fishes. Presented at the 39th Annual Larval Fish Conference, Vienna, July 12-17


Current Projects

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) for water research. (2016) Watts, R., Baumgartner, L., Wassens, S., Hall, A. CSU RIBG Grant, $49,919

Vegetation Monitoring in the Colligen Creek System. Watts, R. & Healy, S. (OEH) (2015-2018) Murray Local Land Services, $70,000

Ecological responses to environmental flow microscopy. Watts, R., Wassens, S., Jenkins, K., & McCasker, N. (2015) Research Infrastructure Block Grant (RIBG), $30,660

Long Term Intervention Monitoring project - Edward Wakool Selected Area. Stage 2. Watts,R., McCasker,N., Howitt,J., Kopf,K with NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries), Monash University (Water Studies Centre), Griffith University, NSW OEH, and Murray LLS. (2014-2019) CEWO, $3.36M Project Webpage

Vegetation Monitoring in the Colligen Creek System, Watts., R. (2015-2018) Murray Local Land Services, $70,000 Project details

Internal Grants

Ecological responses to environmental flow microscopy, Watts, R., Wassens, S., Jenkins, K., & McCasker, N. (2015) Research Infrastructure Block Grant (RIBG), $30,660

Completed Projects

Monitoring the ecological response of Commonwealth environmental water delivered in 2013-14 to the Edward-Wakool river system. SEWPAC, Watts, R., McCasker, N., Kopf, K., & Howitt, J. (2013-2014) Partners Department of Primary Industries – NSW Fisheries, Murray Catchment Management Authority, Monash University, and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. $753,656 Project details

 Long Term Intervention Monitoring Project - Stage 1 - Edward Wakool System, Watts., R. McCasker, N., Howitt, J., & Kopf, K.  Funded by CEWO. Partners -  NSW Fisheries, Murray Local Land Services, Monash University, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. $120,000. 

Monitoring the ecological response of Commonwealth environmental water delivered in 2012-13 to the Edward-Wakool river system. SEWPAC, Partners Department of Primary Industries.  Watts, R., Wassens, S. & Howitt, J. .(2012-2013) NSW Fisheries, Murray Catchment Management Authority, Monash University, Wakool River Association and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. $910,935 Project details

Monitoring the ecological response of Commonwealth environmental water delivered in 2012-13 to the Murrumbidgee River. . Wassens, S., Hall, A., & Watts, R. (2012-2013). SEWPAC, Partners Department of Primary Industries – NSW Fisheries, Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and University of NSW.  $776,222  Project details